Directly quoted from the ceremonies of transfer to the Italian Navy
The DESOTO COUNTY is a prototype of the LST 1171 Class. Her keel was laid in September
1956, and she was launched February 28, 1957. She was commissioned on June 10, 1958.
After initial training in the Caribbean, she was deployed to the Mediterranean for seven months in 1959.
The year 1961 was highlighted by trips to Scotland and Ireland. She was in the Mediterranean for five months in 1962
participating in training as part of the Sixth Fleet. Deployed in the Caribbean when the Cuba crisis erupted, the DESOTO
COUNTY was the only Amphibious Force ship to participate in the evacuation of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base personnel.
In December of 1963, she headed for the Caribbean on a normal deployment of her squadron. The Panama riots broke
out and the Squadron remained until the crisis was settled. During the summer of 1964, she cruised the St. Lawrence River
and the Great Lakes displaying the capabilities of the Navy-Marine Corps team. She visited 17 cities during the
cruise and hosted almost half a million visitors. In November 1964 she participated in STEELPIKE I. Staged in Spain,
it was the largest peacetime Amphibious landing ever conducted. After extensive operations and type training in 1965,
the ship deployed to the Caribbean as part of the Amphibious Ready Group in the spring of 1966.
During August and September she made three trips to the Dominican Republic, following the crisis in that country,
to embark Army personnel for return to North Carolina.
The DESOTO COUNTY returned to the Caribbean twice in the spring of 1967, taking part in
Operation CLOVEHITCH III, a joint Armed Forces exercise. The ship deployed to the
Mediterranean with Amphibious Squadron TWO as a unit of Med 2-67. The last half of 1968 found her in the
shipyard for regular overhaul. Following refresher training, she deployed in May 1969 to the Caribbean for five months
with Amphibious Squadron TEN as a unit of Carib 2-69. In July1970, DESOTO COUNTY deployed to the Mediterranean
as a unit of Med 2-70. Of the many operations conducted, the NATO exercise "DEEP EXPRESS" involving English,
Italian, Greek, and American ships was the most significant which culminated in a joint landing at Alexandropoulis, Greece.
Between January and April 1971, DESOTO COUNTY deployed to the Caribbean on three occasions participating in
Amphibious exercises. In May 1971 she was active in the joint exercise "EXOTIC DANCER". In May 1972, she again
participated in joint exercise "EXOTIC DANCER V".
The DeSoto County was commanded by Lieutenant Commander Charlie L. Bonham at the time of her decommissioning,
who turned over command to Captain Raffaele Inserra of the Italian Navy at the Transfer ceremony.
Medals Awarded to the DeSoto County over the yearsArmed Forces Expeditionary Medal
10/24/1962 to 12/6/1962Navy Expeditionary Medal
10/20/1962 to 10/22/1962Viet Nam Service Medal
09/09/1969 to 09/11/1969Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal
09/16/1970 to 0/02/1970
For an interesting discription of the USS DeSoto County's mission
during the Cuban Missile Crisis, please go to: