entered the 74th Seabee Battalion in December of 1942 and did my boot camp training at
Camp Bradford in Norfolk, Virginia. It was formed by recruits from the enlisted men,
who were from the middle states, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. They were changed into the
Fourth Special which became a battalion of "Stevedores". They were to
unload ships and were moved to Guadalcanal. I was left in that Reserve encampment
for several weeks. I vaguely remember we were there for six weeks. We were in
tents and did more "boot camp" training. I was told that the reason I
didn't go with them was that my training as a Plumber-Pipefitter would not be effectively
used in a stevedore Battalion. I felt deserted.
Then a detachment of us were transferred into the 79th
Seabee Battalion and, while in the Seventy-Ninth, I completed my first tour of
duty in Alaska with the 79th and returned to the West Coast where we
encountered many of our first Seabee friends at Camp Parks, on the West Coast. They had
also just returned from their first tour of duty as Stevedores from Guadalcanal.
My second and third tours continued on with the 79th
Seabees on Saipan and Okinawa, but I had left Okinawa before the typhoon of October 9,
1945 hit. I was transferred to the hospital ship USS SANCTUARY (AH-17)
to become a part of the hospital ship's crew. I became responsible for the Ship
Fitters Crew. The news of the typhoon on Okinawa was broadcast over the ship's
speaker system, when we were a few days out to sea. Immediately scuttlebutt ran
rampant through the ship that we were going to return to take care of the wounded.
Truthfully, we felt sorry for them; however, it was a common reaction as I sensed it that
we keep going toward home, not that those sentiments had any effect on the ship's Captain
and/or Commander to continue on our course toward San Francisco.
||It was a fantastic trip home and into the San
Francisco Bay. What a triumphant ride that was under the Golden Gate and
Bridge. Every man free and available standing on the top deck in our Dress Blues, at
attention around the perimeter of the ship's common deck with tears of joy that we were
returning stateside, as you have seen in pictures of ships coming into port.
All traffic was stopped on the Bridge and we, the crew, unashamedly stood at attention
with tears of joy in our eyes. The Hospital Ship was surrounded by small craft with
people cheering us as heroes, some of them had a small orchestra on their top deck playing
something or other and the sound of the music was lost in the hub dub of it all. You no
doubt know that a Hospital Ship is the glamour vessel of the wartime fleet.
What a pleasure to have these thoughts at this early
hour in the morning sitting at this desk in the comfort of my home. I have written
with pleasure all of the above
79th Seabee veteran,