USS Tappahannock AO-43
Elman Kendrick Smading BM 2/c was a tanker sailor in WWII, on the USS Tappahanock AO43.  Elman was on the commissioning crew in 1942. The ship went to Guadacanal and other interesting places. His son is, Bob Smading - past Quartermaster in N Division performing navigation on a Destroyer and friend of Vern; Bob says it is much easier now with GPS, perhaps even the ships cook could do it.
Hagberg Shelby MM, Waterloo, IA 50702, June 13, 2002 - wrote:  I was on the Tappahannock from 1966 to 1970 from commissioning in New Orleans to de-commissioning at Long Beach. It was put back in for Viet-Nam for those four years.

Paul Kuzman SK2, Nov. 11, 12, and 21st, 2002, to Bob Smading and Vern: Happy Veterans Day Bob!!! Thank you for your service to our country!!! I wish I could send a very special thank you to your father!!! Him being part of a whole crew who performed many brave and heroic actions on 7 April 1943 they saved there own lifes and their ship. Unknown to them at the time, they also allowed me the honor of serving my country aboard the finest, most outstanding fleet oiler in the United States Navy.The U.S.S. Tappahannock AO-43!!! I will always be grateful to them. 7 April 1943 was the date that the Tappy was attacked by five Japanese dive bombers. She shot down two, inflicted heavy damage on another one and the other two received light damage. One of the damaged planes was finished off by a Destroyer that was escorting her. She also managed to evade all five bombs they tried to drop on her. Pretty good performance for a big slow moving "Non Combatant" Oiler I think. The Tappahannock was in a fight for her life. It took expert  marks- manship to shoot down  those planes and expert seamanship to manuever such a large slow moving ship to evade all of those bombs coming in from all different angles. They did an OUTSTANDING job! I'm sure those Japanese pilots thought the Tappy would be easy prey. She is big and slow and lightly armed compared to a destroyer or a cruiser. At the time of the attack the Tappy was carrying 300,000 gallons of avaition gasoline,so if just one of those bombs had hit her it would have been certain disaster. 
Sincerely, Paul

Andy Kimball Osgood GM1
Brad Osgood Nov.16,2002, Hand letter to Vern: My grandfather, Andy Kimball Osgood was a Seaman 1st class on the USS Tappahanock AO43. He was known as the :Old Man" or Gramps" because he was 39 when he enlisted. He was on the Tappahannock from August 1943 until being sent home as a laundryman 3rd class after the war in September of 1945. He told me that he was a gunner manning a twin 40. Andy was discharged from the Navy in October of 1945. I have two pictures of him, one in Navy dress blues and one on board the ship with other sailors. ( I knew him and visited with him many times before his death and listened to his stories of that ship). .........Click on Photos for larger image
Jim Hanks Stumbled upon this website while searching for info on some ships he had served on.  Lo and behold he found some data on the old AO-43 or Tapahannock (sp). " I left the electronics school at Treasure Island, CA, June 11, 1954 with orders to report to that ship which at that time was in Todd Shipyard across the bay.  We got underway within a couple of weeks for San Pedro when I received other orders to report to the USS Pasig, AW-3.  I believe the AO-43 was ro be put out of commission and sent to the reserve fleet.  I hav since learned via web searches at Naval archives that it was destroyed via target practice in the Atlantic. I belive I have the data on just where in Lat & longitude as I continue to look for data on the Pasig.  I have no backup for this but I was told the 43 used to be on the East coast just prior and was used between Charlston  and Aruba in transfer of bunker oil. I believe that it was assigned to MSTS then and even when I was on it for a glorious period of a couple of weeks.
Now all you have to do is find me some data on the Pasig. We left San Pedro and went to Japan under sealed orders with the final destination as Hiaphong, French Indo China....( even before Viet Nam ) This was when the French were defeated at Bien Bien Pheu ( sp )  The activity was part of the SEATO alliance agreement ( Southeast Asia Treaty Alliance ) Haiphong was a staging area for the transfer of the Vietnamese in the North who wanted to go South after the partitioning, or those who came from the South to stay North

Following that session of about 3 or 4 months we went back to Japan and thence to San Pedro, CA. and the ship was decommissioned after it was talen to Richland , CA. via Navy tug.  A quartermaster second and me ( ET3 ) were the bridge crew, kept the logs, made the position sightings etc.  I had to run the radio room, all on batteries as we had no spare power.  O.K so what;s an AW.?...........Here it comes, a water distilling ship.  It is configured like a tanker, and I believe it was designed as one andthen retro fitted. It had a well deck between the bow and bridge and bridge and stern.just like all of them and was some 300 ft. long with a crrew of 167. There were just two in the navy of this size and class as I was told. one in the Pacific & one tied to the Atlantic Fleet.

