USS Pecos (AO-65)

USS Pecos (AO–65) was laid down 20 April 1942 by the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. as a type T3-SE-A1 tanker, Chester, Penn., as Corsicana (MC hull 325); launched 17 August acquired by the Navy 29 August 1942; sponsored by Mrs. B. P.M Abrams; and commissioned 5 October 1942, Comdr. Palmer M. Gunnell in command.

After operations along the Atlantic coast, the oiler transited the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

 and sailed 18 February 1943 for Fanui Bay, Bora Bora
Bora Bora
The commune of Bora-Bora is made up of the island of Bora Bora proper with its surrounding islets emerging from the coral reef, 29.3 km² in total, and of the atoll of Tupai , located north of Bora Bora...

, mothering a brood of 11 subechasers, five yard minesweepers, numerous LCI(L)’s, and one net tender. Four motor torpedo boats nested in cradles in the forward and after well decks. Pecos fueled each small craft every four days. Throughout the voyage, groups of boats came alongside the tanker for fuel; then, replenished, gave place to others. Pecos next supported the landings at Tarawa
Tarawa Atoll
Tarawa is an atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, previously the capital of the former British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. It is the location of the capital of the Republic of Kiribati, South Tarawa...

, Gilbert Islands
Gilbert Islands
The Gilbert Islands are a chain of sixteen atolls and coral islands in the Pacific Ocean. They are the main part of Republic of Kiribati and include Tarawa, the site of the country's capital and residence of almost half of the population.-Geography:The atolls and islands of the Gilbert Islands...

, refueling the bombardment and transport groups. She returned to the West Coast late in 1943 and departed San Pedro, Calif., on New Year’s Eve after undergoing repairs and loading with oil and supplies.

Pecos departed Majuro Atoll 2 February 1944 to escort Washington into the anchorage after the latter’s bow had been shorn off in collision with Indiana. For over three hours the officers and men of Pecos worked at the delicate task of getting the huge battleship alongside, then maneuvering her into the atoll. She performed the whole operation in the dark, and acted as anchor for Washington overnight. Less than two weeks after Kwajalein Atoll fell to the Americans, the tanker steamed into the lagoon and refueled warships in the Marshall Islands until returning to Pearl Harbor early in March for oil and supplies. She then headed for the southwest Pacific to support strikes against the Palaus in late March and early April.

For ten hours on 10 July, shells from marine “Long-Tom” cannons flew over Pecos as she lay at anchor off Saipan
Saipan is the largest island of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands , a chain of 15 tropical islands belonging to the Marianas archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean with a total area of . The 2000 census population was 62,392...

, refueling cruisers, destroyers, and an LST full of high explosives. The oiler next began fueling operations running between Eniwetok in the Marshalls and Manus
Manus Island
Manus Island is part of Manus Province in northern Papua New Guinea and is the largest island of the Admiralty Islands. It is the fifth largest island in Papua New Guinea with an area of 2,100 km², measuring around 100 km × 30 km. According to the 2000 census, Manus Island had a...

 in the Admiralty Islands
Admiralty Islands
The Admiralty Islands are a group of eighteen islands in the Bismarck Archipelago, to the north of New Guinea in the south Pacific Ocean. These are also sometimes called the Manus Islands, after the largest island. These rainforest-covered islands form part of Manus Province, the smallest and...

. In September, she participated in the Palau invasion, fueling the bombardment and transport groups.

On 2 January 1945, Japanese aircraft attacked the tanker as she steamed from Leyte Gulf
Leyte Gulf
Leyte Gulf is a body of water immediately east of the island of Leyte in the Philippines, adjoining the Philippine Sea of the Pacific Ocean, at . The Gulf is bounded on the north by the island of Samar, which is separated from Leyte on the west by the narrow San Juanico Strait, and on the south by...

 toward Mindoro
Mindoro is the seventh-largest island in the Philippines. It is located off the coast of Luzon, and northeast of Palawan. The southern coast of Mindoro forms the northeastern extremum of the Sulu Sea.-History:...

. The following day seven general quarters alarms announced Japanese planes. A bomb exploded so close astern that the oil feed pump fuses blew temporarily stopping the main engine. On the evening of 4 January, three enemy planes attacked the anchorage in Mangarin Bay
Mangarin Bay
Mangarin Bay is situated to the east of Mangarin Point, on the west coast of Mindoro, among the Philippine Islands. The bay is shoal and sheltered from the wind by the point and Ilin Island. Magarin point terminates in a long sandy pit off which the depth is 4 to 5 fathoms. Farther in the water...

, Mindoro. One bomb, a dud, skipped from the water and smashed into the after port cargo boom of Pecos, bending it almost double. A plane crashed into an ammunition ship lying less than a mile away, causing it to explode in a single, blinding flash. Pecos guns splashed one attacker. Pecos shot down two more Japanese planes during a raid in the Sulu Sea
Sulu Sea
The Sulu Sea is a body of water in the southwestern area of the Philippines, separated from the South China Sea in the northwest by Palawan and from the Celebes Sea in the southeast by the Sulu Archipelago. Borneo is found to the southwest and Visayas to the northeast.Sulu Sea contains a number of...

 off Negros Island.

A single engine Japanese plane dove out of the sun on the ship’s starboard quarter 7 January 1945, releasing a bomb that struck the water 100 feet off her port bow before a tanker ahead of Pecos shot this plane down. During the next weeks, Pecos fueled the huge task force steaming up the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

 for the Lingayen landings. General Quarters became as routine an affair as fueling, as enemy planes continued to operate in the Mindoro area.

The veteran oiler next steamed to Mangarin Bay to supply aviation gasoline for an Army Air Force unit based there 18 February. Previously, fuel for the squadron’s P–38 fighters had been flown in by transport aircraft, but the planes now were virtually grounded for lack of gasoline. At the month’s end, Pecos departed the Philippine area for Ulithi Atoll in the Western Caroline Islands
Caroline Islands
The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end...

 to prepare for the war’s final major landing operation at Okinawa, She spent April and May at sea in the fueling area off Okinawa transferring oil and gasoline to 3rd Fleet ships.

Pecos spent two hectic days outside of Hagushi Anchorage, adjoining the war-torn city of Naha, fueling destroyers on the perilous picket lines. On the evening of 20 May, in a major Japanese air raid, kamikaze pilots hit five of the picket ships. but the tanker was untouched. Pecos sailed for the United States on 28 May, after seventeen consecutive months overseas. With overhaul completed, Pecos departed San Francisco 14 August 1945—as word was received of the end of hostilities. By 26 September she was anchored in Sasebo Ko, Kyushu Island, Japan, which had just been occupied by American naval forces, fueling the vessels in the harbor.

Pecos decommissioned 14 March 1946. She was transferred to the Maritime Commission 1 April 1947 and struck from the Navy List 23 April 1947. By directive dated January 1948, Pecos was reacquired by the Navy. She was reinstated on the Navy List 20 March 1950. She was then taken over by the Military Sea Transportation Service 18 July 1950 to be operated by a merchant crew. In October 1957, while on a voyage to the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, she received an SOS
SOS is the commonly used description for the international Morse code distress signal...

 from the USS Merrimack (AO-37) after the oiler had lost all propulsion power. The rendered assistance until Pecos arrived and towed the stricken ship into Bombay, India. Into 1970 she was still serving MSTS.

Pecos received seven Battle Star
Service star
A service star, also referred to as a battle star, campaign star, or engagement star, is an attachment to a United States military decoration which denotes participation in military campaigns or multiple bestowals of the same award. Service stars are typically issued for campaign medals, service...

s for World War II service.
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