USS Madawaska / USS U.S. Grant AP-29

USS Madawaska 1917-1922
USS U.S. Grant AP-29 1922-1948

Formerly the Hamburg-Amerika Line Koing-Wilhelm II

Photo of the USS Madawaska during her WWI Trooping days. Notice her camouflage pattern.

Displacement: 15,010t; Length: 508'2"; Beam: 55'3"; Draft: 27'6"; Speed: 15.5 k.;
Ship's complement: 211, Troop capacity: 1,244, Armament (WWI): 4 six-inch deck guns; 2 machine gunns., 2 one pounders.

Konig Wilhelm II--renamed Madawaska in 1917 and U.S. Grant in 1922--was a steel-hulled screw steamer launched on 20 July 1907 at Stettin, Germany, by Vulcan Aktiengesellechaft. Built for the transatlantic passenger trade, Konig Wilhelm II operated between Hamburg, Germany, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, under the house flag of the Hamburg-Amerika Line, until the outset of World War I in 1914. Voluntarily interned at Hoboken, N.J., to avoid being captured by the Royal Navy, the passenger liner was seized after the United States entered the war on 6 April 1917, as were all other German vessels in American ports. Before agents of the Federal Government took possession of the ship, her German crew unsuccessfully attempted to render her unusable by cracking her main steam cylinders with hydraulic jacks. Following repairs to the damaged machinery, Konig Wilhelm II was assigned the identification number 3011 and commissioned on 27 August 1917, Lt. Charles McCauley in temporary command pending the arrival of Comdr. Edward H. Watson. Konig Wilhelm II was renamed Madawaska on 1 September 1917. Commander Watson was Skipper of the Madawaska for the first half of the war and then Captain Edward T. Constien took command through the end of the war.

The Madawaska was named after a town in Aroostook County, Maine, on the St. John River, 17 miles east-northeast of Fort Kent, Maine. The name Madawaska is a Mallescitte Indian word that means "land of porcupine." Madawaska was the name of an Mallescitte Indian Maiden that lived by a lake in the North woods of Maine. The Huron Indians, from the Great Lakes region were invading the Mallescitte Indians home lands in Northeastern Maine and captured the Maiden Madawaska. The invading Huron Indians had Madawaska in a canoe on the St. John River approaching the Mallescitte Indians for attack. Madawaska knew this river well and she knew that they were approaching a falls in the river. She knew that if she kept quite that all the Hurons in the canoes would be killed going over that falls but this also meant that she would be killed as well being that she was in the same canoe. She had only one choice to save her people and she kept quite and she and the attacking Huron Indian warriors all were killed when they went over the falls on the St. John River. Madawaska, Maine holds the distinction of being the most Northeastern town in the United States.

Madawaska was assigned to the Cruiser and Transport Force of the Atlantic Fleet. During World War I, she conducted 10 transatlantic voyages in which she carried nearly 12,000 men to Europe. She had an average complement of 39 officers and 550 men and a carrying capacity of 2,400 troops. Among her crew was Navy Chaplain William N. Thomas, who would later become Rear Admiral William Nathaniel Thomas, CHC, USN, July 1945 - September 1949 Chief of Chaplains. Chaplain Thomas served on the Madawaska until September of 1919.

During her first transatlantic voyage in November of 1917 she carried 1,671 passengers and traveled in convoy and the escorts were the cruiser USS San Diego and the destroyer USS Rowan (DD64). After the armistice of 11 November 1918, Madawaska made seven more voyages, bringing 17,000 men home from the European theater. On 19 February 1919 she was captured on film by photographer of the G. L. Hall Optical Co., of Norfolk, VA. The photographer had taken a panoramic photograph of her tied to the dock in the Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia still wearing her wartime dazzle camouflage paint. She completed the last of these runs upon her arrival at New York on 23 August 1919. She was decommissioned on 2 September 1919, two years and a day after she had began her service of transporting troops and simultaneously was transferred to the War Department.

Sailing for the Pacific soon thereafter, Madawaska embarked elements of the Czech Legion at Vladivostok, Russia, early in 1920, as part of the evacuation of that force in the wake of the Russian Civil War in Siberia. The ship sailed to Fiume, Yugoslavia, and disembarked her Czech passengers to return to their homeland. Subsequently sailing for New York, Madawaska was inactivated and turned over to the United States Shipping Board for lay-up.

