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C.B.'s to the Rescue
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 by Frank Shortt
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C

During WW2 the islands in the pacific were mostly jungle due to the hot, humid climates. Malaria, Jungle rot, and that wrung-out feeling plagued most of the G.I.’s involved in taking the islands back from the invading Japanese, the formidable enemy at that time.

In Dec. 1942, Robert Clarence Boyer was shipped by the U.S. Navy Department to Farragut, Idaho for his initial training for service to his country in World War Two. It is assumed that he joined the Navy in southern California, as that is where his mother lived. He must have been a model trainee as he rose in rank during his trainee period to later become a leader of men on the ships that he served on.

Boyer served in several departments during his time of service namely; the Fire Department, and later to serve in the now famous Construction Battalion and called the Navy Seabees during World War Two. It is for sure that during ship time going to and from battle areas, he served in whatever capacity the Captain of the ship deemed necessary. This statement is proven by the many photographs that he saved during his time of service.

The Fire Department’s job while on base was to maintain the cleanliness of the areas and, of course, to put out any fires that could, and did, break out while at their duty station. (The accompanying photo will tell the story much more than could be written.)

After the attack at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, civilian service for construction in battle zones became an almost impossibility! In order to assure that runways for aircraft could be cleared in battle zones, roads could be built, pontoon bridges could be constructed over rivers, Rear Admiral Morrell petitioned the U.S. Naval Department to be able to recruit men with construction background, and civilians who had construction backgrounds who would be willing to join the U.S. Navy for the Admiral’s purposes could be trained to work in the combat areas in a newly formed Construction Batallion. On March 19, 1942, the Admiral’s vision became a reality as the Secretary of the Navy gave approval for creation of the now famous Seabees!

As R.C. Boyer was shipped closer and closer to the South Pacific enemy known as Japan, he went to several islands and did duty in fire departments, if the base was already constructed and in the Seabees if construction work was required in clearing the islands of offending jungles or other obstacles. Boyer’s job was to run any piece of equipment his commanding officer instructed, and if the area was a battle zone, he would be required to suit up and wear the garb of a regular soldier. This action was for the purpose of guarding equipment, and if necessary, guard the operators who ran the equipment who were working, sometimes under fire, from the enemy. (See attached photo of Boyer in combat gear)

This quote is from a war-years newspaper about Robert Boyer: “Boyer is known as Bob “P.38” Boyer during his tour in the Navy. He had helped to build those famous “Lightnings” before he was inducted into the service of his country. He was a master router operator in the sheet metal department of Lockheed Aircraft Corp. in Burbank, California. During the speeding up of production, Bob submitted several proposals in production engineering that were accepted and are now saving many man-hours, and at the same time, earned his some healthy cash bonuses! Bob’s home statewide is in Burbank, California, where his wife Ella now lives and is employed at Lockheed in the electrical detail assembly department.” The esprit-de-corps during World War Two was both amazing and heart-rendering!

On August 27, 1944, the 125th Naval Construction Batallion celebrated their first year anniversary with a luau being pulled back to Hawaii for rest and recreation on the occasion. They were entertained by the 125th Hillbillies, fed Kalua pig, poi, Uwala Maoli, olives, pickles, Luau chicken, Lomilomi salmon, fresh pineapples, birthday cake, cigars, and cigarettes! They were served sandwiches by Camp Andrews, and had more entertainment by the U.S.O. (Attached drawing by Koleda at Vonabaru, Okinawa, with poem shows that there were a few light times during the fighting) the poem reads:

“Where you crawl back in the evening

An’ ya know ya gotta scrub—

So ya strip yer body nekkid,

Then hop into yer tub!!”

(Bathing in your helmet)

The following letter was sent to Robert Boyer from James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy,  even before he was discharged from the service:

                                                                                     November 14, 1945

My Dear Mr. Boyer,

          I have addressed this letter to reach you after all the formalities of your separation from active service are completed. I have done so because, without formality, but as clearly as I know how to say it, I want the Navy’s pride in you, which is my privilege to express, to reach into your civil life and to remain with you always.

                  You have served the greatest Navy in the world!

          It crushed two enemy fleets at once, receiving their surrender only four months apart.

          It brought our land-based airpower within bombing range of the enemy, and set our ground armies on the beachheads of final victory.

         It performed the multitude of tasks necessary to support these military operations.

         No other Navy at any time has done so much. For your part in these achievements you deserve to be proud as long as you live. The Nation which you served at a time of crisis will remember you with gratitude.

          The best wishes of the Navy go with you into civilian life.   Good luck!

                                                                                     Sincerely yours,

                                                                                     James Forrestal

                                                                            (Actual signature included)

Robert Clarence Boyer passed this life on June 1990 in the state of Georgia. He led a full life after his tour in the Navy and had served his country at a time of great crisis. He served, mostly in the Seabees, from 9-24-43 to 10-1-45, credited with two years and six days! It appears that most of his service in the Seabees was in Midway, Saipan, and Okinawa.