General George M. Randall sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, on 23 May 1944 with nearly 5,000 troops and casuals aboard, and sailing through the Panama Canal, put in at Bombay, India, on 5 July via Panama and Australia. She left Melbourne on 28 July, and arrived in San Pedro, California, on 12 August to debark over 2,000 wounded veterans. She made two more round-trip voyages from San Pedro to Bombay, via Melbourne, Australia, from 30 August 1944 to 28 February 1945. On one trip from 19 December 1944 to 2 January 1945, she carried the 596th Air Engineering Squadron from San Pedro to Hobart, Tasmania, and then on to Bombay. On one of these trips, one of the Army passengers wrote a song The General George M. Randall Blues for a variety show en route..
When she got to the Pacific area, the war had ended, so she was directed to offload her troops at Manila before proceeding to San Pedro, California, where she arrived on 21 September. As part of the Magic-Carpet fleet, General George M. Randall made six voyages from San Francisco and San Diego, California to the Far East, calling at Japan, China, Okinawa, and the Philippines. The first two of these trips were to re-patriate Japanese diplomats and their families back to Japan. Her Coast Guard crew was removed on 31 January 1946, and she was returned to Navy control.
She sailed from Pearl Harbor on 1 December 1946 for the east coast; and after undergoing peacetime alterations at Philadelphia (including the removal of her armament), stood out of that port on 2 April 1947. Sailing through the Panama Canal again and reaching San Francisco on 25 April, the transport began a series of shuttle runs between West Coast ports and the Far East, completing six voyages to Guam, two to China and Japan, and two to Hawaii before she was assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (now the Military Sealift Command) in October 1949.
As an MSTS ship, General George M. Randall made scheduled runs between the West Coast and the Orient until fighting erupted in Korea in the summer of 1950. She participated in the amphibious assault at Inchon which routed the North Korean Army and forced Communist evacuation of South Korea. After hordes of Chinese Communist troops poured into Korea and trapped American forces, she served in the evacuation of Hungnam, which saved the embattled G.I.'s enabling them to return to the fight.
She moored at New York, New York, on 26 May 1951, and made four voyages from New York to Bremerhaven and Southampton before returning to the Pacific. On 11 March 1951, General George M. Randall departed Yokohama, Japan, with the bodies of 52 men, the first Korean War dead to be returned to the United States, including Major General Bryant E. Moore, who had commanded the IX Corps. Armed Services honor guards were in attendance at the departure, as was an Army Band, and was heavily covered by the press. The ship arrived at San Francisco, also carrying 1500 officers and men of the 1st Marine Division being rotated home for 30 day leave. She then returned to Yokohama on 24 October.
For the next three years this far-ranging ship transported men and equipment across the Pacific between West Coast ports and Japan, Okinawa, and Formosa. In 1955 she shifted operations to the East Coast, arriving New York on 8 April 1955 for shuttle runs from New York to Bremerhaven, ensuring the continuous flow of troops, dependents, and supplies to American forces in Europe. During first three months of 1957 she cruised the Caribbean, calling at Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Jamaica before resuming her North Atlantic transport runs out of New York 15 April.
In 1958, the General George M. Randall was the ship that carried then-Private Elvis Presley to his first assignment in Germany; during the voyage, Elvis performed in the ship's variety show as a piano player.
These varied duties were highlighted by General George M. Randall's role in the 1958 Lebanon crisis. Embarking 1,255 troops of the 35th Tank Battalion at Bremerhaven, and 1,001 others at La Pallice, France, she put them ashore at Beirut, Lebanon, the morning of 3 August 1958, helping to stabilize that strategic country in this swift followup by sea of the 6th Fleet's powerful and effective action with aircraft carrier planes, surface warships, and amphibious landing of Marines. General George M. Randall then returned to New York, arriving there on 16 August.
Returning to her New York-Bremerhaven schedule, General George M. Randall visited Spain, Turkey, Greece, and Italy in 1959, and called at ports in Iceland and the Caribbean Islands during the next year as well.
On her last voyage, she cast off from Rota, Spain, and moored at New York on 13 May 1961. General George M. Randall steamed thence to Bayonne, New Jersey, where she was decommissioned on 2 June 1961; she was towed to Norfolk on 12 June, and transferred to the United States Maritime Administration National Defense Reserve Fleet on 16 August, at James River, Virginia. The ship was struck from the Naval Register on 1 September 1962. On 8 May 1975, she was sold for scrap for $687,000, and towed to Taiwan for scrapping.
On 09 May 1957 I reported to the Enlisted Section US Army OS Replacement Station, FT. Dix, NJ. I was then given orders for the USS Randall, destination Bremerhaven, Germany, sailing date 11 May 1957. It took nine days for the trip. Fifteen of the other personnel were going to K-town. No one else for my unit. I can remember spending alot of time laying on the deck in the sun. I did have latrine duty everyday.
I can still remember the band playing for us as we disembarked from the ship.
Updated 27 Nov 2011