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Cimarron AO-22 - History

Cimarron AO-22 - History



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Cimarron II

(AO-22: dp. 7,470; 1. 563'; b. 45'; dr. 32'4"; s. 18 k.; GpL 304; a. 1 5", 4 3"; cl. Cimarron)

The second Cimarron (AO-22) was launched 7 January 1939 by Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Chester, Pa.; sponsored by Mrs. W. D. Leahy; and commissioned 20 March 1939, Lieutenant Commander W. Behrens in command.

Cimarron cleared Houston 31 May 1939 for Pearl Harbor, arriving 21 July. She transported oil between west coast ports and Pearl Harbor, making 13 such voyages until she sailed for the east coast on 19 August 1940. After repairs and alterations, she began oil runs on the east coast, principally between Baton Rouge and Norfolk, until August 1941, when she took part in amphibious operations. From 5 to 16 September she put to sea with a transport convoy bound for Iceland, and voyaged north again 12 October to 5 November to refuel ships at Placentia Bay. On 15 November, she joined a convoy at Trinidad bound with reinforcements for Singapore, but was detached from the convoy 9 December at Capetown, South Africa. Returning to Trinidad 31 December, she operated from Brazilian ports to Iceland until 4 March 1942, when she cleared Norfolk for San Francisco.

Cimarron reached San Francisco 1 April 1942 and sailed the next day with the task force bound for the first air raid on Tokyo 18 April. One of two oilers with the force, she fueled the Fleet at sea before and after the raid, and returned to Pearl Harbor 25 April. She sailed 29 April, bound to join the force soon to join battle with the Japanese in the Coral Sea, but arrived after the battle concluded fueled destroyers at Noumea, and returned to Pearl Harbor 26 May. She cleared Pearl Harbor 28 May to fuel the force which defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Midway and returned 12 June departing 7 July to support the operation in the Solomon Islands. Using Noumea as her principal base, Cimarron occasionally reloaded at Suva and Efate. After repairs at San Francisco in November, she sailed for the forward area 18 December. She operated again out of Noumea supporting the final stages of the Guadalcanal action, then fueled out of Efate, carried cargo to Sydney, Australia, and returned to fueling at Dumbea Bay in support of the occupation of New Georgia. She returned to San Francisco (in July 1943), and then made two trips from the west coast to Pearl Harbor.

Cimarron departed Pearl Harbor 29 September 1943 with the force which raided Wake Island on 5 and 6 October, and returned to Pearl Harbor 16 October. She sailed once again 14 November to fuel in support of the Gilbert Islands campaign, returning 1 December, and sailed to San Pedro to reload 12 December to 4 January 1944. Clearing Pearl Harbor 13 January, she supported the Marshalls operation and the February attacks on Trok from Majuro until 6 June- the Marianas operation from Eniwetok until 26 August; and the Palau Islands operation from Ulithi.

After a stateside overhaul from October through December 1944, Cimarron arrived at Ulithi 26 December 1944. From 27 December to 21 January 1945 she sailed to fuel the task force launching air attacks on IndoChina and Philippine targets as part of the Luzon invasion, and put to sea once more from 8 February to 22 March for air raids on the Japanese home islands and the invasion of Iwo Jima. From 26 March to 23 May she sailed from Ulithi to fuel ships engaging in the Okinawa operation, and from 3 June shuttled between Ulithi and the areas from which the mighty carrier task forces launched the final series of raids upon the heartland of Japan. Ulithi remained her base as she supported the occupation until 10 September, when she anchored in Tokyo Bay. Operations in the Far East continued until 4 February 1946, when she arrived at San Pedro, Calif.' for overhaul.

Between July 1946 and June 1950, Cimarron ferried oil from the Persian Gulf to naval bases in the Marianas and Marshalls, occasionally continuing on to the west coast. Her first tour of duty in the Korean war, from 6 July 1950 to 3 June 1951 found her fueling ships of the Taiwan Patrol at Okinawa, amphibious ships at Kobe, and operating from Sasebo to the waters off Korea to fuel task forces. Several times she entered the heavily mined waters of Wonsan Harbor to fuel the ships carrying out the lengthy blockade and bombardment of that key port.

Returning to the west coast, she gave service as a training tanker until her second Korean tour, from 1 August to 10 December 1951. During this time she spent a month at Taiwan fueling the ships on duty in the Straits, and made three voyages to Korean waters from Sasebo. Overhaul and training on the west coast preceded her third Korean war deployment from 9 April to 6 January 1953, during which her duty was similar to that of her second. Her next tour of duty in the Far East was completed between 11 April and 27 November 1953.

Cimarron sailed to the Far East again between 14 June 1954 and 8 February 1955, during which she served as flagship of the support group for Operation "Passage to Freedom," the evacuation of refugees from Communist North Vietnam. Her pattern of operations from that time into 1963 has included support of the guardian 7th Fleet in its Far Eastern operations through deployments in 1955, 1956-57, 1957-68, 1968-69, 1959, and 1960. As of 1963, she had the longest continuous commissioned service of any active ship in the United States Navy, belying her age as she continued to provide her essential support with skill and efficiency.

Cimarron received 10 battle stars for World War II service, and four for the Korean war.


World War II

Cimarron cleared Houston 31 May 1939 for Pearl Harbor, arriving 21 July. She transported oil between west coast ports and Pearl Harbor, making 13 such voyages until she sailed for the east coast on 19 August 1940. After repairs and alterations, she began oil runs on the east coast, principally between Baton Rouge and Norfolk, until August 1941, when she took part in amphibious operations. [1] From 5 – 16 September she put to sea with a transport convoy bound for Iceland, and voyaged north again from 12 October to 5 November to refuel ships at Placentia Bay. On 15 November 1941, she joined a convoy at Trinidad bound for Singapore with reinforcements, but was detached from the convoy on 9 December at Cape Town, South Africa. Returning to Trinidad on 31 December, she operated from Brazilian ports to Iceland until 4 March 1942, when she cleared Norfolk for San Francisco. [1]

Pacific War

Cimarron reached San Francisco on 1 April 1942 and sailed the next day with the task force bound for the first air raid on Tokyo on 18 April. With USS   Sabine   (AO-25) , they fueled the Fleet at sea before and after the raid, and returned to Pearl Harbor on 25 April. [1] She sailed on 29 April, bound to join the force soon to join battle with the Japanese naval forces in the Coral Sea, but arrived after the battle to refuel destroyers at Nouméa, and returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 May. She cleared Pearl Harbor 28 May to fuel the force which defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Midway and returned 12 June, departing 7 July to support the operation in the Solomon Islands. [1] Using Nouméa as her principal base, Cimarron occasionally reloaded at Suva and Efate. After repairs at San Francisco in November 1942, she sailed for the forward area 18 December. She operated again out of Nouméa supporting the final stages of the Guadalcanal action, then fueled out of Efate, carried cargo to Sydney, Australia, and returned to fueling at Dumbea Bay in support of the occupation of New Georgia. She returned to San Francisco, in July 1943, and then made two trips from the west coast to Pearl Harbor. [1]

Cimarron departed Pearl Harbor 29 September 1943 with the force which raided Wake Island on 5 – 6 October, and returned to Pearl Harbor 16 October. She sailed once again 14 November to fuel in support of the Gilbert Islands campaign, returning 1 December, and sailed to San Pedro, California, to reload 12 December to 4 January 1944. Clearing Pearl Harbor 13 January 1944, she supported the Marshall Islands operation and the February attacks on Truk from Majuro until 6 June the Marianas operation from Eniwetok until 26 August and the Palau Islands operation from Ulithi. [1]

After a stateside overhaul from October through December 1944, Cimarron arrived at Ulithi 26 December 1944. From 27 December to 21 January 1945 she sailed to fuel the task force launching air attacks on Indo-China and Philippine targets as part of the Luzon invasion, and put to sea again from 8 February to 22 March for air raids on the Japanese home islands and the invasion of Iwo Jima. [1] From 26 March to 23 May she sailed from Ulithi to fuel ships engaging in the Okinawa operation, and from 3 June shuttled between Ulithi and the areas from which the mighty carrier task forces launched the final series of raids upon the heartland of Japan. Ulithi remained her base as she supported the occupation until 10 September, when she anchored in Tokyo Bay. Operations in the Far East continued until 4 February 1946, when she arrived at Long Beach Naval Shipyard, for overhaul. [1]


Korean War [ edit | edit source ]

Between July 1946 and June 1950, Cimarron ferried oil from the Persian Gulf to naval bases in the Marianas and Marshalls, occasionally continuing on to the US West Coast. Her first tour of duty in the Korean war, from 6 July 1950 to 3 June 1951, found her fueling ships of the Taiwan Patrol at Okinawa, amphibious ships at Kobe, and operating from Sasebo to the waters off Korea to fuel task forces. Several times she entered the heavily mined waters of Wonsan Harbor South Korea to fuel the ships carrying out the lengthy blockade and bombardment of that key port.

