93RD SEABEES’ HISTORY
edited slightly from: PACIFIC DUTY: A Book of Record and Review of the Activities and
Achievements of the 93rd Naval Construction Battalion, C.E. Pappas, ed,. Lester C. Nielson Company,
Huntington Park, CA, Publisher, 1946
UNIT IS FORMED
Organization of the Ninety-Third Naval Construction Battalion was started on 7 May 1943, at which time the
officer personnel was assembled. A few days later the enlisted personnel had been assembled and the 93rd
Battalion was born.It was at Camp Peary, near Williamsburg, historical city of Virginia, that the organizing took
place. Most men had arrived at Camp Peary during the latter part of March, although many had been there
The period between arrival at Camp Peary and 7 May was one of primary or boot training. This period was, in
sum and substance, one in which a civilian is transformed into a serviceman. It was one of physical
examinations, issuance of gear or clothing, inoculations against diseases, rigid physical conditioning and learning
the use and care of various firearms. A few men attended specialized schools dealing with many trades.
Upon completion of primary training everyone was granted a customary sixty hour leave of absence. Most men
whose homes were far away spent their leaves in nearby Richmond, while others journeyed north to witness
the wonders of Washington, D. C. and going as far as New York City. Possibly due to the great influx of
servicemen, those who stayed in Richmond were greatly disappointed with the manner in which they were
received by the civilian population. One distasteful experience was to find that the uniform ap-parently evoked
higher sales prices for commodities. Then too, in Norfolk, it was not very pleasant to find signs reading "No
Dogs or Sailors Allowed."
LEAVE FOR ADVANCED TRAINING BASE
On 17 May the organization was completed and the Battalion boarded two trains bound for Camp Endicott,
Rhode Island, arriving there the following day. Camp Endicott was situated near Greenwich, Providence and
the great Naval Air Base at Quonset Point. This camp was an advanced training base.
Training now became more direct and much more specialized. Men attended different schools of warfare such
as camouflage, machine gun, anti-aircraft, military strategy and methods of deployment. Tradesmen learned to
apply their skills to equipment designed by Army and Navy engineers, such as trucks, jeeps and tractors.
Physical training became intensified, especially in daily running the commando-type obstacle course), the
difficult use of bayonets in close quarter fighting, and hand-to-hand or judo combat training.
The entire Battalion moved en masse to Sun Valley, an encampment six miles from Camp Endicott, for one
week. There, under Marine Corps supervision, everyone fired on the rifle range. At the end of the week
qualification trials were held and the battalion record was found to be high. Men assigned to special weapons
such as machine guns and mortars remained at Sun Valley one week longer than the rest. During this period,
men assigned to anti-aircraft batteries were firing their 20mm weapons at nearby Price's Neck, an island off the
Rhode Island coast, near Newport News.
BATTALION OFFICIALLY COMMISSIONED
It was raining Saturday morning, 22 May, when the 93rd was officially placed into commission as a unit of the
United States Navy, but in spite of the rain, the ceremony was very impressive, especially during presentation
of the American and Battalion colors.
Camp Endicott, situated on the coast and being a port of embarkation, always presented the speculation that
the 93rd would ship overseas from there. This was not to be the case, however, as it was later proven.
Occasionally units would return from their overseas tour of duty and it was interesting to hear the tales those
men would relate.
Liberties were spent at nearby Greenwich, Providence, and Boston. The change found in the civilian population
was amazing. In place of the depressing and cold attitude of the people of Williamsburg and Richmond, here
was warmth, cheer, friendliness and everyone was welcomed with an open heart. Some ventured to
Connecticut, Vermont and New York, and as in Providence, results found were the same. 26 June was a
happy day for most of the battalion for it marked the start of a ten day leave of absence for all men whose
homes were in the central or eastern section of the country. The remainder were to receive their leaves at a
6 July everyone returned to camp and three days later the battalion boarded three different Pullman trains for a
trip to Camp Parks, California. The first and second trains followed the same route in crossing New York
State, International Bridge, across Canada into Michigan, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois. At Chicago the two
trains parted, having met each other at several points on the way. The first train passed through Omaha,
Cheyenne, Ogden, across Great Salt Lake via the direct route to California. The second train traveled through
Kansas City, the nation's breadbasket. Pueblo, Royal Gorge, Salt Lake City, Bonneville Salt Flats and into
California via picturesque Feather River Canyon. The third train followed a different route, passing through
Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Kansas City. From Kansas City this train traveled the same
route as the second.
