William H. Greene

December 1943 - April 1945

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William H. GreeneIt all started when as a small boy I was mystified by planes and their ability to fly. In my dreams, I could hold out my arms and fly anywhere ... I loved my dreams.

At age 16 I started work in the shipyards in Tacoma Washington, for Todd shipbuilders, when I worked up to being an electrician.

At 17, I graduated from Lincoln High School in Tacoma. I had been in a program for prospective navy pilots called V6, and I wanted to be a navy pilot. At 17, I needed parental permission to enter the Navy, so my dad and I drove to Seattle. I passed all the requirements to be a pilot, physical and all, and was entering the bus to go to Idaho for boot camp when a corpsman came to the bus and said "sorry, one more test" And I turned out to be color blind. There went the flying career.

Bob, my brother-in-law, had just signed for the Navy C. B.'s and construction group, so I returned to recruiting and they took me in the ranks. We were sent to Williamsburg, Virginia for boot camp. I was assigned to the 67th C.B. battalion. There I tried out for a group called the "Frogmen," later to be "Seals." I trained with them for about a month with the Marines, before I found I had to be 19 years old to be in this group.

Then, we were sent to Camp Endicott in upstate New York for advanced training. Next, we were loaded on trains and moved to Camp Hueneme, California, near San Francisco. At this point we were divided in several groups, I ended up in the 68th C.B.s, headed for Attu, Alaska. Attu is the last island on the Aleutian chain. It had just been taken back from the Japanese in May of 1943 in a very bloody battle. I spent 18 months on this "Hell Hole". Williwaws - winds in excess of 150 mph - were the big attraction on the island. I was assigned to a lineman crew, building power lines, climbing poles and stringing wires. The conditions were miserable and dangerous, working on a pole With 60 mph winds whipping around you, ice dropping on your head, and voltages in excess of 2,300. You did the whole job - dig the hole in frozen tundra, erect the 45 pole, then climb it, frame it and run the wires. You drive the truck and winch yourself out of the mud. All in extremely cold temperatures and snow many feet deep. Not a fun place to vacation.

I left the Aleutians in April of 1945 and landed in Los Angeles in the 94th C.B.'s to be sent the Hawaii. There I ran trucks, transporting equipment.

VJ Day came around, and what a party; you wouldn't believe it unless you were there. Such jubilance celebrated by all, the war has ended. How does it get better?

My next assignment was Guam, where I climbed poles, strung wires, guarded Japanese prisoners, and cut trees in the jungle. They issued me a carbine "Pea shooter", no ammo. Well that was not quite fight, they did get to see the chamber. The were outfitted with double bit axes, So, (take no chances kid)
I spent some time at company headquarters running the PBX system. One day I was able to announce, "Greene has 39 points, he is going home." I had my grandmother as a dependent, so that gave me 10 extra points. I landed back in the states after being in service 2 years, 6 months, 15 days. I separated from Portland Navy station in December 1945.

As I look back, this experience gave a small boy a chance to grow up... something many young folks enjoy.

Now, at 86 years young, I'm on way to Hawaii to help celebrate VJ day...courtesy of the Greatest Generation organization. Thanks to all involved.

I was fortunate to get my private flying license through the government G.I. bill, so did fulfill my dream.

Bill Greene   e-Mail William (Bill) Greene



Select Photo Category to View:

Attu Island Photos     Attu's Aircraft     Attu Personnel    Attu's Vehicles and Weapons     Misc.