Returning to the west coast, she gave service as a training tanker until her second Korean tour, from 1 August to 10 December 1951. During this time she spent a month at Taiwan fueling the ships on duty in the Formosa Straits, and made three voyages to Korean waters from Sasebo. During 1952, overhaul and training on the west coast preceded her third Korean war deployment from 9 April to 5 January 1953, when her duty was similar to that of her second. Her fourth tour of duty in the Far East was completed between 11 April and 27 November 1953.

Cimarron sailed to the Far East again between 14 June 1954 and 8 February 1955, during which she served as flagship of the United Nations support group for Operation Passage to Freedom, the evacuation of refugees from Communist North Vietnam. Her pattern of operations from that time into 1963 included highly effective support of the guardian U.S. 7th Fleet in its Far Eastern operations through deployments in 1955, 1956-1957, 1957-1958, 1958-1959, 1959, and 1960. As of 1963, she had the longest continuous commissioned service of any active ship in the United States Navy, belying her age as she continued to provide her essential support with outstanding skill and efficiency.


Talk:USS Cimarron (AO-22)

As Cimarron's Gunnery & Public Affairs Officer (1967-68), I realized Behrens (Jr.) cited above was the son of CIM's first CO who was selected by CNO Leahey to guide both ship construction & commissioning. Because of its Philmont Scout Ranch proximity, the renamed "La Flecha" (Cimarron-Canadian River) became the indigenous nation's heritage after which this class of ship's was named.

Sources of background information include: Two Lectures: Transformation and Innovation - Defense Technical . http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA423507 by W Murray - ‎2002 - ‎Cited by 4 - ‎Related articles takes a broader look at military innovation in this period by examining the . Murray and Allan R. Millett, Military Innovation in the Interwar Period . example, as early as 1921, war games suggested that underway replenishment would .

DTIC-PDF Excerpt (p.15) For example, as early as 1921, war games suggested that underway replenishment would be an essential element in a campaign across the Pacific. However, throughout most of the interwar period, there was simply not the funding to work out the possibilities. Of the greatest importance was that the habits of mind created at Newport (R.I.) carried on into the conduct of war. StoryTrek (talk) 01:28, 2 June 2017 (UTC)

StoryTrek I am not quite getting the tie between the comments that you first made and this info. In the short run, the article needs footnotes for the only source that is listed. Then, see what is uncited - to then identify where new sources are needed. I can start working on that.–CaroleHenson (talk) 11:23, 2 June 2017 (UTC) StoryTrek, I am sorry, I am still not getting what you're saying - which could be all me. I've finished working on the citations for the article and have found that the ship may have been named after either of the Cimarron Rivers (tributary of Arkansas River or Canadian River), so I stated it that way in the infobox. Even from the way that the donation of the ship's bell to the Cimarron High School was worded, I wouldn't say that it's clear the original intent in the naming of the ship. I'm not understanding the next points and couldn't find Cimarron in the document you mentioned. What specific pdf page (# of 92) is it on? Thanks!–CaroleHenson (talk) 00:37, 3 June 2017 (UTC)

I cannot find a reliable source for:

  • Her service ended abruptly after being side-swiped by the USS Hornet during an underway replenishment port-side approach along the San Diego, California, coastline in September 1968.

I tried combing through the 1968 newspapers and could not find anything - nor could I find anything through other searches. Does anyone know where there is a good source for this?–CaroleHenson (talk) 00:06, 3 June 2017 (UTC)

Reliable source Would a copy of my 1-Oct-1968 USS Cimarron (AO-22) Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Orders qualify me as a reliable on scene source? CAPT Ted Farrell, USN was CIM's Commanding Officer and, he did not task me as collateral duty Public Affairs Officer (PAO) to submit any news release. There were no injuries or lives lost making this a newsworthy regional event. Ship's logs and ComFirstFlt Board of Inquiry records may be archived with Naval Heritage and History Command (NHHC)

Aerial photos showing the undamaged port side of USS Hornet (CVS-12): http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12a.htm#021282 Traced history of USS Hornet's Navigator & Executive Officer (XO) . CDR. CHRIS W. LAMB To USS HORNET Lamb Assigned Aboard Hornet Commander Chris W. Lamb of 91 E. Emerson St., Chula Vista, has been assigned to the carrier Hornet as navigator. Lamb leaves the position of commanding officer of Fleet Composite Squadron Three, following (the) change of command ceremonies held Friday at North Island Naval Air Station. - He was relieved by Cmdr. Michael A. Patten. A native of Ohio, Lamb is a 1949 graduate of the Naval Academy. Source: https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/116306788/

USS Hornet (CVS-12) Deployment Dates: 30 Sep 1968 – 13 May 1969 https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/c/carrier-deployments-during-the-vietnam-conflict.html Source: Hornet WestPac Cruise Report for above dates. In-port, Yokosuka, Japan 26 Oct 1968 – 28 Oct 1968 In-port, Hong Kong 22 Nov 1968 – 27 Nov 1968 In-port, Sasebo, Japan 23 Dec 1968 – 2 Jan 1969 In-port, Subic Bay 27 Jan 1969 – 4 Feb 1969 In-port, Singapore 24 Feb 1969 – 4 Mar 1969 In-port, Subic Bay 24 Mar 1969 – 31 Mar 1969 In-port, Yokosuka, Japan 29 Apr 1969 – 1 May 1969

Typical UNderway REPplenhment (UNREP) formation after completing course & speed alignment with guide ship (Fast Fleet Oiler in center)

I see that you've added more items for the See also section, but I don't see how these provide more information about the USS Cimarron. From WP:ALSO: "Whether a link belongs in the "See also" section is ultimately a matter of editorial judgment and common sense. The links in the "See also" section should be relevant, should reflect the links that would be present in a comprehensive article on the topic, and should be limited to a reasonable number. It is also not mandatory, as many high-quality and comprehensive articles do not have a "See also" section."

I am not sure that any of these are appropriate additions. Do any of these further the understanding of the USS Cimarron?

Thanks!–CaroleHenson (talk) 15:58, 19 June 2017 (UTC)

Mid-career US Army Officers assigned to Command General Staff College (CSGC) at Fort Levenworth are required to read following: Military Innovation in the Interwar Period by Williamson . - Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/178439.Military_Innovation_in_the_Interwar_Period Military Innovation in the Interwar Period has 113 ratings and 7 reviews. . Breaking" & fast fleet oiler/tanker UNderway REPlenishment (UNREP) innovations . CIM was the lead ship of this class championed by ADM William D. Leahy whose spouse "sponsored" CIM's commissioning. >> As Chief of Naval Operations from 1937 to 1939, he was the senior officer in the navy, overseeing the preparations for war. After retiring from the navy, he was appointed in 1939 by his close friend President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Governor of Puerto Rico. << Both sponsors of her sister ships commissioned that year were also respected spouses of highly effective & influential naval officers. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cimarron-class_oiler_(1939)

I am sorry, I am not understanding, but it's not a big deal. Let's just leave the see alsos for now.–CaroleHenson (talk) 06:56, 20 June 2017 (UTC) Neglected to include following in CIM’s decommissioning ceremony .

Eternal father - "And when at length her course is run, Her work for home and country done, . . . But hear from heaven our sailor's cry, And grant eternal life on high!" (Ship decommissioning verse) StoryTrek (talk) 18:22, 24 August 2018 (UTC)

As CIM’s decommissioning #NAVOCS-PAO in 1968, I was unaware of this homily


Cimarron AO-22 - History

From: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

A river in Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma, and towns in Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico. II

AO - 22: dp. 7,470 l. 553' b. 45'

dr. 32'4" s. 18 k. cpl. 304 a. 1 x 5", 4 x 3"

The second Cimarron (AO-22) was launched 7 January 1939 by Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Chester, Pa. sponsored by Mrs. W. D. Leahy and commissioned 20 March 1939, Lieutenant Commander W. W. Behrens in command.

Cimarron cleared Houston 31 May 1939 for Pearl Harbor, arriving 21 July. She transported oil between west coast ports and Pearl Harbor, making 13 such voyages until she sailed for the east coast on 19 August 1940. After repairs and alterations, she began oil runs on the east coast, principally between Baton Rouge and Norfolk, until August 1941, when she took part in amphibious operations. From 5 to 16 September she put to sea with a transport convoy bound for Iceland, and voyaged north again 12 October to 5 November to refuel ships at Placentia Bay. On 15 November, she joined a convoy at Trinidad bound with reinforcements for Singapore, but was detached from the convoy 9 December at Capetown, South Africa. Returning to Trinidad 31 December, she operated from Brazilian ports to Iceland until 4 March 1942, when she cleared Norfolk for San Francisco.

