LST-838 was laid down by American Bridge Co., Ambridge, Pa., 20 September 1944; launched 8 November; sponsored by Miss Margaret Foster; and commissioned 4 December, Lt. Allen T. Larkins, Jr., in command.
After shakedown off Florida, LST-838 loaded heavy construction equipment at New Orleans and departed 5 January 1945. Loading troops and additional cargo at Pearl Harbor, the landing ship sailed to the Mariana Islands, arriving Guam 4 March. She unloaded her cargo, then steamed to Saipan where she loaded equipment and embarked units of the 130th Naval Construction Battalion for the invasion of Okinawa.
Departing Saipan 25 March, LST-838 was en route to the heavily fortified Japanese stronghold, arriving off the southern Okinawa beaches 1 April. Despite a futile effort by the enemy to salvage the last barrier protecting their homeland, Allied forces succeeded in securing a beachhead. On D-day, after LST-884 was struck by a suicide plane, LST-838 recovered 79 survivors from the heavily damaged ship. The landing ship stood off the Coast of Okinawa until 13 April when she approached Green Beach to discharge Seabees and construction equipment. The following day during one of the many raids she splashed a Japanese plane.
Departing Okinawa on the 16th, LST-838 arrived Ulithi 6 days later. For the rest of the war she transported men and equipment throughout the South and Western Pacific Islands.
Following the victorious conclusion of World War II LST-838 moved men and equipment to Japan for occupation duties. She remained in the Far East until 7 November, when she departed Yokohama for Guam; then embarked 544 Army veterans and steamed to the United States, arriving San Francisco 23 December.
On 5 March 1946, LST-838 sailed to Portland, Oregon, and decommissioned at Vancouver, Wash., 7 August. She joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet and remained there until she recommissioned at Vallejo, Calif., 10 September 1966 to help meet the large demands for ships in the Vietnam war. While in reserve LST-838 was named USS Hunterdon County (LST – 838) 1 July 1955. Hunterdon County operated out of San Diego until sailing for the Far Fast early in 1967. She arrived Subic Bay 8 March and promptly busied herself transporting men and materiel in support of the Allied struggle to thwart Communist efforts to take over the Republic of South Vietnam.
The USS Hunterdon County continued to operate offshore and on the inland waters of the Mekong and Bassac Rivers of Southeast Asia through March 1971. Her crew was nicknamed the “Bastards of the Bassac”.
Awards earned during the Vietnam War: Combat Action Ribbon, (2) Presidential Unit Citation, (8) Navy Unit Commendations, RVN Gallantry Cross with Palm, RVN Civil Action Medal, First Class, with Palm, RVN Campaign Medal with 60’s device and the Vietnam Service Medal with (8) Battle Stars.