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Welcome Home:
Returning From the Bataan Death March

Voyage #9 started from San Diego Dec. 22, 1944 and stopped in San Francisco to load troops. Some of us had duty on Christmas Eve and were looking forward to New Years Eve liberty. Believe it or not, the ship pulled out on New Years Eve! It didn’t return until March 8, 1945, having covered a total of 16,556 memorable miles.

We visited Hollandia, New Guinea where we breifly enjoyed baseball and beer on the beach while unloading some troops and loading others for a convoy trip to Leyte. No dock at Leyte so troops and equipment for McArthur’s push towards Manilla were unloaded into LCM’s and various other landing craft.

Most important to this voyage, we loaded several hundred of the survivors of the Bataan Death March. These soldiers had spent most of the war as prisoners trying to survive under the brutal, starving conditions of the prison camps. Many had to be carried aboard and were taken directly to the sick bay. Others were able to walk on board and spent the return trip home stoking calories.

At 1300, February 11, the ANDY left Leyte as “Convoy Commodore and Guide” of a slow, 7-day trip back to Hollandia. Dockside, an Army show called Stars and Gripes preformed for the ex-prisoners-of-war using the ship’s searchlights for spot lights.

USS General A.E. Anderson Entering San Francisco Harbor

Several thousand troops embarked at Hollandia and on Feb. 20, we departed for San Francisco enjoying the cool breeze that a 20 knot cruising speed provides.

March 8, gliding under the Golden Gate and into San Francisco Bay, we were met by a blimp, sea planes, airplanes, boats of all sizes, whistles, horns and sirens. Fire boats were spewing huge fans of water and the Mayor’s welcoming party came onboard. Relatives waited for the prisoners-of-war at the dock for an unbelievable welcome home.

The Mayor's Welcoming Party

We delivered them to San Francisco we owned the town that night. It was one big party, a very special first night on shore. If you were from the ANDY, there was no way you could buy your own beer.

Icing on the cake came the next day when we docked at Bethlehem Steel for a face lift that meant 30 days in port. Best of all, guys from East of the Mississippi got twelve days leave.

Now that was what we called a great WELCOME HOME!