Dose the word “Seabees” mean anything to you? I’d bet that you’ve never heard about the Seabees but without them America would likely have lost WW-II. Of course, in the ‘40s this nation was patriotic. Sadly, it isn’t anymore, except in the older generations. Consider this: When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, there was no way we could fight them from California. We’ve heard lots about the Air Force, General Patton and the tank corps, the Navy carriers and the grunts in the Infantry who fought hand to hand on the ground.
But we had no bases in the Pacific from which to launch an offense against the Japs. Before you can have bombers that stop the advance of the enemy and eventually turn them back it was necessary to have air bases from which the bombers could reach them. That was the most important, and first priority for us. And, while young boys could be trained to fight in a war, it was necessary to have experienced construction people to BUILD those air bases and housing and everything necessary to operate from Pacific islands. Those islands were really mountains covered with thick jungle growth.. What could we do?
With the cooperation of labor unions and U.S. contractors the Navy asked for volunteers from the construction industries. Immediately thousands of civil engineers, Caterpillar operators, stevedores (who unloaded ships) brick layers, carpenters, electricians, welders VOLUNTEERED to join the armed forces. These Construction Battalions were hurriedly formed and shipped off to those jungles where they fought mud, mosquitoes, malaria, and attacks from Jap bombers and snipers to build those facilities. The name “Seabees” was a nickname from the initials CB for the Construction Battalions. They not only served in the Pacific but also in England building airbases and the entire construction necessary to make them function.
The average age of the Seabees was 31 and some were in their 50s. These men had families and were employed in high paying civilian jobs. They gave all that up to serve America when their experience was absolutely vital. There is no question that the Seabees are the most unsung heroes of WW-II. There are no monuments that I know of to herald these brave men. Many of them died in the service of this nation. If you know any seniors in their 80s and 90s who served in the Seabees take a moment to thank them for their service. They were indispensable because NONE of the more notable segments of the armed forces could have functioned – without the Seabees who were often the FIRST to the battle lines before anyone else.