Comments: The VDNCeremony sponsored by the NAVY SEABEE VETERANS of AMERICA will comence at a NEW TIME this year. The ceremony will start promptly at 0830, 11-11-10 at the SEABEE Memorial which will enable the attendee's more time to make their way to the Rotunda for the National ceremony. All veterans and families are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Comments: BOUGAINVILLE - Assigned to the 3rd Marine Division, elements of the 25th, 53rd, 71st and 75th Seabee Battalion's land on Bougainville. On November 1 ,1943 a detachment of the 75th Seabee Battalion landed with the first wave of Marines at Torokina Point, Bougainville. The five officers and 95 men who composed the landing detachment were all volunteers. They came in with the Marines on the USS President Adams. For the landing they divided themselves into four units - one to unload ammunition, another to unload fuel, another to unload rations and packs, and the fourth Seabee unit manned the machine guns on all Higgins boats and tank lighters. They were to follow ashore immediately behind Company "C" First Battalion ? Marines Third Marine Division, which was the only assault force expected to meet any opposition. At the beach they encountered determined resistance, the 250 Marines and the 100 Seabees worked perfectly as a team. The Seabee gunners provided cover while the Marines advanced to erase the Japanese with grenades and flame throwers. When a marine was shot from a crippled tractor which was pulling in the first load of ammunition, a Seabee leaped to his place, repaired the tractor, and delivered the ammunition. The Seabees dug foxholes not only for themselves but also for the Marines and for all casualties who were unable to dig their own. When a group of Marines was about to be wiped out because of lack of supplies, three Seabees managed to get through with ammunition and to bring back the wounded. The first Seabee killed was shot by a Japanese sniper while he was helping to man the line of beach which the Seabees had been assigned to defend. They got the sniper. To begin the construction of the airfields around Empress Augusta Bay, the 71st Seabees began landing on the afternoon of November 1. there were many difficult construction problems. The ground was swampy, and the rains were unseasonably heavy. Part of the area on which the Torokina fighter strip had to be built was actually "beyond the front lines". The Seabees had to risk capture as well as death from enemy fire, and one man was captured while he was clearing the strip. A mental hazard for the men was Mt. Bagana, a volcano, which towered near the scene. The Seabees at Bougainville are the only ones who have had to work under an active volcano. In spite of all these handicaps, however, the field was superimposed on the swamp, and planes were operating from it on December 10. There is a bridge in this area named for Chief Carpenters Mate Elmer I, Carruthers (25th NCB). A detachment of Seabees under Chief Carruthers was cutting a road in advance of the front lines when the detachment and its Marine security guard were attacked by the Japanese. Chief Carruthers and six other men were killed and twenty were wounded. The entire detachment might have been wiped out had it not been for the gallantry of Chief Carpenters Mate Joe Bumgarner. Bumgarner (25th NCB) and a detail were building a bridge when they heard the firing against Carruthers. Bumgarner led his men to the rescue, helped drive off the Japanese, and evacuated the Marine and Seabee casualties.The 53rd Seabees also participated in the assault on Bougainville. Their "A" and "C" Companies landed with the Marine raiders in the first two waves.
Off icial account of the 53rd Seabee Battalion's work while in support of the 3rd Marine Division on Bougainville, covering the period November 1-24, 1943. Two Hundred and forty-four men, the Ifficer in Charge, seven officers and one bulldozer landed in the second wave with the Second Raider Battalion on Beach Green-2 (on D-Day, November 1). This group acted as shore-party for the unloading of the USS George Clymer. This work was concluded early in the afternoon of D-Day.
