Click on logo
George E. Young
Albuquerque, New Mexico
US NAVY RANK & RATE: Boatswain's Mate First Class
WHY DID YOU JOIN THE SEABEES? AND WHEN AND WHERE?
I joined the Seabees July 15,1942 in San Angelo,Texas
The Navy recruiting office in San Angelo had 150 recruits to sign up in July and I was
the 84th one of the 150.
I joined the Seabees because I felt it was my duty to help fight the invasion forces.
I had to do some debating as to join the Marines or the Seabees for everyone was so mad at the Japs for their surprise bombings,we were all anxious to get after the Japs.
WHAT BATTALION AND COMPANY WERE YOU ASSIGNED?
I was assigned to Company D Platoon 5 and stayed at that assignment all the way through even though I served on the Master At Arms Force and Shore Patrol duty while stationed in Bermuda. I thought this was a great honor to serve looking out after our United States Service men and to keep them from Harms way.
Just a note of something you would not think of happening. On our way from Norfolk,Va. to Bermuda I was assigned to Submarine watch duty. The Atlantic Ocean was full of Geman Submarines and I was watching the water so close for the sight of a periscope from a submarine that the sun reflection blistered both of my eyes making them swell. Of course the Navy lost the report that I went to sick bay for this.
TELL A BIT ABOUT YOUR BOOT TRAINING AT DAVISVILLE OR WHEREVER IT WAS:
To get me started off right I flunked out, as the very first morning I did not get out of my bunk at the call of reveille. I did not rest much longer as a great big ugly Sargent slapped me on my right leg "hard" and hollared get out of that bunk and hit the deck.
My training was at Camp Endicott at Davisville,R.I.
We did exercise every morning around 5 A.M. Had some chow and hit the drill field.
After a few hours of that we got to eat lunch and then drill some more and do some obstacle course's along the way. Left Right Left Your Left Right Left,getting in shape for ?? Crawl under barb wire fences on our backs with bullets buzzing overhead.Also learned the use of our gas masks by going in a building with gas in the air.
Got in some lessons on the rifle range where I was a Marksman and by the time we were through at Port Hueneme I had made Expert Rifleman which I was proud of.
WHAT WAS THE CROSS COUNTRY TRAIN RIDE LIKE?
It was very exciting as I was meeting new friends that would give their life for you and yours. I rode a train from San Angelo to Dallas and from Dallas to Davisville,R.I.
Also rode a train from Davisville to Port Hueneme,Cal. where I remember in route that at out train stops there was the Red Cross passing out little goodies,like cigarettes,candy & razor blades. We had no sleeping quarters but every one made it just fine sitting up all the way.
WHAT DID YOU DO AT PORT HUENEME ?
At this training camp I learned a lot as we had plenty of schools going such as:
How to use your gas mask,more rifle range practice,we got to shoot at sleeves being towed behind flying airplanes with 20 and 50 millimeter antiaircraft guns.
Me being a Boatswain in rank went to school to learn how to maneuver our landing craft in case I was to do so at a later date.
I also learned about the parts of a 30 calibur machine gun and how to use it.
As a matter of fact when we left Hilo, Hawaii I was Squad leader of a 30 calibur machine gun with 5 other men.
HOW DID YOU SPEND YOUR DAYS IN HAWAII AT CAMP?
When we were in Hilo,Hawaii our company D and Platoon 5 were assigned to do stevedoring work loading and unloading ships.One of my first assignments were to unload and stack our supplies for the 31st Seabees. When I was not doing this type of duty then I was doing guard duty or going on 20 mile hikes to stay in shape for what destination from here no one knew.
I went on Liberty to Hilo to a restaurant with two other Seabees to have a nice steak,we thought and it turned out to be tougher than the three of us,ha.
Also on Hilo as I was showing the crane operator where to put down a 325lb box he dropped the box from the cable and it landed on top of my head,crushing my neck vertebraes together,causing me a stiff neck from then on in my lifetime. I have seen many trips to the Chiropractor since I came home from the service.
Close to our wooden buildings where we were housed after we graduated from the tent life,there was a Marine War dog detachment moved in close to us and ate with us in our mess hall. We became very close to our new neighbors and enjoyed the Marines and especially their dogs and the training the dogs received was very facinating to us.
One day two of my mates and I decided we would go out in the boondocks and cut us a few banana stalks to hang up in our living quarters and from the ceiling for everyone to eat from. Wouldn't you know it that we heard approaching us very fast a sound of two dogs charging us from within some tall grass and sugar cane stalks so we could not see them coming just that their barking was increasingly getting louder.
We came to a small clearing and decided to make our stand and wait for the fast approaching dogs. One of the men picked up a tree limb about seven foot long and I drew my Bowie knife and waited. To our surprise at the end of a long leash the dogs were pulling a Marine who shouted "put that limb down quick" so my buddy waisted no time dropping the limb. After the Marine calmed his dogs down enough we all proceded back to camp together. Boy what a relief that was and a hair raising experence.
Now what I think you know from our 31st book I believe it mentions the 50 31st Seabees that were constantly training for a landing unknown and they were called our demolition squad. They were always going on 20 mile hikes (bivouac's) and learning about land mines and such. I know these men went in first and along with the 5th Marines to clear the beach, to their best ability, of explosives that would kill our Marines and Seabees. I believe the leader of this group had a leg or legs blown off from this endeavor after he hit the beach of Iwo Jima
One morning as our Seabees were lounging in their bunks while in Hilo and the darndest rumbling and shaking began and we seabees were being shaken up with the tremors of an earthquake. Boy we were relieved when the shaking stopped and no damage was done.
