How it started

7 Feb

This is my first attempt at a blog. I decided to give this a try so that I could tell the story of the U.S.S. Tryon. Given the designation of APH-1 Tryon by the Navy, the Tryon was an evacuation transport ship used during World War II to transport troops to the field of battle and evacuate the wounded to rear locations. My dad served for nearly three years on the Tryon. 

When I was young Dad rarely talked about his war experiences.  Occasionally he would talk about his ship being at Peleliu, or about seeing bodies floating in the water as his ship boarded the wounded, but I really remember very little else. What’s more, I really didn’t care all that much. Like every young boy in the 1960s I enjoyed watching war movies, and they always prompted me to run outside, hide behind trees in make-believe gun battles with the Germans, or “hit the dirt” while lobbing hand grenades (dirt clods) at the “Japs”. In spite of my youthful fantasies I didn’t connect my dad’s service to the “excitement” of war portrayed in the movies, and had very little interest in his war-time experiences.

This didn’t change as I reached high school and college, either.  I was beginning to have some interest in World War II – I read “Rise And Fall of the Third Reich” during those years – but still lacked interest in what my own dad had gone through during that tumultuous period. One night I went to dinner with Dad while I was in college, and in the only time I can remember him talking openly on the subject, he told story after story from his time aboard the Tryon. In classic college-age self-focus, all I remember from this evening was being frustrated, even disgusted, that all Dad wanted to do was talk about himself. What I would give to be able to have that conversation today!

As I grew older I began to recognize the amazing experience that my dad had gone through- the sacrifice that he and millions of other young Americans had made. But by this time, weakened by a heart attack in the mid-80s, Dad’s health was in decline. Although I made an annual trek from my home in Oklahoma to visit my parents in Oregon, and on several occasions went prepared with questions and an eagerness to learn the story of the Tryon, Dad just wasn’t up to talking about it. My hopes of learning about Dad’s experiences as a member of the crew of the U.S.S. Tryon ended forever when Dad passed away on February 23, 1999.

I am thankful for the internet. It has put at our fingertips a world of information.  I’ve searched the internet for years, hoping to find the story of the Tryon that I had been unable to learn from my dad. For years my searches were not very fruitful. Mostly very small vignettes, usually from obituaries from others who had served on the Tryon. But one night last fall my luck finally changed. In a Google search for the “USS Tryon” I came across a web site that was a tribute to Edkal Buys.  Ekdal had been an officer aboard the Tryon, joining the ship in the early days of 1944. The web site included a brief memoir that he had written about his years on board the ship. The details he gave regarding the men and voyages of the Tryon were fascinating to me – what I’d searched for for years. A quick email to the author of the site put me in touch with the two sons of Ekdal Buys, who have provided me with a great deal of additional information.  I want to share what I’ve found out, to pass on the remarkable story of the USS Tryon, affectionately known by her crew as “the South Pacific Express,” and hopefully find others who share my interest in this amazing ship.

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28 Responses to “How it started”

  1. Jon Gaasedelen February 4, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    My dad, too was a member of the Tryon’s crew. He was her supply officer in the ending years of World War II and is still alive at 97 with a strong mind and healthy for his age. After seeing all your work that went into this blog I am going to print some of this information and share it with dad. He is a career reservist who still relishes visiting every navy base around. Do you know what ever happened to Tryon class ships? I am thinking I came across one as a museum while I was traveling somewhere but I can’t remember where.

    • rememberthetitans February 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Hi Jon, thanks so much for your comments! The whole purpose of starting this blog was to make contact with others interested in Tryon, and in a year’s time you are the first one that has commented! For that I’m truly grateful.

      I’m extremely excited to know that there are Tryon crew members still alive. As you probably saw on the blog, my dad died back in 1999, before I really had an opportunity to learn much about the Tryon from him. It was only after connection with the Buys brothers and obtaining the “South Pacific Express” that I’ve been able to make progress in my research. It is certainly a labor of love. I’ve had a great deal of fun researching the things that I have so far.

