Jump to content

Thurman

Members
  • Content Count

    76
  • Joined

  • Last visited


Reputation Activity

  1. Like
    Thurman got a reaction from parker in 18TH N.C.B. SEABEES - PACIFIC   
    The 18th battalion was commissioned at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Va., Aug. 11, 1942, and
    transferred that day to Davisville R. 1. On Sept. 6, C Company was transferred to C.B.
    Replacement Group, Fleet Marine Force, San Diego, Calif. The remainder of the Battalion
    was transferred to the FMF Base Depot, Norfolk. Embarking on Sept. 11, 1942, the unit
    arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia, Nov. 11.
     
    At Noumea, the battalion was engaged in miscellaneous construction
    projects such as camp improvement, fighter strip maintenance and general
    construction. The battalion didn't languish in New Caledonia too long
    for on Christmas day 1942 it arrived on Guadalcanal with orders to conrl
    struct fighter strip number 1. The battalion tackled the job with alacrity
    and finished the project in 44 days, though the men were subjected to
    bombings by Japanese aircraft during the day and naval bombardment at
    night.
    On Guadalcanal the battalion also built new roads and maintained
    the airfields. For their leadership and hard work Officer in Charge
    Lieutenant Commander L. E. Tull and Executive Officer, Lieutenant R. E.
    Clausen, CEC, USNR, received the Legion of Merit.
    The battalion finished the chores on Guadalcanal and on 11 April 1943,
    embarked for New Zealand to join the Second Marine Division. On April
    26 the battalion was designated as the Third Battalion, 18th Marine Regiment,
    Second Marine Division. The battalion began intensive amphibious
     
    training and combat exercise in preparation for a combat assault on an
    enemy beach. The battalion trained for six sweaty months until it was
    deemed ready to join the Marines in the proposed assault.
    Two thirds of the battalion loaded aboard ship and accompanied the
    Second Marines across the long reach of the Pacific Ocean for the invasion.
    The remainder of the battalion stayed on Guadalcanal as the rear echelon.
    After a month at sea the battalion looked out across the blue water
    on November 20 and watched the Navy bombard the little atoll of Tarawa.
    In the ensuing five days following their arrival, the men of the battalion
    went ashore with the Marines-almost a third of the battalion participated
    in the savage fighting. Many of the men were wounded as the battalion
    repaired the Japanese Airfield under enemy fire in the first 30 hours of
    the invasion.
    The battalion made other repairs to bombarded facilities, built camps
    and aid stations and had the grisly chore of cleaning out dead Japanese
    from the wrecked blockhouses and trenches. The men of the battalion
    bulldozed long trenches in the coral sands of the atoll and dumped the
     
    hundreds of Japanese corpses in them. The battalion reworked the airfield,
    NL laying down Marston matting, and parking facilities for aircraft.
    The men of the battalion who actually participated in the invasion
    and the fighting on Tarawa were allowed to wear the Presidential Unit
    Citation awarded the 18th Marines by President Franklin Roosevelt. More
    than a dozen of the men were wounded and awarded the Purple Heart decoration.
    A portion of the battalion was sent to Hilo, Hawaii from the Gilbert
    Islands and Guadalcanal while a third of the battalion stayed at Tarawa
    to finish construction projects there. The Tarawa detachment left the
    Gilberts on 8 January 1944 and rejoined the battalion at Hilo to bring
    the battalion up to strength.
    In Hawaii the battalion helped construct the Second Marine Division
     
    camp, built a small service airstrip and engaged in a new training
     
    program. The battalion also main~d the new camp and airstrip and improved
    facilities.
     