A drum and bugle corps had been formed at Camp Endicott and being on the third train, the corps played at
various stops en route. Arriving at Indianapolis on a Sunday morning, church services were held on the street
outside the station. The entire trip was a memorable one, especially so when meeting Army troop trains made
up of chair cars with field kitchens set up in baggage cars.
LIFE AT CAMP PARKS
Camp Parks was found to be a virtual paradise. The camp was clean and offered many individual facilities such
as Ship's Store which sold beer and ice cream. Its proximity to Oakland and San Francisco was an added
asset, for these two cities lay approximately forty miles away and liberties were plentiful.
In California, as in Rhode Island, the civilians were good to servicemen. Canteens, dances, shows, and the
natural sights of these two cities were a constant attraction. Treasure Island, the Golden Gate and Oakland Bay
Bridges, Alcatraz, the wharves and other points were a great source of pleasure. At this time the California
State Mining Association undertook sponsorship of the battalion as tribute to the officer in charge, Commander
Harold F. Lynn, who was formerly a member.
More training followed at Camp Parks, consisting mostly of long hikes carrying full field equipment, battle
skirmishes, and the firing once again of various weapons, not to mention an often visited obstacle course.
Bulldozer and heavy equipment operators had another opportunity to operate on public works programs.
On one occasion half of Headquarters Company and Companies C and D made a twenty-four mile march
inland to Mount Diablo, remaining overnight and returning the following evening. It is said that one can see
more land and water from Mount Diablo than any other point in the world. This, however, was not much of an
attraction, for blistered feet and appetites jaded from eating condensed rations dispelled all thoughts of
ON TO CAMP ROUSSEAU
One month was spent at Camp Parks, the next in line being Camp Rousseau at Port Hueneme, California, sixty
miles north of Los Angeles. Because of overcrowded conditions at Camp Rousseau, the battalion had been
routed temporarily to Camp Parks which ordinarily was a recuperation center for returning troops. Port
Hueneme was a port of embarkation from which the 93rd was to depart for overseas service.
Camp Rousseau was a bit different from the rest of the camps, due to its housing facilities. There were no
wooden barracks there, but Quonset or Nissen huts, each accommodating ten men comfortably.
It was divided into two sections, one being the camp itself, the other being known as "Splinter City", so-called
because of its wooden barracks. Incoming battalions such as the 93rd would first be stationed at Camp
Rousseau, continuing the previous training program. Upon moving into the "Splinter City" location each
battalion would receive its allotment of construction equipment for use over-seas, such as tractors, bulldozers,
cranes, power shovels, trucks and jeeps, carpentry and plumbing equipment. This procedure was followed by
ACORN 15 CEREMONY
8 September was a day that shall not be forgotten. It marked the date of Italy's unconditional surrender to the
Allies. On that date the 93rd was attached to a new unit, Acorn 15, in an impressive ceremony. Seabee
battalions were at that time being shipped overseas together with newly formed Acorn units in the belief that as
a combined organization the efficiency of both would be increased. The Seabees were to build a strip and the
Acorn units were to operate it. And so it was that the 93rd and Acorn 15 joined forces.
On the following day a portion of the battalion participated in its first parade, in nearby Ventura. The occasion
marked the opening of the Third National War Bond Drive. Thirty men from each company, together with the
drum and bugle corps, marched in the hour long parade along with other representative units of Seabees,
Army, Navy, and Marines.
A GREAT CHANGE
At this point the battalion underwent a great change.
Gone were the days of military training. Everyone had received enough training and knew thoroughly the part
he should play in the event of any enemy action. Each construction department took over its own tools and
equipment. At Point Mugu, a few miles south of camp, dump trucks, shovels and tractors, (to mention only a
few) were placed into operation. This was a breaking-in period during which men and equipment worked
together with other departments in practicing amphibious landings by loading and unloading LSDs under
specified time limits.
