A FEW STORIES ABOUT SEABEES DURING THE OKINAWA LANDING" APRIL 1, 1945 OKINAWA - April 1, 1945: One of the largest Seabee stevedore assault operations in the Second World War was handled by 11th Special NCB at the invasion of Okinawa. The assignment began in February 1945 when the battalion was joined by two base companies of untrained personnel. Indoctrination of these recruits in the Seabee stevedore tradition, “keep the hook moving,” was started immediately. The big battalion was split into two divisions of nine nine-man teams each. The divisions separated, each going to a different staging area where the 18 teams were assigned to 18 different assault ships. Once at the staging area, each team loaded its assigned vessel and then rode that vessel to Okinawa. When the ships arrived off the coast of Okinawa on April 1, 1945, they were spread the entire length of the northern beaches. These were the beaches hit by the Third Amphibious Marines. Once landed, the Seabees unloaded on a 24-hour basis. Unloading was performed under extremely hazardous conditions. Enemy air raids persistently hammered at the shipping. Fourteen casualties were suffered by the 11th Special NCB during the early stages of the campaign. On the day after the invasion, April 2, 1945, six cranes, five bulldozers and a number of floodlight trailers were on the beaches as far north as Nago on the still bitterly contested Motobu peninsula. When the discharge of assault cargo was completed, the Seabee stevedores had a lull of about a week before the second echelon of supply ships arrived. However, during this week the men were not idle. They did excavation and construction work, roughed in roads and helped install anti-aircraft emplacements. Despite the week-long pause in stevedoring and the reduction of working time due to air raids, the end of April saw more than 70,000 tons of ammunition, guns, vehicles and supplies safely ashore and in the hands of the swift-moving assault forces. William Smith enlisted in the Seabees and was assigned to the 11th Special USN Construction Battalion. Basically we were stevedores, We loaded and unloaded ships. But the 11th Special also carried Marines in. The 11th Special was also known as the "Can-Do Boys" because there weren't many things they couldn't do. One of those things was go into battle once their other duties were completed. We carried in supplies and built camps and dug foxholes and got in them, Smith said. We were in on invasions in the Pacific Islands as we moved the Marines from one island to another. We were handed four packs of K-rations, two canteens and told to go in and get em. The 11th Special went in behind the Marines. We were the mop up crew. Everytime the Marines pushed on, we went right behind them. We were in a foxhole one night on Okinawa, and bombs were dropping all around us and gunfire was spraying around us like a 4th of July sparkler. We were all afraid. It was the toughest night of my life. Nearby a bomb exploded, setting the sandbags around a foxhole on fire. The sandbags fell in the foxhole on the men and set them on fire, Smith said. They were screaming for help and I started to move out. My foxhole buddy, wouldn't budge. He was frozen in fear. Smith got help from Soldiers in another foxhole and they pulled the two men from the burning hole. We were screaming for help and there was a Doctor in one of the foxholes but he wouldn't come out. Some Corpsmen came and helped us and men's lives were saved. A short time later, Smith's foxhole buddy went berserk. He crawled out of the foxhole and was standing out there in all the gunfire, screaming at the top of his lungs. Smith said, I crawled out and pulled him back in. I had to report him and the next day he and the Doctor were taken off the island. War is terrible he said.