    The battalion waS redesignated the 18th Construction Battalion and
    assigned to the Fifth Amphibious Corps for further assignment with the
    Second Marine Division on 1 April 1944.
    Between 5 May 1944 and 11 May the battalion embarked for the Mariana~ •
    Islands with the Marines with the assignment to act as shore party for the
    invasion of Saipan. On 15 June the battalion went ashore with the Marines
    on Saipan's beaches. The battalion carried out its
    major assignment as the invasion shore party, unloading supplies, constructing
    pontoon piers and effecting salvage of wrecked equipment. While
    engaged in these duties the battalion was under constant mortar and small
    arms fire and sustained numerous casualties. In addition to the main duty
    of beach support, the battalion also built several roads and a hospital.
    Six enlisted men and two officers of the battalion volunteered to
    assist the amphibious landing on Tinian Island on "J" day. The Seabees
    were presented with a unique problem of landing men and supplies because
    of the peculiar configuration of the Tinian invasion beach. Commander
    P. J. Halloran designed a wooden ramp which folded back over the top of
     
    the LST and would drop forward over the bow when the craft grounded on the
     
    beach. The high ramp would then allow the combat personnel and supplies
    to be landed across the ramp over the cliff~ike Tinian shoreline.
    The remainder of the battalion arrived on Tinian two days after the
    invasion and set up a permanent camp. -The Seabees also, in part, helped
    to establish Camp Churo. The camp was erected for the Civil Affairs
    people of the Second Marine Division who were charged with the care of
    the 11,000 civilian Japanese and Koreans on Tinian. The building of the
    camp was a monumental task and included all housing, sanitation facilities,
    food and water supply and securi perimeter. Also, the Seabees had to
    build a camp for the garrison force guarding the civilians and a G-5
    Hospital Unit for the Japanese and Koreans.
    For more than six months following the invasion, the battalion ,
    endured constant sniper fire and several banzai attacks by the remaining
    die-hard Japanese who refused to surrender. Five men of the battalion
    were killed in action and thirty seven enlisted men and one officer were
    awarded the Purple Heart decoration for wounds from enemy attacks. Also,
     
    five men of the 18th Construction Battalion were awarded the Navy and
    Marine Corps Medal for heroism.
    It was common for the Seabees, individually or in small groups, to
    go "Jap hunting" when their construction chores were done for the day.
    On numerous occasions small parties of Seabees and a few rugged individuals
    would arm themselves with grenades and a rifle or submachinegun,
     
    and clean out Japanese soldier~skulking in the innumerable caves on the
    island. On one occasion an enlisted man killed five Japanese hiding in
    a cave by throwing in a grenade. In one instance a Seabee of the 18th
    charged into a cave and grabbed a live grenade from the Japanese defender,
    throwing the bomb further into the cave to avoid getting hit. One time,
    two enlisted men working on a road were fired upon by a group of Japanese
    hidden in a dugout nearby. The Seabees grabbed their weapons and attacked
     
    the dugout and killed nine enemy soldiers.
    Combat activity, though dramatic, was sporadic for the Seabees made
    their greatest contribution to the war effort in building tank farms for
    lube oil and aviation gasoline storage. The big projects were servicing
     
    facilities for the B-29s operating from North Field and West Field on
    Tinian. The huge Army Air Corps bombers were raiding Japan daily and
    the Seabees were the men who built and maintained the airstrips, tank
    farms, bomb dumps and other support facilities for the airmen. Included
    in the construction were the aircraft revetments and the fuel lines
    from the tank farms to the airstrips.
    The 18th Construction Battalion also built roads and streets, maintained
    and enlarged Camp Churo for the military government and drilled
    wells to obtain fresh water for various camps. The 18th also built a
    large camp for the Quartermaster Corps and a depot. The project entailed
    the construction of over 100 buildings, warehouses and barracks, a mess
    hall, heads and bakery.
    With all the construction and combat activity, the men of the 18th
     
    found time to rig an ingenious cobbler's shop and a ;1e press resembling
    a cookie cutter to make rubber heels for boots out of discarded tires.
    USing the die and automobile jack and a block of wood, the men made heels
    and soles for Seabee and Marine boots which were wearing out very quickly
    on the coral studded island.
     
    The battalion continued building and maintaining tank farms and roads
    right up to the day it was in-Jactivated, June 15, 1945.
×