Cimarron reached San Francisco 1 April 1942 and sailed the next day with the task force bound for the first air raid on Tokyo 18 April. One of two oilers with the force, she fueled the Fleet at sea before and after the raid, and returned to Pearl Harbor 25 April. She sailed 29 April, bound to join the force soon to join battle with the Japanese in the Coral Sea, but arrived after the battle concluded, fueled destroyers at Noumea, and returned to Pearl Harbor 26 May. She cleared Pearl Harbor 28 May to fuel the force which defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Midway and returned 12 June, departing 7 July to support the operation in the Solomon Islands. Using Noumea as her principal base, Cimarron occasionally reloaded at Suva and Efate. After repairs at San Francisco in November, she sailed for the forward area 18 December. She operated again out of Noumea supporting the final stages of the Guadalcanal action, then fueled out of Efate, carried cargo to Sydney, Australia, and returned to fueling at Dumbea Bay in support of the occupation of New Georgia. She returned to San Francisco (in July 1943), and then made two trips from the west coast to Pearl Harbor.

Cimarron departed Pearl Harbor 29 September 1943 with the force which raided Wake Island on 5 and 6 October, and returned to Pearl Harbor 16 October. She sailed once again 14 November to fuel in support of the Gilbert Islands campaign, returning 1 December, and sailed to San Pedro to reload 12 December to 4 January 1944. Clearing Pearl Harbor 13 January, she supported the Marshalls operation and the February attacks on Truk from Majuro until 6 June the Marianas operation from Eniwetok until 26 August and the Palau Islands operation from Ulithi.

After a stateside overhaul from October through December 1944, Cimarron arrived at Ulithi 26 December 1944. From 27 December to 21 January 1945 she sailed to fuel the task force launching air attacks on Indo-China and Philippine targets as part of the Luzon invasion, and put to sea once more from 8 February to 22 March for air raids on the Japanese home islands and the invasion of Iwo Jima. From 26 March to 23 May she sailed from Ulithi to fuel ships engaging in the Okinawa operation, and from 3 June shuttled between Ulithi and the areas from which the mighty carrier task forces launched the final series of raids upon the heartland of Japan. Ulithi remained her base as she supported the occupation until 10 September, when she anchored in Tokyo Bay. Operations in the Far East continued until 4 February 1946, when she arrived at San Pedro, Calif., for overhaul.

Between July 1946 and June 1950, Cimarron ferried oil from the Persian Gulf to naval bases in the Marianas and Marshalls, occasionally continuing on to the west coast. Her first tour of duty in the Korean war, from 6 July 1950 to 3 June 1951, found her fueling ships of the Taiwan Patrol at Okinawa, amphibious ships at Kobe, and operating from Sasebo to the waters off Korea to fuel task forces. Several times she entered the heavily mined waters of Wonsan Harbor to fuel the ships carrying out the lengthy blockade and bombardment of that key port.

Returning to the west coast, she gave service as a training tanker until her second Korean tour, from 1 August to 10 December 1951. During this time she spent a month at Taiwan fueling the ships on duty in the Straits, and made three voyages to Korean waters from Sasebo. Overhaul and training on the west coast preceded her third Korean war deployment from 9 April to 5 January 1953, during which her duty was similar to that of her second. Her next tour of duty in the Far East was completed between 11 April and 27 November 1953.

Cimarron sailed to the Far East again between 14 June 1954 and 8 February 1955, during which she served as flagship of the support group for Operation "Passage to Freedom," the evacuation of refugees from Communist North Vietnam. Her pattern of operations from that time into 1963 has included support of the guardian 7th Fleet in its Far Eastern operations through deployments in 1955, 1956-57, 1957-58, 1958-59, 1959, and 1960. As of 1963, she had the longest continuous commissioned service of any active ship in the United States Navy, belying her age as she continued to provide her essential support with skill and efficiency.


USS Cimarron AO-22 (1939-1968)

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Cimarron AO-22 - History

USS Cimarron (AO-22) on 28 November 1942
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: CIMARRON (AO-22)
Design MC Tanker (T3-S2-A1)
Displacement (tons): 7,256 light, 25,440 lim.
Dimensions (feet): 553.0' oa, 525.0' wl x 75.0' e x 32.3' lim.
Original Armament: 4-5"/38 (1941: AO-22)
Later armaments:
Group 1: AO 22, 23, 24 and 26:
1-5"/51 3-3"/23 (1941: AO-23, 24, 26)
1-5"/51 3-3"/50 8-20mm (1942: AO-23, 24)
4-5"/38 8-20mm (1942: AO-22, 24) 4-5"/38 2-1.1"Q 8<16-20mm (1942-43: AO- 22, 24, 26) 4-5"/38 2-40mmT 12-20mm (1945: AO-22) 4-5"/38 4-40mmT 8>4- 20mm (1945: AO-24) 4-5"/38 2-40mmQ 2-40mmT 4-20mmT (1949-52: AO-22, 26) 4-5"/38 2-40mmQ 4-20mmT (1951: AO-22)
3-5"/38 2-40mmQ 2-40mmT 4>0-20mmT (1955) 3-5"/38 (1958-59).
Group 2: AO-25 and 30:
1-5"/51 4-3"/50 (1941-42: also AO-28 and 33) 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 2-1.1"Q 8<10- 20mm (1942-43)
1-5"/38 4-3"/50 2-1.1"Q 12-20mm (1942-43) 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 4-40mmT 8-20mmS or 4-20mmT (1944-45) 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 2-40mmQ 2-40mmT 4-20mmT (1955: AO-30) 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 4-40mmT (1957: AO-25)
4-3"/50 (1958-61).
Group 3: AO-27 and 32:
2-5"/51 2-3"/50 (1941-42: also AO-29) 2-5"/51 2-3"/50 8-20mm (1942: AO-32)
1-5"/51 2-3"/50 2-1.1"Q (1 in AO-32) 8-20mm (1942)
1-5"/51 3-3"/50 3-1.1"Q 9-20mm (1942-43)
1-5"/38 3-3"/50 3-1.1"Q 9-20mm (1943) 1-5"/38 3-3"/50 3-40mmT 9>5-20mm (1945) 1-5"/38 3-3"/50 2-40mmQ 1-40mmT 4<6-20mmT (1947-52)
1-5"/38 2-3"/50 2-40mmQ 1-40mmT 6-20mmT (1955-57)
2-3"/50 (1958-61).
Complement 267 (1944)
Speed (kts.): 18.3
Propulsion (HP): 13,500
Machinery: 2 screws, turbines

Construction:

AO Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
22 CIMARRON 6 Feb 39 Sun SB & DD 25 Apr 38 7 Jan 39 20 Mar 39
23 NEOSHO 4 Aug 39 Federal SB & DD, Kearny 22 Jun 38 29 Apr 39 7 Aug 39
24 PLATTE 1 Dec 39 Bethlehem Sparrows Pt. 14 Sep 38 8 Jul 39 1 Dec 39
25 SABINE 25 Sep 40 Bethlehem Sparrows Pt. 18 Sep 39 27 Apr 40 5 Dec 40
26 SALAMONIE 20 Nov 40 Newport News SB & DD 5 Feb 40 18 Sep 40 28 Apr 41
27 KASKASKIA 22 Oct 40 Newport News SB & DD 16 Jan 39 29 Sep 39 29 Oct 40
28 SANGAMON 22 Oct 40 Federal SB & DD, Kearny 13 Mar 39 4 Nov 39 23 Oct 40
29 SANTEE 30 Oct 40 Sun SB & DD 31 May 38 4 Mar 39 30 Oct 40
30 CHEMUNG 5 Jun 41 Bethlehem Sparrows Pt. 20 Dec 38 9 Sep 39 3 Jul 41
31 CHENANGO 31 May 41 Sun SB & DD 10 Jul 38 1 Apr 39 20 Jun 41
32 GUADALUPE 2 Jun 41 Newport News SB & DD 8 May 39 26 Jan 40 19 Jun 41
33 SUWANNEE 26 Jun 41 Federal SB & DD, Kearny 3 Jun 38 4 Mar 39 16 Jul 41

Disposition:
AO Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
22 CIMARRON 30 Sep 68 1 Oct 68 15 Sep 69 MA/S 15 Sep 69
23 NEOSHO -- 24 Jun 42 7 May 42 Lost --
24 PLATTE 19 Sep 70 25 Sep 70 14 May 71 MA/S 14 May 71
25 SABINE 20 Feb 69 1 Dec 76 1 Sep 71 MA/R 1 Aug 83
26 SALAMONIE 20 Dec 68 2 Sep 69 25 Sep 69 MA/D 24 Jul 70
27 KASKASKIA 19 Dec 69 19 Dec 69 17 Apr 70 MA/D 3 Aug 70
28 SANGAMON 25 Feb 42 -- 14 Feb 42 AVG --
29 SANTEE 20 Mar 42 -- 14 Feb 42 AVG --
30 CHEMUNG 18 Sep 70 18 Sep 70 14 May 71 MA/S 14 May 71
31 CHENANGO 16 Mar 42 -- 14 Feb 42 AVG --
32 GUADALUPE 15 May 75 15 May 75 16 Oct 75 MA/S 16 Oct 75
33 SUWANNEE 21 Feb 42 -- 14 Feb 42 AVG --

Class Notes:
FY 1939 (AO 22-24), 1941 (others). The Navy entered the 1920s with the clear realization that the fleet of the future would be oil fired and with a replenishment force of 17 new oilers of three classes (the 14.5-knot Navy-built AO-1 class and the 10-knot civilian-built AO-9 and AO-15 classes). In the 1930s it had the same 17 tankers, now nearing retirement age and too slow, and war plans required many more for an advance across the central Pacific. On 27 Sep 33 the Secretary of the Navy wrote to the Navy's General Board, stating that the latest military characteristics of naval auxiliaries had been drawn up in 1914 and directing that these characteristics be brought up to date. In December and January the Board developed drafts of revised characteristics for the types of large auxiliary vessels that the Navy had built in 1914-1917 including oilers (AO). After discussion the Board promulgated on 8 Jan 35 characteristics that called for a ship that could carry at least 10,000 and preferably 12,000 tons of cargo oil at a sustained speed of 16.5 knots over a distance of at least 10,000 miles. Like other new auxiliaries it was to have an armament of four 5-inch or 6-inch guns, single purpose weapons being considered sufficient.

