USS Admiral E. W. Eberle (AP-123)

aka: USNS General Simon B. Buckner

The USS Admiral E. W. Eberle was one of two ships named for Edward Walter Eberle, an admiral who served in the U.S. Navy from 1881 until 1928. Born in Denton, Texas, Eberle grew up in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). The ship saw service in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

The USS Admiral E. W. Eberle was an Admiral W. S. Benson–class transport ship. Designed to carry large numbers of troops, these ships were also armed with four five-inch guns, eight forty-millimeter guns, and sixteen twenty-millimeter guns. With its keel laid down on February 15, 1943, the ship was constructed by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Alameda, California. Ordered as a Maritime Commission Contract, the ship was sponsored by Nina Meyers Warren, wife of Earl Warren, who was governor of California and future chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. It was commissioned on January 24, 1945, and Captain Carl Carlstedt of the U.S. Coast Guard took command of the ship. The ship was mostly crewed with members of the coast guard.

Part of the Naval Transportation Service, the ship made its maiden active-duty voyage in March 1945. Departing San Francisco, California, on March 6, the ship arrived in New Guiana on March 25. While at anchor, the ship was struck by an American plane performing acrobatic stunts, killing the two people in the plane and one on the ship, as well as injuring five on board. The ship sailed to the Philippines the next day. Loading troops at Leyte, the ship also embarked about 2,000 American civilians who had been interned since 1942 by the Japanese military. The ship returned to the United States on May 2.

With the end of the war in Europe, the Eberle began transporting troops home to the United States. The ship transported troops from Naples, Italy, to Trinidad in June, followed by a trip between Le Havre, France, and Norfolk, Virginia. On its next voyage, the ship embarked troops at Marseilles, France, and transported them through the Panama Canal to the Philippines, where they began to prepare for an invasion of Japan. Returning to the United States, the Eberle underwent maintenance work in Seattle, Washington. In September, Captain Keith Cowart of the Coast Guard took command of the ship. Re-entering active service, the ship made three voyages between the United States and Japan and Korea between October 1945 and March 1946.

The Eberle was decommissioned by the navy in May 1946 and transferred to the army the next month as part of the Army Transport Service. With the transfer came a renaming of the ship to honor Lieutenant General Simon Buckner, killed at the Battle of Okinawa. The ship next entered active service in 1950, when it was transferred back to the navy under the Buckner name. The USNS General Simon B. Buckner served during the Korean War, transporting troops and materials to Japan. In 1955, the ship was transferred to the Atlantic, where it made more than 130 trips to various ports in Europe until 1965, when it was transferred to the Pacific, where it made two trips to Vietnam. Additional trips to Europe and Vietnam followed over the next year before the ship left active service in 1967. The Buckner was struck from the Naval Register in 1990, transferred to the Maritime Commission in 1993, and broken apart at Brownsville, Texas, in 1999.

The USS Admiral E. W. Eberle served at the same time as the USS Eberle, a Gleaves-class destroyer, also named for Edward Eberle.

For additional information:
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington DC: Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, 1959–1981.

David Sesser
Henderson State University

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