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Seabees!

Discussion in 'Land Warfare in the Pacific' started by Thurman, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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  2. Spaniard

    Spaniard New Member

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  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Can't mention the CBs without mentioning that fine movie, "The Fighting Seabees". (Spoiler: The Duke dies.)
     
  4. Phillies

    Phillies recruit

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    Sorry I am just reading this now, but my grandfather was also on Vella La Vella. He was on LST 396 when it sunk off the coast of that island a few days before your father was wounded. By any chance was your dad in the 58th NCB?
     
  5. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    ELEVENTH SPECIAL U.S. NAVAL CONSTRUCTION BATTALION
    c/o FLEET POST OFFICE, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. 25 AUGUST 1945



    (e) Fifth operation, February and March 1945; loaded assault vessels for the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions in connection with the Okinawa operation. This tonnage manifested at 19,200 wt. tons.

    (f) Sixth operation, Okinawa landing operations, 1 April through 10 April 1945; discharged from 18 assault vessels and 3 landing craft 19,237 wt. tons of assault cargo.

    (g) Seventh operation, from end of Sixth phase through 15 August 1945; during this period 99 ships and 57 landing craft were worked for total of 357,866 wt. tons in 23,465 gang hours at a rate of 13.47 tons per gang hour.

    5. Enemy Action.

    Participated in the assault phase of the Okinawa Operation, Ryukyu Retto. In this engagement the battalion personnel were organized into small landing teams attached to Marine Corps units assigned to the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions and later to the 3rd Amphibious Corps, for operational purposes. During this period and subsequently, personnel of this battalion were subjected to 101 days of enemy air raids from (April 1st to August 1st 1945). Casualties amounting to Two (2) killed in action, one (1) died of wounds, eleven (11) wounded and eight (8) evacuated were largely the results of enemy air action and of our anti-aircraft fire.
     
  6. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    Here is the whole itinerary.

    ELEVENTH SPECIAL U.S. NAVAL CONSTRUCTION BATTALION
    c/o FLEET POST OFFICE, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. 25 AUGUST 1945

    1. Battalion was commissioned 11 July 1943.

    2. Battalion departed from U.S. 12 September 1943.

    3 & 4, Details of Operations.

    (a) First operation, October 1943; unloaded about 200 wt, tons of Marine cargo from SS Santa Monica at Samoa.

    (b) Second operation, October 1943; discharged and loaded (assisting 2nd Special USNCB) about 1,500 wt tons of cargo at the Nickel Company Docks, Noumea, New Caledonia.

    (c) Third Operation, The Russell Island (Banika) of the Solomons Group, 1 November 1943, to 1 December 1944; discharged and unloaded 356 ships and 286 small craft for a total of 589,577 wt, tons in 51,290 gang hours at a rate of 11.49 tons per gang hour.

    (d) Fourth operation. Noumea, New Caledonia, December 1944 and January 1945; at the Grand Docks, loaded and discharged five ships for a total of 3,420 wt. tons in 252 1/2 gang hours at a rate of 13.5 wt. tons per gang hour.

    (e) Fifth operation, February and March 1945; loaded assault vessels for the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions in connection with the Okinawa operation. This tonnage manifested at 19,200 wt. tons.

    (f) Sixth operation, Okinawa landing operations, 1 April through 10 April 1945; discharged from 18 assault vessels and 3 landing craft 19,237 wt. tons of assault cargo.

    (g) Seventh operation, from end of Sixth phase through 15 August 1945; during this period 99 ships and 57 landing craft were worked for total of 357,866 wt. tons in 23,465 gang hours at a rate of 13.47 tons per gang hour.

    5. Enemy Action.

    Participated in the assault phase of the Okinawa Operation, Ryukyu Retto. In this engagement the battalion personnel were organized into small landing teams attached to Marine Corps units assigned to the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions and later to the 3rd Amphibious Corps, for operational purposes. During this period and subsequently, personnel of this battalion were subjected to 101 days of enemy air raids from (April 1st to August 1st 1945). Casualties amounting to Two (2) killed in action, one (1) died of wounds, eleven (11) wounded and eight (8) evacuated were largely the results of enemy air action and of our anti-aircraft fire.
     
  7. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    STEVEDORING SEABEES HAVE VITAL PART IN WINNING WAR. 14TH SPECIAL N.C.B. DID GREAT JOB.

    Supply has long been a thorn in the side of an invading force, but the Seabee Stevedores (Specials), have removed it's sting. Up to now very little has been told of the courageous, hard working, Seabee Stevedore Battalions, here's quite a story on one of these units.

    The 14th Special N.C.B. a unit of stevedores with 18 months overseas duty, has participated in 19 invasions, numbering such operations as Makin,Tarawa,Kwajelin,Eniwetok,Saipan,Tinian,Guam, Peleliu, and Leyte.

    These men have unloaded guns,tanks,ammunition, and other vital cargo right under Japanese shore batteries with Japanese planes bombing and strafing them from overhead. They have undergone some 500 air attacks but the only thing that ever caused them to stop work was a tropical typhoon. On one occasion guns that had been unloaded from one of their ships less than an hour before were credited with two Jap "Bettys". Many other times serious setbacks would have occurred if ammunition and tanks had not reached the assaulting forces taking the initial beachhead.

    This Battalion has received many commendations from high ranking officers, who have nothing but praise for such a gallant crew.
     