The following year, however, the War Department reacquired the vessel and authorized a major refit for her before she could resume active service. During this overhaul, which would last through the spring of 1922, the ship was fitted with modern marine water-tube boilers for greater safety in operation and to enable the ship to make increased speed. On 3 June 1922, at Brooklyn, N.Y., the transport was renamed USS U.S. Grant, Princess Cantacuzene, wife of Major General Prince Cantacuzene, Count Speransky of Russia, and a granddaughter of the former President of the United States, General Ulysses S. Grant, christened the ship.

For almost two decades, U.S. Grant soldiered on in the Army Transport Service, maintaining a regular schedule of voyages carrying troops, passengers, and supplies along a route which included calls at San Francisco, Calif.; Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii; Guam; Manila, Philippine Islands; Chinwangtao and Shanghai, China; the Panama Canal Zone, and New York. For many of these years of service in the Pacific, U.S. Grant served as the sole source of refrigerated stores from the United States. Her periodic arrivals at Apra Harbor invariably produced a temporary improvement in the diet of Americans living in Guam.

Leonard B. Chapman shared with me the experiences of his father Leonard J. Chapman, who was in the Army Air Corps during the late 20's. He sailed for the Philippine Islands on the USS U.S. Grant.

Leonard J. Chapman is still living and is a young age of 95 years.

Here is a scanned picture of the U.S. Grant taken from a "Christmas Dinner" menu, dated 1928 titled "U.S. Transport Grant"

Leonard J. Chapman relates about sailing on the U.S. Grant:

"We left Angel Island, San Francisco, Calif., in March of 1927 for the Philippine Islands stopping in Hawaii, and Guam on the way. It was not long before the ship, the U.S.S. Grant, encountered rough seas. Of course I and most of the other service men became sea sick from the large swells. During this time, the crew had to install large nets along side the ship because of the "flying fish" that were skimming across the deck. Some of the men had been hit by the fish while leaning over the rails throwing up what little was left in their stomachs! We also had large garbage cans for the troops to use. I was given permission to see the engine room, and was amazed to see a two cylinder, fuel oil steam engine. The cylinders were about 4 feet across and in a inline configuration. At a (brisk!) 9 knots the Grant made the trip to the Philippine Islands in 29 days with day lay-over in the Hawaiian Islands and the island of Guam. It was the first ocean trip I had made, and was in no rush to make another."

Leonard J. Chapman, 95 years young.

The US Grant, on the left and an unidentified ship on the right at the pier in Honolulu, Hawaii circa 1938-1941.

On one voyage to Guam, the transport was nearly lost. On the late afternoon of 19 May 1939, U.S. Grant ran aground on the dangerous inner reef in the as-yet unfinished harbor. Fortunately, the accident did not occur during typhoon season. The combined efforts of Penguin (AM-33) and Robert L. Barnes (AG-27) failed to budge the ship off the coral, leading the Acting Governor of Guam, Comdr. George W. Johnson, to hit upon a man of action in collaboration (by radio) with Capt. Richmond K. Turner, in Astoria (CA-34), which was then en route to the island.

For 21 hours, members of the U.S. Naval Insular Force and local stevedores unloaded 300 tons of cargo from the grounded U.S. Grant, while much of her fuel was transferred to Robert L. Barnes and Admiral Halstead. Astoria--en route for the United States after carrying Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Saito's ashes back to his homeland--arrived at 0630 on 21 May. She took up her assigned position, as did Penguin, Robert L. Barnes and Admiral Halstead, at 0809 U.S. Grant lurched free of the coral reef, to the accompaniment of cheers from the transport's crew. The island's newspaper, The Guam Recorder, subsequently reported in its June 1939 edition: "The short time in which the difficult operation was carried out was due to the efficient cooperation of all involved, the Army, Navy, and Merchant Marine." All cargo was soon reloaded, and U.S. Grant resumed her voyage.

She continued under the aegis of the Army Transportation Service through 1940. Then as war clouds gathered in the Pacific and Atlantic, U.S. Grant was subsequently reacquired by the Navy. Armed with seven 3-inch guns (she had been unarmed while serving as an Army transport), the vessel was refitted at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., and was commissioned on 16 June 1941, Capt. Herbert R. Hein in command. Continuing her service as a transport, the ship received the classification of AP-29.

