The first transport is loaded on the ship, including 3,670 enlisted men of the U.S. Army. They passed under the Golden Gate Bridge at noon and reached international waters by 1:00pm. They are told their destination is Secret. They zig zag to avoid enemy submarine torpedoes and keep the ships completely dark at night.
Army Private Charles Bitsko died while aboard the USS General G. O. Squier when a cargo boom hold gave way, striking him on the head. Bitsko was a member of the Army working detail handling stores. A bridge was named in his honor near his unit’s camp in the South Pacific and later on, a street was named after him in his hometown of Clark, NJ
From November 1943 through April of 1944, the USS General G. O. Squier makes three round-trip troop transports from San Francisco to Port Noumea in New Caledonia. During these trips, they also make stops at Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, and New Guinea. They bring troops to the Pacific front and then bring back wounded, POW’s, and soldiers rotating home.
On August 13th, the USS General G. O. Squier joins Task Force 87 for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France. Their job is to take over 4,000 Army Troops and land them on the beaches near Cap Camarat, France. This is the closest to the enemy James will get during the war, and is what earned him and his ship their lone battle star of the war.
James finds out that he has been assigned the USS Stormes (DD-780), and on September 26th, he boards her while she’s in dry dock in San Francisco. The Stormes is a destroyer and had just taken a direct hit from a kamikaze on May 25th, 1945, which killed 21 of her crew members and injured 15 more. She had made it back to San Francisco and was undergoing repairs when James arrived.