In Hollywood, the Hollywood Guild Canteen was in operation, being maintained by the film colony. Finding it
necessary to provide more sleeping quarters for transient servicemen, they asked the 93rd to help. In answer,
crews of carpenters, plumbers and electricians were dispatched. Those who worked there had the time of their
lives and were royally entertained. Work was completed early in October and a large plaque was presented to
the Canteen by Commander Lynn, in behalf of the battalion. In turn, the 93rd became the Canteen's own
battalion. A similar project was in progress at the same time, improving facilities at the Naval Aid Auxiliary’s
Shore Station which consisted of two houses on Wilshire Boulevard and was similar in purpose to the
Hollywood Guild Canteen. Many hearts were heavy when these two projects were completed, for it meant
termination of many pleasant associations, a direct contrast to anything encountered in Virginia.
WE SAIL FROM PORT HUENEME
The USAT Perida sailed from Port Hueneme on 14 October 1943, and the 93rd was aboard, bound for the
tropics. The Battalion's construction equipment, together with a few men, followed on a freighter, the Sea Bass,
which departed a few days later. Hearts were heavy that afternoon as the friendly shores of California faded
away in the distance. Some wives who had followed their husbands to California stood on nearby beaches,
taking pictures, waving handkerchiefs or just crying.
The first three days found many cases of sea-sickness, prompted by huge, rolling swells, characteristic of the
Pacific Ocean. Thereafter all was peaceful and quiet. No bad weather was encountered during the crossing,
excepting small rain squalls. Aboard ship everyone relaxed. Favorite pastimes were reading, playing cards or
shooting dice. Protestant and Catholic church services were held daily above deck, drawing good attendance.
Land was first sighted on 22 October. Early in the morning Christmas Island was sighted in the distance. That
day marked the crossing of the equator, at one hundred fifty-four degrees longitude. The usual festivities and
horseplay were evident as everyone observed the traditions accompanying the crossing. Seventy men were
found to be "Shellbacks;" they had crossed before. These seventy conducted the ceremony, initiating the
"Pollywogs" who were dressed in shorts and socks. Each pollywog stood trial before the court of King
Neptune, having been subpoenaed on hypothetical charges of "mistreatment rendered creatures of the King's
realm." The court invariably adjudged the pollywog guilty of something or other, and he was subjected to some
form of punishment. Several old fashioned stocks had been built, similar to those used by the Puritans and
Quakers in colonial America. This type imprisoned a man by pinioning his neck and wrists between two
grooved wooden bars, giving the Royal Barber an excellent opportunity to experiment with his scissors and
clippers. Some specimens of "expert tonsorial art" evoked many hearty laughs. While the subject was thus
imprisoned he was roundly whacked on the posterior accompanied by cold water dousings on his perspiring
back, and storage batteries provided an occasional charge of animated electricity on the already be-deviled
posterior, just to liven things up a bit. Next in line was the baptismal chair mounted on a pivot and placed on
the edge of a large, water-filled tank. Now it was the Royal Doctor's turn to punish the seated pollywog, which
he readily did, administering a dose of "medicine".
If a man had survived sea sickness, this concoction provided a comparable substitute, being composed of a
variety of hot sauces used in food preparation diluted with salt water and flavored with a small but effective
laxative content. The medicine was no sooner downed than the chair was suddenly tilted backwards, plunging
the poor pollywog into a tank full of cold water. Royal Bears armed with an assortment of paddles, that felt like
clubs, lined a path through which the pollywog had to run, upon climbing out of the tank. Bruised survivors of
these ordeals, sporting the very latest in hair styles, were
proclaimed to be shellbacks, entitled to all privileges of the sea. War had taken a holiday while men complied
with the oldest tradition of the sea.
EXPLOSION IN NOUMEA HARBOR
Skirting the southern fringe of the Samoan Islands, land was next sighted on passing the Tonga Islands, when
the Isle of Eau came into view in the distance. The International Date Line, at one hundred eighty degrees
longitude, was crossed the night of 28 October. Everyone went to sleep Thursday night, awakening Saturday
morning, 30 October. Early Monday morning, I November, New Caledonia's myriad of mountain peaks
appeared on the horizon. At 11:30 anchor was dropped in the harbor of Noumea, capital of Free French New
Caledonia. At 14:10 of that same day everyone was brought to his feet by a tremendous explosion at the
western portion of the harbor where ammunition and explosives were being unloaded from ships. The original
blast was followed by hundreds of smaller ones, lasting four hours. Bright red tongues of flame leaped over a
large part of the docks, sending huge billowing clouds of smoke upward into the sky. Three endangered
freighters pulled away to safety under their own power. A fourth was towed by a tug which braved the hail of
flying debris and flames to effect the rescue. The toll in injured and killed was high.