U.S. Grant operated between ports on the west coast and into the Aleutian Islands through the outbreak of war in the Pacific on 7 December 1941. She carried passengers and cargo to Alaskan ports as the United States built up its defenses in that area against possible thrusts by Japan. Here is an account of this voyage, which began on 5 December 1941 from a man (who is now in his 70's) who was a young boy traveling with his family at the time.

The Grant's voyage from Seattle to Seward, Alaska, by the way of Kodiak from a young boy who was there.

On the foggy, cold morning of December 5, 1941 the Navy transport U.S. Grant sailed from Seattle on its way to re-supply Dutch Harbor at the far tip of Alaska's Aleutian chain of islands, and then on to the port of Seward, Alaska. Aboard in addition to its Navy crew, were some 1200 wives and children of service and civilian personnel of the Alaska Defense Command. This included your writer, age 11.

The ship, all painted in battleship grey, seemed an enormous vessel to someone from the plains of the mid-west. The assigned cabin below the boat deck with its gleaming woodwork, overstuffed furnishings, and brass fittings indicated that this ship had once been a luxurious ocean liner.

Everyone settled in for a deck chair, white gloved and white-coated service in the dining halls, movies on the afterdeck, and music, cards and dancing nightly in the lounges kind of voyage.

December 7 found the Grant well out to sea. It was the first really sunny day since leaving port. The passengers, bundled to the eyes, were mostly on deck enjoying the rolling whitecaps passing by and the bright sky. Sometime after lunch, whistles and sirens began sounding frantically with calls of "All hands to general quarters". People grumbled about having their Sunday interrupted by another of those awful drills, officers in their long coats and white, silk scarves ran about urging everyone to go quickly to their quarters and await further orders. They certainly didn't act like it was a drill.

The captain came on "the horn", and calmly announced that Pearl Harbor was being attacked by Japan and America was now at war. The ship would now divert from the course to Dutch Harbor, and make for Kodiak Island with all due speed. Stay off the decks as much as possible because the ship was going to zigzag erratically from here on out. Rope lines would be rigged to assist the passengers. Complete radio silence meant that the ship was cut off from the world. Twice a day the news was read out to the passengers. On a large map in the main lounge, a line of pins and thread indicated the ship's daily progress.

While sitting in the cabin and listening to orders over the horn about no smoking on deck after sundown, no lights on deck, no open port holes (how could one with every hole wrenched shut), and no trash overboard at anytime, there were sailors painting the port holes inside and out, and exchanging all light bulbs for small red ones, and confiscating all flashlights. Then the big guns in the turrets forward and aft together with some heavy machine-guns began a terrible noise that made the ship tremble, and thoroughly frightened almost everyone. This was just one of the daily "limberings" that would follow.

For the next few days many people suffered "mal de mer" because of the erratic movements of the ship together with the rough seas. To get control of the kids and keep them occupied, school age children were assigned to classes where they were kept quite busy with the usual reading, writing and arithmetic, and a generous dose of Navy calisthenics, boat drills, and naval skills. These skills included, knot tying, rope splicing, ship and aircraft identification, and Morris Code, using flashlights in the classrooms. Eager participation was assured by generous rewards of ice cream, cookies, fruit juice, and donuts, cupcakes with nuts and raisins, and hot coco. The teachers were mostly the toughest looking, seamen aboard. Their hearts were pure gold however.

Several days later the ship suddenly went on a straight course, and an old 4-stack destroyer from WWI pulled alongside out of the mist and began taking aboard fresh supplies. It was simply amazing to see these men in beards and heavy clothing, moving with sure footed agility on their tiny ship while it bucked and dove in the heavy seas, with none being tossed overboard. Passengers manned the rails and cheered the little ship as the sailors waved back and she sped away into the mist. Everyone felt a little better knowing that this greyhound was out there, somewhere, shadowing our ship and fending off some silent attacker.

The sight of Kodiak, black against the bitter cold, cheered the entire ship. The Grant proceeded through the opened submarine net and into a long bay surrounded by tall, snow-clad mountains. They tied up next to a pier at the near end of the bay, far from the village that could be seen at the far end. No one knew at that time that the ship carried munitions as well as food stuffs, and this was decided to be the safest berth to keep it from endangering the local population, should it be bombed. Just to be still at last, inside a harbor, was good enough. Little did the passengers realize how long they would be there.