  8. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    THE STORY OF OKINAWA - By Carl Dorman, Jr. 71st Seabees.

    April 1, 1945 - Easter Sunday arrived with a calm sea and a clear blue sky. The sun was two hours above the horizon. The serene South China Sea was fogged with the ghostly gray mist of the smudge pots. Behind the curtain of smoke, landing barges circled restlessly, waiting. In the distance boomed the heavy naval guns. At 0830 the barges flashed across the line to the beach. The battle for "Bloody Okinawa" was on.

    This was the moment we had sweated out for thirty days aboard ship. Thirty days of playing cards and checkers and reading books, magazines and the news reports; thirty days of boredom and anxiety. The trip up had been the same as all boat trips; the food was fair and the living quarters crowded. There had been a Victory dinner on Good Friday with steaks large enough to cover a standard navy tray and all the trimmings necessary to make a good dinner.

    Aboard the USS Dickman we tried vainly to see what was going on. The wall of smoke obliterated everything outside a radius of two hundred yards, tides of the battle were pure conjecture. Scuttlebutt spread widely through the ship: The Japs are shelling! Someone had seen several unaccountable splashes near the next ship in line. On our bit of the U.S.A., isolated from the world and the news and in the midst of significant historical events, we depended on the latest developments from the coxswains passing by in landing barges. No one hit on the fourth wave. The sixth wave went in standing up! Our bird's eye view of the battle was minute indeed.

    The original plan of operations called for construction troops to be landed on D-plus-3, but the negligible resistance on the beaches speeded up the assault. D-Day for Seabees was April 2nd, and the first groups of the 71st Naval Construction Battalion stepped ashore at Blue Beach to the first nearly civilized country they had seen in eighteen months. There, not six yards from the beach, was part of a real house with the wreckage of some natives possessions strewn about. In a sweet potato patch the battalion awaited orders to move into a bivouac area. Occasionally a shell would go whistling overhead on it's way to the Nips or a patrol would pass through on it's way to the lines.

    From Blue Beach we marched five miles, carrying the equipage necessary to existence (a mere 60 to 100 pounds) on our backs, to a former Japanese airfield, Yontan, and prepared to bivouac. Within a few hundred yards of the camp were a number of Nip planes in all states of disrepair.The first night passed quietly. The following day everyone set about building temporary homes; putting the camp area in order. There was little work to do until the LST's were beached and unloaded. The first days on Okinawa were little worse than an extended picnic. The equipment had not arrived, so there was little work to do. Enemy planes made their first formal appearance at 0320, April 6th. No bombs were dropped in the camp vicinity, but old hands neatly hit holes dug for that purpose. Later in the day planes made a strafing run on the camp, setting fire to and completely destroying the Frank type Nip plane which was parked near the camp. The first casualty due to enemy action occurred, a slight shoulder wound caused by falling flak. The most severe cases were those individuals unfortunate enough to have been carrying open cans at the time of the raid. Despite annoying air raids, one LST was completely unloaded and the other started. One carpenter crew, previously assigned, worked at the 3rd Corps Medical Battalion Hospital.

    On April 8th, grading started on Route 1 from Yamada to Onna, the main road which led north on the China Sea side of the island. This stretch of road formed the backbone of the battalion's job on Okinawa. The next day the first part of the battalion moved to a more suitable position north, following the Marines of the 3rd Corps and keeping the roads open. The month of April brought cold weather miseries to the men. Eighteen months in the torrid heat of the South Pacific had weakened the resistance of the men to the mild cold of Okinawa. Cloudy, rainy days and cold nights brought on the worst colds and grippe in two years. Nights were spent with all available clothing wrapped around the body, and baths from buckets and helmets were no longer cool and refreshing as they had been in the tropics, but ordeals to be endured only when the odor became overpowering. Also in April came terrific hailstorms of steel to those remaining encamped beside Yontan. Shore installations and ships in the harbor threw up such a tremendous barrage in each raid that the harbor vicinity for miles around was prey to the never ending rain of metal. On 16 April mortar shells aimed at Yontan landed around the camp area. During the previous night the first and only death due to enemy action occurred. There were air raids to numerous to count, but usually the planes merely passed over on their way to more important targets. On several occasions bombs were dropped nearby, but they were just close enough to make a few more Christians.

    By April 29th the battalion road responsibility extended from Yamada to Nago, a distance of more than 20 miles. The road was an old Jap road which followed the China Sea coastline as much as possible. It was narrow, as it was built to take the narrow beamed Japanese trucks. Throughout the entire distance the road was widened sufficiently to accomodate the northward drive of the 3rd Corps, and was repaired as best as possible under existing conditions. A Piper Cub strip at Onna was begun on April 16th. By April 20th enough of the strip had been completed to enable the first plane to land. The strip, 1000 feet long and 130 feet wide, with all necessary accessories, was finished April 24th. At the village of Kise, a concrete bridge had been badly damaged by combat action and was repaired by cribbing along the broken span and back filling with rubble. Many of the bridges on Route 1 were damaged, seemingly beyond repair. Each bridge was repaired by crib and back fill or with shoring. These bridges were the only ones on the island made passable by using salvage material and drift wood.

