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Remembering the war 70 years later
Johnson’s duty was to multi-task. He assisted troops on and off the ship, manned a machine gun, operated the ship’s smaller boats transporting troops.

“We did a lot and traded off and on,” Johnson said.

The USS Cullman was named after a county in Alabama and constructed by the Consolidated Steel Company at Willington, CA. The ship was 426 feet long, 58 feet wide, and had a displacement weight of 4,247 tons.

The USS Cullman had 27 officers and 295 enlisted men. The ship loaded and landed troops in such places as Iwo Jima and Okinawa and had the duty of transporting wounded soldiers to medical facilities.

“I won’t talk about that,” said Johnson. “We picked up a lot of them and took them to medical ships and islands, but that is all I am going to say. You don’t want to hear what I saw.”

The ship departed on its first mission on March 23rd, 1945 from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor where it entered port on March 29th. The men conducted training there and did inter-island transports until July when it was ordered to San Diego.

Once in San Diego, the USS Cullman loaded troops and supplies and sailed to Eniwetok and Ulithi with their main objective being Batangas Bay at Luzon in the Philippines.

The Battle of Luzon was taking place as the USS Cullman made passage to the island. At the beginning of the war, the Philippines was an important location to the United States, because if Japan captured the Philippines it would be a threat to the U.S.

Due to this reason, America placed 135,000 troops and 227 aircrafts in the Philippines in the fall of 1941. At the same time, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was named commander of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East.

Japan invaded the Philippines in 1942 and gained control of the country after a hard fought battle with the Allies. It was at this time that MacArthur, whose job was to defend the Philippines, was ordered to retreat out of the country and to Australia where MacArthur made his famous speech about going back to the Philippines, “I shall Return.”

In 1944, MacArthur made his return to retake the Philippines. The U.S. captured Leyte in December of 1994, which was followed by Mindoro and eventually Luzon.

Johnson and his shipmates arrived in Luzon in August just days after Luzon was taken by the U.S. Once there, the USS Cullman embarked occupation troops onto the ship, and then headed for what would become one of the biggest events to happen to Johnson in his military career – he was heading to Tokyo Bay for the complete surrender of the Japanese and the end of WWII, or VJ Day, Victory in Japan Day.

By August, the war for Japan was over. In the Pacific Theater, the U.S. military had control of the Pacific.

On August 6th, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, which was followed by the second bomb on Nagasaki on August 9th.

On August 15th, Japan surrender to the United States. MacArthur, who made his return to the Philippines and named by President Harry S. Truman as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers as Japan surrendered.

Although the war ended in August, the official surrender of the Japanese wasn’t held until September 2nd, 1945, which granted the U.S. and its Allied countries to sail into Tokyo Bay for the ... (To read this article in its entirety, see this week's issue of the RCF.)

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