When at last the realization that Christmas would be celebrated aboard the ship, to keep up peoples sagging spirits, preparations began. Christmas music was piped throughout the ship. The crew and local people came aboard with fir bows to festoon the ship, and Christmas trees were set up in several locations for the children to decorate. Also, school buses came alongside to take people to town to meet the citizens and shop for the coming event. It should be noted that the ship was allowed to be covered with snow to help make in undetectable from the air.

Most of the town's people were Aleuts, gracious, and friendly people, happy to greet these outsiders. The children organized games in the school gym, and gave presents in exchange to every child. It's worth noting that the chief interest of the ship's youngster was a gigantic, stuffed bear that stood in the corner of the local general store. His claws were longer than a child's hand. They were told that the bear had acquired a taste for the local dogs. He came to town once too often. They ate him. This stopped complaints from the kids that they couldn't get off the ship to play in the snow.

One black night after Christmas, the passengers were suddenly and quietly packed up, with the assistance of the crew. They were bundled like fat penguins against the bitter cold and off loaded in small groups to be loaded again, group by group, onto a flotilla of small fishing boats which then motored out to the center of the bay. The Grant's crew hugged children and shed not a few tears for these people who had become like family for them. The last view of the Grant was a fading image in the thickening fog and the long, mournful sounding of her great horn. The Grant had supplied these boats with food and abundant hot coffee and hot coco.

The flotilla then exited the bay and spread out in a mad dash for Seward in total darkness, with a broad carpet of stars and the shimmering movements of the beautiful Northern Lights. They safely made that crossing with their passengers huddled in any space out of the cold, and too ill from the bobbing and dipping of these craft to care what happened.

Morning found the tired and enervated group looking at the docks of Seward appearing out of the fog. On shore their loved ones cheered and greeted them. The first present each received was a gas mask. This shoulder bag had to be worn everywhere you went outside your quarters.

The passengers walked through the silent streets, bone weary and still tossing about in their minds from the sea, to where a train awaited them. Once aboard seated, and refreshingly warm, almost everyone fell asleep. Christmas would be celebrated again some days after New Years.

No sooner had everyone settled into his or her quarters in Anchorage or Fairbanks than the government decided that Alaska was not safe. Once again, in February 1942, all Dependents were packed up and sent on ships, via "the inside passage", back to Seattle.

The writer solely to add to the history of this ship and its brave crew, black, white or brown submitted this narrative, which deserve never to be forgotten.

In February and March of 1942 the U.S. Grant conducted voyages to the Hawaiian Islands. During the former month, she returned some 1,000 enemy aliens (mostly Japanese with a sprinkling of Germans) for placement in internment camps in the southwestern United States. Among these passengers was prisoner of war number one, Lt. Kazuo Sakamaki, whose midget submarine had run aground off Barber's Point, Oahu, on 7 December 1941. In April, U.S. Grant resumed trips to Alaskan ports carrying troops from Seattle to American bases on the Alaskan mainland and in the Aleutians and continued this vital routine until the spring of 1942.

The Battle of the Coral Sea during May 1942 convinced the Japanese that a thrust at Midway Island was imperative, in an attempt to draw out the American fleet--particularly the dwindling number of vital carriers. Consequently, a powerful Japanese fleet sailed for Midway, while a smaller task force headed northward for the Aleutians to launch a diversionary raid. Carrier-based planes from the carrier Ryujo struck Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on 3 June, and Japanese troops occupied Attu and Kiska islands on the 7th.

During this time, U.S. Grant carried troops to Kodiak, Alaska, and Cold Bay into the summer. She narrowly escaped being torpedoed while proceeding from Seattle to Dutch Harbor in convoy on 20 July. Alert lookouts picked out the tracks of two torpedoes and evasive action enabled the ship to avoid the deadly "fish" which passed close aboard, from starboard to port.

The venerable transport disembarked Army troops at Massacre Bay on 14 June, three days after the initial landings. The following month, as American and Canadian troops prepared to assault Kiska, Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell broke his flag in U.S. Grant as Commander, Task Force 61.

During this operation, U.S. Grant served as combination transport and communications vessel. The Americans eventually discovered that the Japanese had stolen away like nomads, leaving only a few dogs to "contest" the landings, and had completed their evacuation, undetected by the Allies, by 28 July. During the Kiska landings, the transport not only carried Army troops, but also a Mexican liaison group; a detachment of Canadian troops, and a group of civilian correspondents.

