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87th Naval Construction
Battalion - World War II

Seabee logo (204)

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In Memoriam

The Earthmover

Unit Ribbons & Medals

Tour of Duty / Itinerary

87th NCB Reunions

Archive of Documents

Image Gallery

Website Resources

About This Webpage

 

 

IN Memoriam

in memoriam

This web page is dedicated to the memory of my father Thomas Quigley Peiffer, and the

men he served with in the 87th U. S. Naval Construction  Battalion during World War Two

Tom enlisted into the U.S. Navy on January 27, 1943 at the Naval Reserve Station New York, N.Y.  Soon after he was sent to boot camp at Camp Peary, Virginia for his basic training.  Upon completion, Tom was officially assigned to the newly formed 87th Naval Construction Battalion. Shipped out that very evening to arrive 18 long hours later on his birthday 17 April 1943 at Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island for Advanced Military Training. He was 21 years old.  By June 1943, he was in sunny California at Camp Rousseau, Port Hueneme, Ventura County.  10 short weeks later would find the 87th NCB loading up on the troop ship S.S. Robin Wentley and supply ship S.S. Comet for full deployment to the

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in the Headquarters Company. He also was an editor for the trip book The Earthmover.  From 1943 to 1945, Tom and the personnel of the 87th NCB would survive such locations as, Soloman Islands; Stirling, Treasury Islands; Okinawa; Tinian Island Saipan, Marianas Islands where the 87th NCB constructed the runway for the infamous flight of the Enola Gay.  Some of these names might ring a few bells but for most of us they do not.  For the men of the 87th NCB some of these places were just short of Heaven. As for some of the other places – squarely rooted in Hell.

     Tom managed to survive and was honorably discharged on 7 December 1945. Four long years from “the day that will live in infamy”.

South Pacific.  It would be better than 2 years before Tom would see ‘stateside’ again.

     During his service in the South Pacific Tom would serve as a Yeoman First Class

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THE EARTHMOVER

The Earthmover

I would be happy to search my copy of the Earthmover if you simply contact Tom using my contact info below.

     This volume is essentially the overall story, in log form, of the 87th U.S. Naval Construction Battalion - a hard-working Seabee outfit, which did everything asked and expected of it from the Solomon Islands through war's sudden end on Okinawa.

     It is, of course, no better or worse than the approximately 1,300 officers and men who carved out its multiple achievements with their sweat, blood and at times, even tears.
     This trip book has been designed to cover the period between 20 February 1043 and 9 October 1945 - a span of approximately 31 1/2 months. Unfortunately, no pictures were taken between 9 October and 7 November when the remaining 361 men finally embarked for the States in their twenty-seventh month overseas.

     The photographer and assistants had all gone home. The story of the tour has been purposely kept vague or general

Earthmover Cover1

so that each man might be free to relate his version of the sequence of events as he saw them.    The publication has been prepared for the men of the 87th, their families and friends and is not intended for general publication or circulation. Moreover, the opinions expressed in this volume are those of the editors and their staff and are not intended

to reflect those of the Navy Department or the services at large.

     Every reasonable effort has been made to keep the written portions of this book as objective as possible. And an honest effort has been exerted through out to make the book as factually accurate as existing facilities for assembling and checking information would permit.

     However, conceived and launched just prior to leaving New Caledonia and finished in foxholes and amid post-war confusion in Okinawa, the job, a spare-time project until 12 August 1945, was accomplished under just about the worst circumstances imaginable.

     At its best, THE EARTHMOVER could never hope to depict the overall impact inflicted on each man during the several years spend on those far-flung Pacific islands, but the editors herewith submit it as a fair resume’ of the 87th's role in World War II.

