Private John Joseph Wantuck, U. S. Marine Corps
John Joseph Wantuck was born in Elmira, New York on November 26, 1923. He was killed in action July 17, 1943.
Wantuck enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in Syracuse, New York on January 6, 1942, and served continuously until the time of his death.
His awards included the following:
Early in 1950, the warship made a round-trip voyage to Alaskan waters (BK:Kodiak, where whe dropped depth charges on, and possibly sank, an unknown submarine) and back to San Diego (BK Note: I joined Wantuck about this time) before departing that port on 1 May to deploy overseas once more. She stopped at Pearl Harbor from 9 to 12 May. After stops in the Mariana and Philippine Islands, Wantuck arrived at Hong Kong on 7 June. (BK: At that time, the best liberty port in the world, bar none!)
While she remained at Hong Kong, war erupted in Korea when communist North Korean troops invaded South Korea on 25 June. Whether or not this event prompted Wantuck's unusually long stay -- three months -- in a liberty port for a warship is not clear from the documents (BK: The reason was, we were Station Ship for Hong Kong, i.e. responsible for radio traffic there, etc). However, she did not leave Hong Kong until 6 September. From there, the ship moved to Sasebo where she arrived on 8 September.
Two days later, the high-speed transport was in the Korean combat zone at the port of Pusan preparing for the amphibious assault at Inchon. She departed on 13 September with elements of the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, embarked. (BK: These troops had been invaluable in the fighting to maintain the Pusan perimeter, and were removed only over the heated objections of Eighth Army).
Early on the morning of the 15th the warship was off Wolmi Do, an island just off Inchon (BK: Connected to it by a causeway. Some vehicle was observed tearing back to shore along that causeway during the preliminary bombardment by LSMRs, while our LCVPs were loading the assault troops. The assault area was called Green Beach, and our troops landed at 6:33 a.m.) Her troops stormed ashore on the island and quickly consolidated their position in preparation for the second phase of the operation, the invasion of Inchon itself, scheduled for that afternoon. Wantuck remained at Inchon supporting the consolidation and expansion of the beachhead until 26 September at which time she returned to Yokosuka, Japan.
The high-speed transport returned to Korea early in October with the Royal Marine Commandos embarked. In cooperation with Bass (APD-124) and supported by De Haven (DD-727), she executed a series of raids (BK: with 41 Commando, British Royal Marines) near Wonsan to Disrupt North Korean transportation facilities -- primarily rail lines -- to support a scheduled amphibious attack on Wonsan. However, that operation was obviated by the fact that Republic of Korea (ROK) troops entered the city from landward on 11 October. The day before that event, Wantuck returned to Japan (BK: Sasebo. An aside: I stood shore patrol that time, and again met up with 41 Commando who were on Liberty ...)
Wantuck did not arrive back in Korean waters again until the 20th -- once again at Wonsan. By that time, however, United Nations efforts to reopen the port were well advanced (Bob Hope put on a USO show about this time!), and the transport saw no further combat duty during that deployment (BK: Not entirely correct. We did carry UDT-1 in mine clearing operations in Wonsan, while the 1st Marine Division waited at sea, in preparation for their landing on October 26. Shortly after, we also evacuated some Marine wounded from an isolated coastal detachment).
She returned to Yokosuka on 25 November and, three days later, headed back to the United States. After stops at Midway and Pearl Harbor, the fast transport arrived in San Diego on 15 December 1950. (BK: I left Wantuck here, since I made ET1, and went right back to Korea on the Attack Cargo Ship Union, AKA 106)
Wantuck spent almost eight months conducting normal operations along the west coast out of San Diego. On 23 July 1951, she pointed her bow westward once again and set a course for the Far East. Following calls at Pearl Harbor and at Midway Island, the fast transport arrived in Yokosuka on 22 August. By the time of Wantuck's return to the Korean conflict, that war had degenerated into a stalemate on land with the principals locked in Armistice negotiations and jockeying for military advantage at the bargaining table. At sea, the naval war had become almost purely one of fast carrier operations with planes interdicting communist supply routes and hitting strategic targets in North Korea. Wantuck resumed duty with TF 90, the Amphibious Force, and consequently took little active part in the conflict from that point. In fact, during the 1951 to 1952 deployment, she did not even qualify for the Korean Service Medal, though she did visit Korean ports on occasion -- particularly Inchon and Pusan. The fast transport departed Yokusuka late in March 1952 and, after a stop at Oahu along the way, she reentered San Diego on 19 April.
The ship remained on the west coast for almost a year. A paucity of movements on her part -- limited to one move to San Francisco in September for a three-month stay before returning to San Diego in December -- suggests a period of extensive repairs probably including an overhaul. In any event, she departed San Diego again on 7 March 1953 and steamed via Pearl Harbor to the Far East. The warship arrived in Yokusuka on 30 March and, though she patrolled extensively in Korean waters, her operations were essentially as peaceful as they had been during the previous deployment. That summer, the signing of the armistice made those conditions permanent, and Wantuck contented herself with patrols, training exercises, and port visits for the remainder of the deployment. On 9 November, she departed Yokosuka to return to the United States. En route home, the warship stopped at Midway and Pearl Harbor before arriving back in San Diego on 25 November.
Over the remaining four years of her active career, Wantuck made two more cruises to the Orient -- one in 1954 and another in 1955. In 1956 and 1957, her zone of operations centered in two areas, the California coast and the waters around Alaska.
In August, 1957, Wantuck was rammed full amidships by the much larger USS Lenawee APA195. Although saved by the heroic efforts of her crew, the warship was decommissioned at San Diego on 15 November 1957 and berthed there with the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 4 March 1958, and she was sold for scrap on 27 October 1958 to the Sundfelt Equipment Co., Inc., of Wilmington, Calif.
Wantuck earned one battle star during World War II and five battle stars during the Korean conflict.
In the end, it took one of our own ships to kill her.
Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation
The Foundations of Freedom are the Courage of Ordinary People and Quality of our Arms
- A VETERAN's