"Okinawa" 145th Seabees - April 1, 1945
#1

From 145th's NCB Cruisebook: OKINAWA, April 1, 1945.

 

Many of our men got in on the very beginning of the landings. We on the LST's had ringside seats, but we didn't get in until L-plus- two. We did get our share of action for our camp was situated on farmland between two airstrips and a harbor full of ships. The Japanese flyers that came over lived up to their reputation of being nearsighted, for although there were a number of nearby targets more important than we, the flying sons of heaven dropped "hot stuff" too close to us for comfort. The evening of D-plus-two, when we pitched camp, we joked and grinned in levity over the adventure, but after a few experiences of zooming, bombing Japanese planes, flak filled skies, and moaning sirens out interests in abodes centered on safety. Comfort ran a poor second. Biggest joba in April were construction of two roadways, Route No. 1 and Route No. 3, which included access roads; the improvement of Yellow Beach No. 3, one of the main man and supply landings, and access roads to it. One of the most important jobs was the construction of a 150-foot double-double Bailey bridge over the Bishi Gawa at Hiza. This was on Route 1, the main artery feeding supplies south to the battlefront. A crew of 80 men of the 145th built the bridge in two days and a night. The Japanese didn't want the bridge built, and signified their feelings in futile, but dangerous, air raids on the bridge site throughout the night. For their rapid and successful completion of the project, the workers were commended by commander White of the 44th Regiment. Also during April, the 145th constructed a camp for the Island Command, operated DDT mixing station at Yontan airfield, constructed the 3rd Amphibious Corps hospital, operated a water station at Hiza, furnished a bomb and mine disposal crew for all our own projects, numerous others, and for the policing of a large area for unexploded ordinance.The 145th road crews maintained and improved a section of Route No. 6 from Tokeshi to Yamada. Our surver parties did reconnaissance work on airfield sites, and another crew operated coral pits on around the clock schedules. During April the 145th suffered two casualties. In May, men of the 145th constructed a camp and facilities for the commander of construction troops. worked on the first Marine Division cemetery, constucted a large number of facilities for Yontan airfield; helped the 146th battalion establish an advance base construction depot, built the giant Machinato causeway and pontoon dock for unloading ships, salvaged materials and supplies at Naha, constructed many miles of new roads and improved many more miles of existing roads. All of this time other work was being done on our own camp. Our electric shop salvaged and put into operation Japanese equipment such as transformers. our sign shop painted signs that posted almost the whole island; messing facilities and showers were built, and almost from the start we had movies projected on a plywood screen while we sat on coral blocks, boxes and the ground. Throughout this entire period we experienced at least one air raid every night; some nights, an almost continuous succession of them. When an air raid stopped the movies, and they often did, we'd run for our foxholes and then return the next night to see more of the same movies from where we left off. It was toward the end of May that the Japanese tried one of their most daring attacks in our vicinity. With suicidal plans of wrecking grounded planes with grenades and scattering to the hills, they tried an airborne landing of troops on Yontan airfield, just above our camp. Only one plane made a successful landing on the field. Good quality and quantity of our anti-aircraft fire accounted for the others. The Japanese who did land, damaged a number of our planes, but they never got off the field alive. The following morning presented a bloody scene in the vicinity of Yontan airfield. During the next two months our road crew continued their endless job of networking the island wide, smooth, coral-topped highways to replace the one way cart trails that composed most of Okinawa's roadways. And the coral diggers and hauers continued to move out coral for these and other jobs, such as the construction of taxiways at Yonabaru airfield. Workers built a fleet post office at Naval Operations Base to handle the Navy's mail on the island. The 145th also furnished a crew of men and a fleet of trucks in operation of the islands provisional trucking company. In July we moved to a new camp and were back on the pacific ocean again. It was at least a help to look out over the ocean and know you were looking toward home and not China. The battle for Okinawa ended officially on June 22 when the American flag was raised over the island. Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., Commander of the Tenth Army on Okinawa, was killed Monday, June 18. The Okinawa campaign occupied 82 days of fighting. a total of 100,000 Japanese were killed, paid for in American dead at a one-to-13 ratio. It was on June 22 that the 145th was detached from the First Marine Division, to which we had belonged since December 3, 1944.

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#2

Thanks once again for taking the time to post these. There are especially relevant right now with the release of Flags of Our Fathers.

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#3

Tough battle, which I am sure is painful to remember for those who fought it. I have been viewing a plethora of documentaries on Iwo Jima lately, as well as Okinawa and the other Pacific "D-Days"...prior to seeing "Flags of Our Fathers." The combat here was almost beyond human comprehension , with a fanatical enemy who cared nothing about sacrificing his life...even though victory was out of the question as far as Japan was concerned. All that mattered to them was raising the American body count in the hope of forcing a more favorable cease-fire, which was never even a consideration for Harry Truman (Thank God!). 27 Medals of Honor...36 days of Hell. How do we ever repay these men?

 

 

 

 

Jim :woof:

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#4

Get the book - - Brotherhood of Heroes Marines at Peleliu! by Bill Sloan (2005)— An outstanding overview of the Peleliu campaign. The author builds his story around first-hand accounts of Marines who served on the island. This is one of the best modern histories of the Pacific war. Peleliu was absolutely Brutal. But is rarely mentioned.

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#5

Thanks for the book recommendation.

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#6

215276433.jpg215276406.jpg215276421.jpg215276396.jpg215276433.jpg
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#7

215276414.jpg

 

Seabees blasting caves on Iwo-Jima.

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#8
Thanks. I have never seen any of the above photos and certainly not any of the ones regarding the Seabees blasting caves on Iwo. That's what I truly love about our forum; a great diversity of WWII topics and photos.
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#9

215400377.jpg

 

Top Photos - Seabees haul landing craft to the Rhine for Patton's armored crossing (left) and (right) make a treadway across the Rhine near the remagen bridgehead.

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#10

Another old Newspaper clipping.

 

William Smith enlisted in the Seabees and was assigned to the 11th Special USN Construction Battalion. Basically we were stevedores, We loaded and unloaded ships. But the 11th Special also carried Marines in.

 

The 11th Special was also known as the "Can-Do Boys" because there weren't many things they couldn't do. One of those things was go into battle once their other duties were completed. We carried in supplies and built camps and dug foxholes and got in them, Smith said. We were in on invasions in the Pacific Islands as we moved the Marines from one island to another.

 

We were handed four packs of K-rations, two canteens and told to go in and get em. The 11th Special went in behind the Marines. We were the mop up crew. Everytime the Marines pushed on, we went right behind them.

 

We were in a foxhole one night on Okinawa, and bombs were dropping all around us and gunfire was spraying around us like a 4th of July sparkler. We were all afraid. It was the toughest night of my life. Nearby a bomb exploded, setting the sandbags around a foxhole on fire. The sandbags fell in the foxhole on the men and set them on fire, Smith said. They were screaming for help and I started to move out. My foxhole buddy, wouldn't budge. He was frozen in fear.

 

Smith got help from Soldiers in another foxhole and they pulled the two men from the burning hole. We were screaming for help and there was a Doctor in one of the foxholes but he wouldn't come out. Some Corpsmen came and helped us and men's lives were saved.

 

A short time later, Smith's foxhole buddy went berserk. He crawled out of the foxhole and was standing out there in all the gunfire, screaming at the top of his lungs. Smith said, I crawled out and pulled him back in. I had to report him and the next day he and the Doctor were taken off the island. War is terrible he said.

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