      Please tell your dad hello for me and thank him of his service to our country, and especially for his time aboard the Tryon. I’d appreciate any corrections, comments or additions he may have to what I’ve written. I’d love to know any memories that he might be willing to share that I can add to the blog. That’s really what it’s all about. I’d also love to post any photos he might have of the Tryon. I’d especially appreciate a photo of him that I could add – I’ve had in mind an “Honor Roll” gallery of Tryon crew members, if I can find any. So that would really be appreciated.

      As far as the fate of Tryon, I’d need to do a little research to give you precise details (which I will eventually get around to posting), but after war Tryon was transferred to the Army for a few years and was used as a transport, and was renamed the USAT Sgt. Charles E. Mower. Eventually it was transferred back to a the Navy Department, and retired from service in 1954. Tryon ended up in the “Ghost Fleet,” a group of unused ships being kept in mothballs in case of a sudden need for military vessels, in Suisun Bay, an arm of the San Francisco Bay. In the 1969 Tryon was sold for scrap. I can provide you dates and greater detail if you wish. I think that the fates of the Pinkney and the Rixey were similar.

      • John R. August 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

        My father and his “CB” outfit sailed on the USS Tryon to Ulithi, in the Western Caroline Islands..I have a photo you may like to see.

      • rememberthetitans August 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

        I’d absolutely love to see it, John. I’ll email you and you can email it back to me!

      • jonathon17pim@aol.com August 13, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

        Send me your e-mail…I’ll send it as an attachment

      • rememberthetitans August 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

        Done!

  2. Karen Byrholdt Fuson April 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Wow thanks for all the information within the writing. My name is Karen Eileen Byrholdt Fuson. Captain Byrholdt was my great grandfather that died when I was born. My father Russell Harry Byrholdt was is son born to his wife Lena Byrholdt. This has given me wonderful information about my father’s father so thank you so very much. With great sadness Captain Byrholdt’s son was killed in an unsolved murder in May 1984, my father was a great man and it must have came from his father. My brother Bruce Alfred Byrholdt also served in the Navy for many years and is now an attorney in South Carolina. Good Bless you Grandpa Byrholdt I wish I could have met you!!!!

    • rememberthetitans April 11, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

      Hi Karen – it’s a distinct pleasure to connect with one of Captain Byrholdt’s family! And thank you for your kind words regarding my post. I have to say, I really enjoyed researching his story. He was a very interesting man. Nothing but positive remarks about him were found.

      You no doubt saw the photos I found of Captain Byrholdt. I’d love a war-time photo of him in uniform, if you have one and wouldn’t mind sharing, to add to the blog and a “hall of fame” I’ve been planning for it.

      Thanks so much for your comment, and for reading my blog. I really appreciate it!

      • Karen Byrholdt Fuson April 11, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

        Hi it was my pleasure to respond to you and learn more about my Grandfather! I do believe that I might have a photo of my grandfather in his uniform so I will start going through my photos and I would be honored to share it with you 🙂 Karen Byrholdt Fuson..

    • Harvey Hinman October 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

      Karen,

      We are trying to locate Aldie Byrholdt, Al Jr’s widow. We are good friends from the Palo Alto, CA area. We tried unsuccessfully several weeks ago to reach Aldie while in Washington, DC but learned she had moved. Do you happen to know her current contact info?

      Your great grandfather must have been quite a guy!

  3. Tina April 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    My husbands dad served on the USS Tryon as a Seaman First Class. Although he is still living at 88 years old, he suffers from Alzheimer’s. My 11-year old son was recently assigned a project on WWII and so my search started on finding out information about my father-in-law’s service and experiences. I saw your post regarding “The South Pacific Express A Story of The USS Tryon”. I’ve searched the internet and am unable to find anything about this book. Do you know how I could obtain a copy? Thanks so much.