One fleet oiler was included in the Navy's proposed 1938 auxiliary building program, and in February 1936 the Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) distributed its first preliminary design of the ship within the Navy Department and to forces afloat. On 16 Aug 37 it circulated new preliminary plans and stated that because the type was included in the auxiliary construction bill it had to proceed with the development of contract plans and needed comments promptly. The design provided for a ship of 23,700 tons full load, a length of 519 feet between perpendiculars and 528 feet overall, a beam of 73 feet, and a maximum deep load draft of 32.5 feet when carrying heavy oil during the summer. At this draft a cargo of 13,650 tons could be carried. These measurements were very similar to those of the T-2 tanker design developed by the Shipping Board Bureau in 1934 and 1935 which could operate at an economical speed of 13.5 knots and an emergency speed of 15 knots. (At this time the normal operating speed for tankers was around 12 knots.) The Navy ship was designed for a maximum speed at full load of about 17.5 knots to guarantee the desired 16.5 knots sustained speed. (Forces afloat wanted 18 knots sustained.) The 12,500 SHP needed to attain these designed speeds required the use of twin screws, for which diesel propulsion was selected. As in other new large auxiliaries, an armament of 4-5"/38 dual purpose guns on the center line was included and the ship was fitted with a 45,000 pound capacity crane to permit hoisting a 4-engine patrol plane in an emergency at sea.

Navy efforts during 1937 to get funds from Congress to build one of these oilers failed and it was deleted from the 1938 building program. The Department of Commerce's new Maritime Commission (MC) and the Navy Department, however, had recently designed a commercial tanker of 16,300 deadweight tons and 500 feet length with a speed of 15 knots (probably a refinement of the Shipping Board's T-2) that would reasonably meet the Navy's needs if the speed were increased to 16.5 knots. Under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 the MC could pay for national defense features in privately-built tankers that were in excess of commercial requirements, in this case primarily the extra speed (the economical speed of commercial tankers was then between 12 and 13 knots). In the fall of 1937 the MC began negotiating with oil companies to build high speed tankers, and by December the Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey had obtained bids for 13-knot and 18-knot variants of a 16,300 deadweight ton tanker. (The price difference between the two variants helped determine the size of the MC's subsidy for the increased speed.) The plans and specifications for the ships, prepared for Standard Oil by E. L. Stewart, were probably influenced by earlier Navy design work. On 3 Jan 38 the MC and Standard Oil signed an agreement for the construction by Standard Oil of 12 high speed tankers with national defense features desired by the Navy, and on the same day Standard Oil signed separate contracts with four shipyards for three ships each. Standard Oil soon sold two early ships to the Keystone Tankship Corp., a firm recently formed to support the Shell Oil Co. The twelve ships became hulls 2-13 in the MC's new building program, although the MC paid only for the national defense features and the ships belonged to Standard Oil. Only two weeks later the Navy took its first step toward acquiring one of the ships, and on 20 Jul 38 the Secretary of the Navy included the purchase of three of them in the Navy's Fiscal Year 1939 building program as AO 22-24. On 27 Oct 38 or 1 Nov 38 Standard Oil sold the first two ships back to the MC which then sold them to the Navy. AO 22 and AO-23 received minimal conversions primarily involving crew berthing and messing and no armament at the Philadelphia Navy Yard (completed in early May and on 6 Oct 39 respectively) and were then pressed into service carrying oil to Pearl Harbor. AO-24, whose procurement was authorized by Congress in May 1939, completed a similar minimal conversion on 19 Mar 40. The Navy intended to bring all three ships back to Philadelphia for a full conversion including installation of armament after about a year of operation. All twelve ships were initially carried in MC records as simply "Tankers", sometimes further specified as "Twin screw." They were later retroactively given the T3-S2-A1 designation given to their design when it was used to build the repeat ALLAGASH (AO-51) class.

On 20 Jun 40 CNO, acting as Secretary of the Navy, wrote to the Maritime Commission stating that world conditions made it necessary for the Navy to acquire from the merchant marine 18 to 21 additional auxiliary vessels ranging in size and type from transports to tugs, including two more tankers of the CIMARRON class. These, AO 25-26, were part of a large group of naval auxiliaries whose construction or acquisition was directed by the Secretary of the Navy in the 70% Expansion Program on 5 Aug 40 along with many combatant ships. This program was the second increment of the Two Ocean Navy mobilization effort and was also funded in Fiscal Year 1941. They were the last two of the 12 high speed tankers to be built and the only ones that had not already been delivered to their commercial operators. On 3 Sep 40 CNO instructed BuShips to acquire ESSO ALBANY, scheduled for completion at Sparrows Point on 15 Sep 40, and ESSO COLUMBIA, scheduled for delivery at Newport News on 15 Feb 41. On 7 Sep 40 CNO informed BuShips and BuOrd that ESSO ALBANY, after completion, would be given a preliminary conversion of about ten weeks duration at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, during which she would receive a conversion similar to the preliminary conversion done on PLATTE (AO-24). This would include a battery of 1-5"/51 and 4-3"/50 guns. As ESSO COLUMBIA would not be completed until early 1941, CNO asked BuShips to arrange to have her shipbuilding contract modified to incorporate in her the features contemplated for the CIMARRON class on final conversion. She was to be fitted to receive a battery of 4-5"/38 guns with director, but as these would probably not be available when the ship was completed she should be fitted temporarily with the same armament at ESSO ALBANY.

On 9 Oct 40 SecNav directed the acquisition of all seven remaining high speed tankers, of which five were being operated by Standard Oil of New Jersey and two by Keystone Tankship. The Navy wanted three of them immediately (by about 21 October) and the other four by about 1 December. The first three (AO 27-29) were SEAKAY and ESSO TRENTON, to be converted at Bethlehem, Key Highway, Baltimore, and ESSO RICHMOND, to be converted at the East Boston plant of Bethlehem or some other East Boston yard. The later four (AO 30-33) were MARKAY (Keystone) and ESSO NEW ORLEANS, ESSO ANNAPOLIS, and ESSO RALEIGH. On 16 Nov 40 the Navy advised the Maritime Commission that the Navy would not hold firm to the 1 December delivery date for the final four ships but would notify the MC and the oil companies when the requirements of the Navy necessitated delivery. It was only on 6 May 41 that CNO recommended that BuShips proceed with the acquisition and conversion of these four ships.


"Provide the United States with a forward-deployed, amphibious force-in-readiness capable of executing mission across the full spectrum of combat and military operations other than war."

The MEU consists of four basic elements:

Command Element (CE): Serves as the headquarters for the entire unit and allows a single command to exercise control over all ground, aviation and combat service support forces.

Ground Combat Element (GCE): Built around a Marine infantry battalion, the GCE is reinforced with tanks, artillery, amphibious vehicles, engineers and reconnaissance assets.

Aviation Combat Element (ACE): Consists of a composite medium tiltrotor (MV-22B Osprey) squadron containing transport aviation assets of various models and capabilities, attack helicopters and jets, air defense teams and all necessary ground support assets.

Logistics Combat Element (LCE): Provides the MEU with mission-essential support such as medical/dental assistance, motor transport, supply, equipment maintenance and landing is the mission of the LCE. [2]

  • Command Element: MEU commander and his supporting staff, provides command and control over the other three elements when composited.
    • Ground Combat Element: 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines (1/2)
    • Aviation Combat Element: Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 (VMM-264)
    • Logistics Combat Element: Combat Logistics Battalion 22 (CLB-22).

    1980s Edit

    Activated on 1 December 1982 as the 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has had an impressive operational history and continues to serve as an expeditionary force in readiness.

    The MEU's activation was the redesignation of the 32nd MAU, a unit that regularly deployed to the Mediterranean and Caribbean regions for more than 20 years. On its final deployment, the MAU evacuated the Palestine Liberation Organization from Beirut, and was the first American unit to serve in the multi-national peace-keeping force in Lebanon.

