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USS HOLT (DE-706) was built by the Defoe Shipbuilding Company of Bay City, Michigan. Her keel was laid 28 November 1943 and she was launched on 15 February 1944, under the sponsorship of Mrs. Robert Holt, mother of Lieutenant (junior grade) William Mack Holt, USNR. The escort ship was commissioned at New Orleans on 9 June 1944, Lieutenant Commander Victor Blue, USNR, in command.
HOLT completed her shakedown training in waters of Bermuda and underwent alterations in the Boston Naval Shipyard before her arrival In Norfolk, Virginia on 8 August 1944. Here she joined DAY (DE-225) in shallow water tests which were carried out under the direction of Commander, Service Squadron Five. These experiments were conducted on a special calibrating range at the mouth of the Patuxent River in the Chesapeake Bay and terminated on 19 August 1944. During the next several days HOLT trained prospective crews of escort destroyers in the lower reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. She then became a unit of Escort Division 74, based at Norfolk, Virginia.
HOLT served in the antisubmarine screen of two escort aircraft carriers, WAKE ISLAND and MISSION BAY, along the eastern seaboard from Norfolk to Newport, then sailed with her division on 5 September to search for German U-Boats along the eastern seaboard. Near high noon of 12 September she reached the listing SS GEORGE ADE who had been severely damaged by a torpedo hit some fifteen hours earlier and joined in a box search for the German, underseas culprit until a few hours after daybreak of 13 September when a terrible hurricane of 250-mile radius moved rapidly towards her search area. This natural enemy had already engulfed two valiant coast guard cutters along with the destroyer WARRINGTON who turned turtle and sank with frightful loss of life after being twisted into the hurricane's eye. Already low on fuel, HOLT hurried to Hampton Roads to wait out the storm in the lee of Old Point Comfort Light. She then resumed her antisubmarine patrol and escort duties out of Norfolk to Boston and New York until 14 October 1944 when she cleared the last named port with a convoy bound for the Pacific.
In company with the five other ships of her Escort Division 74, HOLT transited the Panama Canal on 23 October and touched the Galapagos and Society Islands on the way to Hollandia, New Guinea where she arrived on 21 November. Here she became a part of Vice Admiral Kinkald's Seventh Fleet and stood out of Humboldt Bay on the evening of 28 October to become a unit of Rear Admiral Struble's escort carrier task force on patrol in Leyte Gulf for the protection of invasion forces there. This duty continued until 11 December 1944 when HOLT formed with other escorts for a slow-tow convoy carrying fuel and spare parts for the establishment of a motor torpedo boat base at Mindoro, Philippine Islands.
HOLT helped drive away enemy aircraft which closed the convoy the afternoon of 13 December 1944. She again opened fire the next morning when a few enemy bombers managed to evade the combat air patrol planes for poorly conceived attacks that saw one enemy bomber fall into the sea from the combined gunfire of HOLT and her sister escort ships. About this time six American escort aircraft carriers with battleships and cruisers put in an appearance to the southwest in preparation for the invasion of Mindoro the following morning. Two more enemy bombers were shot down by HOLT and her force on the morning of the invasion and Mindoro came in sight near daylight of the 16th. An hour or so later, HOLT twisted and turned to evade an intended perfect run of a suicide plane on her beam. Continuously ripped by gunfire from HOLT gunners, this target turned course at the last moment and exploded in the sea with great violence close aboard a small oiler to cause only superficial damage. Seven men were missing from the oiler, evidently having jumped overboard just before the plane crashed. Three of the men were rescued by landing craft and the oiler kept up with the convoy which scattered for Red Beach the night of 16 December 1944 while HOLT stood by to protect the various ships making final delivery of tows to the Army authorities at Mindoro. She started back for Leyte with the return slow-tow convoy on 17 December intercepting several broadcasts from Radio Tokyo. According to one broadcast, a task unit of numerous small craft circled by five destroyers wandering aimlessly about in the Sulu Sea was intercepted and annihilated by Japanese surface units on the night of 16-17 December 1944. In another broadcast, Radio Tokyo described the exploits of a member of the Kamikase Special Attack Corps who had crashed his plane into an American tanker off Mindoro.
HOLT remained in San Pedro Bay until 22 December 1944, then helped guard supply ships on their way to Hollandia, New Guinea where she arrived six days later. After voyage repairs and a quick run to Seeadler Harbor of Manus Island to assist in the escort of light carrier WRIGHT back to Hollandia, she put to sea on 8 January 1945 with a re-supply and assault echelon of the San Fabian Attack Force. This task group of some 30 amphibious ships, 25 cargo ships, one repair ship and several fleet tugs carried materials and equipment of Naval Advanced Base Unit 6 along with additional cargo and supplies for assault and occupation units that would establish bases for support of the invasion force in Lingayen Gulf, Philippine Islands.