Seventy-four men, two officers, and one bulldozer landed in the second wave on Puruata Island, with the Third Raider Battalion and one battery of the Third Defense Battalion. This group acted as shore-party in unloading their ship, and assisted the Third Defense Battalion battery in securing their positions. This detail remained with the battery for eight days. Twenty three men, one officer and one bulldozer landed in the first and second waves on Beach Yellow-4 and assisted as shore-party temporarily, their principal mission being assistance to the third defense Battalion in securing their battery positions. One man, with bulldozer and one officer landed in the second wave on Beach Blue-1 to assist the Third Defense Battalion in securing their battery positions. On November 2 about one hundred men and two officers from Beach Green-2 were assigned to assist the battery for three days. On November 2 all available men were constructing bridges and pioneer road along the Piva Trail from Beach Yellow-1. No amount of construction equipment was available until November 6, and progress was slow through the swamps. This project was later expanded to include a pioneer road from Blue-1 and extension of the Piva Trail to an intersection with the Piva Road near Piva. On November 6 an additional six Officers, 179 men, and considerable construction equipment were landed on Puruata Island. These troops were transferred to the mainland on November 9, and assigned to road construction. Here, at Empress Augusta Bay, was once again seen the close relationship and cameraderie which existed between the Seabees and the Marines. The main road, when completed, was named "Marine Drive" and dedicated, with deep affection, 'To our very good friend, the Fighting Marines". A large sign, announcing this fact, was placed at one of the roads terminals. On November 15, work was started on a two-lane road up the Piva River from the beach. On November 30, this road was open to traffic to the southeast corner of the Piva Airfield site. The Piva Trail pioneer road was 85 percent completed at this time. Survey crews, on November 4, started surveys from Yellow-2, and, on November 10, these crews started preliminary surveys for the Piva Airfield. These crews worked under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions as sporadic enemy opposition was encountered in these areas until about November 30. The various detachments of the Battalion landing on D-Day were under operational control of the Third Marine Division until November 8, at which time they reverted to the control of the Commanding General, First Marine Amphibious Corps. Up to November 24, a total of two miles of primary highway and 1.8 miles of pioneer road had been constructed. A majority of this work was through extremely difficult swamps and jungles, and a considerable portion of these roads were built on corduroy brush mats, by hand. "Miscellaneous activities included" 1. Construction of operational dugouts for First Marine Amphibious Corps, numbered among these was the elaborate one built for the personal use of Admiral Halsey. 2. Hauling ammunition and rations on Affe trailers to the front lines, until relieved of this duty by the Third Division. 3. Start of development of a coral pit on Torokina Point. 4. Construction of emergency operating tent and hospital ward for Third defense Battalion Medical Officer, and the loan to him of the assistance of two Battalion medical officers and several Corpsmen to care for Raider casualties during the first ten days. Available records indicate 81 enemy air alerts in which enemy planes were overhead and bombs were dropped. Enemy artillery, mortar and machine gun fire existed on the beaches November 1st and 2nd. Sniper fire existed for the entire two months period in the jungle. Its assigned missions successfully and commendably completed, the 53rd returned from Both Vella Lavella and Bougainville during the middle of January, 1944, to its former camp at Doma Cove, Guadalcanal. Once again we were to undertake extensive and vigorous Marine Amphibious training. But this time, there was also much construction to be done. Since our previous camp had been occupied by other troops during our absence or had been rendered useless by changing conditions and our expanding requirements, we built a camp for ourselves before turning to the construction of a 1,500-man Marine camp.
Comments: My dad, Leonard Semas, was a Carpenter's Mate 2nd Class with the Navy in WW II. He went through NCTC at Camp Peary, VA and served in the South Pacific in Caviti and the Philippines. Any information or contacts would be appreciated.
(I served in the U.S. Army as a 1st Lt from 1969-72. I attended Basic and AIT at Ft. Ord, CA; OCS at Ft. Belvoir, VA; Officer Basic at Ft. Ben Harrison, IN; and served at 6th Army HQ, The Presidio of San Francisco, CA.)
Comments: great thing to do,I just retired from the Navy after 5 years active and 16 reserve years as a EO1.I wouldn't change one thing I did.The Seabees help me become what I am today a Operating Enigineer with Local 150 in the Chicago Area,which I've been doing for the past 12 years.Keep up the good work and always remember Seabee's CAN DO!