    On 22nd MAU's maiden deployment, it again visited Beirut where the Marines and Sailors served until May 1983, were present during the April 1983 United States embassy bombing, and began preparing for a third deployment to Lebanon upon return to the United States. On 18 October 1983, the MAU departed the United States, and less than two days into its trans-Atlantic voyage it was diverted to the southern Caribbean.

    On 25 October 1983, the MAU participated in Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of the island of Grenada, which was at that time, the largest U.S. military operation since the Vietnam War. The 22nd MAU conducted numerous helicopter and surface landings over three days and occupied 75 percent of the island though the Marines constituted less than 20 percent of the total invasion force.

    By 2 November of that same year, the unit transited to Beirut where it landed later that month. The MAU remained ashore until late February 1984, when the mission drew to a close, and evacuated hundreds of American citizens from the country.

    Throughout the rest of the 1980s, the 22nd MAU deployed on a rotation basis with the 24th and 26th MAUs, participating in numerous contingency operations and exercises.

    In 1986, the 22nd MAU was the third unit to deploy with the 'Special Operations-Capable' designation.

    On 5 February 1988, the word 'Amphibious' was replaced with 'Expeditionary' to reflect the Marine Corps' changing role in national defense and theater security. [3]

    1990s Edit

    In late 1990 the 22nd MEU disbanded down to the command element during the Gulf war and reformed the summer of 1991. Saipan, Nashville, and the Harland County were the ships they were on.

    In September 1991, the deployment the MEU participated in the first combined arms exercise in Kuwait following Operations Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. This deployment returned in March 1992.

    Conflict in the Balkans kept the MEU busy during subsequent deployments as the unit participated in operations Operation Provide Promise, Operation Deny Flight and Operation Sharp Guard. In 1993, the MEU also served during the United Nations’ mission to Somalia.

    In April 1996, the 22nd MEU (SOC) arrived off the coast of civil war torn Liberia in western Africa for Operation Assured Response. The unit remained at sea until 2 Aug. which the Marines went ashore to reinforce the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia and evacuated U.S. citizens and designated third-country nationals. The MEU (SOC) evacuated more than 1,600 civilians over the course of the next several weeks, until the 26th MEU arrived to provide relief.

    The MEU's deployments in 1996 and 1997 focused on West Africa as it answered the call to conduct reinforcement and evacuation missions in Liberia, Zaire, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. Additionally, the MEU continued to support Balkans peace-enforcement operations and conducted a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) in Albania.

    In 1998, the 22nd MEU served in Bosnia and Kosovo, and was prepared to support operations in both Albania and Africa. [3]

    Global War on Terror Edit

    The MEU deployed during the turn of the millennium when it served as a [Y2K] contingency force, and also returned to the Balkans. The MEU later returned to Kosovo in 2001.

    During the MEU's 2002 deployment, the 22nd MEU took part in several anti-terrorist missions in the Central Command theater, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and also launched life-saving humanitarian efforts in Djibouti.

    In 2004, they again deployed to Afghanistan where the unit inserted deep in Afghanistan's remote Oruzgan Province where it established Forward Operating Base Ripley. For four months, the MEU carried out an aggressive campaign against Taliban and anti-coalition factions in the area where senior Army officials considered it the most successful campaign in the history of Operation Enduring Freedom.

    The 2005-2006 deployment saw the members of the 22nd MEU in Iraq, battling insurgents from a forward operating base in and around the ancient city of Hīt (pronounced "heet"). Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, took the fight to the enemy, MSSG-22 worked to fix roads and other critical infrastructure in the area. Over the course of its time in Iraq, the MEU participated in 14 named operations and uncovered vast quantities of insurgent arms, ammunition and ordnance.

    While Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, conducted combat operations against insurgents, MEU Service Support Group-22, now Combat Logistics Battalion 22, worked to provide a better environment and fix roads and other critical infrastructure for Iraqi citizens in the area. During this time, the MEU participated in 14 named operations and uncovered vast quantities of insurgent arms, ammunition and ordnance.

    The MEU's 2007 and 2008 deployment brought the unit to the Bay of Bengal where its members conducted humanitarian relief operations after Tropical Cyclone Sidr struck eastern India and Bangladesh. The MEU also supported counter piracy operations off the east coast of Africa and stood ready to support contingency operations in the Persian Gulf. Before departing the area, the 22nd MEU supported President George W. Bush's visit to Israel and provided aviation lift for the President's support personnel.

    From 25 September – 11 October 2007, AV-8B Harrier II's from the MEU flew 70 combat missions over Afghanistan providing aerial reconnaissance, close air support and convoy escort in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. [4] Following the impact of Cyclone Sidr on 15 November 2007, the 22nd MEU, on board USS Kearsarge moved off the coast of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal and provided humanitarian assistance to those affected by the cyclone. [5]

    The 22nd MEU deployed from May - December 2009. The MEU was composed of Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines and from the Combat Logistics Battalion 22, as well as MV-22 Osprey aircraft from VMM-263. [3] [6] The MEU conducted numerous Theater Security Cooperation events in Europe and the Middle East during a deployment to the U.S. European Command and Central Command. In Europe, the Marines trained in Bulgaria and Greece.

    The 22nd MEU also made history in May 2009 when it was the first MEU to deploy with the MV-22 Osprey aircraft tilt-rotor aircraft. During workups, the MEU experimented with different employment techniques to understand and utilize the full capability of the aircraft.

    The MEU conducted four separate Theater Security Cooperation events with Middle Eastern partners to build positive relationships between militaries and strengthened regional security. Near the end of the deployment, the MEU directly supported Operation Enduring Freedom by transferring the MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to forces on the ground, marking the first time the aircraft would support operations in Afghanistan. [3]

    After nearly nine eventful months at sea in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility, the 22nd MEU participated in Operation Inherent Resolve as a theater reserve and crisis response force. Marines and Sailors of the 22nd MEU with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG) wrapped up their deployment and returned home in October 2014.

    The MEU Command Element began the unit's pre-deployment training program in December 2015 and returned from another deployment cycle December 2016. Together with BLT 1/6, VMM-264 and CLB-22, the MEU embarked aboard USS Wasp, USS San Antonio and USS Whidbey Island, which make up the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).

    On 1 August 2016, AV-8B Harrier II assigned to the 22nd MEU flying off USS Wasp in the Mediterranean to carryout airstrikes on ISIS terrorists in Libya, amidst the Libyan Civil War, specifically to support local forces fighting ISIS in Sirte as part of a broader campaign against ISIS in the country. [7] [8]

    2010 Haiti Earthquake Edit

    After the devastating, 12 January 2010 Haiti earthquake, Marines with the 22nd MEU embarked on the Bataan Amphibious ready group for Haiti in order to conduct a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission known as Operation Unified Response. 22nd MEU departed Camp Lejuene on 15 January and began arriving on 18 January. [9]

    The 22nd MEU was the first major Marine force to respond, managing the hardest hit area that spanned 65 kilometers (40 mi) west of Port-au-Prince. Initially, the MEU conducted immediate relief operations by distributing food, water and providing medical care.

    150 Marines aboard USS Gunston Hall joined the MEU, [10] originally from the African Partnership Station Security Cooperation MAGTF, along with the 24th MEU on USS Nassau, USS Mesa Verde, and USS Ashland. [11] On 24 March, the MEU and ARG were released from their mission and sailed for home. [12]

    From February to March, the MEU transitioned to sustained relief operations and focused on turning over responsibilities to the Government of Haiti and major relief organizations ashore before departing at the end of March. [3]

    While supporting relief operations, the Marines and Sailors of the 22nd MEU combined a network of sea-based logistics and land-based support with as many as 1,100 Marines and Sailors ashore to conduct immediate aid efforts. The Marines focused on a 60-kilometer area west of Port-au-Prince, from Carrefour to Leogane, through Grand Goave to Petit Goave. In order to move and distribute supplies in these areas, Marines and Sailors partnered with the United Nations, United States Agency for International Development, non-governmental organizations, and Canadian and Spanish military forces.

    Marines from the 22nd MEU assisted the World Food Program with the delivery of more than 3.2 million pounds of bulk foods, such as rice, for earthquake survivors at distribution points in and around Carrefour. According to the WFP, each bag of rice delivered can feed a family of five for two weeks – more than 55,000 families. During their relief assistance to Haiti, the Marines and Sailors conducted and assisted more than 1500 humanitarian relief missions.

    The 22nd MEU independently delivered nearly 560,000 liters of bottled water and nearly 195,000 gallons of bulk water more than 1.6 million pounds of rations and approximately 15,000 pounds of medical supplies, while rotary wing aircraft from the 22nd MEU flew more than 610 flight hours and 618 missions in direct support of Operation Unified Response to aid those affected by the earthquake.

