DEAN SHAFFHAUSEN (NAVY)

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A Short History of Amphibious Group Nine

 

Amphibious Group NINE was originally established in July, 1944, as one of two Groups under the SEVENTH Amphibious Force. Rear Admiral Arthur Dewey STRUBLE, USN, assumed command of the group aboard the U.S.S. WASATCH on 30 August 1944 at HOLLANDIA, NEW GUINEA. It first operated in the assau1t landing on 15 September 1944 at MOROTAI as a part of Vice (then Rear) Admiral BARBEY's SEVENTH Amphibious Force.

     The Group then took part in twenty assault landings, hitting beaches on every major island in the PHILIPPINES. Three days prior to the main assault landing on the LEYTE GULF beaches, Phib Group NINE landed the Rangers on SULUAN, DINAGAT and HOMONHON Islands, which controlled the entrance to LEYTE GULF. After this was accomplished, the Group landed the 21st Infantry Regimental Combat Team on PANAON island, south of LEYTE on the day of the main assault, 20 October. After the LEYTE Campaign had reached a virtual stalemate due to d1fficult weather conditions and strong enemy reinforcements, it was round necessary to attack the enemy from the rear in the ORMOC BAY Sector. Army troops were landed safely on 7 December by Ph1b Group NINE, but on its withdrawal from the ORMOC BAY area, it underwent heavy air attack by an estimated 80 enemy planes using, in many cases, suicide tactics. Forty-eight Jap planes were shot down by our ships and Combat A1r Patrol while only three of our ships were sunk and fivee received minor damage.

     In order to provide an advanced base for the forthcoming LINGAYEN GULF landings, Phib Group NINE was directed to undertake an assault landing on the 15th of December on the Southwest Coast of MINDORO for the purpose of establishing air bases there. While enroute to the objective, the U.S.S. NASHVILLE, acting as Admiral STRUBLE's  Flagship, was hit by a suicide plane, killing five members of the Staff, including the Chief of Staff, the Communications Officer and the Medical Officer. Brigadier General Wm C. DUNCKEL, Commander of the landing force, although painfully wounded and burned, was able to cont1nue on.  The Staff of Phib Group NINE was then transferred to the USS DASHIELL while underway. Under continuing air attack, Army troops were land ed at MIRDORO.  Two of our ships were sunk and one damaged, but the casuallties to personnel were light.

     In addition to the above, other major landings were made by Phib Group NINE at ZAMBALES, SUBIC BAY, CORREGIDOR, PANAY, NEGROS and MACAJALAR BAY in MINDANAO.

     The Staff of Commander Amphibious Group NINE consisted of forty-nine Officers and one hundred fifty-five enlisted men. The U.S.S. MOUNT KcKINLEY (AGC) , U.S.S. HUGHES (DD) and the U.S.S INGHAM (CGC) were also  used at different times as Flagship.

     Admiral STRUBLE having been detached for duty, Frederick J. ECKHOFF, Captain, USN, the Chief of Staff, has been placed in command.

  Photo: Admiral Struble

 Dean Shaffhausen delivered highly secret orders to top Navy captains in the Pacific War about pending invasions, as the military island-hopped closer to the Empire of Japan.  He remembers when the cruiser USS Nashville was struck
by a kamikaze off Negros Island in the Philippines, killing 133 sailors, wounding 190. He spoke to us on May 8, 2010.