Biography of


 James C. Marshall








James Clarence Marshall was born April 26, 1925, in Detroit, Michigan. The son of Clarence J. and Pauline Marshall. They resided at 13848 Seymour Ave. Detroit, Michigan. His siblings were brothers Clarence and Kenneth, and sister Joy Marie Marshall.


Living in the Detroit area, Jim was always interested in the water and the vessels that sailed the lakes and nearby river. Jim attended Catholic Central High School, Detroit, Michigan, in which he graduated in the summer of 1944. Even before Jim graduated from high school, like many young individuals he worked at various jobs. He worked part-time for his father at the A.J. Marshall Company from June of 1942, until June of 1944. Upon graduation from high school he worked for the Wyandott Transportation Co. Wyandott, Michigan, as a Messman on lake freighters from June 1944 to October 1944. While trying to make arrangements to join the armed forces, Jim worked for Lee F. Redman Jr. Studios, Detroit, Michigan, from October 1944 to January 1945. Because of a severe asthma condition, Jim was unsuccessful in his attempts to join the Navy, Merchant Marines and Army. His determination to serve his country during the war effort however was not effected. With his background knowledge of restaurant supplies and his experience while working on the lake freighters, Jim was able to become a part of the United States Army Transport Service, Water Division. Beginning in January, 1945, through May of 1946 Jim was assigned to three ocean-going troopships and served his country honorably.


What was the U.S. Army Transport Service?

The Army Transport Service (ATS) was organized in late 1898 as an integral part of the Army Quartermaster Department. The concept for an Army operated fleet had its origins with the experiences of the military sealift during the Spanish-American War when U.S. flag commercial shipping was found in part unresponsive to the Army's needs.

During the early twentieth century, the Army operated a large transpacific sealift consisting of its own ships as well as a number of commercial bottoms partly of foreign registry which it time-chartered for support of American troops during the Philippine Insurrection and for the Relief of Peking. Following 1904, a somewhat skeletonized fleet remained in service until the entry of the United States into World War I.

Rapidly expanded, by early 1918 the Army was manning with its own crews in excess of fifty ships in support of the American Expeditionary Force in France. In July of 1918, beset by disciplinary problems with its employees, the War Department requested that the Navy's Overseas Transportation Service take over the Army operated fleet, but this had not been completely accomplished by the time of the Armistice.

Starting in early 1919, the Army began taking back its historic sealift function. With the severe reduction in military requirements which took place beginning in 1921, the fleet reverted to a small nucleus of mainly transports engaged in serving American holdings in the Pacific.

With the beginning of World War II, the fleet was again expanded. In 1942, the Army Transport Service was absorbed into the Army's Transportation Corps, becoming part of the Water Division, its civilian seamen employees being classified as members of the Water Division's "Civilian Branch."

At peak force during WWII, the Army's owned and bareboat chartered fleet have been enumerated as follows:

Self Propelled Vessels Over 1,000 gross tons and over 200 feet LOA:

35 large troop transports
16 cargo
55 inter-island
2 cable laying
1 news and communication
36 floating, self-propelled warehouse, repair, spare parts, and miscellaneous
23 hospital

With but few exceptions, the large tonnage ships were manned by civilian seamen of the Water Division. Of the large tonnage fleet, 31 vessels were lost to either enemy action or marine casualty.

Self propelled vessels less than 1000 gross tons and less than 200 feet LOA but which were over 65 feet in length:

510 freight supply
104 Y class tankers
746 tugs of various classes

[All of the above statistics are inclusive of both the Army Transport Service and the later Transportation Corps (Water Division)]

The small craft were in part manned by the Civilian Branch of the Water Division and in part by military crews. The military crews were Army and/or Coast Guard, the latter operating under Army control. Of the small tonnage fleet, 28 vessels were lost to either enemy action or marine casualty.

During WWII, the Army's civilian seamen labor force numbered at its peak strength approximately 15,000 men. Taken throughout the war, it has been estimated that around 20,000 civilians in the aggregate were employed by the Army aboard those vessels which saw service outside of the US continental limits. The Transportation Corps, Water Division (Civilian Branch) suffered a total of 529 men lost to enemy action or marine casualty.

From 1941 to 1945, the Transportation Corps moved 30 million soldiers within the United States and carried seven million soldiers and 126 million tons of supplies overseas; a decisive part in the Allied victory. During the early 1950s, the Navy's Military Sea Transport Service took over the Army's prior role in oceangoing shipping. The Army Transportation Corps still operates a substantial fleet of small craft, the crews of which are now all military.



Starting in January 1945, Jim was assigned to the United States Army Transport vessel USAT George Washington. His first assignment was as a waiter. The USAT George Washington was berthed in the New York Port of Embarkation, Brooklyn, New York. She was transporting troops to the European Theater, for assignments in France and Germany.  On the 19th of January 1945, the 129th moved from Camp Mackall, NC, to Camp Shanks, NY, for overseas deployment. Six days later the battalion arrived by train to New York and embarked on the U.S.A.T. George Washington and landed in Le Harve, France on February 7th. On that same day the regiments were packed into 40 and 8s bound for the staging area called Camp Lucky Strike, 200 miles SE of Le Harve in the town of Auxerre, France. The USAT George Washington was a part of several troop transports that were dodging the German U-boats in the North Atlantic.  Below is a photograph of the USAT George Washington:



US Army Transport (USAT) George Washington.