Finnally it came time for us to load the ships with ammo and huge bombs and leave Hilo.
When did you learn that you would be going to Iwo Jima?
After we left Hilo and several days aboard ship we woke up one morning just off shore from Saipan where a number of ships had gathered to join our ship. You know the ironey part of this story is that I remember seeing Ruliff Welch aboard the ship I was on and do not remember seeing any more of our men on that ship nor Ruliff again.
After we left Saipan and enroute to Iwo we were called together and told of our destination and about a very diffacult job we had in store for us and how we were to do our job. We all gathered around on deck and had Church Services and Prayers. Aboard ship enroute to our next destination I had met a new friend named Campbell that was in the 5th Marine Division and we visited and became very good friends. It seems to me that we woke up a couple days later in the early morning hours to see the biggest armada of ships all gathered around, I would say some 800 ships and the fight was going to be on very shortly to take Iwo Jima. What an awesome sight to see all this armada and ammo going off,it was very exciting.
For the first couple of days I was busy helping to get our wounded men back on our ship to get treated for their injuries as they were shot up pretty badly and some with shrapnel in their behinds as well as their faces. Shrapnel did not have a particular place to hit.
There was two different Kamikaze suicidal airplanes that was shot down not far from our ship and landed in the ocean.I did gather with the men aboard our ship and shouted with joy as we could see our flag raised on top of Suribachi,a pair of binaculars were a number one item at this time.
Well it was suddenly time for my landing group to hit the beach and what a job it was to amble down the rope netting (latters) to load onto our particular landing craft.
This craft I was able to manuver from my teaching at Port Hueneme if I had been needed to do so.We got as close to the beach as possible but we still had to wade in waist deep water to hit the beach.
The first thing needed doing was to dig our foxhole as soon as we could as we had ships and barges to unload. My foxhole partner OWENS from Oklahoma and I had a terrible time with our foxhole sides caving in on us. If we had not had a few sandbags we would not have had a foxhole at all. A sniper bullet zipped by Owen's side missing him by a foot as we were working on the foxhole.
Soon we were back on the beach manhandling groceries and ammunition, we did a lot of this work at night and we worked 12 hour shifts every day and night as the battle went on. I was still working on the beach when some of our guys were picking up objects from the number one airstrip.
The battle was razing and bullets flying pretty handily for days and one night as I was going to the beach from my foxhole to unload more barges,I was challenged to halt who goes there by a couple of marines that was in their foxhole. Upset by the fact that I was about to get shot by friendly fire I yelled at them" Who the hell do you think is going here"as I fell into their foxhole with them. Well one young marine said I'm sorry but I am very nervous as I have been stacking our dead on the back of trucks all day.
I knew for a fact that he was right as I had seen our marines stacked up as he said in the back of trucks so I felt very troubled for these two marines and I appoligized to them very quickly for jumping back at them and went on to my assignment.
Now on this day I decided since I was working nights I was going to go forth toward where the fighting was at. On my way I saw and heard a voice hollow "Hey George look what they done they shot my nipple off" To my surprise it was my friend Campbell who was walking fast with other marines to continue the fighting.
A very unusual thing "I thought" happened soon after that as I was advancing to the front lines,I passed in the middle of 5 Jap bodies that I thought had no more life in them but when I returned to my own camp and came back the same way I went I reallized the Japs were not there and had possibly gotten up and proceded on with their whatever.
I should have showered them with bullets to have made sure as they would have done the same for our men.Such goes the War.
I met up with another marine that was in the process of setting up explosive charges at a cave entrance to blow up the cave and Japs inside. As I stood at the entrance with him I heard a Jap inside the cave hit his grenade on his helmet and threw it right between my feet. Another time I was saved by Our Lord and the marine and I backed off and set the charges off. As we looked at the cave opening from behind a dirt mound we felt the small rocks and ground hit us in the chest from the explosion.
On this same trip I saw our marines in action using their flame throwers,what an awsome thing those flamethrowers were.
Yes on another day I was with one of our Seabees,he was from South Carolina and we had gone back to where the action was and went into one large cave and I brought home a Samaru sword that belonged to a Jap Captain and my friend got himself a pair of Jap binoculars. I also got a Jap 31 calibur rifle that was in very good condition and I brought that home with me.
It was after this that I got assigned to drive a dump truck on the 12 hour night shift hauling gravel to the number 3 airstrip where my friend and brother seabee was killed by a B-29 bomber missing the airstrip while making a forced landing with wounded aboard and ran over Meeker and myself and killing Meeker.This was a very frightful experience for me and a very sad one. Photo of B-29
Now speaking about our food while on Iwo,well for quiet a while we had K-RATIONS which was mostly canned everything and some cigarettes.I remember one night I brought back to our foxhole a case of small cans of fruit cocktail.Of course they were shared with several smiles on the beach. Not too many days went by before we had a place to eat better meals but I do not believe there were any women on Iwo as I never saw any,not even nurses
We were so proud of our hard working battalion when the men finnished our hot shower stalls and I do remember seeing Rich working on his famous carving of Iwo Flag Raising. However I never made it to the top of Suribachi to see our road completion.
I did have my 30 calibur watercooled machine gun set up behind my living quarters on Iwo
From Iwo we went to Sasebo,Nagasaki,and then was stationed in Omura,Japan not far from Nagasaki.
George E. Young,Jr.