JC King Military Record
Julius C. “JC” King was born in Mississippi, March 27, 1908 to William J. and Willie King. His brother, William John, was born in 1915. JC’s father, born in Alabama, later moved to Phoenix in Yazoo County where he farmed. William and Willie had married in 1905, he was 20 and she was 17.
By 1920, JC’s father has died. While only twelve, JC is working as a telegraph boy in Vicksburg to support his mother and younger brother. JC and William John are shown at right. They are living at 2102 Washington St.
In the 1930 JC was dating Frances Cole at Redwood. Karl Keen was dating Aileen Hartley. They would double date. At some point they realized that each was with the wrong person. So they switched dates and in 1933, JC married Aileen Hartley, sister of my mother, Margie Hartley Oakes. In 1934, their daughter, Helen Christine, was born. The family is shown at right.
JC is employed as a truck driver in 1940 prior to his enlistment in the US Navy.
JC enlisted in New Orleans on February 18, 1942. His unit, US Navy Construction Battalion 2, Detachment 5 , was assembled in Norfolk, VA. He sailed on the USS Harris from San Diego, CA on April 13, 1942.
A picture of the Harris is at right. His detachment was part of Project Straw. The detachment arrived at Pago Pago, Tutuila, American Samoa on April 28 and spent the next month quartered in the ship while negotiations were conducted with the French administrators of the Wallis Islands. In the interval, the Seabees provided stevedore manpower for unloading other ships, and assembled the detachment gear as it arrived on other incoming vessels.
The detachment departed Pago Pago May 29th and arrived on the USS Harris (APS-2) at Uvea, Wallis Islands May 31, 1942. The ships records lists his service number was 644 28 27. His rating, BMlc V-6. This would be his home for the next year. After six days for unloading the Harris and setting up a tent camp, the detachment commenced construction of the airfield and, equally important at that time, a system of roads from the beaches to the construction and camp sites.
During the next year, the detachment built a bomber field with a 6,000 by 2S0-foot runway,. taxiways, plane revetments, two nose hangars, a machine shop, underground ammunition magazines, and 25,000 gallon aviation gas tank. In late 1942, a 5,000 by 2S0-foot fighter strip was completed, with taxiways, 18 plane revetments: and a nose· hangar. An additional urgent project was a seaplane base with a 2,400 by ISO-foot taxiway, a 200 by 70-foot ramp, concealed parking areas, camp facilities and a 25,000 gallon gas tank. Other projects included: storehouses for dry and refrigerated storage; a 72-bed hospital; 70 miles of roadway; camp, administrative and operational structures; and a marine railway. He had arrived from Tutuila, Samoa.
During the detachment’s construction of an airfield explosives were used to help level the area. It is likely that one of these explosion accidentally occurred near him and damage his hearing. Information from JC’s daughter, Helen King Canizaro, strongly suggests he acquired lymphatic filariasis. The most spectacular symptom of lymphatic filariasis is elephantiasis—edema. Wuchereria bancrofti is a human parasitic roundworm spread by mosquitos. In men it can effect the lower extremities. It requires an extensive treatment regime. Helen recalls he spent a long period in the hospital upon his return. It is highly likely that the hospital was the US Naval Hospital in San Diego, shown above. They were equipped to deal with tropical diseases. By the end of the war there were over 8,000 patients there.
Excerpted from history of CB 2nd Battalion history:
“As 1943 wore on~ battalion medical reports reflected more and more the health-destroying effects of extended duty on the tropical islands. Of the original battalion complement of approximately 1,000 men, 138 had, by December, 1943, been evacuated to the United States. Widespread malaria, filariasis, dermatological ailments, and operational fatigue reduced stamina and lowered morale.”
On July 27th, 1943 he sailed on the USS Munargo from Tutuila, Samoa to the United States. He was received from US Naval Mobile Hospital Number 3 and was transferred to USN Hospital in United States. A picture of this ship which served as a hospital transport, is at right.
USS Munargo AP Specifications:
Displacement 7,100 tons.
Beam 57' 6"
Draft 23' 7"
Speed 16 kts.
one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount
four single 3"/50 dual purpose gun mounts
eight .50 cal machine guns
Propulsion: steam turbine single propeller,
United States Naval Construction Battalion 2 History
Early in 1942, strategic planners in the War Department developed, a scheme for establishing "strong, mutually-supporting defensive positions at Samoa, Fiji and New Caledonia as essential for protecting the air and sea communications between the United States and Australia, for defending the island areas of the mid-Pacific and for base areas for the eventual offensive against Japan."
Within the Samoan group of islands the operation was designated STRAW. Here the defense was concentrated on Tutuila, American Samoa (STRAWSTACK). Tutuila was considered weak because of the presence of several undefended islands close by. Wallis Island (STRAWBOARD), a French mandate some 350 miles westward, was included in the Samoan group for tactical purposes. New Zealand-mandated Upolu (STRAWHAT) in Western Samoa was also included in the proposed
development. On these and other islands, separate detachments of the 2nd U. S. Naval Construction Battalion built airfields, seaplane bases and harbor facilities along with necessary camps, supply depots, roads and the utilities required to operate them.
