The namesake of the ship.

  Lt. Col. Aquilla James "Jimmie" "Big Red" DYESS, USMC


This is a quote from a newspaper article written by George E. Jones that appeared in newspapers throughout the United States.


With U.S. Marines, Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, Feb 4: Big Red died atop a small hill - standing erect and leading his men for the final extermination of the Jap garrison on Namur Island. Big Red's name was Lieutenant Colonel A.J. Dyess, of Augusta, Ga. He was a burly red-headed former Clemson football player who led a reserve battalion ashore on Namur.

Colonel Dyess was one of the best loved Marine officers. He was impetuous and eager for action. Aboard the transport his superior officers played a joke on him by framing a fake dispatch informing him that his battalion would be held back from action and would take over garrison duty on Kwajalein. Big Red was the unhappiest individual on that ship until he learned the dispatch was a joke.

When the battalion finally hit the beach on the afternoon of "D" day, he charged ahead with his men to support the assualt groups. Within a matter of minutes he was in the front line - raging up and down, throwing grenades, firing at snipers and continually exploiting himself to enemy fire. Junior officers remonstrated with him - urging him to take cover. But Colonel Dyess remained in the front line - bull-voice and energetic. An officer told me, "Boy! He was giving them hell."

In the last two hours of combat, Colonel Dyess fell. He had led a group of men up a slight rise to take over a fresh position. A Jap machine gun opened up as his helmet showed above the rise. A bullet struck him in the head and killed him instantly. Colonel Franklin A. Hart of LaJolla, California, his regimental commander said of Colonel Dyess: "He was a true Marine. He died showing his men how to do it."

-article quote courtesy of Ret. Maj. Gen. Perry M. Smith
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