Oak Hill’s Namesake
The U.S. Navy names its vessels after persons, events and sites of historical importance. USS Oak Hill honors the residence of the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe.
Monroe spent much time at Oak Hill making trips to and from the Capitol on horseback and carrying state papers in his saddle bags. While at Oak Hill, he penned the Monroe Doctrine, a pronouncement he made in 1823 staking out the Western Hemisphere as an American hemisphere of influence. After retiring from public life in 1825, he remained at Oak Hill until Mrs. Monroe’s death five years later, at which time he went to live with his daughter in New York.
Oak Hill passed out of the family in the years following Monroe’s death in 1831. Confederate Colonel John W. Fairfax bought Oak Hill in 1854. His wife remained at the mansion to manage the plantation during the Civil War and was an unwilling hostess when Union General George G. Meade made it his headquarters during the Battle of Second Manassas.
Today it still remains as a private residence, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Delasmutt. The historic mansion is a fitting monument to an important part of American History and to President Monroe.
LSD 51 is the second ship honoring the residence of James Monroe. The first, USS OAK HILL (LSD 7) earned 11 battle stars for her service during WWII and Vietnam. As the successor, LSD 51 will continue that proud tradition.
USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) (originally LSD 7)
Originally designated as APM-7, USS Oak Hill (LSD 7) was laid down in Oakland, California and commissioned on January 5, 1944, with Commander Carl A. Peterson in command. The ship was designed to serve as a cargo and transport type amphibious ship and as a floating drydock.
Following shakedown and amphibious training off Southern California, Oak Hill engaged in rehearsals for “Operation Forager”, the thrust into the Marianas Islands. With tank bearing transports and troops of the 2nd Marine Division on board, she operated in the transport area off Saipan from June 15-22, 1944. On August 12, Oak Hill, with tanks and soldiers of the 710th Tank Battalion embarked, headed for the Palau Operation at Guadalcanal. Departing the Palaus on August 21, she proceeded to New Guinea, arriving at Humbolt Bay on August 29, to prepare for the invasion of the Philippines.
On October 20, 1944, Oak Hill stood off Leyte Gulf and launched units of the 1st Cavalry Division toward White Beach. For the next two months she carried reinforcements from New Guinea to Leyte. On Christmas Day, she arrived at Morotai to prepare for the Lingayen Gulf offensive.
Sailing to the Solomon Islands on February 2, 1945, Oak Hill rehearsed with units of the 1st Marine Division for her next operation – the Okinawa Campaign. On April 1, she arrived in transport area Baker, lowered her LCM’s for the assault on Blue Beach and then began preparing landing craft.
For the remainder of the war, Oak Hill transported men and equipment from the Central Pacific to the Philippines and Okinawa. Post-war duties in Jinsen, Korea and Tsingtao, China occupied the remainder of her tour in the Far East. In February 1946, she got underway for the United States, and on March 17, 1947, she decommissioned and was berthed at San Diego as a unit of the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
After the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, Oak Hill recommissioned at San Diego on January 26, 1951. Assigned to the Pacific Fleet, she participated in “Operation Blue Jay” in Arctic waters. In the late summer months of 1951, and between May and December 1952, she took part in the atomic and hydrogen bomb tests in the Marshalls. Following that duty, she was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet and homeported at Norfolk.
In January 1955, Oak Hill returned to San Diego and Pacific Fleet duty, departing for her first regular Western Pacific (WestPac) deployment on March 31. During her 1958 WestPac tour, she provided supplies to the Nationalist Chinese offshore islands as they withstood shelling by Chinese Communist guns. After 1965, her annual WestPac deployments took her to Southeast Asia, where she supported Naval operations in strife-torn South Vietnam. Upon completion of her final tour of duty, Oak Hill was decommissioned a second time in 1973.
Through her distinguished and gallant service, USS Oak Hill (LSD 7) earned five battle stars during World War II and an additional six battle stars in Vietnam.
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