  Alaskan Town
Alaskan Town, WWII



Attu Island Photos

Attu Harbor, Massacre Bay, Aleutian Islands, AK

1. Attu Harbor at Massacre Bay, Attu, Aleutian Islands, AK


Attu Island - 1

2. Attu's main runway


Attu Island 3

3. Lots of snow, cold and wind.


Attu Island 4

4. A hut belonging to the 68th CB Battalion.


Attu Island 5

5. Winters were miserable, so cold to work in. The runway was about 2 miles from our camp.


Attu Island 6 6. We did have a laundry building and even a bowling alley!
Attu Island 7 7. To the left is a PV1 aircraft, on the right is a B-25.
Attu Island 8 8. We lived in Quonset Huts and tents (layered six thick with wooden platforms).
Attu Island 9 9. A view looking from our camp down to Massacre Bay...a place for ships to dock and bring in supplies.
Attu Island 10 10. Off to the left was Army Town (U. S. Army Engineers).
Attu Island 11 11. Seabees can make anything!
Attu Island 12 12. This is our super highway.
Attu Island 13 13. 68th Seabees Camp on the right.
Attu Island 14 14. You can be immersed in these frigid waters for only 8 minutes before cramps and hyporthermia takes its toll on your body.
Attu Island 15 15. Attu really is quite mountaneous.
Attu Island 16 16. Water so calm you can hardly believe it when we have 100+ mile winds at times.
Attu Island 17 17. Dolly Varden catch.
Attu Island 18 18. Looks so beautiful, but could be so mean, weather wise... bad for air travel.
Attu Island 19 19. Dolly Varden catch.
Attu Island 20 20. Looks so beautiful .... but treacherous at the same time.
Attu Island 21 21. As you can guess, never got to walk lot's of the island.
Attu Island 22 22. It is easy to spot spring and fall.
Attu Island 23 23. Did walk up to an airplane accident on a hill like this, all survived.
Attu Island 24 24. The beaches were hazardous for invasion.
Attu Island 25 25. It was a beautiful sight, all the peaks, made you want to climb them all.
Attu Island 26 26. Not many trees.
Attu Island 27 27. Also not many areas for ships to dock.
Attu Island 28 28. So many salmon, you felt you could walk across on their backs.
Attu Island 29 29. This is the road over to Army Town.
Attu Island 30 30. can you imagine living here for 18 months?
Attu Battlefield Marker 1 31. Point Able marker, where Japanese forces were covering East Massacre Valley with fire. A good bit of history about the American attack on Attu.
Attu Battlefield Marker 2 32. Nees Peak (once known as "Point Able") marker. Great battle  markers.
Japanese Cemetery Nwork 33. Most American KIA were burried at Attu's Little Falls Cemetery located at the base of Gilbert Ridge, while others were burried at Attu's Holtz Bay Cemetery. Their bodies were exhumed in 1946 and returned to either Ft. Richardson Alaska or to their families homes in the lower '48 for final burial. I've been told this cemetery no longer exits.
Japanese Monuments 34. Translation reads: "The Grave of Late Army Lance Corporal Yamamoto Toyoyuki." (Our thanks to Dr. Kaji for this translation). This site also no longer exists on Attu.
Little Falls Cemetery 35. Also little falls is gone...
Little Falls Cemetery 2 36. Most American KIA were buried at Attu's Little Falls Cemetery located at the base of Gilbert Ridge, while others were buried at Attu's Holtz Bay Cemetery. Their bodies were exhumed in 1946 and returned to either Ft. Richardson Alaska or to their families homes in the lower '48 for final burial. Al on the left, not sure who on right.
Attu Tree 37. A "tree" grows on Attu...an otherwise treeless landscape. Only tree on Attu.
Attu Tree 2 38. A "tree" grows on Attu...an otherwise treeless landscape. Second shot of it.
Attu Tree 3 39. A "tree" grows on Attu...an otherwise treeless landscape. Yet another shot.
Living Quarters 1 40. Had to dig out, about 12 to 15 ft. at peak.
Living Quarters 2 41. Looks like where the Japanese had dug in.
Living Quarters 3 42. Twenty-four guys live in a Quonset, quite a family!
Living Quarters 4 43. One of our wash rooms and showers.
Living Quarters 5 44. Many of us lived in tens, 6 to a tent.

Attu's Aircraft

Aircraft 1 45. Navy PV1 "Ventura," single rudder, deadly plane to fly.
Aircraft 2 46. B25's great plane for the area, long range type.
Aircraft 3 47. Japanese fighter plane ruins.
Aircraft 4 48. The silver bird, DC3, our mail plane (AAF Skytrain or Dakota, C-47)
Aircraft 5 49. Keeping runways open was a chore.
Aircraft 6 50. AAF B-25...trustworthy planes!
Aircraft 7 51. Pro's.
Aircraft 8 52. PBYs fly in almost any weather.
Aircraft 9 53. AAF P-40
Aircraft 10 54. Navy PBY
Aircraft 11 55. AAF B-25
Aircraft 12 56. No heat in this bird!
Aircraft 13 57. Happens frequently, generally caused by weather conditions.
Aircraft 14 58. B-25...great plane!
Aircraft 15 59. Help us identify this Seabee of the 68th!
Aircraft 16 60. Navy PBY
Aircraft 17 61. AAF B-25
Aircraft 18 62. Navy "Ventura"