    On April 26th improvement was started on Route 6 crossing the isthmus near the middle of the island at its narrowest point, from the villages of Nakadomari to Hizonna, a distance of 3 miles. Work was started at the west - it's junction with Route 1 at Nakadomari. The road was widened for two lane traffic, and a new section was built from Yamagusuku, northwestward to straighten the route. On the 6th of May the main part of the battalion moved south with the 3rd Phib. Corps. A camp was established west of junctions of Routes 1 and 32, on Route 32. This was camp #2 long remembered for the mud and ugly living conditions. A condition black existed on the night of May 6th. Two nights previous the Japanese attempted a landing on the beach below the camp. During May, Camp #2 was under enemy artillery and anti-aircraft fire. The Japs would set their anti-aircraft shells to go off fifty or sixty feet from the ground, spraying the area with shrapnel. One night a cache of oil drums was hit by artillery fire, but did not explode or burn. Two men were wounded by sniper fire. At the same time Camp #!1 was beginning to have difficulties. On several occasions Japs ambushed vehicles and bivouacs within a few miles of the camp. The war was catching up to the 71st.

    The improvement of Rout 1 was started by a battalion of Marine Engineers, but was taken over by the 71st May 7th before much work had been done. Widening was started at RJ 32 and the road widened for two lane traffic. Convoy traffic over Route 1 to the combat area was extremely heavy and interfered greatly with the progress on road work. However, the road was kept in passable shape and was coral surfaced to RJ 34 by the 16th of May when the first heavy rains started. On may 19th and 21st, two attempts were made by Japs, who infiltrated American lines, to blow up two separate bridges. On May 19th, a single-span concrete bridge was skillfully drilled, but the failure of the entire demolition charge to go off minimized the damage and the damage was quickly repaired by crib and fill. On May 21st, during daylight, in an area alerted by previous attempts, another attempt was made by the Japs to blow up a second bridge. Again the failure of the charge to go off prevented serious damage. The extremely heavy rains on May 25 and 26 brought the road improvement to a standstill. All efforts and resources of the road gangs were taxed to keep traffic moving. On May 30th conditions had not improved and road work went on a 24-hour basis. Prior to May 30th night lighting was not permitted in the combat area because of enemy artillery and air attack. Due to the emergency, field lighting was authorized and about sixty Marine Military Police were assigned to out-post sentry duty at construction operations and isolated equipment. Thus all battalion manpower was engaged on Route 1 in order to keep it open to traffic.

    On June 10th, in order to keep pace with the forward movement of the combat zone, the 71st N.C.B. was assigned road responsibility in a more forward area, and the forward camp # 3 was established at the junction of Routes 5 and 44. Camp # 3 had a nightly show of fireworks. Japs were infiltrating back from the lines carrying demolition charges. To make matters more interesting, on a hill behind and slightly to the left of the camp was a "boot" Seabee outfit just out of the states. They were trigger happy. Behind the camp was another outfit, the Army. They too were apparently just out of the states. They were trigger happy too. From dusk to dawn the tracers careened over and through Camp # 3. Several nights there was danger of a war developing between neighboring outfits, especially those nights when the Nip's weren't around to be shot at. One night the "boot" battalion guards did manage to get a Jap.

    Building construction consisted entirely of camp and hospital facilities, construction of a temporary nature typical of forward areas where camp locations are frequently changed. Carpenter crews worked with the 3rd Corps CP, 3rd Corps Medical Battalion, 3rd Corps Evacuation Hospital, No. 2, and 3rd Corps Rest Camp.
     
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  9. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    CIVIL ENGINEER CORPS BULLETIN - JUNE 1949.

    "ACTION AT PELELIU"

    CDR P. CORRADI'S STORY OF HOW THE 33RD SEABEES HIT THE BEACH AND BUILT A LANDING STRIP DURING THE ATTACK ON PELELIU.

    D-DAY - THE FIRST SEABEES WENT ASHORE EARLY THIS MORNING. THEY;VE BEEN ON BARGES AT THE REEF ALL DAY, TRANSFERRING BEANS, BULLETS, AND MEN FROM THE ASSAULT BOATS TO THE AMPHIBIOUS TRACTORS THAT ARE BEING USED AS FERRIES BETWEEN THE REEF AND THE BEACH. MORTAR SHELLS ARE DROPPING ALL AROUND THEM, AND DISABLED AMTRACKS ARE PILING UP PRETTY FAST. NONE OF THE TRANSFER BARGES WHICH ARE MANNED BY THE SEABEES HAVE BEEN HIT.

    IT'S AMAZING THAT THERE IS ANY FIGHT LEFT IN PELELIU'S DEFENDERS. FOR DAYS THE BIG GUNS OF THE PRE-INVASION BOMBARDMENT FORCE HAVE BEEN POURING HEAVY SHELLS INTO THE ISLAND. SINCE BEFORE DAWN THIS MORNING, STRIKE AFTER STRIKE OF CARRIER PLANES HAVE STRAFED AND BOMBED THE BEACHES. THE LCIR'S HAVE BEEN WHIZZING 5-INCH ROCKETS INTO SHORE DEFENSES ALL MORNING BUT STILL THE JAP MORTARS MAKE THE STRETCH FROM REEF TO BEACH DEADLY. THE BEACH ITSELF IS A BEDLAM OF GEAR, WRECKED EQUIPMENT, AND PINNED DOWN MARINES AND SEABEES.