  4. Judy Hennessey Purdy June 28, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Hi,
    My name is Judy Hennessey Purdy. My dad, Floyd Hennessey, is listed on the muster logs for the USS Tryon from Jan 1943 until around Mar 1943. The muster logs, with the list of names, can be found on Ancestry.com. I can be reached by email at judypurdy@sbcglobal.com or on Facebook @ Judy Hennessey Purdy. My dad passed away in 1964 when I was 16 years old, so I never had a chance to talk with him about his experiences aboard the Tryon. After the war, my dad joined the Merchant Marines and was at sea most of my childhood. I would love to connect with anyone who might have served with my dad. Thank you. Take care, judy

    • rememberthetitans June 29, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

      Hi Judy – thanks so much for your comments! Although y dad was around for a bit longer than yours, I still experienced the same problem of communicating with him about his experiences on Tryon. I hope that over time I will be able to provide you with additional information regarding your dad’s experiences. Do I understand correctly that your dad was on Tryon for about two months? If so, he would have transferred off before my dad joined her crew on May 4, 1943. Do you happen to know your dad’s rating? That is, what his job was on board Tryon?

      Thanks for the tip on regarding the Tryon muster rolls. I also subscribe to Ancestry.com, and have downloaded all of the muster rolls on Ancestry. I posted a few of them on “The Crew – October 20, 1942,” although obviously neither of our dads were on Tryon at that time.

  5. Linda Trella August 7, 2013 at 3:57 am #

    My dad George Trella was on the USS Tryon. I have his navy war album dated May 15 1943 he left on the USS Tryon at age 16. I was the only one in my family that would sit around and listen to him tell his war stories everyone else would leave the room. I was fascinated at a young age about his time in the Navy during WWII. I just wished I had of asked more questions about it. He had friends sign and autograph his album. Mudad passedawayin 1986 at the age of 59 from cancer but I was so proud of him and I am glad I have his Navy album. Maybe there some of u with family members that knew my dad. He was a Yeoman. The Internet has really helped me. I am excited about finding this blog. And I wanna thank all of u with family members in the Navy or military for their service to our country. My daughter age 20 joined the US Navy last year. Her grandfather would have been so proud of her. I know he watches over her now. One sailor to another. HOOYAH!!!!!!

    Linda Trella 53, SC

    • rememberthetitans August 7, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

      Hi Linda – thanks so much for your comments. I’m happy to know that you were excited to find my blog – as I’ve told others, I’m always very pleased to connect with someone who has an interest in Tryon, especially someone whose relatives served on this special ship. And thank you for your daughter’s service! I’m sure that your dad would be very proud of her service.

      Your dad’s Navy album is indeed a great treasure. I have one that my dad kept as well. I’d be very interested in photos that might have been taken on board the Tryon, if you have any – especially any that might identify sailors. Unfortunately none of my dad’s photos are labeled, so even those that were surely his friends, and are in several photos with him, are unnamed. I’d love to be able to exchange photos with you.

      Do you have any idea when your dad joined the crew of Tryon? If so I can check the muster rolls I have to see if I can find those that list his joining the crew and the months that he was aboard.

      I’d love to have a photo of your dad that I could use to start a “hall of fame” of Tryon sailors, something I’ve wanted to do since starting the blog. Thanks!

  6. Johnna Jordan Lowney June 5, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    Hi my name is Johnna Lowney my dad Joseph Jordan, served on the Tryon from 1943-1945…..he recently passed last month (May 2014) at 91…..he remembered fondly serving on the Tryon…..and took many life lessons from the experience. I too would love a copy of Mac Perry’s book if there is any way to get a copy I would love it……my dad recently recounted an incident I saw on this blog about traveling with a convoy of ships and the Tryon breaking down and just being left there…….they repaired the engine and luckily caught up with the convoy…..I have this in a video interview my husband did about his life……he would have loved this blog…..

    • rememberthetitans June 5, 2014 at 8:56 am #

      Hi Johnna! Thanks so much for visiting my blog! I haven’t added much to it in quite a while – I need to get busy!! So much of Tryon’s tale yet to be told. The story you’re referring to happened on Tryon’s initial voyage from San Francisco to the South Pacific. As you may have read in the blog, after that trip Tryon rarely traveled as part of a convoy. Mostly she used her good speed of 18 knots to avoid trouble. As you probably know, the chief danger for a ship sitting still in the open ocean as Tryon was in that case was submarine attack.

