On June 13, 1941, before the bombing at Pearl Harbor, the S.S. PANAMA was turned over to the Army Transport Service to carry troops. The ship was renamed the JAMES PARKER in honor of Brigadier General James Parker.
It must have been a sight to see the ship, which was formerly used for transportation and scenic cruises, outfitted for war.
The JAMES PARKER made many dangerous and exciting excursions during her service for the U.S. Army, including transporting the Rockettes and other performers to Europe to entertain soldiers and evading enemy submarines several times with troops on board.
We recently discovered while sorting through the collection that the JAMES PARKER brought to New York $80 million worth of artwork that the Germans had stolen from various European countries. Tables were removed in the air conditioned main dining room to store the works. The artworks were taken to the National Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.
After the ship’s final trip in Army Transport Service was made in 1946, the ship was returned to the Panama Railroad Company and resumed the name “PANAMA.”
Did you or anyone you knew serve on this ship during the war? Were you or anyone you knew involved in protecting cultural heritage during the war?