    ABOUT NOON, FREDDIE DAVIS(LT C.F. DAVIS, CEC, USNR) AND OBIE OBRIEN (CHCARP E. E. O'BRIEN, CEC, USNR) WENT ASHORE WITH TWO HUNDRED MORE THIRTY-THIRDERS TO JOIN THE SHORE PARTY AND HELP UNSCRAMBLE THE BEACH.

    D+1- WE WERE TO START WORK ON THE AIRFIELD TODAY, BUT INTENSE FIGHTING IS STILL GOING ON AT THE SOUTHEAST PORTION OF THE AIRDROME. THE NORTHWEST PORTION IS STILL IN JAP HANDS. THE THIRTY-THIRDERS ARE ENGAGED ENTIRELY IN SHORE PARTY OPERATIONS. CASUALTIES AMONGST THE AID PARTIES HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY HIGH, SO OUR PEOPLE HAVE TAKEN OVER STRETCHER BEARER'S ASSIGNMENTS. WE STARTED A CEMETERY AT ORANGE BEACH TODAY.

    D+2- FIGHTING HAS MOVED UP TO THE NORTHWEST END OF THE AIRDROME. THE SKIPPER AND HANK AUCH (LT HERMAN H. AUCH, CEC, USNR) MADE A RECONNAISSANCE OF THE AIRFIELD WITH COLONEL FRANCIS FENTON, THE DIVISION ENGINEER, FIRST MARINE DIVISION. THERE ISN'T MUCH LEFT OF THE JAP STRIPS. THE PRE-INVASION BOMBARDMENT AND THE FIGHTING OF THE PAST TWO DAYS HAS LEFT THEM HARDLY RECOGNIZABLE AS AIR STRIPS. THE PLAN IS TO REPAIR ONE STRIP AS A FIGHTER FIELD AND TO COMPLETELY REBUILD THE OTHER THIRTY FIVE HUNDRED FOOT STRIP AS A BOMBER STRIP, EXTENDING IT TO 6,500 FEET.

    D+3- THE MORTAR FIRE IS TOO HEAVY AT THE REEF TO RISK BEACHING THE LST'S HENCE NO EQUIPMENT IS AVAILABLE TO START THE AIRFIELD WORK. WE ARE GOING TO WORK LIKE THE JAPS UNDOUBTEDLY DID- WITH PICK AND SHOVEL. LT WALTER SUYDAM AND FIFTY MORE OF THE BATTALIONS MEN WERE LANDED TODAY WITH A SUPPLY OF HAND TOOLS. A HUMAN CHAIN WAS FORMED ACROSS THE AREA WHERE THE JAP STRIP HAD BEEN, AND WE STARTED TO COMB THE PLACE FOR SHRAPNEL, UNEXPLODED BOMBS, BOOBY TRAPS, ETC. CHIEF CARPENTER'S MATE, SALVATORE IMPELLETTERI, AND HIS BOYS WERE KEPT BUSY DISARMING AND DISPOSING OF THE BOMBS AND BOOBY TRAPS. A MOUND OF HEAPED UP PIECES OF SHRAPNEL SOON BEGAN TO FORM. IMPELLETTERI'S CREW DUG UP A JAP TORPEDO WAR HEAD THAT HAD BEEN RIGGED WITH A PRESSURE TRIPPING DEVICE. THE EASTERLY END OF THE FORMER STRIP HAD BEEN CLEARED BY DARK.

    D+4- FILLING IN THE HOLES AT THE EAST END OF THE STRIP WAS BEGUN AT DAWN. THE WORK IS HOT AND SLOW. CROCKFORD WAS KILLED. THE BATTALION COMMAND POST WAS MOVED UP TO THE STRIP FROM THE BEACH. DUGOUTS WERE EXCAVATED TO REPLACE THE INDIVIDUAL FOX HOLES. A BATTERY OF 155-MM GUNS WAS SET UP IN OUR BIVOUAC ARE. THE PONTOON CAUSEWAY SECTIONS WERE LAUNCHED FORM OUR LST'S AND SOME OF THE HEAVY EQUIPMENT WAS TRANSFERRED FROM THE TANK DECKS TO THE PONTOONS VIA THE BOW DOORS. THIS HAD TO BE DONE OUTSIDE THE RANGE OF THE SHORE GUNS IN DEEP WATER. WHEN THE TRACTORS, SHOVELS, TRUCKS, ETC. HAD BEEN MOVED ONTO THE PONTOONS, THE CAUSEWAYS WERE TIED UP ALONGSIDE THE LST'S FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT.

    D+5- THE 155'S FIRED OVER OUR HEADS ALL LAST NIGHT. AFTER THE SOUND HAD BEEN LIKENED TO A SUBWAY EXPRESS BY A FEW FORMER DENIZENS OF NEW YORK, LITTLE FURTHER NOTE WAS TAKEN OF THEM AND WE EVEN MANAGED TO SLEEP WHILE THE GUNS PUMPED SHELLS ALL NIGHT INTO BLOODY NOSE RIDGE. ONE LOADED CAUSEWAY SECTION WAS BEACHED AND WE NOW HAVE 2 TRUCKS, 3 GRADERS, AND A DOZER WITH SCRAPER. REPAIR WORK ON THE FIGHTER STRIP REALLY SPEEDED UP WITH THE ACQUISITION OF THIS EQUIPMENT. A DAMAGED FIGHTER PLANE LANDED ON OUR PARTIALLY COMPLETED STRIP THIS AFTERNOON. OUR RUBBER TIRED MOTOR GRADERS WERE PRACTICALLY IMMOBILIZED BY THE MANY BITS OF SHRAPNEL THAT STILL COVER THE FIELD. EFFORTS WERE RE-DOUBLED TO CLEAN UP THE REMAINDER OF THE STEEL FRAGMENTS. SNIPERS STILL CAUSE WORK STOPPAGES. THE CARPENTER CREW THAT STARTED ERECTION OF THE FLIGHT OPERATIONS TOWER, WHICH LT CAMBELL AND WO HYNES HAD PREFABRICATED BACK IN THE RUSSELLS, WAS TWICE STOPPED BY SNIPER FIRE.