      If you’re dad was aboard Tryon at that point then he must have been one of the original crew members of Tryon. If he remained aboard until the end of the war he was a part of special group of sailors aboard Tryon. I’ve done a little research on the men that remained on Tryon from the time of her commissioning in October, 1942 to the end of the war in 1945, and eventually plan to do a post about these “plankowners.” If Joseph remained on Tryon to the very end, then he would have been aboard when Tryon became part of the “Magic Carpet Fleet” that brought POWs home from Japan. It’s my understanding that when the war ended Tryon was headed back to the States, got as far as Hawaii, and was ordered back to Japan to pick up POWs that had been taken to camps in Japan.

      I have been searching for my own copy of Mac Perry’s book for almost three years without success. I wish I could tell you that they were easy to find, but my guess is that they were privately published by Perry and that only a few were printed. I’ve been unable to locate a copy for myself.

      I sure wish I could have communicated with your dad before he passed. I’m sure he had some great stories. My dad joined Tryon in May, 1943 and remained with her until the end of the war.

  7. Andrew P. Perry August 1, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    August 1, 2014–I learned of your blog very recently from my daughter, Margaret (Maggie) Perry. She found your site as she searched for more information about the Tryon after she read my copy of The South Pacific Express: The Story of the USS Tryon. Her grandfather, my father, is Mac Perry. He loved the Tryon, and I grew up hearing wonderful stories about the good times on the Tryon and the wonderful times off the ship in Acukland. Thank you for your interest in the Tryon and for spreading the word about her and her crew. I will return to your blog again and again. I am Andrew Perry. I am happy for you that you found a copy of my father’s thin and lovely book.

    • Joan December 14, 2015 at 3:42 am #

      Hello Andrew,
      My 92 yr old father-in-law was on the USS Tryon. I am desperately looking for a copy if your father’s book. He would love to read it. Any suggestions? If it’s not available anywhere, any chance of a photo copy if it ?
      Thank you,
      Joan

      • Andrew Perry December 15, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

        Joan, I will be happy to make a photocopy of The South Pacific Express for you father-in-law. Let me know where to mail it. I can feel my father smiling. I am curious about your father-in-law. He must have been 19 or 20 at the time of Pearl Harbor. I’ll be on the lookout for a message from you. Here is my email address: aperryphd@gmail.com

  8. David Madderson November 3, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    14.11.03 I am researching the ‘adventures’ of my father during WW 2 and I was thrilled to find this blog!
    I am wondering if anyone can give me more information?
    My Dad was captured in Singapore and sent to work on the Burma/Siam railway, after this he was railed back to Singapore and shipped to Japan on the Rakuyo Maru, torpedoed by USS Sealion, rescued by the Japanese and continued to Japan to be interned in Fukoka 25b Branch Camp in Omuta near Nagasaki. After the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki the war ended and then he was liberated by the Americans (he was British). To my knowledge he sailed from Nagasaki to Okinawa on the USS Cape Gloucester and then sailed from Okinawa (45.09.21??) via Manila, Ulithi Atoll and Hawaii en route to San Francisco. Then on to New York and back home on the Queen Mary

    I am looking for any information pertaining to these events and particularly the voyage on the USS Tryon, any rosters with his name, photographs, letters detailing the event etc, etc

    His name was Sgt. Harold Madderson 848338, 135 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery

    • rememberthetitans November 3, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      Hi David! Thanks so much for visiting my blog!! I had a fairly lengthy reply to you prepared this AM and lost it somehow before I got it posted! Very frustrating. I’ll start again – I’m not sure from your comment whether you know that your father was aboard Tryon or are wondering if he might have been. If the latter, someone that knew your dad personally may be able to answer that question, but a while back I requested passenger lists for Tryon and was told that all passenger lists for transports during the war were destroyed in the 1950s. I have a fairly complete listing of crew members, but no list of passengers.