After a period of repairs in late 1943, which lasted into 1944, U.S. Grant resumed coastwise voyages to Alaska. From April to December, she shifted to the eastern Pacific to operate between Hawaii and the west coast. She often embarked medical patients to return them to the west coast from Hawaiian area hospitals. Arriving at San Francisco after one such voyage on 23 January 1945, U.S. Grant disembarked passengers and got underway the same afternoon without passengers or escort, bound for the Caribbean. Transiting the Panama Canal, after embarking passengers at Balboa, the ship operated in the Caribbean for the next six months, between the West Indies and New Orleans, La., until the end of the war.

U.S. Grant returned to Pacific duty in September, departing San Francisco on the 18th for Okinawa, via Eniwetok. She arrived at Okinawa on 12 October, in the wake of a destructive typhoon, and took on board 1,273 passengers for transportation to the United States, getting underway from the island on 21 October.

Arriving at San Francisco on 7 November, U.S. Grant disembarked her passengers soon thereafter. One week later, on 14 November, the transport was decommissioned and returned to the War Department. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 28 November

Turned over to the Maritime Commission, the erstwhile transport and veteran of two world wars was sold to the Boston Metals Co. on 24 February 1948 for scrapping.

U.S. Grant received one battle star for her World War II service.

Sailings of the Madawaska during WWI

Sailing Date Units Carried
Enlisted men
11 November, 1917 20th Engineers
Detachment Radio Op
12 January, 1918 Supply Companies 306, 307, 308
Machine Shop Truck Units 301-306 inclusive
Evacuation Hospital No. 3 (2d Phase)
Motor Supply Train No. 408
7 March, 1918 6 Machine Shop Truck Units
Aero Squadrons 474, 477, 480-486, 415
Quartermaster Replacements, Stevedores
15 April, 1918 32d Division Casuals
1st Bn, 4th Inf., 3rd Division (3d phase)
Machinegun Co., & Co. A & F, 371st Inf.
Co. A, 390th Labor Bn.
17 May, 1918 Co. G and 1st Bn. 319th Inf. 80th Division (3d phase)
Co. B, 102d Tr. Hq & Military Police, 27th Division
30 June, 1918 Hq, 52d Field Artillery Brigade, 27th Division
105th Field Artillery, 27th Division
102d Supply Train, 27th Division
Bakery Co. No. 101, 27th Division
27th Division Casuals

A large group of WWI Doughboys ready to disembark. This view is forward of the pilot house.

Virgil David, US Grant Crewmen During WWII

My Favorite Ship...the old "Bucket of Bolts"

Kim L. David shared with me the experiences of his father Virgil David, who was a crewmen on the USS US Grant during WWII.

Virgil David is the guy on the left of the 20mm Oerlikon gun.

Virgil David was born 1 February 1921 in Cleveland, Ohio. Virgil entered the Navy thru the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago and served on several vessels during WWII, but he US Grant affectionately known as the "Bucket of Bolts", was his favorite. While on the US Grant Virgil was on the engineering crew, and he liked to share many of the stories of life at sea on the USS Grant and his son Kim would enjoy them over and over again. Virgil shared stories of the Panama voyage, Alaska, and the South Pacific voyages, San Francisco, and the nearby Naval Weapons Center near Concord. Sadly Virgil passed away 2 years ago (August 20, 2002).

Many times Virgil told his two sons and grandson of the Japanese sailor suit he found in the Aleutians. The family began to suspect that he might have been the one who did the sailor in, despite his denial. After Virgil's death the family found the sailor suit and had a Japanese translator from American Airlines read the labels. The suit was comprised of pieces from 3 Japanese sailors, one of whom was from Hiroshima.

This is the inscription Virgil wrote on the Japanese sailor suit that he found at Kiska Island on 15 August 1943.

Kim related how the family found two photo albums that Virgil had with a lot of WWII pictures, some store bought, some of his own. During the war film was extremely hard to get and that Virgil had to wait to get to Seattle or San Francisco to get it developed. There were a lot of shots from the USS Grant. Along with these photos was an American flag from Attu, with battle damaged.