    D+6- MORE EQUIPMENT WAS LANDED OVER THE PONTOON CAUSEWAY TODAY. TWENTY THREE OFFICERS AND SIX HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THREE MEN ARE NOW ASHORE WITH THE BATTALION. ENOUGH EQUIPMENT IS AT HAND TO START CONSTRUCTION OF THE BOMBER STRIP. FREDDIE DAVIS SHORE PARTY GROUP HAS REJOINED THE BATTALION FOOR THE AIRFIELD WORK. MORE DUGOUTS WERE EXCAVATED AND TARPS WERE STRETCHED OVER THEM TO KEEP OUT THE BLISTERING SUN AND, ALTERNATELY, THE POURING RAIN. A SQUADRON OF OUR FIGHTERS LANDED ON THE STRIP THIS AFTERNOON. WE STARTED THE FIGHTER TAXIWAYS. WE HAD OUR FIRST HOT MEAL TODAY.

    D+7- HEAVY RAINS TODAY. WE CONCENTRATED ON REMOVAL OF WRECKED EQUIPMENT FROM AROUND AND IN THE AIRFIELD. SOMEONE COUNTED OVER ONE HUNDRED ENEMY AIRCRAFT THAT WE HAD HAULED TO A CENTRAL DUMP. THE BORROW PIT FOR CORAL IS IN FULL OPERATION. NO ONE THOUGHT THOUGHT THE ONE AND ONE HALF CUBIC YARD SHOVEL WOULD EVER MAKE IT OVER THE FLOATING PONTOON CAUSEWAY WHICH IS ONLY TWO PONTOONS WIDE. THE HEAVY EQUIPMENT CREW MOVED IT SAFELY, HOWEVER. FIGHTING CONTINUES ON THE NORTHWEST EDGE OF THE AIRDROME. CHIEF STRASSER WAS KILLED TODAY.

    D+8- UNLOADING THE CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT HAS FINALLY BEEN COMPLETED. WE NOW HAVE OUR OWN DISTILLATION UNITS. ONE WAS PUT INTO IMMEDIATE OPERATION. WE HAD BEEN DRINKING WATER THAT WAS HAULED ASHORE IN STEAMED OUT OIL DRUMS, BUT ITS TASTE WAS HORRIBLE. WORK IS PROCEEDING ON THE BOMBER STRIP TAXIWAYS. WE TRIED TO MAKE BETTER TIME BY WORKING AFTER DARK TONIGHT, BUT THE MARINES SHOT OUT OUR LIGHTS WHICH WERE SILHOUETTING THEIR TROOPS ON THE SLOPE BELOW BLOODY NOSE RIDGE. WE WORKED FOR AWHILE BY MOONLIGHT. THE HEAT AND THE FLIES ARE BAD. DOC YORK AND DOC GEER ARE BUSY WITH THEIR NUMEROUS DYSENTERY PATIENTS.

    D+9- IMPELLETTERI'S CREW HAS ALL MINES, DUDS, AND BOOBY TRAPS CLEARED FROM THE AIRFIELD AREA BUT THEY CAN'T BE EVERYWHERE. CHIEF PELLISSIER AND GENE YUETTNER WERE WOUNDED BY A BOOBY TRAP TODAY WHILE ATTEMPTING TO SALVAGE SOME ENEMY GEAR. ONE JAP ROLLER HAS BEEN REAPAIRED AND WAS PUT INTO SERVICE ON THE TAXIWAY TODAY. GRADING CONTINUES.

    D+10- THE CORAL PIT IS REALLY PRODUCING. SURFACING OF THE BOMBER STRIP HAS BEEN STARTED. THE ARGUS 20 RADAR INSTALLATION WAS COMPLETED TODAY. THE CREW THAT HAS BEEN TRYING TO PUT IN THE AVGAS SPILLWAY ON THE WEST ROAD HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO GET BACK TO LOCATION AS FIGHTING HAS BROKEN OUT THERE AGAIN. ATTEMPTS TO DRILL WELLS FOR FRESH WATER HAVE BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL. SINCE BRACKISH WATER IS THE BEST WE CAN BRING IN, MYRON WATSON (CCM, CEC, USNR) IS HOOKING UP THE INTAKE TO THE DISTILLATION UNITS TO THE BEST OF THE BRACKISH WATER WELLS. TODAY WE HAVE A GANG SHOWER PIPED UP FROM THE WELL. WHAT A JOY!