      With regard to your dad’s experiences during the war, there are a couple books I can recommend. One is an excellent read on the USS Houston, which was sunk in Sunda Strait by the Japanese on 28 February 1942. Many of the crew of this ship, along with that of the HMAS Perth which sank in the same battle, were slaughtered by the Japanese, either shot in the water or executed on land. Those that survived and were rescued by the Japanese were sent, as your father was, to work on the Burma-Siam Railroad. Anyway, the book is “Ship of Ghosts” by James D. Hornfischer. Hornfischer is one of my favorite WW II authors, and he does a great job detailing the horrors the men lived through that built the Burma-Siam Railroad.

      Another book that does a great job describing what it was like to be in a Japanese POW camp is “Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand. It is the story of Louis Zamperini, who was on a B-24 in 1943 when it crash-landed in the Pacific while on a search-and-rescue mission. He survived the crash and was on a raft at sea for 47 days before capture by the Japanese. Louis was taken to a POW camp in Japan and spent the remainder of the war there. It’s an incredible story. “Unbroken” has been made into a movie, directed by Angelina Jolie, and will be in theaters on Christmas day. Unfortunately, Louis didn’t live to see the movie about his amazing life – he died this summer at the age of 97. Although Louis wasn’t in the same camp as your father, this book gives vivid illustration of what it was like to live – survive – in a Japanese POW camp.

      Although I get most of my information about Tryon from Mac Perry’s wonderful little book, “The South Pacific Express,” as I noted elsewhere in the blog he was detached from Tryon on 11 July 1944, meaning that he relied on the contributions of his friends that remained on board to provide information on Tryon’s movements in the closing months of the war. Unfortunately, apparently no information was given with regard to Tryon’s participation in Operation Magic Carpet – the world-wide operation to bring servicemen home – as no mention of it is made in his book. I don’t remember where I learned this, but I do know that after the war ended Tryon received orders to return to San Francisco; she got as far as Hawaii before receiving orders to reverse course and head for Japan. My dad was aboard the ship at that time, and I have photos of him on the beach at Waikiki headed back to S. F., and on the streets of Tokyo a short time later. I am not certain whether Tryon made more than one trip to Japan or not – I’ll check and see what I can find out on that. I do have information about what port they were sent to, but I’ll have to check on that as well – I can’t quite remember.

      David, if, in answer to my earlier question, you DO know that your dad was aboard Tryon, and that Tryon followed the course you indicated, then you know more of your father’s “magic carpet ride” than I do, and I would love your help filling in my knowledge of this segment of Tryon’s voyages. I’d love to hear what you know about your father’s trip home, if it was aboard Tryon.

      Again, thanks for your interest in Tryon and this blog. I look forward to hearing from you again!

      • David November 4, 2014 at 9:30 am #

        Hello there, firstly, please tell me your name! Thank you for your wonderful reply and all the information it contains, I really appreciate it.

        To answer your question I am not 100% sure my Dad sailed to San Francisco aboard the Tryon. What I am sure of is that two other British pow’s that were in the same camp as him were sent from Nakasaki to Okinawa on the Aircraft Carrier Cape Gloucester and then transferred to the Tryon some days later. With regard to the route, yes I am sure of this. I have a had written note from my Dad showing all the ‘ports of call’ from when he left England. This was written by him not long after he returned to England so I believe this is correct. The sailing date of Tryon from Okinawa is from the other two pow accounts. However I have found that many of these dates are inaccurate and can only be used as a guide. I guess the first step is to see if we can establish this voyage and the date and then if anyone has any letters of photo’s that would indicate my farther and his comrades were on board – this would be additional confirmation.

        I am also trying to see if I can get any information regarding USS Cape Gloucester – if this is forthcoming then it can add to our picture.

        I have tried without success to get information from the site of USS Haven the hospital ship sent to Nagasaki. To my knowledge all the pow’s were ‘processed’ by her doctors and nurses.

