Forager Pontoon Bees

A motley but proud 302nd Naval Construction Battalion (Seabee) barge crew pose with captured Japanese yosegaki hinomaru “good luck” flag and Arisaka rifles aboard a beached 3×7-foot pontoon barge on Saipan, Mariana Islands, June 1944.

(l to r) S2c Charles, W. Barrett, BM1c Wally Jalloway, S2c Robert Fisher, CCM(AA) Ragnar Farnum, MM3c Paul Rhoades, and SF3c Carl Jones. Via U.S. Navy Seabee Museum

The 302nd NCB hit the beaches during Operation Forager supporting Lt. Gen. Holland M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith’s V Amphibious Corps (2nd MarDiv, 4th MarDiv, Army 27th “New York” Inf Div) and was “one of the most unique Seabee groups that fought in the Pacific in WWII.”

302nd NCB pontoon barge, “Somewhere in the South Pacific” circa 1944

Formed in 1944 from five scattered company-sized CB Pontoon Detachments (1035, 1038, 1039, 1043, and 1054), which had already learned their trade “on the job” in a variety of landings, the Bees of the 302nd went on to operate pontoon structures for the assaults on Peleliu, Angaur, Luzon, and other points towards Tokyo.

Check out this snapshot of how 1944 went for the 302nd.

On orders of CINCPOA, the 302nd NCB was inactivated on 10 December 1945 at Intrepid Point and its men were transferred for leave, reassignment, or discharge.

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