We’re in the Navy (Army) now, a 1940’s song. That’s the tune our walking partner had to be singing. Ed has been walking everyday since forever, says he. Maybe sixty years, He’s 92 now, if he’s a day. Ed is in good shape, we figure cause he’s had the walking habit. Sort of like the postman, in the rain, the snow, freezing or hot, hot, hot. Ed walks. I have been walking with him for over ten of those years, maybe longer, then finally Tom took over, now he walks with Ed. And I do too when there’s time. I still get in my walking though, earlier and faster. Turns out he never finished high school, but went into the Navy instead. It was good, he was in a construction brigade man. He actually was in charge of accepting anything that was shipped to the boat, like ammunition. Once there was an explosion, he escaped, but many died. Ed served well during World War II, but he never saw any fighting.
The first Seabees (from Construction Battalions) were recruited by the United States Navy during World War II. They were skilled construction workers whose task was to assist in building naval bases in the theatres of war. In all, 325,000 men served as Seabees during the war.
The first three Naval Construction Battalions were formed in March 1942 by Admiral Ben Moreell, under the command of the Civil Engineer Corps. Enlistment was voluntary until December 1942, when the Selective Service System became responsible for recruitment. After basic training, including combat training, most members of newly formed battalions were sent to one of two Advanced Base Depots at Davisville, Rhode Island or Port Hueneme, California for advanced training before being shipped to an overseas assignment. Between tours of duty units would return to the Recuperation and Replacement Center at Camp Parks, California. As numbers grew the battalions were formed into regiments, the regiments into brigades, and brigades into a naval construction force for each theater of war. Special Construction Battalions and construction battalion detachments were also formed, containing men with specific construction skills. Eventually 190 battalions were created, in addition to detachments and maintenance units.
During World War II the Seabees constructed over 400 advanced bases, in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. In the Atlantic their work helped to protect the Panama Canal and Atlantic convoys, and to support operations in North Africa, Sicily, and mainland Italy, and the D-Day landings and subsequently in Western Europe, especially the crossing of the Rhine. In the Pacific, where 80% of Seabees were deployed, they built advanced bases to defend the Aleutian Islands and to support American advances in the South Pacific – starting from the Society Islands – and in the Central Pacific, starting from the Gilberts, Marshalls, Carolines, and Marianas. The Pacific war often found the Seabees in close support of invasion forces, taking part in unloading supplies, and quickly constructing or restoring harbours, airstrips and other facilities on newly captured islands. Their role in such operations as the invasion of Okinawa.