Information on 17th SeaBee Battalion, WW II, in Argentia Newfoundland, and Saipan

My grandfather was a SeaBee in the 17th Naval Battalion in WW II, mainly on Saipan. He kept a diary of daily events there, and before that in Argentia, Newfoundland. Does anyone out there know of any SeaBee veteran in the 17th then (1942-1945), to share information about? My grandfather was Frank Coughtry, and had many SeaBee friends then.


My Grandfather, William Chapin, was also station as a Seabee with the 17th in Saipan. I just spent an honor flight weekend with him out here in D.C. He currently resides in Santa Barbara; his health is good for a 93 y.o. He was a Pipe/Steam Fitter.

I was trying to find the 17th Logo/seal/crest to have printed on a hat with his other information. Do you know what that is, or where I can find it? The current 17th, is out of the desert, and has a snake and cactus… I don’t think that represents Saipan.

Kind regard,


I’m trying to respond to your below message. See this web site, first page, for the general Seabee logo, that you could use on your grandfather’s new cap.

Also, I tried to attach a computer file for you here, but this web site isn’t allowing that now. Contact me directly at:, to receive my scanned front page of an August 1944 17th Seabee Battalion newsletter, called the “Buzz”, for two emblems - the surveyor’s transit, and the anchor, at top of page. Maybe these would work for your new cap emblems. That’s all I have in the way of logos/emblems. You could also contact the Seabee Museum, in Port Hueneme, near San Diego, CA, to request info on the 17th seal or logo; ask for curator Lara Godbille, museum curator; her E-address is: Godbille, Lara D CIV NHHC, CB Museum <>. You can also call her at: 805-982-5165.

I just published my grandfather’s (Frank Coughtry’s) WW II war memoirs, with the 17th Construction Battalion, that your grandfather might be interested in reading. It is available through, CreatSpace Store. I can also send you a scanned cover page of that book, to show your grandfather.

Henry Rauch
Professor Emeritus
West Virginia University

I have just published a book of my grandfather Frank Coughtry’s war memoirs as a U.S. Navy Seabee during WW II, serving with the 17th Naval Construction Battalion in North America and Saipan. This book is titled “Adventures of a U.S. Navy Seabee 1942-1945”, by Frank Wademan Coughtry, edited by Henry W. Rauch. It is available from the CreateSpace Store of .

This story, expressed in Frank’s original unaltered and scanned manuscripts, includes tales involving typical mundane Seabee activity, war drama, war death and destruction, cruelties (murder, rape, suicide, semi-starvation rations, bad drinking water, accidents, desecration and wild animal consumption of dead enemy soldiers prior to burial), a near-ship mutiny, incompetent officers, poor medical staff, probable cheating at poker, and political incorrectness.

Valerie, I just responded to your inquiry with two e-messages to your private e-address. As I said there, for a Seabee logo for the cap you wish to create for your grandfather, you can use the cartoon fighting bumble bee, or you can use as logo symbols either the surveying transit instrument attached to a survey tripod, or a Navy anchor; both of these symbols are found at the top of the official newsletter of the Seabee 17th construction battalion, titled “BUZZ”. I have forwarded a partial scanned copy of that to use as a template.

For Seabee WW II veterans and curious relatives of such veterans, I have several issues of the BUZZ newsletter. Upon request, I could scan those and forward them to you by e-mail. I’m sure such newsletters exist for public viewing in Navy museums and numerous libraries. Unfortunately, Frank Coughtry’s war mementos, such as Japanese officers’ sword and helmut, have been given away over past decades.