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Unit Ribbons and Medals

87th NCB - Unit Ribbons and Medals

LEGION_OF_MERIT (lt

Legion of Merit
Ribbon & Medal

 

LOM33FNL

WWII Victory (medal)

World War II
Victory
Ribbon & Medal

 

WWII Victory (ribbon)

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (medal)

Asiatic - Pacific Campaign Ribbon & Medal

w/ Bronze Engagement Star*

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (Ribbon)BRONZESTARDEVICE (lt blue)

* A service star, also referred to as a battle star, campaign star, or engagement star, is an attachment to a military decoration which denotes participation in military campaigns or multiple bestowals of the same award.

BRNZ_STAR_(lt blue)

Bronze Star
Ribbon & Medal

 

BRONZESTARLAPEL33FNL

The Japanese Pillbox Episode

It was during the landing on Treasury Island in the Solomons, on 28 November 1943, that Fireman 1st Class Aurelio Tassone, USNR, of the 87th Naval Construction Battalion created that legendary figure of the Seabee astride his bulldozer rolling over enemy positions. Tassone was driving his bulldozer ashore during the landing when Lieutenant Charles E. Turnbull, CEC, USNR, told him a Japanese pillbox was holding up the advance from the beach. Tassone drove his dozer toward the pillbox, using the blade as a shield, while Lieutenant Turnbull provided covering fire with his carbine. Under continuous heavy fire, Tassone crushed the pillbox with the dozer blade, killing all 12 of its occupants. For this act Tassone was awarded the Silver Star.

 

Source: Naval Historical Center

805 Kidder Breese Street SE,

Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060

Silver Star

 

 

SILVER_STAR (lt blue)

 

SilverStarRibbon

Japanese Pillbox1

 

Read about the entire episode from the Earthmover

page located within our Source Documents Archive.

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Tour of Duty Intinerary

Tour of Duty Itinerary
1943 - 1945

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New Caledonia,   Banika,   Mono & Striling,   Monte D’Or,   Noumea,   Tinian Island  Saipan,   Guadalcanal, Eniwetok, Tulagi,  and Okinawa Shima Ryukyu Retto.   The Soloman Islands;   Stirling,   Treasury Islands; Okinawa;   Tinian Island Saipan,   Marianas Islands

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See our “Source Documents Archive” for additional information about the 87th NCB Tour of Duty

87th Itinerary

 

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87th Reunions

Post-War
Reunions

 

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The men of the 87th NCB began meeting together to renew old friendships and as a way of remembering those that were lost. This section of the webpage is dedicated to those men and their families who continued to meet together in fellowship to share old memories of their time together and to make new memories as members of the 87th Naval Construction Battalion.

 

    The pictures in our “Reunions Gallery” are the only remaining memories of the numerous reunions held by the 87th NCB since the closing of World War II.  They were graciously provided by Bill Armstrong, like myself son of a SEABEE.

    Their first reunion was held in New York City. Other locations include Springfield, Ill; Canton, OH; Milwaukee, WIS. Many of these photos are of unknown locations and dates while some are as indicated and remain our best guess.

     If anyone can identify people or locations and dates to better label these photos please feel free to contact one of us, primarily Bill Armstrong, (see link below).   You will find my (Tom) email link at the bottom of the page.  You may access the Reunions Gallery of photographs using the link button below.

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This Bell was rung, at each reunion, after the reading of the names of each 87th NCB member who was no longer with us.

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Ruion Photos.jpg

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Regimental Records (left)

Battalion Records

Archive of 
Documents

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The following is a listing of the documentation we’ve collected  regarding

the wartime record of this military unit, and the persons who served therein.

·        87th NCB (Cross Country Travel map)

·        87th NCB (Pacific Travel Map)

·        87th NCB (Unit Citations)

·        Silver Star Citations (Tassone, Turnbull)

·            87th NCB (Itinerary)

·            87th NCB (Roster)

·            F4U-1A Corsair Crash  (87th NCB)

·            The Famous Pillbox Incident

Click on this LINK to view our  entire

Source Docs Archives (230x71)

collection of documents for this military unit.