Archivist’s Attic: The Fastest Seabees – The Forgotten Fifty-five

In 1943, the Navy was buzzing around the top coast of New Guinea on their way towards the Philippines. At Mios Woendi the Navy ordered a PT-boat Base to be built. Lieutenant Harold Liberty handpicked fifty-five of the best construction men who were experienced in all phases of construction and eager to work hard.

“Each man had a place in at least three operations,” Liberty explained “The cook could drop his skillet and run a winch or string a pipeline. The hospital corpsman didn’t tie his last bandage and go to bed – he manned a crane or drove a truck.” And each one of them was a potential gunner. Each man could pick up and do another man’s job and do it well.

Crew 55

Just like a swarm of bees, everyman also knew his position and what was expected of them the second they hit the ground. There was no fumbling, no lost motion. Like bees building a hive, the men went in and began going through the hard work of base building.

And build they did, they worked so well together that they started setting records! The Mios Woendi base was built in just 21 days. That feat set the pace for the rest of their operations; soon the detachment was zigzagging from island to island building entire Naval Operating Bases in just 20 days.

With all this speed one wonders, how could they ever be forgotten!? The answer is the same as the question, speed! The outfit moved so quickly, so many times and to so many different places that the men hardly ever got any mail. Forgotten! More like the fast-fifty five or the flashing forward fifty-five.

Whatever you want to call them the Fifty-five lived up to the Seabee standards of Can Do! They just flew by faster than anyone could see them!

Equipment _Page_1

150225-N-JU810-001Meet the Archivist: Ingi House
Ingi House is originally from Kansas where she got her B.A. in history from K.U. and M.L.S. from E.S.U. After working for the Dole Institute of Politics she moved to the East Coast.  In D.C. she worked at the National Archives and Records Admiration and then at the Defense Acquisition University where she became a Certified Archivist. Her continued enjoyment of military history lead her to switching coasts and coming to work for the Seabee Museum where she is collection manager for the archives and records manager liaison.

16 comments on “Archivist’s Attic: The Fastest Seabees – The Forgotten Fifty-five

  1. GP Cox says:

    We can NOT allow any of them to be forgotten!


  2. GP Cox says:

    Reblogged this on Pacific Paratrooper and commented:
    We can not allow any to be forgotten!


  3. feralc4t says:

    Great post, thanks


  4. My grandfather, Freeman M Jensen, was a member of the Seabees in the Aleutian Islands during WWll and always took great pride in the things they accomplished. He was definitely one of the greatest generation as were your profiled “Fastest Seabees!” Anita


  5. jfwknifton says:

    Such wonderful achievements, and all without the help of John Wayne!


  6. authorjim says:

    These men were very good at what they did and did it without fanfare. People with these qualities usually go unnoticed because they make what they do appear so easy that others soon expect it from them.
    What a good story!


  7. kayreusser says:

    I’ve interviewed among the 100 WWII vets in my area at least 1 Seabee. Probably not part of this group, but I learned much from him. He was based in HI during the war after Pearl Harbor.


  8. […] Archivist’s Attic: The Fastest Seabees – The Forgotten Fifty-five […]


  9. Mrs. P says:

    Cool, I did not know there was a museum. Where is it?


  10. An excellent read on a piece of Military history, it’s brevity speaks highly of the Seabees achievements, the versatility of the members of this outstanding group is remarkable, and must be recorded in history as one outstanding Unit.


  11. Jerrod says:

    Do we know any of their names.


  12. Dennis liberty says:

    Thank you very much for the photo. It is a priceless addition to an all too slim record of what my father did. Retired as captain H.F.Liberty USN R
    If anyone has any more information about the 55, I would be grateful.


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