Below is information on the 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division. Company C of the 133rd NCB
which was transported to Iwo Jima by the USS Lowndes.
133rd NCB
Joseph Lees Jr.MM3c
 Joseph Lees Jr. MM3c
133rd NCB Reunion Contact
     Mr. William J Konop                             612-441-2554
     1170 5th St
     Elk River, MN 55330-2530
The History of NMCB 133 

On September 17, 1943, the original Naval Construction Battalion 133 was commissioned at Camp Perry, Williamsburg, Virginia. After seven months training at Davisville, Rhode Island; Gulfport, Mississippi; and Port Hueneme, California, NCB One-Thirty-Three was ready for action.

The battalion adopted the Kangaroo as its symbolic mascot and "Kangaroo Can Do" as its slogan because the first scheduled deployment was to be to Australia. However, change being inevitable, Naval Air Station, Honolulu, became the first deployment site. One-Thirty-Three was tasked with expanding and improving the air station. The work involved raising the level of the airfield and building seaplane docks, fuel tanks and buildings. The finished airfield became one of the largest and busiest in the Pacific Theater.

The invasion of Iwo Jima began February 19, 1945. NCB 133 accompanied the invasion force, with two taskings: to secure the beaches after the first assault troops went ashore and to serve as the shore party maintaining supply lines to the Marines on the forward battle lines. After the invasion began, NCB 133 was tasked with repairing the island’s three bombed-out Japanese airstrips, which were needed as soon as possible for use by Allied bombers. The Kangaroos were ashore by 4 p.m. on D-Day. Although the initial landing was relatively easy, the Japanese held their first line of defense and delivered murderous fire from their guns high on Mount Suribachi, and the entire beach was covered by mortar, artillery and machine-gun fire from the surrounding hills. The Seabees were in a position even more precarious than the Marines on the front lines; but the took what the enemy threw at them, and carried on the job of establishing and operating supply lines to the fighting men. When the Marines captured the first airstrip, the runway was sufficiently repaired to be used by light observation planes. On the same day, the order came to begin rehabilitating the second airstrip, which was to become the longest in the Western Theater.

After the first weeks, work went on day and night on the two airstrips. Until then, Japanese resistance had prevented the men from working after dark. The battalion encountered sniper fire and mortar attack until, and even after, the island was declared secure on March 15. During the 26 day battle for Iwo Jima, 133rd NCB suffered 245 casualties, with 3 officers and 39 enlisted killed in action and 12 officers and 191 enlisted wounded in action. This was the highest number of casualties of any Seabee unit in history.

In the five month period the battalion spent on Iwo Jima, over 100,000 tons of rock was crushed, over a million cubic yards of earth moved, 5,900 feet of drainpipe was laid, 4,000 feet of conduit was installed and 725 cubic yards of concrete was placed. As the war drew to an end, the battalion finished its work on Iwo Jima. The Kangaroo Battalion had sustained more casualties during their participation than any other construction battalion. The battalion was presented the Navy Unit Commendation for its part in the battle Iwo Jima. Shortly thereafter, in December of 1945, with the general reduction in military strength following the end of World War II, NMCB 133 was decommissioned.


133rd Seabees PUC? Letter

From: John Ratomski
Date: 09 Aug 2002
Time: 17:22:00
Remote Name:



1 November 2000

J.D. Mahar, Commander, U.S. Navy Department Of the Navy Office of the Secretary Washington, D.C. 20350-1000

Dear Commander Mahar:

At the request of Peter S. Marra,LCDR,CEC,USNR-RET I am submitting the following testimony as an on-site observer of the activity of the 133rd NCB as a unit of the Fourth Marine Division in the battle of Iwo-Jima. When I learned that the 133rd NCB did not receive the presidential Unit Citation I was stunned. Of course they deserve it! I was the Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division. Company C of the 133rd NCB with Lt. Don Greenfield in command was aboard the troopship Lowndes (APA 154) on which my battalion was embarked for the Iwo battle. I got to know Don very well on the way to our objective. I recall that the 133rd NCB received heavy casualties on D-Day, 19 February 1945 and that his Company C and the 133rd NCB performed admirably throughout the battle. In view of the above I strongly recommend that the Presidential Unit Citation be now belatedly awarded to the 133rd NCB for the obvious oversight.


J. Shelton Scales,COL,USMCR-RET

There were six Seabee Battalions that received the PUC during WWII. All of them had far less casualties (under 100), than the 133rd NCB (370) did. I am helping these guys who are still trying to get the citation while some of them are still around to enjoy it!