    D+11- WE WORKED ALL NIGHT LAST NIGHT HAULING CORAL. THE MOON WAS BRIGHT AND THE STAR SHELLS OVER BLOODY NOSE RIDGE GAVE AN ALMOST CONTINUOUS BRIGHT LIGHT. TODAY, WORK WAS RESUMED ON THE AVGAS SPILLWAY. THE TEMPORARY CAMP IS WELL ALONG. WE HAVE COTS SET UP IN THE DUGOUTS, DORMITORY STYLE. THE GA;;EY TENT IS SERVING HOT MEALS CONTINUOUSLY.

    D+12- THEW ENEMY RESISTANCE HAS BEEN PRETTY WELL LOCALIZED ON BLOODY NOSE RIDGE. OUR FIGHTER PLANES ARE TAKING OFF ALMOST CONTINUOUSLY FROM THE STRIP WE PUT INTO OPERATION JUST A FEW DAYS AGO. THEY ARE STRAFING AND BOMBING THE ENEMY ON THE RIDGE ABOUT A THOUSAND YARDS YARDS TO THE NORTH OF THE STRIP ITSELF. THE SKIPPER TOOK A RECONNAISSANCE TRIP IN A PIPER CUB TODAY. HE REPORTED THAT THE MARINE PILOT WHO FLEW HIM TOOK ALONG A SUPPLY OF HAND GRENADES WHICH HE TOSSED OUT AT LIKELY TARGETS. AS A RESULT OF THIS AND OTHER RECONNAISSANCE IT WAS DECIDED TO LOCATE THE PROPOSED HOSPITAL UP THE WEST COAST OF THE ISLAND ON LAND WHICH HAS NOT YET BEEN SECURED. LT BETY WAS ASSIGNED THE JOB OF FOLLOWING UP ON THE HOSPITAL.

    D+13- WORK PROGRESSES ON THE BOMBER STRIP. PLANES CONTINUE TO PILE IN AND EMPHASIS HAS SHIFTED TO PROVIDING TAXIWAYS AND DISPERSAL AREAS FOR THEM. TWENTY FOUR HOUR OPERATION HAS BEEN APPROVED AND CORAL HAULING HELP FROM OTHER UNITS OBTAINED. THERE WAS A RUMOR THAT THE JAPS HAD SURRENDERED TODAY, BUT THE INTENSE FIRING ON THE RIDGE CONTINUES. BELL AND BARTLETT WERE KILLED.

    FOR THIS, THE THIRTY THIRD RECEIVED A NAVY UNIT COMMENDATION, WHILE THE SHORE PARTY WHO LANDED ON D-DAY WAS AWARDED A PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION.
     
  10. Ken M

    Ken M recruit

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    Is there a way to find out what a Bronze Star was awarded for? My late father in-law was in the 17th NCB at Saipan and was awared the Bronze Star. Like many or most of the WWII vets he never spoke of his experiences. Just recently we sent for his service records and were suprised to see that he was awarded the star. His wife, brother and all 4 children were totally unaware of this award. Any help would be appreciated.
     
  11. billyg

    billyg recruit

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    My father was ships company on board the LST 398 and was transported to Guadelcanal to the hospital there. Dad did remember the fire on the LST 396 and talked about that also. He passed away in 1998 and I wish I had written down more of his experiences. That generation is turly the greatest generation and deserve our honor. We must remember and pass along any stories we have from them so that their achievements will be remembered.
     
  12. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    Which is why the allies won.
     
  13. Phillies

    Phillies recruit

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    My grandfather died in 2005. If you ever happen to recall anything your father might had said about the fire on LST 396, feel free to share it. Also, how did you get your father's military records?
     
  14. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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  15. 60-man

    60-man recruit

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    I'm not sure if I am posting in the correct place but Ill try here.

    I'm trying to locate my father's service records from WW2. His name is Thomas A. Sinnott, he died in 1967..He said that he was a civilian seebea and his unit was with the !st Marine Division throughout the war. He said that he was on Okinowa when the war ended, they packed to go home, but were sent to the Aluetians for another year or so building a Navy base. I don't have any documents, I sent a request to NARA for information and was told that they have no record of him. He had a bayonet scar 10-12 inches long on his chest where a Japanese soldier playing dead along a trail stabbed him. He was a heavy equipment operater before the war. Does anyone have any ideas where to look??
     
  16. Boozie

    Boozie Member

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    Great thread!! My grandfather was a latecomer (late 44 eary 45) to the 61st NCB at Samar and Leyte, with most of his time spent on the former. He did his job building an airfield, hospital,etc. He lives in McKinney, Texas today and I ask him questions all of the time about his service. He saw no battles, but did his job. The sad part of it is that he dosen't think his service was much. In that, I mean he has never been really proud, I guess because he thinks his service mattered little because he never fought a battle.

    He walks a little taller now, my three sons think the world of his service with the Seabee's and grandad likes to answer their questions. My oldest son is 14 and he makes notes of what grandad tells him. They wanted their picture taken with the Seabee monument at Arlington Cemetery last year, which we had framed and grandad has placed it on a stand by his chair.

    A few things I thought were interesting was 1.) mopping floors with fuel oil to keep out varmints. 2.) The crushed coral for the runways would start putting off dust within a half hour after a sever downpour of rain. 3.) They (Seabees) tried to give the Filipinos some of their food after chow. They did not want it, they wanted rice instead. 4.) He found a Japanese sword on Samar and had it in his sea bag to take home. When the ship docked an officer came over the loud speaker and told the men if they had any Japanese trophies, they were not allowed to leave with them and if any were found they would be in trouble. Grandad gave it up. After all these years he thinks some officer ended up taking the sword home and had a heck of a battle story to go ALONG with it. The sea bags were never checked when the men exited the ship.

