Montpelier Veteran Shares Story Of Life As A Seabee In World War II

Ross Rummel was joined for the interview with his son, Raymond Rummel, a nine-year Army veteran; grandson Alan Bumpus, a 15-year Army veteran and great-grandson Michael Bumpus, a four-year veteran of the Marines, both of Hillsdale, Mich.

Ross Rummel was joined for the interview with his son, Raymond Rummel, a nine-year Army veteran; grandson Alan Bumpus, a 15-year Army veteran and great-grandson Michael Bumpus, a four-year veteran of the Marines, both of Hillsdale, Mich.

By: James Pruitt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER

Millions of men served during World War II, but not everyone was a soldier on the front line.

Some, like Ross Rummel of Montpelier served the nation by helping with the grunt work that supported the war effort. For Rummel, that was spending 2 ½ years in the Pacific Theater working as a Seabee.

Rummel was a member of the 109th Naval Construction Battalion, Company D, Group 3. His address at the time was across the street from where currently resides in Montpelier.

Seabees were construction workers who received enough training to handle a weapon while they built airstrips and military bases. They moved with the troops as they hopped from island to island.

They were founded after some construction workers doing a job for the Navy was attacked by Japanese troops and had only Billy clubs to defend themselves. The idea came up to give the workers a way to protect themselves.

The plan came together when Admiral Nimitz got behind it.

But that didn’t mean Rummel wanted to be a Seabee.

“I was drafted,” Rummel said. “I asked for Navy duty. I got the Seabees.”

The Seabees were the Navy’s equivalent of the Army Engineers, Rummel said. The elderly veteran has nothing but praise for his Army counterparts.

“They were real good,” Rummel said.

The qualities that made the Seabees stand out was they did not have teachers and most had worked in construction for five to seven years before the war.

Rummel had the skill to be a machine operator and a truck driver and that made him stand out, he said.

He was once told to clear out a lowland channel where baby sharks were attacking the troops. He fashioned a backhoe to be flexible when it dug out the sand.

His work caught the eye of Admiral Nimitz who came over one time and complimented him on his efforts.

From Island X, Rummel traveled to Guam, which was key to getting the bombers to Japan. The planes traveled from Saipan to Guam and then to Japan and back, he said.

According to Wikipedia, B-29s were launched from both islands by the end of the war.

A yearbook of sorts captures the memories of the men who served on Island X, the first atoll the Allies recaptured from Japan. The book stands today as a testament to the work the Seabees did.

“We remade the airfield so we might get the B-24s off,” Rummel said of the light bombers used at the time.

Life in the military was no different that working at a civilian job, Rummel said.

“If you mind your P’s and Q’s and don’t try any funny stuff,” Rummel said. “It’s a good place to work and sleep.”

James Pruitt may be reached at
publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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3 Comments on "Montpelier Veteran Shares Story Of Life As A Seabee In World War II"

  1. Peggy Rummel Freese | September 6, 2016 at 6:02 pm | Reply

    Thank you so Much Village Reporter for doing this article. Mr Rummel is not only my daddy he is my hero!.. He taught me many Many things that most females have not a clue. When I was young I would say Daddy I am never getting married and Never having any children. He used to respond with.. you had better learn some th8ings ORR you will be payin some man to do them for you!!It started with learning how to do preventive maintenance on a car… I can change the oil and set plugs and points.. well not now as cars dont have the points ect anymore…. I learned to repair and run electrical wiring in a house, how to put in new and repair pluming.. Daddy and I have spent many Saturdays fishing and not catching a thing BUT I was spending it with him!!! Momma and daddy have been married for 70 yrs and They were the best around… I can honestly say I NEVER heard them fight or argue… They kept it away from us!!!! <3 them totally …. Peggy Rummel Freese Oh yeah I did wait till I was 27 to get married.. and welll we celebrate 27 yrs married this October!!! Thanks again!!

    • Forrest Church | September 8, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Reply

      You are welcome. I enjoyed striking up the conversation with him in Bryan and glad the interview happened. ~Forrest R. Church, Publisher

  2. What a great man to dedicated his youth to defending our National liberty…..Fantastic legacy for the next generations to follow and be inspired by…Thank you Mr. Rummel for being an outstanding Patriot.

    Scott”Shuttleman” Phillips

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