In the David Family there has been a Christmas tradition over the past few years. It was a 1942 Christmas menu from the USS US Grant. Virgil David remembered that particular Christmas well and liked the Captain of the ship and said that he was a good man. Virgil got a big kick out of it and said he had no idea that he would someday be eating Neapolitan ice cream with his 2 sons and one grandson.

The 1942 Christmas Menu that became a David family tradition.

Virgil's son Kim David related this story that her father told about while serving on the old "Bucket of Bolts":

"Virgil David took his ice skates everywhere the Grant went. He was skating on a frozen river at some port in the Alaska, where there was a bar in town and people on shore leave were mostly in there getting drunk. A lookout on the ship was watching him skate thru binoculars. The lookout spotted a large bear chasing Virgil who was totally unaware of the creature. Captain Karan ordered the ship's horn to be blasted with the "emergency, return to ship" signal. That meant EVERYBODY, including the guys in the bar. Of course, the signal was meant to call in the one person in danger. It seems that Virgil was not too popular with the crew for the next few days..."

The Master of the USS U.S. Grant, Captain Karan

Kim David remembers that his father Virgil saying that Captain Karan was a very good man, serious, but very fair and well liked by the crew. One Officer who was an "Old School" pre war disciplinarian was a guy named "B.T. Snagg" who had a handlebar moustache and was universally hated by the crew. One guy on the engineering gang pulled Snagg aside and threatened to kill him. Captain Karan ordered the entire engineering crew to his cabin and asked them if they ever heard anyone threaten B.T. Snagg. They all lied through their teeth and said "no". Later, the captain told my dad they were "all full of shit", but stay out of Snagg's way. Some time later, someone greased the handrails that led down into the engine room (the engineering crew NEVER touched the steps on the way down, just hit the landing and grab the next rails down). According to my dad, Snagg "busted his ass" and put everyone on report. The rails were cleaned of grease, the Captain came down to inspect them, and told Snagg to lay off the crew, no grease there!. Snagg was transferred after a near accident where a big handwheel fell off a steam valve fell from high above and broke his toes, and narrowly missed killing him. I was told that this was the last straw for Snagg, who transferred immediately, with the Captains blessings. The valve handwheel mishap was not planned, but they agreed it couldn't happen to a better guy! The photo album that Virgil left to his son Kim David has many photos but none known to be B.T. Snagg. My dad said film was extremely hard to get even in Seattle and San Francisco. He was lucky to get what he had and was able to get it developed with the help of the USO ladies in Seattle. Snagg got the "silent treatment" all the time where the guys would ignore everything he said like he was a ghost or something. No film wasted on him! The 2 albums covered most of the war with a few photos before and after. There were lots of old girlfriends...about 1/2 of each album.

Above on the left Virgil David corking off some steam in a Hula Skirt. Probably this was taken when the US Grant was in Hawaiian waters. On the right Virgil showing off his tattoo, this also may have been taken in Hawaii.

A photo taken by Virgil David of the USS US Grant heading off to war as she passes under the Golden Gate Bridge while heading out of San Francisco during WWII.

USS Madawaska Crew: Robert F. Luce, Lieutenant Commander, U.S.N.R.F,

On September 24, 1917, Robert F. Luce was enrolled as Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve Force and on October 17, in accordance with orders, he reported to the Commandant, U.S. Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., where he was assigned to the Public Works Department for duty of inspection and various duties in connection with the erection of a large number of new buildings and other engineering projects at the yard.

On November 3, 1917, he was detached from duty at the Washington Navy Yard, transferred to the Naval Auxiliary Reserve (Class 3), and ordered to report for duty on the USS Madawaska. On November 8, 1917, he was assigned to duty as Watch Officer and Junior Division Officer of the 3rd (Deck) Division of the USS Madawaska for instruction to prepare himself to take charge of that division, by relieving the Ordnance Officer then in charge. On November 12, 1917, she sailed on her first trip abroad with troops and on this voyage Lieutenant Luce was assigned to the duty of Assistant Navigator, he was later assigned as Navigator, Senior Member of the Hull Board of the Vessel and Chief Censor of the Vessel. On February 14, 1918, upon the recommendation of his Commanding Officer, Captain Edward Watson, U.S.N., he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander U.S.N.R.F. He remained attached to the USS Madawaska until February 25, 1919, when he was relieved from active duty with the U.S. Navy and on February 27, 1919, he returned to the Coast and Geodetic Survey.

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