Steaming by way of San Pedro Bay, the task group reached Lingayen Gulf the afternoon of 21 January 1945 and HOLT began a seven-day stint of antisubmarine patrol. On the night of 23 January 1945 a twin-engined Japanese torpedo bomber passed close overhead at high speed and two explosions tore the water some 200 yards on either side of the escort ship. At the same instant there was a large splash and flaming explosion close aboard HOLT'S port bow that marked the journey's end of a suicide plane that had attempted to crashdive HOLT under cover of the twin-engine bomber run. HOLT suffered no damage but CHAFFEE (DE-230) was the victim of an aerial torpedo that luckily did not travel far enough to arm before piercing her hull and passing completely through her peak tank, leaving holes about twenty inches in diameter on either side of her hull. CHAFFEE left the patrol line to weld a plate on both sides to cover the holes. Upon pumping, the torpedo propeller was lying on the bottom of CHAFFEE's peak tank, having been knocked loose as the torpedo passed through the ship.
HOLT circled back to the burning debris of the suicide plane that had barely missed her and lowered a motor whale boat to recover the body of the Japanese suicide pilot who was buried at sea. She departed Lingayen Gulf on 27 January 1945 to convoy as far as Mindoro, thence in the protecting screen of attack transports that arrived in San Pedro Bay on 1 February. She passed out to sea four days later as part of the escort for a re-supply convoy to Lingayen Gulf that included 28 landing ship tanks, nine medium landing ships, seven other military ships, and 32 merchantmen. She returned to Subic Bay, from Lingayen Gulf on 12 February 1945 and spent the next six weeks meeting and escorting to port, ships, submarines and convoys in the ocean approaches to the bay entrance.
On 27 March 1945 HOLT stood out of Subic Bay with a task group that carried the 158th Regimental Combat Team of the Sixth United States Army, reinforced with proper combat and service units to form a balanced combat team for assaults in the Manila Bay area and aid in one of the final operations for the securing of Luzon.. She came off Legaspi the morning of 1 April and took up fire support station as transports lowered boats and landing craft took station to assault the beaches. The bombardment by HOLT and other ships was followed by rocket assault from LCIR's just prior to landing the first wave of assault troops. She cleared Albay Gulf with the empty amphibious ships little before midnight of 1 April and transited San Bernardino Straits for Subic Bay. Here the landing craft again took on board troops and equipment that were landed at Legaspi during 7-8 April 1945. Possession of this area allowed American forces to control the shores of San Bernadino Strait, thus shortening the supply routes from Leyte Gulf to the assault areas on the western shores of the Philippines.
HOLT repaired in San Pedro Bay, then arrived at Morotai the afternoon of 28 April 1945 to join a slow-tow convoy carrying gasoline and ammunition for the assault operation on Tarakan Island, Borneo, Netherlands East Indies.
Moving under a daytime "umbrella" first provided by the Royal Australian Air Force based on Morotai, then by Marine Corsairs and Navy Mariner patrol planes based on Zamboaga and Tawi-Tawi, she arrived at the entrance to the swept channel at Tarakan on the morning of 6 May 1945. Australian forces had stormed that beachhead five days before and United States Army bombers were seen in constant bombing and strafing attacks on enemy positions near the beach. During her stay in Tarakan Roads, HOLT kept armed small boat patrol around herself to fend off possible "limpet mine parties" and "suicide swimmers." She left Borneo astern on 9 May 1945 for floating drydock repairs at Morotai and San Pedro Bay, followed by weather patrol to the east of the Philippines from the Gulan Roadstead at Samar, Philippine Islands. She cruised the eastern South China Sea sending reports to help guide movements of the vast fleets then operating in the Pacific. On 18 December 1945 she embarked seventy-five veterans for transportation to the United States and put to sea on a course that took her by way of Eniwetok in the Marshalls and Pearl Harbor to San Francisco, California. She entered San Francisco Bay to put her passengers ashore on 9 January 1946 and prepared for inactivation in the San Francisco Naval Shipyard. HOLT was decommissioned at San Diego on 2 July 1946 and assigned to the San Diego Group, U.S. Pacific Reserve Fleet. She remained in reserve until December 1962 when preparations began for loan to the Republic of Korea. HOLT was transferred to the Republic of Korea 19 June 1963 under the Military Assistance Program and she then served as CHUNG NAM (DE-73).
HOLT (DE-706) earned two battle stars and other awards for operations listed below:
Escort Division 74 Pacific
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