Alligator Marines: A story of the 5th Amphibious Tractor Battalion in WW II (2nd Edition)

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Built with a small cab at the front and a large, open bed at the rear, the Alligator was powered by a horsepower Chrysler industrial motor that drove a cleated track system. The track system, patented by Roebling in , could propel the vehicle both in the water and on land. While it was agile and relatively fast from the beginning of testing, Roebling nevertheless took his time working the bugs out of the vehicle.


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Four feet shorter than the original Alligator, the new model was offered for commercial use to the oil industry and other users later that year. It was this vehicle that caught the eye of the editorial staff of LIFE magazine the same year. Interestingly, the first U. Edward C. Thomas Holcomb, who immediately saw merit in evaluating the Alligator. Holcomb asked Brig. Frederick L. At the end of this impressive brass chain was Maj.

John Kaluf, secretary of the Equipment Board, who drew the assignment to actually look over the Alligator. Heading down to Clearwater in March , he evaluated the Alligator and shot feet of movie film. By January , Roebling had the design of the Alligator 3 finished, and completed the prototype in May of the same year. LVTs approach the beach at Guadalcanal.

Marine Corps photo. Delivered in the fall of , the vehicle retained the aluminum hull of the earlier Alligators, was powered by a horsepower Lincoln-Zephyr engine, and incorporated improvements suggested by the Equipment Board. It was immediately shipped to Quantico, Va. When the test amtrac arrived in Puerto Rico, it fortuitously fell into the able hands of a young officer named Capt. Victor H. Krulak was assigned to conduct the tests by the brigade commander, Brig.

Krulak, a legendary Marine who eventually rose to lieutenant general his son Charles became the 31st commandant had already made a significant contribution to the development of amphibious watercraft. An LVT-1 heads for the beach at Tarawa. Though casualties were heavy, they could have been disastrous without the Amtracs.

National Archives photo. While a China Marine in , Krulak had photographed Japanese Daihatsu landing craft, with their unique bow ramps for unloading personnel, equipment, supplies, and vehicles. However, the basic soundness of the Roebling design excited almost everyone who got near the craft. One of the rare exceptions was Atlantic Fleet commander Adm. Ernest J.

Battle of Iwo Jima - WW2 in Color - USMC Documentary - 1945

King, a man of titanic reputation and ill temperament. Invited to take a ride in the amtrac by Smith, the craft unfortunately grounded on a reef while being driven by Krulak. Viciously mad, King and his staff walked in their whites over the reef and through the shoals to the beach, aiming a profane flow of words at Krulak, Smith, the amtrac, and the USMC in general. Beach secured, Marines shelter in the lee of an LVT 1 from sniper fire as they take a break.

When Krulak handed over his report and test data to Col. Rogers in December , the information helped create the formal design requirement for the LVT 1. These first LVTs had a number of changes from the test amtrac, including a steel hull, a horsepower Hercules V-6 motor, and mounts for a pair of machine guns.

They could move through water at 4 knots, and crawl across land at 15 mph. The Americans on the ground were supported by extensive naval artillery and complete air supremacy over Iwo Jima from the beginning of the battle by US Navy and Marine Corps aviators. Iwo Jima was also the only battle by the US Marine Corps in which the American casualties exceeded the Japanese, although Japanese combat deaths numbered three times as many American deaths.

Of the 22 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima at the beginning of the battle, only were taken prisoner, some of whom were captured because they had been knocked unconscious or otherwise disabled. The majority of the remainder were killed in action, although it has been estimated that as many as continued to resist within the various cave systems for many days afterwards, eventually succumbing to their injuries or surrendering weeks later. Lt Crist had been promoted to Lt.

Cmdr and was sent back to Hawaii but his Team 3 Seabees would train teams They scouted prior to D-day, helped direct the first landing craft to the correct beaches on D-day and helped clear the beaches of debris on D-plus 2. Onderdonk and Ltjg C. On Guam UDT 8 requested permission to build a base.

Nimitz, Commander in Chief, U. Pacific Fleet did a base inspection of Teams 8 and The Admiral gave the UDT base a glowing review. At wars end 34 teams had been formed with teams 1—21 having actually been deployed. The Seabees provided over half of the men in the teams that saw service. The U.

Navy did not publicize the existence of the UDTs until post war and when they did they gave credit to Lt. Commander Kauffman and the Seabees. Those men with the CB rating on their uniforms considered themselves Seabees that were doing underwater demolition. UDTs had to meet the military's standard age guidelines, Seabees older could not volunteer. In preparation for the invasion of Japan the UDTs created a cold water training center and mid UDT men had to meet a new physical standard.

V Amphibious Corps - Wikipedia

Even so, there were just two regular CBs that were "colored" units, the 34th [] and 80th [] NCBs. Both had white Southern officers and black enlisted. Both battalions experienced problems with that arrangement that led to the replacement of the officers. The Navy had a huge need for cargo handlers.

Naval History and Heritage Command

On 18 September authorization was granted for the formation of a different type of CB denoted by the tag "Special" for cargo handling. Those Special CBs later became the first fully integrated units in the U. Of particular note were the actions of the 17th Special at Peleliu 15—18 September On D-day, the 7th Marines were in a situation where they did not have enough men to man the lines and get the wounded to safety.

Coming to their aid were the 2 companies of the 16th Marine Field Depot colored and the 17th Special Seabee colored. The Japanese mounted a counter-attack at hours on D-day night. By the time it was over nearly the entire 17th had volunteered to hump ammunition to the front lines on the stretchers they brought the wounded back on. They volunteered to man the line where the wounded had been, man 37mm that had lost their crews and volunteered for anything the marines needed.

The 17th remained with the 7th Marines until the right flank had been secured D-plus 3.

The wholehearted co-operation and untiring efforts which demonstrated in every respect that they appreciated the privilege of wearing a marine uniform and serving with the marines in combat. Please convey to your command these sentiments and inform them that in the eyes of the entire division they have earned a 'well done'. A Construction Battalion Detachment CBD was formed from "screening Camp Peary and the NCF for geologists , petroleum engineers , driller oil , tool pushers , roustabouts and roughnecks " and later designated The original plan in had been to send them to the recaptured oil fields of New Guinea with the assignment to get those fields back in production.

Navy Petroleum Reserve No.

Mobile Navigation

NPR-4 had been created and placed in the oil reserve in The detachment's mission was to complete a detailed geologic study at Umiat and Cape Simpson , begin core hole and deep well drilling, as well complete aerial and overland pipeline surveys. Four D-8s with twenty sleds of supplies were readied for the mile trek to Umiat once the ground froze to support them.

The well site was near 4 known seeps at Umiat in the very south-east of NPR 4. Twice the Seabees have been tasked with large scale land surveys.

Target: Makin Island

They also had a group of USN geologists assigned to map the Reserve's geology. That group was sent to Vietnam in to survey and map that country's entire road network.

Auxiliary Navigation

When the Japanese signed the surrendered CB was in the Aleutians. Upon arrival the Russians told the Seabees they had 10 days and were amazed that the Seabees did it. The other was near Khabarousk , Siberia in buildings provided by the Russians.

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