Back to your interest.  With us in Viet Nam was the AO-64, the Tollavana. a fleet oiler, a  Hospital ship, some APA's etc.. Unfortunately I didn;t have a camera then and have only one or two photos and they are of people on the ship with some views of portions such as a 40 mm gun tub or barrel and harbor backdrop.

I also note you have data of the class of ship "Mattapani"  for the 43. The Mattaponi was the 41, but they were identical to my knowledge. The Pasig is also non-existant anymore as it was decommissioned and then destroyed.

Thanks for the memories!
Jim Hanks....ex USN   440-31-10  ET3"

Tappahannock (AO-43) refueling -  July 1945 
to port, Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31 starboard, Missouri (BB-63),
Mattaponi Class Fleet Oiler
Laid down, 24 December 1941, for Keystone Tankship Corp. as Jorkay,
a Maritime Commission type (T2-A-MC-K) tanker hull,
under Maritime Commission contract, (MC hull 157)
at Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Chester, PA;
Launched, 18 April 1942; Commissioned USS Tappahannock (AO-43), 22 June1942, at Norfolk, VA.;
Decommissioned, (date unknown); Laid up in the Reserve Fleet;
Assigned to MSTS and placed In-service, as USNS Tappahannock (T-AO-43), (date unknown);
Placed Out-of-service, (date unknown);
Transferred to MARAD for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet;
Struck from the Naval Register, 15 July 1976;
Disposed of by MARAD exchange, 2 February 1987, fate unknown.

Displacement 6,809 t.(lt) 21,450 t.(fl);
Length 520';.....Beam 68';.......Draft 30' 6";.......Speed 17kts;.......Complement 242; single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount,
.......................four single 3"/50 dual purpose gun mounts,
.......................four twin 40mm gun mounts,
.......................four twin 20mm gun mounts;
Capacity:.........135,000 barrels;
Propulsion:.......Geared turbine, single screw, 12,800shp. 
USS Tappahannock (AO-43) and USS Enterprise (CVAN-65)
From: Tin Can Sailors
Home Town
Hart Billy K. Jesup GA 
52 MM Weimer James Bloomington IN 
56  BT Cox Roy
Posted by Martin, Arthur
56 MM Martin Arthur  Fairfield CA munchkin38@sbcglobal,net 
65 BM Abrams Dennis Caldwell ID
66 MM Hagberg Shelby Waterloo IA
67 SK Kuzman Paul Canon GA 

From 11-16-2002
04/07 Wed. Destroyer AARON WARD (DD-483) and oiler KANAWHA (AO-1)sunk by horizontal bombers. United States naval vessel damaged, Tulagi, Solomon Islands: Cargo ship ADHARA (AK-71) and oiler TAPPAHANNOCK (AO-43), by dive bombers.

Reunions: Philip Doss

1942 Woodworth DD-460
On the 7th, while escorting oiler Tappahannock in the Solomons area, Woodworth came under enemy air attack by six planes north of Rua Sura Island. Four bombs dropped close aboard Tappahannock. Two struck the sea on the starboard side and threw considerable water over the ship. The attack, which lasted about four minutes, caused no personnel casualties and only minor material damage. 

Ward DD-139
Based at Espirito Santo, Ward performed a variety of duties antisubmarine patrols, escort duties, and transport service while she worked up as a fast transport. Soon after completing a run to the Russell Islands, Ward neared Tulagi on the afternoon of 7 April 1943 as Japanese aircraft swept overhead in Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's last planned Operation "I" the air strike designed to cripple American seapower in the Solomons in the wake of Japan's evacuation from Guadalcanal. At 1510, Ward went to general quarters and opened fire, charging out of the harbor, eager for action. In the confused melee of gunfire, the ship helped splash two Japanese planes. When the final score was tallied on the American side, the Navy had lost Aaron Ward (DD-483) and Kanawha (AO-9), while Adhara (AK71) and Tappahannock (AO-43) had suffered damage.

7 April43. Operation I-Go: last Japanese air offensive in the Solomons off Lunga Roads. Carrier bombers (VAL) strike U.S. and Allied shipping near Tulagi, Solomons, sinking destroyer Aaron Ward (DD-483) and New Zealand corvette HMNZS Moa and damaging oilers Kanawha (AO-1) and Tappahannock (AO-43) and tank landing ship LST-449. 

USS Hilbert DE 742
April 21 1945 All-out offensive on Okinawa started; plane guard for SAVO ISLAND (CVE-78); passed mail to TAPPAHANNOCK (AO-43);

Tappahannock              AO 43     7/15/76  to Taiwan 

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