    Medical and dental personnel from the MEU worked alongside Navy Corpsmen to treat earthquake survivors and evacuated numerous Haitian citizens to USS Bataan for additional medical care. [3]

    2011-2012 Deployment, Libyan Civil War Edit

    At the start of Operation Odyssey Dawn, the US-led operation in support of the Libyan civil war, the ground combat element of the 26th MEU was in Afghanistan conducting combat operations. In order to quickly provide sea-based ground troops to support possible ground intervention in Libya, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed in March 2011, 4 months prior to its originally scheduled deployment with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines (2/2), Combat Logistics Battalion 22, and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (VMM 263) aboard USS Bataan, USS Whidbey Island and USS Mesa Verde. After several months preparing for possible ground combat operations and quick reaction force for Operation Odyssey Dawn, and the subsequent NATO-led Operation Unified Protector, the 22nd MEU and the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group spent a total of 10 1 ⁄ 2 months at sea in the Mediterranean and Middle East conducting bi-lateral training and supporting national contingency planning as a result of the new Arab Spring. Its 321-day duration fell just eight days short of the record set in 1973 by the aircraft carrier USS Midway for the longest U.S. Navy deployment since World War II. It was said to be the longest at-sea deployment in Marine unit history. The 22nd MEU was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation and the NATO Non-Article 5 Medal for Operation Unified Protector.

    2018-2019 Deployment Edit

    From December 2018 to July 2019, 22nd MEU deployed to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility as part of the KEARSARGE Amphibious Ready Ground (KSG/ARG). While deployed, 22nd MEU supported multiple operations and training exercises in the Middle East and Europe.

    2020 Deployment Edit

    From May to October 2020, 22nd MEU deployed to Moron Air Base, Spain as Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Africa (SPMAGTF-CR-AF). While deployed, 22nd MEU supported contingency operations in North Africa.

    22nd MEU was the first MEU to deploy with the MV-22 Osprey aircraft tilt-rotor aircraft in 2009.

    In the film "Heartbreak Ridge" the 22nd MAU (Marine Amphibious Unit) was featured as the Marine Unit where Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway (played by Clint Eastwood) was the Recon Platoon's Non Commissioned Officer and landed in Grenada as part of the 22nd MEU operation.

    A unit citation or commendation is an award bestowed upon an organization for the action cited. Members of the unit who participated in said actions are allowed to wear on their uniforms the awarded unit citation. The 22nd MEU has been presented with the following awards:


    Legends of America

    Vintage Cimarron, New Mexico

    “Everything is quiet at Cimarron. Nobody has been killed in three days.” – The Las Vegas Gazette in the late 1870s

    Established within an almost two million acre land grant, Cimarron, New Mexico was built upon what was originally the Beaubien-Miranda Land Grant. In 1842 Lucien B. Maxwell, a fur trapper from Illinois, came to the area, working as a guide. His work often brought him to the Beaubien-Miranda Ranch, where he met and married one of Beaubien’s six daughters – Luz in 1842.

    Maxwell was a shrewd and lucky businessman and in 1857, he bought Miranda’s interest in the grant and continued to develop the area. In 1858, Maxwell built a mansion in Cimarron that was as large as a city block. The Maxwell House was not only his home, but a place of business which included a hotel, gambling rooms, a saloon, dance hall, billiard parlor, and a designated area for women of “special virtue.”

    His mansion was said to have had high, molded ceilings, deeply piled carpets, velvet drapes, paintings in gold frames, and four pianos — two for each floor. Old registers included several prominent names including Kit Carson, Clay Allison, Davy Crockett (the desperado, and nephew of American frontiersman, Davy Crockett), and Buffalo Bill Cody.

    Maxwell House in Cimarron, New Mexico

    There were some shooting escapades at the Maxwell House in the bar and gambling rooms, but the participants were quickly kicked out, as Maxwell would not tolerate these activities. Unfortunately, the mansion was destroyed by fire in 1922 and there are no remains

    Cimarron was officially established in 1861 and was named for the Spanish word meaning “wild” and “unbroken.” The name was extremely fitting at the time, as Cimarron was quickly attracting mountain men, outlaws, trappers, gold seekers, traders, and cowboys.

    Maxwell’s Aztec Mill in Cimarron, New Mexico still stands today and serves as a museum, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

    In 1864, after the death of his father-in-law, Maxwell bought out the five other heirs, becoming the largest landowner in the United States and renamed the property the Maxwell Land Grant. In the same year, Maxwell hired an engineering firm from Boston to design a three-story grist mill that he called the Aztec Mill. The mill, capable of grinding 15,000 pounds of wheat per day, supplied flour for Fort Union and distributed supplies to the area Indians, for which Maxwell was compensated by the federal government. Maxwell operated the Aztec Mill until 1870.

    In 1866, a year after the Civil War ended, gold was discovered on Baldy Peak, and the area filled with miners in search of their fortunes. Between the miners and the travelers along the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail, Cimarron quickly became a boomtown, boasting 16 saloons, 4 hotels, and numerous trading stores. The burgeoning city also gained a reputation for lawlessness with bullets flying freely.

    At one point, the Cosgrove House was hosting a “shivaree” for a newly married couple when the celebration got out of hand. The owner, Charles Cosgrove, stepped outside to run off the party-goers when the newly appointed deputy sheriff, Mason Chase, came along to see what all the fuss was about. The angry Cosgrove assumed that Chase was the instigator and shot him in the chest. A thick notebook that Chase carried in his breast pocket received the bullet and saved his life.

    When Clay Allison, a notorious gunslinger, landed in the Cimarron area in 1870, he and his cowboy friends made Cimarron a regular Saturday night party place. While the barkeeps, gamblers, and dance hall girls may have appreciated their business, the rest of the citizens of Cimarron hid in terror. The cowboys punctuated their rebel yells with pops from their six-shooters as they made their rounds to area saloons, gambling halls, and dance halls. Fortifying their courage with drinks at every stop, they shot at lamps, lanterns, mirrors, and glasses, and were said to have particularly enjoyed making newcomers “dance,” as shots were fired at their feet.

    In 1870, Lucien B. Maxwell sold his interest in the grant and all his properties for $700,000 and moved to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The new owners of the grant aggressively exploited the resources from the gold mines, lumber, land sales, and rents.

    The expectant developers opened a sales office at Maxwell’s mansion in Cimarron and waited for the customers to rush in. But they continued to wait, as faltering gold production and the threat of Indian attacks spooked potential buyers. Meanwhile, folks who had already settled on the grant were riled at the brisk way the new owners tried to collect rents.

    The Maxwell Land Grant Company was not at all impressed with the rowdyism of the town and sought to overcome it by the introduction of order and culture. John Collinson, president of the Maxwell Land Grant Company, sought out Alexander P. Sullivan, a newspaperman in Santa Fe, with whom he drew up a contract for the publication of the Cimarron News and Press. The first issue appeared on September 22, 1870.

    When the Land Grant Company discovered that Frenchman, Henri Lambert, who was at one time, the personal chef to President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant, was operating a hotel and restaurant in Elizabethtown, they induced him to come to Cimarron. The Lambert Inn, as it was called at the time, started business in 1872. Built during a time when law and order were non-existent, the saloon quickly gained a reputation as a place of violence, where it is said that 26 men were shot and killed within its adobe walls. The first question usually asked around Cimarron in the morning was: “Who was killed at Lambert’s last night?” Another favorite expression following a killing was: “It appears Lambert had himself another man for breakfast.” The Grant Company’s plan for cultivation had backfired.

    Allison and his cowboys frequented Lambert’s Inn and their antics continued. Associated with Clay Allison during these escapades was young Davy Crockett (not the Davy Crockett of Alamo fame, but a nephew). Both Allison and Crockett were natives of Tennessee and Crockett endeared himself to Allison because of his dislike against the black troopers stationed at Fort Union.

    By 1875, Cimarron’s reputation for lawlessness was at an all-time high and local war had broken out between the Land Grant Men and the area settlers. The new owners of the Maxwell Land Grant were busy with their attempts at evicting the squatters, settlers, and farmers. The settlers, having invested their lives and money into homes and businesses, were not prepared to leave. Sheriffs served eviction notices and retaliation began. Grant pastures were set on fire, cattle rustling increased, and officials were threatened at gunpoint. Grant gang members made nighttime raids of area homes and ranches, with threats of violence to encourage cooperation with the grant owners. The local war became known as the Colfax County War, whereas many as 200 men lost their lives.

    “Cimarron is in the hands of a mob!” — The Santa Fe New Mexican on November 9, 1875.

    Minister Franklin James Tolby

    Parson Franklin J. Tolby came to Cimarron when it was in need of salvation. Enlisting with the Methodist Circuit Riders, he delivered sermons in Cimarron, Elizabethtown, Ute Park, and Ponil. Tolby loved Cimarron, planning on making it his home, and quickly sided with the settlers in their opposition against the land grant men. He was very open about his opposition, saying that he would do everything that he could to stop the land grant owners. But, on September 14, 1875, the 33-year-old minister was found shot to death in Cimarron Canyon, midway between Elizabethtown and Cimarron. The settlers immediately suspected the Grant men, as the robbery was obviously not the motive because the minister’s horse and belongings were not taken.