SEA BASS ARRIVES
A few days later the Sea Bass arrived and on 6 November the two ships, together with another freighter
formed a convoy under protection of two destroyer escorts. This time the course was northward. Guadalcanal
was sighted on 10 November, after having passed the New Hebrides Islands, Rennell, and San Christoval. A
few hours were spent lying off shore. Nearby Henderson Field was catapulting a constant stream of American
planes into the sky, bound on missions of destruction. The beaches were littered with hundreds of landing craft,
some large, some small, some in use, some wrecked, and here and there was the wreckage of enemy shipping.
The beaches themselves were lined with rows of coconut palms blending into dense jungle undergrowth, not in
serene beauty always associated with palms, but in an awesome, shell-torn manner. It was a panoramic scene
which vividly portrayed the gruesome spirit of war, a scene which could be representative of Guadalcanal
alone. Later that evening the 93rd had reached its destination, Banika Island, of the Russell group,
approximately sixty miles west and north of Guadalcanal.
WE REACH BANIKA ISLAND
After camp had been set up a few projects were engaged by the 93rd. Roads were built, other camp facilities
were enhanced, warehouses and storage areas were constructed and existing dock facilities were improved.
Then followed the first major overseas assignment, construction of Medical Operating Base 10. Banika was to
become a major supply and recuperation base. The Christmas holidays, though lonely ones, were spent
peacefully. Shortly after the holidays the enemy put in his first appearance. One night early in January the air
raid warning systems started their ominous wailings. A few minutes later the sky was filled with bursting flak.
Anti-aircraft fire was so effective that no bombs were dropped on Banika, but fell harmlessly on a nearby
island in the bay.
12 February, 1944, one fourth of the battalion, known as the first wave or advance echelon, boarded an LST,
invasion bound. The destination was Green Island, a small but important coral atoll midway between
Bougainville and the enemy's mighty bastion of Rabaul, at the western end of the Solomons chain. The
remaining portion of the battalion was to follow in later waves.
A convoy was formed together with other LSTs and destroyers off Banika and proceeded past the remaining
Solomon Islands. While circling off Vella Lavella the afternoon of 13 February, more landing ships and
destroyers arrived, forming a larger, well protected convoy.
OUR LST 220 ATTACKED BY AIR
At dawn of 15 February, after having passed enemy occupied Bougainville and Buka, the convoy was in sight
of Green Island. While New Zealand infantry was making the assault landing, several enemy planes appeared
to attack the convoy. The destroyers formed a protective ring around the landing ships and very few planes
penetrated to make attempts against the LSTs. Two penetrations reached the LST 220, carrying the 93rd,
whose anti-aircraft guns were manned largely by men of the battalion. One Jap flew low over the bow,
evidently disabled yet with his guns spewing hot lead. In turn he received a good reception from 220 and finally
glided on past to crash into the ocean. Another came down out of the low sun, in a screaming power dive. The
LSTs of this convoy were flying a barrage balloon each, held at three thousand feet by a strong steel cable. In
order to miss the cable, the Jap dive bomber veered to the right, dropping two bombs at the time. As the plane
pulled out of the dive and started to climb, the rear gunner strafed the length of the ship. However, the barrage
balloon "Miss Missouri" had done a good job at spoiling the aim of both bombs and bullets. Three enemy
planes were seen to crash, two in flames, but there were others. Later dispatches placed the count at eleven
enemy planes destroyed. At one point in the engagement twenty-six American destroyers were counted off the
port side alone.
WE LAND AT GREEN ISLAND
At 09:15 on 15 February, the 93rd landed on Green Island. New Zealand infantry could be seen going by, in
one wave after another, clearing dense jungle of the enemy who were later to put up a mildly organized
resistance at the southern end of the island.
Upon landing, bulldozers crashed headlong into the jungle which started no more than three or four feet from
the water's edge. Equipment pouring out of the huge mouth of LST 220 followed the bulldozers inland and
occupied areas almost as soon as they were cleared. There being no fresh water supply on Green Island, the
first piece of equipment placed into operation was a huge still which purified ocean water. In less than four
hours this still was producing enough water to satisfy everyone's needs.
The first two nights were spent almost entirely in fox-holes, due to air raids and weak bombings which did no
damage. Thereafter the skies were free of the enemy.
