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Richard W. "Dick" Mayer
Company B, 79th Battalion
U.S. Navy Seabees
World War II

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     A native of Floral Park, New York, Richard Mayer, one of five children including two sisters and two brothers, joined the U.S. Navy in April 1943 and was stationed at Camp Perry Area B8, Williamsburg, Va. Platoon 2107.  In July 1943, he moved to Fort Pierce, Florida Naval Demolition Unit CB Detachment 1011, Amphibious Training Base.  Richard was known to his comrades as "Dick Mayer".

     In December 1944, Richard went by train from Jacksonville, Fla to Columbus, Georgia in transit to California, traveling across the beautiful USA to Camp Parks, California and arriving on December 27, 1944.  In January, he moved from the 1011 to the 79th Batallion Company B Platoon 1.  On January 30th, he moved to San Francisco to prepare to ship out.  In February 1945, Richard shipped out to the Marianas Islands.

     Richard's letters tell of leaving Oakland, California on Jan.28th,1945, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge on a troop ship - his last sight of USA until he came home from the war.  Prior to departing, they were on board ship for three days.  At sea for approximately ten days, most of the men were sea sick, excluding Richard, but he said that a person could not stay below deck because of the smell.  On February 10th, they arrived at Pearl Harbor and stayed for two days on the ship.  Richard tells of the ice cream he enjoyed when they arrived, which was sold on the ship for 25 cents.  After nine days at sea, they arrived at Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, remaining on board ship for 2 days, but were then in the war zone and could see results of fighting on land. (at this point, he was allowed to state that he was in the Marshall Islands, but he could not say which island.)   They reached Saipan in the Marianas on February 26, and after about one month on the ship, he wrote that he was the first to be waiting to disembark.  After about two months, all equipment (from the various ships in the harbor was unloaded to one area, each piece tested and marked 79th Battalion.  Approximately the 15th of April, the 79th pulled out, all but B Co., which left Saipan approximately the end of April on a large transport.  The trip took approximately 1 week to arrive on Okinawa.

     One of the stories told by Richard Meyer to his family is that that they needed a base for a bridge in a hurry... they took two bulldozers and sunk them in the water and that was the footing for a bridge.  Another story  the family remembers Richard telling about was when they were out at sea and everyone was seasick.  He himself was not sick and ate everyone else's breakfast, all he could eat.  Upon becoming sick after eating all that food, he proceded to the ship's doctor for treatment.  The doctor was not surprised to see another seasick sailor, but Richard explained that he was not seasick, just ate too much.   Richard Mayer told about a really bad storm on one of the islands.  Although it is not certain whether he was referring to the typhoon on Okinawa on October 9, 1945 or not, he and his buddies were struggling very hard to stay dry inside the tent and, when the wind picked up, they held the tent poles to keep it from blowing away...  then they gave up and away it went.  He was also blown off a roof and survived.  He was on guard duty on a ship guarding the anchor line when he heard a noise and fired his gun at the anchor.   In the morning, he had to account for the shots.  It wound up being a wooden box floating and hitting the anchor line.  Richard had a pet monkey and a female dog that had 13 puppies that he had to get rid of . 

     On Okinawa, Richard reflected that there were bombings almost every night. His first assignment was steveadoring - unloading the ship for approximately one month. He then worked on construction building bridges and roads.  In August, the war had ended and Richard continued working in construction, on housing for Admiral Nimitz, and on a mess hall for the Fleet Navy.  On November 1st, he was promoted to 3rd class petty officer.  At this time, the outfit was being dispersed and slowly sent home. The unit he was in now was called C.B. Maintenance Unit #53, which included 300 of the men from the 79th.  By Thanksgiving, it had been one year since he had seen his family. In Richard's last letter that his family possesses, mailed Jan. 23,1946, Richard says he should be leaving Okinawa soon.

     The following year after the war ended, Richard married and resided on Long Island, where he and his wife, Marie, spent their lives raising their family - Bill, Marie and Alice - and were blessed with four grandchildren; one grandson and three grandaughters.  As a father, Richard Mayer was very special to his children and very involved in their lives as a Boy Scout leader, honorary Girl Scout father, Band parent and so many other things that fathers do. Richard worked as a carpenter,  building banks, houses and whatever kept him working throughout the years, including some work in the World Trade Center, retiring in 1989. He and his wife, Marie, bought a motorhome and travelled across the USA together.  While camping in Florida some years ago, 79th Seabee Richard Mayer and his wife met a fellow Seabee (from another Battalion) from New York who was seeking donations for the building of a Seabee Memorial in North Tonawanda, New York.  Richard contributed to the building of this memorial and, in his honor as well as in honor of other Seabees, the Memorial was built with Richard's name appearing on the Memorial wall.  Richard and Marie were married 52 years.

     Richard Mayer was so proud of his years in the U.S. Navy, a proud American who flew his American flag everyday.  In the words of his daughter, Marie, "My dad was my hero, I feared him, loved him and respected him.  No one could take the place of my father in my eyes."       ....   This memorial tribute is given to 79th Battalion Seabee Richard W. Mayer for the service and sacrifice which he gave in World War II and throughout his life.

The Family of Richard W. Mayer may be contacted at

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Please remember to visit the World War II Memorial website and say "Thank you" to our U.S. Navy Seabees who sacrificed of themselves and their lives in World War II.

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