    Rumors began to circulate that the new Cimarron Constable, Cruz Vega, was involved in the murder, and on the evening of October 30, 1875, a masked mob, led by Clay Allison, confronted Vega. Though the constable denied having anything to do with the murder, the mob pummeled and hanged him by the neck from a telegraph pole.

    On November 1st, Francisco “Pancho” Griego, Vega’s uncle, along with Cruz’s 18-year old son, began making threats to the townspeople in response to Vega’s death. Looking for trouble, they wandered into Lambert’s Inn. Allison was in the saloon and Griego accused him of being involved in the hanging of Vega.

    Francisco Griego was a reputed enforcer of the Santa Fe Ring.

    Griego began fanning himself with his hat, in an attempt to distract Allison while he drew his gun, but Allison was not fooled and quickly fired two bullets killing Griego. The saloon was closed until an inquiry could be held the next morning, where Allison was found to have shot in self-defense. According to local accounts of the day, the saloon closing was the most unfortunate aspect of the whole incident. The reign of terror in Cimarron continued and the town was out of control. Violence, lawlessness, and apprehension fed the residents and many packed their belongings and left. At one time, guards were posted at all entrances to Cimarron and no one was allowed to leave town without the anti-grant vigilante’s permission. By November 9, 1875, the Santa Fe New Mexican informed the public that Cimarron was in the hands of a mob.

    Supposedly, Cimarron was under the control of Davy Crocket [nephew of the more famous Texan]. Crockett, along with his ranch foreman, a mean customer named Gus Heffron, were regulars at the bars and gambling halls. Though the 23-year-old Crockett was a little arrogant, he was well-liked until the night of March 24, 1876, when he got drunk and turned deadly. According to the story, Crockett, Heffron, and a man named Henry Goodman had been making the rounds in Cimarron that evening. Ready to call it a night, they stopped at Lambert’s to pick up a bottle of whiskey for the road.

    As Crockett started out of the saloon, he had trouble opening the door because someone was trying to open it from the outside, which made the drunken Crockett angry. When he finally got the door open he faced a soldier from the U.S. 9th Cavalry, the black cavalry unit known as Buffalo Soldiers.

    Crockett was said to have pulled his gun and killed the man, then turned his gun on three more black troopers at a card table in the bar, killing two of them. Crockett and Heffron ran out of town on foot because their horses were stabled in a barn where the Buffalo Soldiers were camped. Crockett insisted that putting uniforms on former slaves was adding insult to injury. Appearing before the justice of the peace, Crockett was acquitted of the murders because he was drunk, the court fining him just $50 and court costs on a reduced charge of carrying arms.

    Schwenk’s Hall, Cimarron, New Mexico today

    After having gotten away with the murders, Crockett became even more arrogant and his antics intolerable. Over the next several months, he and Heffron ran roughshod over Cimarron riding their horses into stores and saloons, firing their guns into the air and ceilings, and forcing people at gunpoint to buy them drinks.

    In a saloon one day, the two forced Cimarron’s Sheriff Rinehart to drink liquor until the lawman finally passed out. Tired of the two bullies antics, Sheriff Rinehart deputized Joseph Holbrook, a Cimarron-area rancher, and John McCullough, the town’s postmaster, to go after them.

    On the night of September 30, 1876, the three men, armed with double-barreled shotguns, hid near Schwenk’s barn. About 9 p.m., Crockett and Heffron approached the barn on horseback, at which time Holbrook revealed himself and told the two to raise their hands. Crockett just laughed and told Holbrook to go ahead and shoot, and much to Crockett’s surprise, Holbrook did just exactly that.

    Sheriff Rinehart and McCullough also fired blasts at the two men, startling their horses, who bolted and galloped a quarter mile or so north across the Cimarron River. Heffron, who was not hurt badly, kept on riding but Crockett’s horse stopped on the other side of the river. Crockett’s hands were locked in a death grip on the saddle horn and had to be pried open.

    A short time later, Heffron was arrested but escaped on October 31, 1876, into the Colorado mountains, never to be seen again.

    While this story is the one most often told, another version is held by the Crockett family descendants. In response to an article that appeared in the Albuquerque Tribune in 1976, a Crockett descendant responded with a different version that has been passed down through the generations. According to Andrew Jackson Crockett, a nephew of Davy Crockett, Rinehart wanted Crockett’s horses for his own use and accused Davy of being a horse thief. Afraid to arrest Crockett on his own, Rinehart asked the cavalry to arrest him. When four Buffalo Soldiers confronted Crockett, one of them drew a gun and Davy killed three of them.

    Later, Andrew Crockett said that Sheriff Rinehart, along with another man lay in ambush for Davy and one day as he was leaving town, shot him in the back. Crockett was buried in the Cimarron cemetery, but, for years, no marker existed and the grave has long been lost. Today, another marker has been erected however, it is unknown if it was placed on his actual burial location.

    St. James Hotel, Cimarron, New Mexico in the 1800s.

    The St. James Hotel (formally Lambert’s Inn, was host to such notables as Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Jesse James, Black Jack Tom Ketchum, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill, Fredrick Remington, Governor Lew Wallace, and writer Zane Grey.

    In 1880, a hotel was attached to Lambert’s Inn and many well-known people stayed there over the years. These included such names as Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Cody, who was a goat ranch manager for Lucien Maxwell for a short time. Reportedly, Buffalo Bill met Annie Oakley at the hotel, where they planned his Wild West Show. Other notables included Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Jesse James, train robber, Black Jack Tom Ketchum, General Sheridan, artist Fredrick Remington, Governor Lew Wallace, and writer Zane Grey. The Hotel and Inn were later renamed the St. James, which is still in operation today.

    When gold production started to slow in the early 1880’s Cimarron’s population dwindled and in 1882, it lost its county seat status to Springer.

    The Colfax County War continued until the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the survey in 1887 which legitimized the Maxwell Land Grant Company. Abandoned by their government, many of the homesteaders bought or leased their places but many just gave up and left. The Land Grant Company continued its exploitation of the many resources of the grant and it thrived for several decades. To this day, conversations by the locals regarding the Colfax County War will still prompt serious debates and heated conversations.

    When Henri Lambert’s sons replaced the roof of the Lambert Inn in 1901, they found more than 400 bullet holes in the ceiling above the bar. A double layer of heavy wood prevented anyone from sleeping upstairs from being killed. Today, the ceiling of the dining room still holds 22 bullet holes. Henri Lambert died in 1913.

    In 1905 the St. Louis, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Railroad built a spur line to Cimarron and Ute Park, causing the old town to come to life once again. Real estate investors erected hotels, stores and sold lots and homes as people arrived on the rails.

    Fred Lambert, the son of Henri Lambert, restored the Aztec Mill, which is now a museum operated by the Cimarron Historical Society. Fred Lambert was the youngest Territorial Marshall in New Mexico, sworn in at age 16, and held many law enforcement positions during his long career in Cimarron.

    In 1985 the St. James Hotel was restored and the old saloon, which is now used as the hotel’s dining room, still holds the original antique bar, as well as twenty-two bullet holes in the pressed-tin ceiling. In the hall of the hotel is a plaque that commemorates Clay Allison and the roster of 19 men he was said to have killed.

    The hotel is open year-round, with 13 historic rooms, named for the famous and infamous people who once stayed there. An annex was also added to the hotel that houses an additional 12 rooms.

    Maxwell Statue in Cimarron, New Mexico

    The only monument to Lucien B Maxwell is a primitive concrete folk-art sculpture, where Maxwell sits facing the west and looking restless with a rifle in hand. However, a curator of the Aztec Mill, Buddy Morse, tells a story that the statue was actually built for Henry Springer, but when the artist presented it, Henry didn’t like it and stated that statues were to be built for people who were dead, so, between the two of them, it was decided that the statue would be of Maxwell instead.

    Schwenk’s Hall, once a gambling house and saloon in the 1870s is now a private residence and a gift shop. Within the residence is a plaque embedded in the wall that notes “It was here that Coal Oil Jimmy (a stagecoach robber from Elizabethtown) and Davy Crockett won $14,000 bucking Faro.”

    While the owners were renovating the building they discovered a mysterious tunnel that runs from beneath the house to a point beneath the garage, which may have once been the saloon and gambling den. One of the most interesting historical sites is the Cimarron Cemetery which continues to house many of the historical figures of their time. In the Lambert Family plot, surrounded by an old wrought-iron fence, rests Henri Lambert, who died in 1913, marked by a flecked black tombstone. Lying next to him, with a matching marker, is Mary Elizabeth Lambert, who died on December 8, 1926. Sitting sadly in another plot away from Henri is the crumbling white tombstone belonging to another Mary Lambert, Henri’s first wife.

    Davy Crockett Grave, Cimarron, New Mexico

    Davy Crockett is buried in the Cimarron cemetery and a “new” rough wooden marker has been placed, though probably not on the exact spot where his remains were buried. Originally, Crockett’s grave had a rough, wooden marker made just after he was buried but later family members removed it with plans of replacing it with a more appropriate marker. Sadly, the new marker never arrived. In years before, there were a few old-timers who knew the whereabouts of Crockett’s unmarked grave. But now, they too, are buried in the cemetery. When Fred Lambert, Henri’s son, was still alive he said that the grave was halfway between Reverend Tolby’s grave, marked by a handsome monument, and the Lambert family plot.

