MONTROSE — He was inquisitive about every little detail, and he was there with his grandfather, who wanted to educate his 8-year-old grandson, to educate the boy about his days on the U.S.S Montrose at a reception Saturday.
Georgia resident Tony Batten, the former mayor of the Georgia city of Blackshear, traveled to Montrose with his grandson Kayd Asbury – and more than a dozen former crew members – to celebrate their time on the ship named for Montrose County.
“We are all still, and forever will be, family,” said Batten, who served as a personnel officer on board from 1967 through 1968.
A replica of the U.S.S. Montrose (APA-212), a Haskell-class attack transport ship commissioned in 1944, was placed on permanent display at the Welcome Home Montrose Warrior Resource Center in Montrose for the event.
The vessel ferried thousands of soldiers and supplies to war during World War II, then in Korea and Vietnam. Every two years, the crewmen who served aboard the ship hold a reunion.
With pulled-pork sandwiches and dessert, crewmen wearing U.S.S. Montrose hats traded memories of their time on the ship and of the decades spent raising families.
Veteran Bob Hahn, who served on the ship from 1968 through 1969, and is president of the U.S.S. Montrose Association, said the association was given the model, but could not find a place in the United States to keep it.
“What’s a better place than to present the model to the city and county of Montrose, Colorado?” he asked.
The ship was manned by a crew of 530 and could carry about 1,550 soldiers, recalled Hahn, who manned its radar equipment.
“We will always be brothers,” Batten said, of those who served on its decks.
The U.S.S. Montrose was launched in September 1944, and commissioned three months later. In February 1945, the U.S.S. Montrose sailed west to prepare for the invasion of Okinawa.
In the 1950s, the ship was used to transport troops to Korea and on various training missions. In 1965 the ship sailed east to prepare for the Vietnam invasion. The following year the ship was used to attack Vietcong strongholds, as the war was officially breaking out.
The ship served through dozens of combat and training missions until it was sold for scrape in 1969. Over its career the U.S.S. Montrose received 10 battle stars for its service.
Hahn said the group is currently in the letter-writing process, hoping to persuade the U.S. Navy to use its name again, for a new ship.
Memorabilia from the ship can also be viewed at the Montrose County Historical Museum.
On Monday the city council proclaimed June 17 as U.S.S Montrose Day in the city.