Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 7

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About two weeks after I arrived on Attu they found a rubber raft on the shore. Naturally if was assumed that it had been used by Jap infiltrators from a submarine. Panic! They placed us new greenhorns about a hundred yards apart all along the beach. After about four hours, we were relieved and taken to a guard shack. They immediately told us to unload our weapons. We told them that we didn’t have loaded weapons. We were never given any ammo. We were so new we didn’t dare tell them — we were told to keep quiet and speak only when spoken to. They never found any Jap intruders. The group that was shipped out from Seattle were classified as replacements. They had assumed that there would be casualites in the invasion and they would need replacement workers. Well, we were surplus to the Seabees already there. When we arrived there were five battalions of Seabees. They were the 22nd, 23rd, 68th, 138th, and the 8th Special. They divided the appx. 200 replacements to the existing units. A battalion was 1000-1200 men. We lived in metal quonset buildings — 68 in our buildings. So many and so close that we had to share beds between the day crews and the night crews. I was in the 23rd bn. Later moved to the 68 when the 23rd moved to the US and then later to the 138th. Because of the terrible weather they called 6 months a tour of duty — I stayed there 26 months. The bright side was I wasn’t being shot at. Most of the furious fighting was going on, and all I was doing was putting in pipes and freezing my butt off.

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