    Reverend Tolby was shot near Clear Creek in 1875. His murder was one of the initial instigators of the Colfax County War. His tombstone has been replaced with a new one, but the original tombstone can be seen at the St. James Hotel.

    Sitting about a half-mile west of the St. James Hotel is an old grave which is said to possibly be that of Cruz Vega, who was killed by Clay Allison and a lynch mob on October 30, 1875.

    Today, Cimarron is a quaint mountain community which is called home to about 900 people.


    Get Historical in Cimarrón

    A WIDE-OPEN SKY ROLLS DOWN theꃪstern edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains into the village of Cimarrón. Wire fences line pastures of tall grasses colored tan and copper, and ranches stretch from the town to the horizon in all directions. Rocky bluffs arch skyward north and west of Cimarrón, like scenery pulled from a spaghetti western. 𠇍owntown” is just a few blocks bordering a park and visitor center. Streets are spotted with old adobe homes mixed with more modern houses and a few storefronts on US 64. The occasional dust-caked pickup rumbles in from the range, but otherwise traffic is almost nonexistent.  

    As I drive into town on a blustery winter day, I don’t know a soul. But I’ll soon learn it’s an easy place to make a friend—so long as you’re not looking for big-city amenities.  

    “There are no stoplights here,” says Roger Smith. “If they put one in, we might have to move.”  

    Smith grew up in the area in the 1950s and, like a lot of folks, moved away, looking for better job opportunities. Eventually he came back, ran a couple of businesses, then “retired” in order to open The Colfax Gazette with his sister, Sharon Smith. They’ve been pumping out an issue every other week for two years now, covering village council meetings and sharing coupons for cold beer at the local tavern. 

    Brother and sister Roger and Sharon Smith, owners of The Colfax Gazette. 

    History and the sometimes hard conditions of mountain life bind residents together. When the Ute Park Fire raged through Cimarrón Canyon and the Philmont Scout Ranch in 2018, the community’s Facebook page lit up with pleas for and offers of help. Who needs water? My baby needs milk. Leave your horses in my corral. The burn scars on the mountainsides bear witness to how near the danger came. All around Cimarrón, evidence of what residents’ forebears endured does the same.  

    “History is one of the biggest assets this town has,” Smith says. 𠇊nd the Colfax County War is a large part of that history.”  

    The story goes like this: In the mid-1800s, Lucien B. Maxwell owned the land grant that included Cimarrón𠅊 massive 1.7-million-acre spread once held by Spanish colonists— and had handshake agreements with many of the land’s first tenants. They could graze their cows, cut some timber. 

    𠇋ut nothing was written,” Smith says. “Nothing was on paper.”  


    The Dawson Cemetery’s solemn markers. 

    Conflicts began around 1870, when Maxwell sold the grant, which wound up in the hands of English investors backed by the politically connected Santa Fe Ring. In 1875, hostilities turned deadly in a town whose very name is Spanish for wild or uncivilized. 𠇌imarrón is in the hands of a mob,” The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that November. 

    The U.S. Supreme Court eventually decided in favor of the new owners in 1887, quelling the killings, although the evictions lasted into 1894. �ter the Colfax County War,” Smith says, “the area thrived with timber, ranching, and coal mining. But all of that dissipated by World War II.” Jobs moved to cities, and so did residents. “Since then, the town has been around a thousand people,” Smith says.  

    Victorian style meets the Wild West in the St. James Hotel lobby. 

    EAGER TO LERAN MORE, I SET OUT on a self-guided walking tour of historical sites, heading down Collison Avenue (NM 21) to the south end of town. The tour encompasses about five blocks and features the original site of the Maxwell family house and graveyard, the old jail, and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Many of the buildings from the 1800s still stand today. 

    Another stop on the walking tour is the Old Mill Museum, a hulking three-story gristmill that displays relics from the area, including Maxwell’s daughter’s wedding dress and a two-headed calf. A main attraction, though, has to be the St. James Hotel, dead center on the walking tour. Said to be haunted by at least one ghost, it offers guests a choice of one of the historical rooms or more modern amenities in a newer wing, plus a place to wet your whistle in an old-time saloon. The two-story hotel, built in 1872, has a long history of housing ruffians and lawmen of the Old West, including famous figures like Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Clay Allison, and Wyatt Earp. 

    One of the historic rooms at the St. James Hotel. 

    Worn leather furniture and shiny tin lamps emitting dim yellow light fill the lobby, ornate chandeliers hang above hallways, and the wooden floorboards creak with age. Paintings and old photographs show cowboys and settlers crossing desert ranges long ago.   

    “We have not only the ghost stories, but the historic atmosphere our owner has been able to provide and keep going,” says Matthew Mayfield, who works at the front desk. “It makes for a great charm in this part of nowhere.” 

    Alas, the pandemic means that TJ’s, the rustic saloon, is closed. But Lambert’s, the restaurant named for founder Henri Lambert, is still open (try the Pancho Griego Enchiladas), and the bar serves alcohol on the patio, inside one of the “table tents.” Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available, with classic items like French toast and bacon burgers, as well as smothered burritos and spicy chicken wraps. 

    Other small-scale entrepreneurs have likewise tried to muscle through the closures, among them the Blue Moon Art & Gift Gallery and the Cimarrón Candle Company. One of the newest businesses, Hikers Coffee Company, opened seven months into the lockdown. 

    Melissa Warner says her family fell in love with the town years ago and finally made the move from Houston. Their building once housed the Cimarrón Art Gallery, which had a classic soda fountain, and its counter is still used to section off the coffee and espresso machines. “I think we’ve got the right formula for this,” Warner says.  

    After watching numerous customers pop in for coffee and sweets, it looks like she’s right, but there’s no denying that the pandemic slowed tourism down. “We expected the tourists to be our bread and butter,” Warner says. Instead, what makes it work is the community and their apparent love of the shop’s Hot Chocolate Bombs, she says. “It’s the town that’s come together to support us. This town, it’s living and breathing—it’s got a heartbeat.” 

    Julia Stafford, owner of the Cimarrón Mercantile. 

    COAL-MINING JOBS LONG FED THIS REGION&aposSꃬonomy, from Cimarrón to Ratón. On my final day, I drive up a five-mile dirt road northeast of Cimarrón to see the remains of what once was the largest company town in New Mexico. At its peak, Dawson, a Phelps Dodge Corporation mining town, was home to 6,000 people, most of them European immigrants, along with a hospital, theater, bowling alley, train stop, and professional minor league baseball team (the Stags). Aside from the memories of those who lived there, only a lonely graveyard remains today.  

    In 1913, a mining explosion claimed the lives of 263 people, making it one of the largest mining disasters in U.S. history. A decade later a second blast, sparked by a derailed mining car, killed 123 miners, some before they𠆝 reached their 21st birthday. The souls who were lost are commemorated on a large sign that stands before their section of the cemetery, each man’s grave marked with a white cross. 

    You can hear the wind in the juniper trees, a few birdsongs, but nothing else. Still, a sense of what once was is palpable. Maybe it’s all those names on the graves turning into voices from the past, alive and chatting, murmuring a prayer, or cheering on a line drive. Almost no structures stand in Dawson today. When the mine closed in 1950, buildings were demolished or hauled away for liability reasons. A few houses were moved to Cimarrón. The Dawson site is still well loved by the town’s descendants, who attempt a reunion every two years. The people, like the land, hold their memories close. 


    Shane Clawson of High Country Anglers dips a line in the Cimarrón River. 

    Get Historical 

    Cimarrón boasts a range of lodging options, including vacation rentals and campgrounds, as well as shops, restaurants, hiking trails, and prime fly-fishing spots. Ghost hunters: Check into the St. James Hotel

    Soak up history at the area’s five museums, including the in-town Old Mill Museum, housed in a three-story gristmill built by Lucien Maxwell and open during the summer. 

    Nearby, the Philmont Scout Ranch has four museums. Open year-round, the National Scouting Museum features the work of Susan Norris, the official artist for the Boy Scouts of America, in its gift shop. Villa Philmonte was once the 28,400-square-foot home of Waite and Genevieve Phillips, former owners of the ranch, and is open spring through fall. Costumed interpreters tell territorial-era stories summer through fall at the Kit Carson Museum at Rayado. The Chase Ranch History Museum, open summer through fall, showcases ranch life from the Colfax County War to contemporary times.  

    To see the Dawson Cemetery, drive 12 miles east on US 64 from Cimarrón. Turn left onto County Road A38 (just before the Colfax Tavern and its 𠇌old beer” sign). Drive 5 miles up the road, which ends at the cemetery. The road is dirt and cell service is spotty. Check the weather before you go. The cemetery is open to visitors but surrounded by private ranchland do not trespass on it. 


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