Lest We Forget: Peter Tomich; USS Toledo (CA-133)

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, USN (Ret.), and Eric Wertheim

When he was later awarded the Medal of Honor, no next of kin could be located to receive the medal. Apparently, the crew of the Utah was Peter Tomich’s only family. For many years, the medal was displayed onboard the USS Tomich (DE-242), a destroyer escort named in his honor. When the ship was decommissioned in 1974, the medal was moved to its current home in Tomich Hall, the main academic building at the Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, Rhode Island. The medal serves as an inspiration to the hundreds of chief petty officers who attend the school each year as they follow in the footsteps of Chief Peter Tomich, an immigrant who came to the United States to improve his lot and paid the debt to his adopted country with his life.
 

—Adapted from J. F. Leahy’s new book, Ask the Chief , by Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)

USS Toledo (CA-133)

Built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey, the Baltimore -class cruiser USS Toledo (CA-133) was commissioned on 27 October 1946. She arrived in Japan in June 1947 and worked in support of occupation forces until October. She deployed twice to the Western Pacific and in 1948 operated out of China, assisting with the evacuation of Chinese Nationalists to Taiwan. In September 1948, she received an overhaul.

When the Korean War began in 1950, the Toledo sailed to the war zone, where, for a time, she served as flagship for Cruiser Division 5. She worked off the eastern coast of Korea and with several destroyers successfully bombarded enemy communication lines. In August, the Toledo worked in a joint Navy-Air Force attack on an enemy village and provided on-call attacks in support of allied ground troops. Throughout this deployment, the Toledo was employed extensively as a shore bombardment platform, and her 8-inch guns exacted a heavy toll on enemy positions and supply lines. After upkeep in Japan, the Toledo was back in action in support of the Inchon landings in September 1950. At Inchon, she assisted with an attack on enemy-held Wolmi-Do Island and supported the 1st Marine Division during its landing on Blue Beach.

The Toledo retired to Japan in October 1950 but was soon back to work conducting operations along the Korean coast in preparation for an amphibious assault at Wonsan. On 27 October, she sailed for the United States and arrived in Long Beach on 8 November for overhaul work.

By April 1951, the Toledo returned to Korea for a second war zone deployment. She provided gunfire support during the spring Communist offensive of 1951, took on numerous fire support missions, and rescued downed aviators. The Toledo served off eastern Korea through November before sailing back to California. The Toledo had a comparatively quiet third combat deployment, during which she provided fire support to the American X and Korean I Corps.

Following the cessation of Korean hostilities in 1953, the Toledo continued to operate in the western Pacific Ocean. In January 1956, she was able to assist with another evacuation of Chinese nationalists, this time from the Chinese Tachen Islands to Taiwan. Serving as flagship of the gunfire support group, the Toledo protected the amphibious vessels conducting the evacuation.

In 1959, the Toledo returned from her final deployment and began preparation for her 21 May 1960 decommissioning. She was sold for scrap in 1974, after having spent 14 years in reserve.
 

—Eric Wertheim
 

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