    A good website on the 61st & 93rd NCB on Samar, with several great links.

    NCB 93: Navy Base at Guiuan, Samar
     
  17. seabeegrandaughter

    seabeegrandaughter Member

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    Hello..I posted back in 2009 looking for information on my Grandpa who was a Seabee in WWII. My Grandpa passed away last weekend so now I am wanting more than ever to get information about his service. I know my aunts are looking at all of his service information and I was wondering if anyone would have any information for me if I can get you the specifics on where he was. I know he was one of the first guys in Nagasaki (I think) after the bomb. I miss him sooo much already and feel the need to know even more about him than I do already.

    Also, I want to get a small tattoo in honor of my Grandpa...I had the thought of getting a small Seabee with their motto beside it with some other wording...my husband said that since I was never in the military that it would be disrespectful to get a military tattoo without serving. The last thing I want to do is to disrespect anyone who has served and if that's the case, I will get something else to remember him by.

    I hope someone can help me if I get more specific information.

    Thanks,


    Dawn
    "Seabeegrandaughter"
     
  18. nortonlax

    nortonlax recruit

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    If it's at all possible to get a copy off the citation you noted here, I'd love a copy. My Grandfather was LT Leon T. Struble of the 1st ESB. Would love to place in my collection.

    v/r,

    LTC Chris Norton, USAR
     
  19. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    Opening Omaha Beach: Ensign Karnowski and NCDU-45


    During the invasion of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, a select number of Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) officers and Seabees in Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs) numbered among the first Americans ashore to clear the beaches for the ensuing infantry assault. One of these CEC officers, 28-year-old reservist, Ensign Lawrence Stephen Karnowski, Tampa, Kan., would be awarded the Navy Cross for his valor that day amid the bloodstained sands of Omaha Beach.

    In early 1944, as part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall defenses, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel ordered the placement of countless beach obstacles along the French coast to prevent landing craft and tanks from safely coming ashore. These obstacles ranged from steel tetrahedrons (dubbed “Czech hedgehogs”), to wooden posts with landmines attached, to large steel fences affectionately called “Belgian Gates.” All could destroy the hulls of landing craft or block entryways onto the beach. The Allied invasion could not succeed without first clearing the beaches of these obstacles, minimizing the exposure of infantry from debarkation to reaching defilade. Mechanical means of obstacle clearance proved inadequate. The only other alternative was to use men trained in demolitions to clear obstacles by hand while under fire.

    In the fall of 1943, Allied planners turned to the untried NCDUs to clear the beaches for Operation OVERLORD. First established in May 1943, the units consisted of one officer and five ratings to constitute a single boat crew. Due to the vast number of obstacles along the Normandy beaches, the planners reinforced the NCDUs with three additional seamen and five Army combat engineers. This 13-man naval unit joined with a 26-man Army combat engineer detachment, together comprising a Gap Assault Team (GAT). A total of 11 GATs were created and then divided into Force O (Omaha Beach) and Force U (Utah Beach). Allied planners tasked the GATs in both forces with the following: land at 0633 (H-Hour plus three minutes), then clear a 50-yard gap from the low-water mark across 300 yards of sand and mud to the high-water line of rocks and pebbles (shingle) on their respective beach sector using satchel charges. The NCDU half of the GAT would handle seaward obstructions, while the larger Army engineer force would clear the landward obstacles.

    Ens. Karnowski was the officer in charge of NCDU-45. A 1943 civil engineering graduate of the University of Kansas, he was commissioned in the Naval Reserve soon after and began his training at Camp Peary in June. Volunteering for naval demolition work together with two Seabees who would join his team, Chief Carpenter’s Mate Conrad C. Millis, Corona, Calif., and Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Lester J. Meyers, Freeport, Ill., Karnowski left Camp Peary and moved to Amphibious Training Base, Fort Pierce, Fla., for combat demolition training with NCDU-45 before shipping out to England in January 1944. Upon arrival in March, NCDU-45 was assigned to the 6th Beach Battalion, 11th Amphibious Force in Cornwall, England. From late April to early May, additional Sailors and Soldiers arrived to reinforce NCDU-45.

    After weeks of training, NCDU-45 moved to the English port of Portland and boarded a landing craft tank (LCT) on June 3, 1944. First Lieutenant Joseph J. Gregory, Elko, Nev., commanding the Army engineer force, joined the Navy unit and together the assembled force comprised GAT-10. Hours later, all the NCDU officers went aboard the USS Anson to be briefed by Lt. Cmdr. Joseph H. Gibbons and Rear Adm. John L. Hall Jr., about their assignment. Assured that a pre-invasion naval bombardment would clear the beaches and overlooking bluffs, Rear Adm. Hall proclaimed, “Not a living soul would be left on that beach.” Neither Karnowski nor 1st Lt. Gregory shared this sentiment.