The first few days were spent in building shelters and longer roads going south to a new campsite. In many
instances dozer operators were fired upon by snipers concealed in tree tops. Some Japs penetrated New
Zealand lines to the 93rd camp's perimeter, only to be found and killed.
THE 22nd CONSTRUCTION REGIMENT
The Green Island campaign included the 33rd, 37th and 93rd Seabee Battalions, plus a portion of the 15th, all
of which formed the 22nd Construction Regiment of Seabees. 19 February found bulldozers moving into an
abandoned coconut plantation which had become a second growth jungle. This area was to be converted into
two airstrips and on that day it began changing in appearance as trees were felled and small patches of
clearings were linked together.
The following day, 20 February, the greater portion of the 93rd Battalion arrived at Green Island, having
encountered no opposition en route. That same day marked the end of organized enemy resistance. New
Zealanders brought Valentine tanks into action annihilating the remaining Japs who had concentrated near what
formerly had been a Catholic Mission. A few days later the remainder of the 93rd arrived.
FIRST PLANE LANDS ON AIRSTRIP
On 3 March a disabled Corsair, piloted by Marine Lieut. J. G. Killdeer, landed on Green Island, being the first
plane to do so. The former coconut plantation had been converted into a fighter strip in sixteen days and nights
of ceaseless work. Crews worked around the clock, under powerful flood-lights at night, and engines stopped
running only long enough to be greased and lubricated. Three days later several squadrons of Navy and Marine
fighters and medium bombers arrived. Green Island was the furthest Allied outpost in the Pacific theater of war.
To the rear, in the Solomons, some twenty thousand Japs were trapped, with no means of escape. Two days
later, on 8 March, the enemy attempted a futile and costly uprising on Bougainville which was repulsed by
By 29 March a new strip was ready for use. It was a bomber strip, running parallel to the fighter strip. The first
plane to land on the bomber strip was a Liberator bomber. It had been seriously damaged in a raid over Truk
and the pilot radioed in to say he was attempting a crash landing. The crew had refused to bail out, preferring
to ride their plane to earth. The plane made a perfect approach, but as the wheels touched ground a flat tire
deflected the plane off the strip, causing it to nose over and disintegrate. All occupants were killed, some
mangled beyond recognition. War had exacted its ugly toll and Green Island's new bomber strip had been
inaugurated in blood.
15 April saw a decline in activity. Emirau and the Admiralty Islands further ahead were in American hands, and
action shifted forward. Green Island was no longer an out-post, having served its primary purpose. Long range
bombers flying from Green Island had bombed Truk and the Caroline Islands by day and by night. Medium
bombers and fighters had rendered nearby Rabaul and Kavieng useless and had cut off enemy shipping. From
that date on only a small number of planes remained for patrol flights and occasional raids on Rabaul and
Kavieng. The 15th Battalion departed and the 22nd Regiment continued its activities along other lines.
Camps, roads, fuel and ammunition dumps, warehouses, communication lines, hospitals and mess halls were
either built or improved. Dock and camp facilities were constructed for several squadrons of PT boats which
were forever attacking enemy shipping and shore installations on Bougainville, Buka. New Britain and New
Five men reported for work as usual on the morning of 10 June. Some were members of a dynamite crew.
Others were working on or with nearby equipment. None was ever seen in camp again, for a premature
dynamite explosion snuffed out their lives, injuring others. Funeral services were held the following day at Green
Island's populous cemetery, nearly every man of the 93rd in attendance. Pallbearers dressed in whites placed
the flag-draped coffins in open graves dug out of the coral. With bare heads bowed, the overflow crowd paid
their last respects to five mates, friends and brother-in-arms, while Protestant Chaplain W. L. Ball, Jr. of the
93rd and Catholic Chaplain C. W. Buckley of the Marines conducted joint services. Three volleys fired into the
air by the guard of honor created a disturbance in the trees as birds left their perches to fly away, trailed by the
resonance of Taps.
Things were moving swiftly now. On 18 June Saipan was invaded, followed on 22 July by the invasion of
Guam. The New Zealanders had left Green Island to return home and re-organize for later campaigns. The
American Army had arrived to occupy Green Island. On 10 September the Australian Government formally
took control of its Solomon Islands mandate, of which Green Island was a part. The only visible effect this had
on the 93rd was that traffic on the roads was now on the European pattern, vehicles driving on the left side of
TIME FOR RECREATION
Battalion activities now centered on recreation, the 22nd Construction Regiment having moved elsewhere. A
few small projects were in progress, but not of great importance. Several tournaments were held in many fields
of sport, notably baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, ping pong and others. Competition was
keen between various crews, platoons and companies. The 93rd baseball team had engage-ments with other
service groups, establishing a very good record and ranking among the best.