        I hope this helps to clarify things and perhaps bring forth some more information. Operation ‘Magic Carpet’ is not well documented and it seems that a lot of information was ‘swept’ under this carpet in hopes it would be forgotten!

      • rememberthetitans November 4, 2014 at 10:05 am #

        Hi David – thanks for providing me with the information that you have. Based on what you said, I bet there’s a very good chance that your dad was aboard the Tryon on his return home. One thing that I can do – and I’m really interested in doing it after reading your comments – is request the portion of the ship’s log that includes this period from the National Archives. I’ve been trying to accumulate the ship’s log a little at a time – because of the cost. And there are A LOT of pages over the three-plus years that Tryon was in service during the war to accumulate! Once I get them, I’d be more than happy to share them with you if you’re interested in them. the ship’s log doesn’t give a whole lot of info about people and that sort of thing, but it will give dates, locations and when the ship was under way. So I think it would fill in some of the blanks that we have right now. I’ll try to get on that right away.

        Do you happen to have written accounts of the other two POWs that you referred to? I’d be very interested in reading them, if possible. What date do you have Tryon leaving Okinawa?

        Regarding Operation Magic Carpet, I think you’re right – everyone was eager to put the war behind them, and get on with life. Not a lot was made of the trip home. I did read while checking about it yesterday that all servicemen were not returned from the Pacific theater until September, 1946 – a full year after the end of the war! I bet those guys were anxious to get home!

        Tim Hughes

      • David November 4, 2014 at 11:43 am #

        Hi Tim
        I meant to tell you this morning that I have been in contact with the US National Archives in Maryland and requested the information regarding his liberation, the Cape Gloucester, Tryon as well as his journey from San Francisco to Tacoma, all the way through Canada to Toronto and then to New York – what a journey!

        I will happily share all of this with you.

        Here are a couple of links of the other prisoners from Fukuoka 25b and from which I deduced my father must have been with them;

        http://www.roll-of-honour.org.uk/p/html/parham-frederick-james.htm
        My Dad followed the same route through Canada

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alistair_UrquhartAlister Urquart

        USS Cape Glouster – Nagasaki to Okinawa
        USS Tyron – Okinawa to Manila Arrive 25 September
        USS Tyron – Manila to Honalulu Leave 9 October – Arrive 19 October
        Stopping one night for re-fueling
        USS Tyron – Honalulu to San Fransisco Leave 20 October – Arrive 26 October
        By train San Fransisco to New York Leave 1 November – Arrive 07 November
        Queen Mary New York to South hampton Leave 12 November – Arrive 17 November
        He went by rail from San Francisco to New York. I would like to know why they were split up into two? groups.

        Best wishes

        David

      • rememberthetitans November 5, 2014 at 10:20 am #

        Hi David – Thanks for the information – it’s very helpful to me! I have not had a chance to read through those web pages yet, but will soon. I’d be very interested in whatever you’re able to get from the NARA pertaining to Tryon. I hope that it answers some of your questions.

  9. Bob Leer March 30, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    Hi,

    I’m Bob Leer. My dad, Rudolph Leer, Jr. served aboard the Tryon. I found a Muster sheet dated Oct. 20, 1942. He passed away Christmas Eve. 1968 from a war disability and only once did I hear him speak of his experiences during the war. He never mentioned the ship(s) he was on. After his death my mother mentioned he had spent hours in the waters off Guadalcanal which was a direct link to his disability.

    If anyone knows, or has heard of, my dad, I appreciate hearing from you. My email is: bobleer321@gmail.com

    Thanks,
    Bob

    • rememberthetitans March 30, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

      Hi Bob –

      I think I can help you with at least some information on your dad. I’ll contact you via your email. Is the muster roll you’re talking about one of those I posted on here? I believe that your dad was among the original crew aboard Tryon when she first sailed for the South Pacific, which is really cool!! I don’t know that I’ll be able to answer many questions about his service, but I’ll at least be able to get you started. I’ll try to contact you again this evening with some other stuff.

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