    Drawn from memory weeks after D-Day, Karnowski sketched out the size of the areas cleared of obstacles, together with the times and locations of the shots detonated. Also indicated is the landing craft that carried GAT-10 to the sector, and the ensuing craft that disgorged vehicles and infantry to the beach. Courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum

    For the next three nights and two days, the men endured rough sea conditions aboard the LCT as bad weather postponed the invasion. Cold and wet, often forced to sleep exposed on awash decks with poor rations, contaminated drinking water and a bucket for a head, the men waited for their rendezvous with destiny. Once word reached the team that H-Hour was set for D-Day, June 6, a grim reality settled over the men. Boarding a smaller mechanized landing craft (LCM) in the early hours of the sixth, the Sailors and Soldiers sighted their assigned beach sector and headed for shore.

    Landing eight minutes ahead of schedule at 0625 hours on the beach sector code-named “Easy Red,” Karnowski led his team as they disembarked and began placing small satchel charges on the obstacles in the water. With minimal enemy resistance, they successfully blew a 100-yard line of obstacles at 0650. Almost immediately after Karnowski’s men fired their first shot, German machine guns and artillery zeroed in on the group from the bluffs above. Refusing to remain pinned down, CUC Millis grabbed a roll of primacord and sprinted from obstacle to obstacle, placing and wiring charges before being cut down. MM2 Meyers raced out to the chief’s body and continued his deadly work for a second shot. As American infantry waded past the NCDU men, Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Gale B. Fant, Minter City, Miss., took a machine gun round through his leg, and then a piece of shrapnel wounded Meyers. Another unit member, Brooklyn-native Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Robert L. Svendsen carried GM1 Fant on his back to the dune line as Karnowski waded out and rescued another wounded unit member, carrying him to higher ground.

    At 0700, thanks to Millis’s sacrifice and Meyers’s quick actions, Karnowski’s men detonated their second shot and cleared obstacles up Gregory’s 26-man force. The Army engineers proceeded to detonate their first shot at 0710 and a second shortly thereafter, clearing almost the entire assigned 50-yard gap of steel hedgehogs from the surf to the dunes. Karnowski and his remaining men had begun placing charges for a third shot but advancing infantry precluded detonation.

    By now, Karnowski and Gregory stood in water up to their knees in the rising tide. For the last few obstacles in the gap, the officers swam out and together cleared the remaining obstructions one charge at a time. With the gap open, landing craft infantry (LCI) moved in to unload fresh troops. Karnowski and Gregory rounded up the remaining Navy and Army personnel, and led them to the dunes for protection from increasing shelling. A short time later, a shell burst and severely wounded Gregory. Sailor treated Soldier, but the wounds proved fatal. (Gregory posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross.) Returning to his men, Karnowski learned four of his assigned Army personnel sustained shrapnel injuries. Exhausted, the ensign dug foxholes for his wounded while members of the 16th and 116th Regimental Combat Teams, 1st Infantry Division began to assault the bluffs overlooking Easy Red between 0730 and 0830, clearing them of German resistance by 0930.

    For his actions on June 6, 1944, Karnowski was awarded the Navy Cross, the first CEC officer to receive the medal for actions in Europe, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. For his heroism that morning, Meyers received the Silver Star. The entire NCDU component of Force “O” received one of three Presidential Unit Citations awarded to the Navy for D-Day. Such honors, however, came at a bitter price. Navy personnel suffered a casualty rate of 52 percent on June 6, 1944, with 31 dead and 60 wounded. NCDU-45 suffered a casualty rate of more than 50 percent, with one killed, one seriously wounded and five slightly wounded.

    Postwar, Karnowski remained in the CEC Reserve and served on active duty during the Korean War. He later served for the deputy public works officer, 11th Naval District, before joining the Bureau of Yards and Docks and its successor, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. For his work in Thailand during the Vietnam War, Karnowski received the Southeast Asia Civilian Service Award. He retired at the rank of Commander in the Naval Reserve, and died on March 29, 1992, in El Cajon, Calif.

    During World War II, Karnowski, NCDU-45 and GAT-10 managed to clear the largest gap along Omaha Beach. This enabled Army engineers to transform Exit E-1 at Easy Red into the principle egress off Omaha Beach, ensuring an American foothold at the bloodiest invasion beach on D-Day.
     
  20. Thurman

    Thurman Member

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    HE HELPED TURN BACK JAP ATTACK

    The information carried by a Seabee who volunteered to act as runner from a beach command post to two Marine divisions, frustrated an attempt by a large concentration of Japanese to drive a wedge between the two Marine Divisions on Saipan.
    The Seabee battalion 121st N.C.B., 3/20, 4th Marine Division, was holding down the position of beach security battalton during the invasion of the island. It was D-plus 1 and the situation as outlined on the CP s map looked bad. No information had been received on the progress of the 2nd Division for some time and besides, it was feared that the Japs were concentrating to split the two divisions with a drive to the beach.
    CCM Leslie G. Smith of Los Angeles, Calif., chief in charge of the CP, called for a volunteer to run the gauntlet to the 2nd Marines, Frank H. Chmielewicz, Slc, of Camden, N. J. popped out of his foxhole to accept the assignmenL
    Risking being shot at by his own mates as well as by Japs and Marines, Chmielewicz made his way up the fringe of the beach and found the Marine CP. Securing the desired information he made the perilous 2 1/2 mile return journey to the Seabee CP and then set off to contact the 4th Marine Division in the opposite direction.
    With the maps prepared by the Seabee plotters at the beach CP, the Marines were able to locate the Jap wedge and eliminate it.
    Chmielewicz's battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its part in the capture of Saipan and Tinian. Chmielewicz was wounded during the later campaign and has received the Purple Heart.
     

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