Entertainment groups on tour of bases in the Pacific made personal appearances on Green Island. Lieut.
Commander Eddie Peabody, John Carter and the Tune Toppers arrived on 12 May. Bob Hope, Frances
Langford, Jerry Colonna, Patty Thomas, Tony Romano and Barney Dean arrived August 1. Fifteen days later
Jack Benny, Carole Landis, Larry Adler, Martha Tilton and June Bruner put on a show. A combined
Army-USO unit featuring Clark Dennis arrived on October 14.
WE SHOVE OFF AGAIN: CAPE JOHNSON AND MIDDLEMAS
Early in October the 93rd Battalion was readying for another move. By 25 October all equipment had been
loaded on a freighter outside the bay, the USS Middlemas. Fifteen men boarded the Middlemas and the rest of
the 93rd boarded a Navy transport ship, the Cape Johnson. By nightfall both ships were under way,
accompanied by another freighter and a destroyer escort.
On 31 October, New Guinea's towering peaks were seen in the distance and Humboldt Bay appeared as the
ship rounded a promontory. Stops had been made at Emirau and Manus of the Admiralty Islands. The
Middlemas remained there until Sunday, 5 November. The Cape Johnson did not depart until 9 November. In
the meantime, men on both ships had an opportunity to go ashore at the fleet landing. This was Hollandia,
where evidence yet remained to depict the stubborn enemy resistance our troops had encountered in occupy-
ing that portion of New Guinea.
It was not until the Cape Johnson was well away from Hollandia and Humboldt Bay that the destination was
announced. Scuttlebutt, or rumors had been correct. The 93rd Battalion was headed toward the frontier once
again. This time it was the Philippine Islands. Nearly three weeks had elapsed since the first beachheads had
been established on Leyte and Samar. Now the Cape Johnson was one of sixteen transports and seven
destroyers that formed the original convoy which was increased off Pelelieu the morning of 12 November. That
evening the enemy made his first appearance in the form of a reconnaissance plane. As in the invasion landing
on Green Island, men of the 93rd supplemented ship's gunners on the anti-aircraft guns.
ENEMY PLANE SIGHTED
Several alerts resulted from enemy planes being in the vicinity, but adequate American air cover kept them at a
distance. 13 November found the enlarged convoy well past the Palau Islands and within range of enemy
land-based planes flying from the Philippines. General Quarters was sounded at 0845 in the morning and
continued until evening. During alerts, all men except those assigned to anti-aircraft guns were kept below
decks. At such times Commander L. C. Farley, the ship's captain, would turn narrator, colorfully describing
activity above deck. At 0845, "An enemy plane has been sighted and it has undoubtedly sighted us. That is all."
At 1000, "This is not a drill. There are enemy planes in the perimeter of this vicinity." At 1030, "They are
hanging around the perimeter, doing nothing as yet."
Things quieted down enough during mid-day that everyone had an opportunity to go above decks for a while.
At 1540, "They are hanging around the perimeter. A destroyer fifteen miles astern has opened fire." At 1630,
"Still nothing doing. There are three groups of enemy planes circling about, twenty-five to thirty miles away." At
1632 Captain announced that "they seem to have retired." But at 1700, the ship shuddered from a violent
concussion. "You men below might be interested to know that we've shot down one plane. He dropped one
torpedo which missed and he was shot down. There were no survivors on the plane." Captain Farley's witty
remarks eased the strain everyone was under, being enclosed in a ship's hold, while up above all hell was
breaking loose. At 1800 the Captain added, "Friendly planes are here. Army P-38's."
"FIRING ON THE OUTSKIRTS"
Later that night at 2235, Commander Farley announced that "There is firing on the outskirts. It is difficult to
see, but they are out there. We can't see a thing, which is okay, for they can't see us either."
Reveille the following morning, 14 November, was at 0400. It was raining heavily as the Cape Johnson was
making its way into Leyte Gulf. General Quarters sounded at 0603 followed, a few minutes later, by another
explanation "Firing on the outskirts, not much else." A later announcement was made at 0751, as the ship was
being anchored in San Pedro harbor, at the extreme northern end of Leyte Gulf. "Two Jap planes have been
shot down; one by a P-38, the other by Army shore based (Leyte) anti-aircraft."