The 2nd Battalion was commissioned April 3, 1942 at the Naval Construction Training Center, Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia. Two separate detachments were formed: the 4th consisted of C and D Companies and one-half of Headquarters Company, under command of Lietutenant George E. Wells, Jr., CEC, USNR, and the 5th detachment was composed of A and B Companies and the other half of Headquarters Company, commanded by Lieutenant John T. Pendergrass, CEC, USNR. No one was designated as officer in charge of the entire battalion at this time; however, after the arrival of the detachments at Samoa, Lieutenant Commander Richard C. Holbrook, CEC,USNR, public works officer of the Naval Station at Pago Pago, Tutuila, was given command of the 2nd Battalion as additional duty commencing in June, 1942 by order of Major General Charles F. B. Price, USMC, commanding general of the defense forces in Samoa.
The Fifth Detachment
First to depart Camp Allen was the 5th Detachment; its 507 enlisted men and 10 officers boarded trains AprilS, 1942 and arrived.at San Diego, California April 10. They boarded the USS Harris April 12 and departed the next day. (JC was on this ship.) The detachment arrived at Pago Pago, Tutuila, American Samoa on April 28 and spent the next month quartered in the ship while negotiations were conducted with the French administrators of the Wallis Islands. In the interval, the Seabees provided stevedore manpower for unloading other ships, and assembled the detachment gear as it arrived on other incoming vessels. American Somoa and Wallis Island are near the middle of the map above.
The detachment departed Pago Pago May 29th and arrived at Uvea, Wallis Islands June 1. After six days for unloading the Harris and setting up a tent camp, the detachment commenced construction of the airfield and, equally important at that time, a system of roads from the beaches to the construction and camp sites.
During the next year, the detachment built a bomber field with a 6,000 by 250-foot runway, taxiways, plane revetments, two nose hangars, a machine shop, underground ammunition magazines, and 25,000 gallon aviation gas tank. In late 1942, a 5,000 by 250-foot fighter strip was completed, with taxiways, 18 plane revetments: and a nose hangar.
An additional urgent project was a seaplane base with a 2,400 by 150-foot taxiway, a 200 by 70-foot ramp, concealed parking areas, camp facilities and a 25,000 gallon gas tank.
Other projects included: storehouses for dry and refrigerated storage; a 72-bed hospital; 70 miles of roadway; camp, administrative and operational structures; and a marine railway.
By March 1, 1943, the 5th Detachment of the 2nd Naval Construction Battalion had essentially completed its basic directive at Uvea and the requirements were more for maintenance and operation of utilities. Long-overlooked military training was provided. In April, 1943, 71 enlisted men were detached and sent to reinforce the Naval Construction Detachment with the Marine's 5th Defense Battalion at Funafuti. After being relieved by Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 504, the 5th Detachment, now numbering 360 enlisted men and 10 officers, embarked aboard the USS John H. Couch on June 21, 1943 and arrived at Tutuila June 23.
The detachment was afforded no respite, however. They immediately were dispersed to take over and complete construction projects at Leone, Tafuna, Utulei and other locations which were being performed by the departing 11th U. S. Naval Construction Battalion.
Lieutenant Pendergrass had relinquished command of the detachment to Lieutenant Harold E. Reardon, CEC, USNR on May 8, 1943 after the former had been promoted to Lieutenant Commander and designated officer in charge of the 2nd Battalion, following the departure of Lieutenant Commander Holbrook.
Among the projects taken. over and completed by the 5th Detachment on Tutuila were: grading and surfacing of a 300 by 5,000-foot fighter strip at Leone; industrial housing including 28 buildings and utilities at Tafuna; three 50,000 gallon concrete gasoline storage tanks at Bluntfs Point; one 27,000 barrel and one 13,000 barrel fuel storage tan.ks at Utulei; a reinforced concrete filter center, six frame buildings, administrative offices, and 16 by 80-foot mess hall and galley at Mormon Valley; a reinforced concrete building for an automatic dial telephone exchange at Fagaalu Valley; and a sewage disposal system for Mobile Base Hospital No.3. Projects subsequently added included a radio beam station at Leone, an AACS radio station at Oletele Valley, and a dam for the water supply of Mobile Hospital No. 3.
These and a number of other lesser projects occupied the 5th detachment until February 24, 1944 when they were joined by their sister detachment aboard the SS Sommelsdijk, a Dutch merchant ship, to return to the United States.
After the War
Returning to civilian life, JC worked at the Vicksburg Waterways Experimental Station until his retirement. He was a quiet man with a twinkle in his eye. He was much loved by his nieces and nephews. The boys all dreamed of having a car like his. His cars showed little difference between the day he bought them and the day he sold them. He did not permit any problem to go uncorrected and he could repair anything. He weekly washed and polished his car.
Aileen Hartley King died September 26, 1984, at the age of 70. JC died September 5, 1987. Both are buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg, MS.