Attu Personnel

Attu Personnel 1 63. A new ensign said wheels are bent on the grader...grader operator turned wheel and straightened them!
Attu Personnel 2 64. Wonder who?
Attu Personnel 3 65. Jaeper Fagone.
Attu Personnel 4 66. Duran.
Attu Personnel 5 67. One of our power crew workers.
Attu Personnel 6 68. Fagone and Tivnan.
Attu Personnel 7 69. Duran (Snuffy).
Attu Personnel 8 70. Don't remember his name...standing in doorway of Quonset hut buried in snow.
Attu Personnel 9 71. Bob Dixon. [I wonder if these skis are the same ones seen in a photo of Japanese soldiers on Attu skiing!?]
Attu Personnel 10 72. Guys playing comando.
Attu Personnel 11 73. John Tivnan. Attu's streams hold an abundance of salmon, and Dolly Varden's are readily catchable!
Attu Personnel 12 74. Snuffy?
Attu Personnel 13 75. This was our job...keeping the power on.
Attu Personnel 14 76. a little bivouacking.
Attu Personnel 15 77. Al Atchinson.
Attu Personnel 16 78. Bob Dixon.
Attu Personnel 17 79. Greene was hut photographer (0ld box camera).
Attu Personnel 18 80. Another power worker.
Attu Personnel 19 81. Tivnan and greene "trout," or Dolly Vardens.
Attu Personnel 20 82. Another power gang worker.
Attu Personnel 21 83. More "commandos."
Attu Personnel 22 84. Our hut guys "names ???"
Attu Personnel 22 Reverse 85. The reverse side of photo #84 shows the Navy censorship stamp of approval...this photo was OK to send home.
Attu Personnel 23 86. Greene on 125 foot antenna pole, spooky on top.
Attu Personnel 24 87. Atchinson (Portland kid).
Attu Personnel 25 88. Griego for Olympics.
Attu Personnel 26 89. Tivnan.
Attu Personnel 27 90. Kid Greene; "Oh to be 150 lbs again."
Attu Personnel 28 91. Slim Ubank (sp) "our boss."
Attu Personnel 29 92. Griego.
Attu Personnel 30 93. Can you indentify any of these guys?
Attu Personnel 31 94. Attu's streams hold an abundance of salmon.
Attu Personnel 32 95. Attu's streams hold an abundance of salmon.
Attu Personnel 33 96. A historical marker dedicated to Col. Yamasaki, commander of Japanese forces on Attu who died in a final charge against American forces, finally meeting his end near Engineer Hill.
Attu Dog 1 97. Our camp mascot.
Attu Celebration 1 98. Christmas on Attu 1944.

Attu's Vehicles and Weapons

Attu Vehicles 1 99. Japanese dozer.
Attu Vehicles 2 100. Power house covered...poor planning.
Attu Vehicles 2 101. The way to handle "big jobs."
Attu Vehicles 4 102. D8 Cat.
Attu Vehicles 5 103. Not too great in tundra. [Note: Throughout the Aleutian chain Jeeps were outfitted with these wooden enclosures to protect occupants from the weather]
Attu Vehicles 6 104. Japanese truck.
Attu Boat 1 105. Landing craft.
Attu Ships 1 106. Our liberty ship back to states.
Attu Weapons 1 107. Possibly Japanese cannon.
Attu Knife - 3 108. modified ka-bar knife, with Japanese knee mortar detenator.
Attu Knife - 2 109. This knife was pieced together by Bill using a Japanese blade found on Attu along with separate decorative brass artifact. Observation by Dr. Kaji:
A "Hara Kiri" knife was a stomach cutting, Japanese honorable ceremonial suicide.  Strange shape, or was it bent?   Looks like machine made. May not be a Hara Kiri knife.
Attu Knife - 6 110. One side of the brass artifact mounted above the knife blade itself shows the following inscription (translation provided by Dr. Kaji):

八八式野山刀---Model 88 Field Mountain Sword (knife). 

1) Model 88 could be Model Emperor's Year 2588 which is 1928 AD.  Made for  military use?

2) This may have been for use in wild fields and mountains.

3)  Does not seem to be made for Hara Kiri.

AttuKnife - 7 111. The other side shows this inscription (translation provided by Dr. Kaji):

4    五十四 ---54.



Miscellaneous Items

Seabee Newsletter (PDF)

Army ordinary No.7898                        October of Showa 16th year(10/1942)

   Printed by Ministry of Armed Forces

Manual for the Model 99 Light Machine Gun

(Thanks to Dr. Yasuhiko Kaji for this translation)


Army ordinary No.7898   

Manual for the Model 99 Light Machine Gun as Attached Booklet

October 27th of Showa 16th year(10/27/1942)

Ministry of Army:    Hideki Tojo 

Model 99 probably refers Emperor's Year 2599 which is 1939 A.D.  ("Zero Fighter" is  "Model Zero Fighter" which refers Emperor's Year 2600.---Zero, that is 1940 A.D., a year after the machine gun.)

(Thanks to Dr. Yasuhiko Kaji for this translation)


Initial Posting 30 Jul 2011

Last Updated: 04 Jan 2013 12:02