At 0800 all men went over the side into barges. As each barge was filled to capacity it would circle the ship.
When all barges were filled it was expected to strike off for shore. This was not to be the case. Around and
around they went, around and around, until at noon an order was issued bringing the barges back to the side of
the ship and everyone clambered aboard. While the two ships were at Hollandia, Lieutenant Hubert Schmidt
had been transferred to the Middlemas. He was to have arrived earlier, as he did, and he was entrusted with
selection of a campsite. When the Middlemas arrived in Leyte Gulf, Lieutenant Schmidt was not allowed to
leave the ship, orders from the ship's captain. And so it was that when the Cape Johnson arrived and the 93rd
prepared to land, there was no place to go. That night was again spent aboard the Cape Johnson. By next
morning, 15 November, arrangements had been made and the battalion landed, but on Samar, not Leyte, as
had been expected.
WE LAND ON SAMAR
The campsite was in a coconut plantation which fringed a beach. Nearby was a small village, San Antonio. It
consisted merely of a cluster of thatch huts and a few frame buildings one of which was a schoolhouse. Across
narrow San Pedro channel, the modern city of Tacloban, Leyte could be plainly seen. Just below Tacloban
was a landing strip and a very busy one.
For the first two weeks ashore the 93rd did nothing other than to service its equipment, build some access
roads, set up a permanent camp, repair a native church which had been damaged and conduct surveys for a
coming assignment. The local terrain was found to be too unstable for any permanent construction, consisting
mostly of swampland and rice paddies. This led authorities to abandon the area. On November 30, sixty men
of the 93rd boarded small landing craft and traveled southward to the very tip of Samar, arriving at a fair sized
town of Guiuan. Here they found coral deposits that could be used in construction and the terrain presented
better possibilities. The battalion had to move again but this was only a short trip, so it moved in sections, via
small landing craft.
LIFE AT SAN ANTONIO
The period spent at San Antonio was one that no one should ever forget. Air raids were common. At first they
came at all hours of the day. Later they started a schedule, every morning and every night. Then they stopped
their morning attacks. All this time the enemy was concentrating on the Tacloban airstrip, Tacloban itself, or
more often they were after the enormous shipping in the harbor. On such occasions Leyte-based anti-aircraft
units were firing in the general direction of Samar . . . and the 93rd. As a result, the battalion was practically
living in bomb shelters, dodging both friendly and enemy shrapnel. Not being very successful in high altitude
bombing attempts, the enemy resorted to mass suicidal attacks. It was not uncommon for the enemy to come in
low over the 93rd camp and attempt crash dives on ships in the harbor.
On two instances "Conditional Black" was announced. This warning meant that enemy paratroops were being
expected. Extra guards were posted and everyone was armed to the teeth. The enemy did land some
paratroops, and in a Seabee camp at that, but on Leyte, in the 61st Seabee Battalion camp. These Seabees
posted ten parachutes on their score board. Ten Japs had gone their limit.
ANOTHER ALERT SOUNDS
Action had been heavy on 26 November. At 1100 another alert was sounded and everyone sought shelter.
One man reached a foxhole but never lived to tell about it. A projectile had his name written on it. That was all.
The 93rd had lost another man. Burial was at Tacloban's Cemetery. A man from another Seabee unit had been
killed at the same time. Both men were buried together, with brief and simple services being conducted by
At the new Guiuan location only one thought prevailed and that was to construct an airstrip as early as possible.
Only on one occasion did the enemy put in an appearance and that was on Christmas morning when a Dutch
freighter was torpedoed. Although one hold was damaged, the ship did not sink but the explosion killed several
Seabees aboard. The plane was shot down. All passenger troops were removed and spent Christmas night in
the Guiuan cathedral. Enemy air raids were supplanted by extremely bad weather. It rained almost constantly,
averaging .66 inches per day for the month of December. The strip was constructed over a swamp,
necessitating the use of enormous quantities of fill. It had previously been stated that construction of an airstrip
in this location was virtually impossible. The 61st and 93rd Battalions broke ground on 6 December, working
together. On 18 December a Fairchild L-3 Cub successfully made the first landing. On 28 December four
cargo transport planes landed, bearing cargo. On New Year's Day fighters and medium bombers arrived en
masse. The Guiuan strip was in operation.