721 feet long; 23,788 tons displacement.

6,341 troops embarked.

Built in Germany in 1908.

Operated by a Merchant Marine crew.

Jim’s tour on the USAT George Washington expired with his debarkation in April, 1945, in the port of Boston, Mass.


Jim’s next assignment was on the USAT Shawnee, berthed at the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, Fort Mason, California.



 San Francisco Port of Embarkation

Fort Mason became the Army's supply and transportation center for the Pacific.


On December 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor brought America and Fort Mason into World War II. Fort Mason served as the headquarters for the San Francisco Port Embarkation (SFPOE) which funneled supplies and troops to the Pacific Theater of war. Over 1 ˝ million passengers and 23 million ship tons of cargo (one ship ton equally 40 cubic feet) left the SFPOE, Fort Mason was a scene of constant activity with buildings squeezed into every available space. Liberty Ships lined the piers as they were stuffed to capacity for their Pacific voyage. These same "ugly ducklings" brought home our soldiers and supplies at the end of the war. Today, the Liberty Ship Jeremiah O'Brien, docked at Pier 3, is a proud reminder of the past and is open to the general public.


The USAT Shawnee was once again a troopship carrying supplies and new troops to the war effort that was raging in the Pacific. Jim spent two terms of employment on the Shawnee, from May, 1945, to August, 1945, and again from September, 1945, until November, 1945, as a Steward/Storekeeper. Even though the USAT Shawnee was in berth between voyages, Jim was still assigned to the vessel manning cadre. This is the group that re-supplies the vessels before going out again. On September 23, 1945, while working on the USAT Shawnee, there was a fire that occurred on “B” deck; Jim was part of the ships crew that went to work in saving the vessel from severe fire damage. He was awarded an accommodation letter for his efforts. Below is the account of the incident and a copy of the letter placed in Jim’s file:








24 September 1945


TO:       Commander Albert T. Berry, U.S.N.R.

            Marine Superintendent

            Fort Mason, California


From:   Niels P. Sorensen, Master

            USAT “SHAWNEE


            At approximately 1215, 23 September 1945, Master-at-arms Arthur E. Hayden detected smoke on “A” deck.  Upon investigation he discovered heavy smoke in the port passageway on “B” deck. He immediately went to the bridge and sounded the fire alarm on the ship’s whistle. At the same time, the automatic fire alarm sounded indicating fire in Zone #6, “B” deck.


            Mr. E. W. Daughtery, 3rd Officer, and Mr. Stanley Wasser, Third Assistant Engineer were eating lunch in the Officer’s Mess.  When the alarm sounded, they immediately went to their fire stations.  The Third Assistant Engineer, Mr. Wasser supervised the starting of the fire pump in the Engine Room.  The Ship’s crew assisted in fighting the fire.


            At approximately 1225, Army Fire Tugs #367 and 368 arrived along side and assisted in fighting the fire. At approximately 1230, Army fire trucks from Fort Mason responded.  Fire was brought under control and was out at approximately 1245.  At approximately 1245, the City Fire Department arrived.  Due to the fact that the emergency was over, they were sent back to their station.


            The fire, cause of which is as yet undetermined.  Started in room 232, port side of “B” deck.  Damage was confined to room 232 and adjoining room 230, outside passageway, and the overhead in the area of these rooms.


            Fire Chief Sweeny of the Fort Mason Fire Department stated that due to the prompt action of the Ship’s crew, the fire was prevented from getting out of control and spreading to a larger area which might have resulted in much more serious damage.


            Fire Tugs 367 and 368 stood by the vessel until all danger of fire was over and were then dispatched back to their berths.


            Fire tugs 367 and 368 and the Fort Mason Fire Department should be commended for their prompt response and assistance in fighting the fire.










Niels P. Sorensen,  Master, Page 2










Certified True Copy:                               

                                                USAT “SHAWNEE








                                                                                                                                2 October 1945.


Captain Niels P. Sorensen, Master


                San Francisco Port of Embarkation,

Fort Mason, California.


Dear Captain Sorensen:


It has been brought to my attention that the alertness and attention to duty of certain members of your crew undoubtedly saved your vessel from a disastrous fire on 23, September 1945. I desire to commend these members of the ship's crew, listed below, for the prompt and intelligent action each of them took during this emergency. This commendation, to­gether with copies of your own letter, will be placed on each individual's 201-"File.