133rd Seabees Stay Unsung
Click Here For The Printable Text Of This Page
Submitted by John Ratomski

The Fourth Marine Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for the Iwo Jima battle and the 133rd Seabee Battalion was not although-

1.....the 133rd was part of the 4th Marine Division from Nov. 1, 1944 until March 1945
2.....the 133rd was not a support unit, but was used as a Marine Pioneer Battalion during the battle.
3....the 133rd NCB and the 4th Pioneer Battalion both became shore parties for the 23rd and 25th Regimental Combat Teams of the 4th Marine Division for the assault phase on Iwo-Jima. Official Battle Plans on record show this.
4...the Presidential Unit Citation declared that the Pioneer units were assault units and did not state that the133rd were support troops, therefore the 133rd would have to be considered assault troops.
5...the entire 133rd landed with the first waves and suffered 40% casualties. That exceeded the casualties of the 4th Pioneer Battalion. The 4th Pioneers were awarded the Citation the 133rd was not.
6...the 133rd acted in the same capacity as the 4th Pioneer Battalion for the 23RCT, wearing issued Marine uniforms, subject to Marine regulations as part of the Fourth Marine Division. assault team and not as a support group. addition they were awarded 10 Bronze Stars and 29 Fourth Marine Division Commendations in recognition for their part in the assault phases of operations.
8...the 133rd NCB wore its uniform proudly as Navy and wore its uniform proudly as Marines! They served both with distinction. They earned and deserve the recognition that is still not theirs.


Sharing history nation-wide; Bill Konop shares his experiences as WWII Seabee on History Channel


by Susan M.A. Larson
Staff writer

While opening up the past might be painful for Bill Konop, he knows the importance of doing so.

Konop, of Elk River, served as a Navy Seabee during World War II. He was featured in a History Channel documentary on the Navy Seabees which aired last month.

“It’s very important to get the word out,” he said. “I never talked about it before until we started having (military) reunions about eight years ago. Then I opened up.”

How the History Channel found him is a mystery, but he enjoyed the experience just the same.

“I still don’t know how they got my name,” said Konop. “I got a call from a producer in California and they flew me to Arkansas” where the interview was conducted.

The documentary focused on Seabees from World War II to Desert Storm, he said. Normally publicity shy, Konop wasn’t bothered by the cameras.

“It was just a couple of producers and a cameraman, so it wasn’t like I was speaking to an audience,” he observed.

Konop was drafted in October 1943. He thought he was destined for the Army. He was told Seabees were needed and he volunteered.

“I thought it was better than going in the Army because I’d have a bed to sleep in at night,” he recalled.

Construction battalions had the distinction of participating in every amphibious operation of the Pacific Campaign. Konop was a seaman first class and a member of the 133rd Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees).

To say his time of service was memorable is something of an understatement.

Konop landed on Iwo Jima on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and served as a runner. He carried messages from company commanders to platoon leaders on the beach.

“When we hit the beach,” he recounted, “the ramp wouldn’t go down. Some started piling over the right side. They got shot and fell into the water or back into the boat. The rest of us went over the other side and got out. We tried finding cover on the beach but there wasn’t any. It was nothing but sand.”

Konop was only on Iwo Jima for eight hours before he was wounded, sustaining injuries to his face and back. That he was wounded was not much of a surprise to him.

“The machine gun fire and mortar fire were constant. Every bit of the beach was zeroed in,” he explained. “I can’t believe some came out without a scratch. It was so constant and so heavy, it was like trying to run in a rain storm without getting wet.”

Konop stayed on a hospital ship for only seven days.

“They needed the hospital space for the ones who were hurt real bad,” Konop explained.

The 133rd Naval Construction Battalion suffered 37 percent casualties. Konop’s best friend was among the fallen.

Konop didn’t see the actual flag raising on Iwo Jima, as he was on the ship hospital. But he was part of the moment just the same.

“We heard honking and shouting and everyone was pointing to Mount Suribachi and then we looked out and saw the flag.”

As a member of a construction battalion, he stayed on the island and helped rebuild the airfield. He stayed on the island until October.

Konop believes World War II was necessary to maintain freedom.

Elk River Star News & Shopper
506 Freeport Avenue
Elk River, MN 55330
Voice: 763-441-3500
Fax: 763-441-6401


Here is the schedule from the MCB-133 Cruise Book from WWII:

Sept. 17, 1943 Formed in B-6 Drill Hall in Camp Perry
Sept 21, 1943 Left Camp Perry
Sept. 22, 1943 Arrived at Camp Endicott
Oct. 19, 1943 Leaves began for all but West Coast men
Oct. 29, 1943 Leaves Ended
Oct 31, 1943 Left Endicott for Gulfport, Miss.
Nov 3, 1943 Arrived at Camp Holliday, Gulfport
Dec., 15, 1943 West Coast Leaves Began
Jan 1, 1944 West Coast Leaves End
Feb 25, 1944 Left Gulfport for Port Hueneme
Mar 1, 1944 Arrived At Port Hueneme, Ca.
Apr 30, 1944 Left Port Hueneme
May 1, 1944 Boarded Ship "Pedro"
May 2. 1944 Outside Continental Limits of U.S.
May 9, 1944 Arrived at Oahu, T. H.
May 16, 1944 Arrived At N.A.S. in Honolulu HI
Oct 31, 1944 Shipped to Maui, Arriving same day
Dec 31, 1944 Left Maui for the Target
Feb 19, 1945 Hit Iwo Jima Beach

Commander in Charge was Commander R. P. Murphy, CEC USNR 133rd

Courtesy of Rich Lees

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