Today is Saturday, 14 April, 1945. To men of the 93rd, it means completion of an eighteen month tour of
overseas' duty. When we'll return home is knowledge not in our possession. "Our strip" is a good one. Its
planes have supported and made possible other drives elsewhere in the Philippines from Luzon to Mindanao.
Since we completed our work on the strip we have done other jobs too numerous to mention, all of which go
into construction of a base. We have had time to provide ourselves with fairly comfortable quarters and our
camp is without question the best on the island.
Our mess hall has fed as many as nine thousand men in a day, not only our own, but transient flying personnel
and ground forces as well. On the strip our mobile galley has served sandwiches and ice water to any and all
transients. We are pretty well known throughout the Philippines.
Three days ago, 11 April, Donald E. Shackelford and Pete Seward were in the vicinity of another unit's
blasting operations. Warned of an impending blast, the two men crouched beneath a truck body, but a flying
lump of coral found them. Seward lost two fingers, but Shackelford was not so fortunate. Two blood
transfusions failed to save his life. Burial was at the Tacloban Cemetery, Chaplain Ball officiating.
Yesterday we were stunned by the appalling news that our Commander-in-Chief had passed away. The news
which started at the breakfast table as a rumor and was later confirmed, brought forth no dispirited nor
oratorical comment. Everyone appeared to be swallowing a little harder and a little more often, and very few
words were spoken. Otherwise, there was work to be done and it was done.
Architects of the battalion submitted designs in a contest held recently when it was decided to build a chapel.
The winner received a cash award and had the pleasure of seeing his drawings spring to life. The chapel has
been built on the beach, facing east. It is a permanent structure, made of native wood in heavy beams and with
a concrete floor. Its interior is illuminated with indirect lighting. A mural adorns the wall behind the altar. It was
painted by our battalion artist Charles Dinlocker, and depicts the physical struggle undergone by Americans
and Filipinos alike in the liberation of the Philippines. The hardships are tied together through religious worship,
with American troops and Filipino civilians kneeling side-by-side before a panorama of the Virgin Mother and
Child. Long after the 93rd has departed the chapel shall be standing, a gift to the Filipinos in their pursuit for
freedom of worship. (It lasted until the mid-1980s when Typhoon Agnes swept it out to sea.)
Thirty-two men have not been here at camp with us for some time now. They were temporarily detached and
sent to a lumber camp location nearby. There they have combined with men of other units in producing
quantities of virgin lumber. Their living conditions have been poor, for they have not had the facilities that are
available to us here. We expect them to rejoin us soon. One of them has gone Jap-hunting, for there are small
pockets of resistance still holding out in the vicinity. He was successful, too, according to verified reports.
QUESTION ON ALL MINDS
The prevalent question of the day is "WHEN ARE WE GOING HOME?" One person's guess is as good as
another's, and estimates range from late in May to September. In Europe the war appears to be in its final
stages and Germany's surrender is expected to come at any time. Here in the Pacific theater, Okinawa of the
Ryukyu Islands has been invaded successfully. Our forces are now fighting the enemy only three hundred
twenty five miles from the Japanese homeland. Twice in eighteen months the 93rd Battalion was active in the
furthest American outposts of each period, once at Green Island and once in the Philippines. The action has
now once again shifted far forward. We cannot foresee what lies ahead nor when we'll return to our homes.
Time alone will tell. In the meantime the 93rd Battalion will continue to be busily engaged in a project that
eventually shall play an important part in the ultimate defeat of the enemy.
ARTHUR MIDDLETON AND OTHER ROUTES HOME
Since the above paragraph was written much has happened. First, VE day and then VJ day and the war's end.
Our question has been answered to everyone's satisfaction. We were sent home, a large contingent departing 3
October on the Coast Guard troop ship Arthur Middleton and arriving in Portland on the 21st. They spent the
night at Swan Island and a draft left the next day by train for Camp Shelton, Virginia. They arrived on the east
coast on the 27th and were discharged the 30th.
The men of the 93rd hoped to take up their lives where they left off. Most had left families - even grandchildren
- and careers to serve their country. But six months of training and two years overseas had taken a heavier toll
than the war; many marriages had already been terminated while the men were still overseas, and doubtless
more failed to survive their return. These are the casualties for which no medal is awarded, no monument