E. W. Daugherty, 3rd Officer

Arthur E. Hayden, Master-at-_ms

Roque C. Lachica, Quartermaster

P. Timtiman, Quartermaster

E. Nasalga, Quartermaster

Stanley Wasser, 3rd Ass't Engineer

Ivan H. Hargrave, Jr. 3rd Ass't Engineer Anthony Oreo. Chief Refrigeration Engineer

 Virgil H. HiId. Oiler

Raymond Siedal. Ass't Refr. Engineer

J. W. Logan, Watertender

William Hill, Fireman

T. J. Ramey, Wiper

Paul Sabo, Jr., 3rd Ass't Engineer

R. L. Hefflefinger, Fireman

C. G. Sigalas, Oiler

William Pruitt, Fireman

John Newton, Fireman

William E. Berkley. Watertender

Mr. Lefler, Oiler

Mr. Griffin, Oiler

Thomas Hardman, Watertender

J. Marshall. Steward Department

L_ Kerst, Steward Department

R. Cabellero. Steward Department

W. Pestel. Steward Department

T/S Richardson. Army

S/S Glasco. Army

Michael Sorvillo. Administrative

CERT1FIED TRUE COPY:                                                  /s/ John R. Reilly

                                                                                                                JOHN R. REILLY

                                                                                                                Colonel, TC

                                                                                                                Superintendent, Water Division

201-fi1e- : J. Marshall, Steward Department “SHAWNEE”

The Shawnee sailed the Pacific region and was manned by a merchant marine crew. The ship was protected by the Navy Armed Guard; one of the members of this Armed Guard unit was Calvin Cantrill. Calvin was assigned to the 20mm gun, on the port side aft of the vessel. In conversations with Calvin, he has stated that the ship sailed from San Francisco Port of Embarkation at Fort Mason, California to Hollandia, New Guinea. They would ferry troops from island to island and used Hollandia as a home base. Some of the ports-of-call were Port Moresby at the south end to Biak at the north end. They would also shuttle troops in the South Pacific, to the Philippines port in Manila and Leyte Bay to Brisbane in Australia. During one account while in the Coral Sea, they were hit by a typhoon. The ship would list from the port side and the life boats would fill with water, then the boat would list to the starboard side and those lifeboats would fill with water and the port side lifeboats would empty. The Armed Guard crew members had to lash themselves to the railing to keep from being swept overboard. Below is a photograph of the USAT Shawnee:




USAT Shawnee- The only 2 stack troopship in the Pacific.


In November 1945, Jim was debarked from the USAT Shawnee.


His next assignment was with the USAT George Washington Carver. The Liberty ship George Washington Carver was built in November, 1943, acquired by the War Department, renamed Dogwood, and converted to a hospital ship. In January 1946 she was converted to a troop transport and reverted to her former name. George Washington Carver was scrapped in 1964 in Oakland, California.

Jim was assigned in January, 1946, to the USAT George Washington Carver as an Assistant Steward/ Storekeeper. Again this vessel was assigned to the Pacific Theater.  She like the USAT Shawnee was based out of the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, Fort Mason, California. Below is a photograph of the USAT George Washington Carver:



USAT George Washington Carver


Jim’s service ended on the USAT George Washington Carver in May, 1946. He was disembarked at the port in Seattle, Washington. From here Jim returned home to Detroit Michigan. He married Mabel Claire Knott May 29, 1947, and had four children: Christine Marshall (Ray), James Marshall, Deborah Marshall (Buchholz), and Janice Marshall. They continued to live in Detroit, Michigan, until 1970 when they moved to Tucson, Arizona.

In April of 1999 the efforts of the men and woman that served in the Army Transport Service were recognized for the contributions to the war effort. They were awarded veterans status by the Department of Defense. Below is a copy of the letter changing the status of these individuals to veterans.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs

Washington DC 20420

                                                                                                            April14, 1999

The Honorable Diana DeGette

House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515


Dear Congresswoman DeGette:

Thank you for your inquiry in behalf of your constituent who contacted your office in regard to his entitlement to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits based on his service in the Merchant Marines.


The Department of Defense (DoD) announced January 19, 1988 that certain Merchant Marine seamen now qualify as veterans.

Merchant Seamen who engaged in active ocean-going service from December 7, 1941, to December 31.1946, are eligible to apply-for a certificate of release or discharge from the DoD. This will than entitle the holder to apply for VA benefits currently available to World War II veterans.


Also, Civil Service crew members aboard U.S. Army Transport Service and Naval Transportation Service vessels in ocean-ongoing service or foreign waters were included in the DoD action.


Generally, the newly designated veterans and their survivors are eligible to apply for the same benefits that are now available to other World War II veterans. These benefits include medical care, service connected disability compensation, pension, VA-guaranteed home loans, burial benefits, and certain survivors' benefits. They are not eligible for VA-administered education programs, although, in certain limited circumstances they may establish eligibility for vocational rehabilitation. Legislation would be required to authorize any additional benefits to Merchant seaman; however, during the last session of Congress, no legislation was introduced to extend or grant additional benefits to Merchant seaman.


Your interest is appreciated.


     PHILIP R. MAYO.         .

Congressional Liaison Services

 James Clarence Marshall passed on August 2, 2002, and was honored with the United States flag covering his casket in tribute to his service to his country. God Bless you Jim for your service and dedication to your country in time of need.