Bob Seaman served in the United States Army as a corporal during World War II. He spent two years in service to our country.
Though drafted in high school, Bob was able to graduate before being sent to Fort Dix, NJ, and Camp Blanding, FL, to receive his basic training. During World War II, Fort Dix served as a training camp and then a demobilization center following the war. Camp Blanding was also used as a training camp. More than 800,000 American soldiers received all or part of their training there from 1939-1940. After World War II, most of the camp’s buildings were either moved or destroyed. Today, Camp Blanding is the paramount training base for the Florida National Guard. It is also home to the Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park.
After being assigned to the 43rd Infantry Division and receiving his training from Fort Dix and Camp Blanding, Bob was shipped to California, where he and his fellow soldiers received more training that included swimming.
After a short time, Bob boarded a navy ship headed for the Philippines. The ship first sailed to Guadalcanal, where they dropped off 250 nurses. The island of Guadalcanal, located in the South Pacific, was important to Japanese expansion. They hoped that control of this island would weaken contact between the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. The United States, however, captured the island and held it until the end of the war.
After the stop at Guadalcanal, the ship then took Mr. Seaman to his destination, the Lingayen Gulf. In January of 1945, the 43rd Division landed in the San Fabian area of the Lingayen Gulf, Luzon. Bob, along with his comrades, gained control of the beachhead. The fighting continued in the Bulucan area of Luzon. His division was able to defeat the enemy and secure Ipo Dam. Bob received his liberation medal while in the Lingayen Gulf. The Liberation medal was an award that was presented to any service member who helped with the emancipation of the Philippines from October of 1944 to September of 1945, when the Japanese surrendered.
Bob was later sent to Cabanatuan in the Philippines, one of the cities through which the Bataan Death March had passed. The Bataan Death March was the horrific parade of 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war. Those who fell or were too weak to complete the journey were killed by their Japanese captors. The 60-mile march was later regarded as a Japanese war crime.
After the war ended, Bob was assigned to clean up the wreckage in Japan. He also volunteered to photograph Japan and her devastation caused by the war.
A larger part of the interview is dedicated to Mr. Seaman’s life after he was released from service and the “adjustments” he and his family had to make. He and his wife, Fran, told the heartwarming story of their relationship and of their life adventures.
Mr. Seaman also spoke briefly of his family’s military history. Every one of his brothers bravely served our country in the air force, save one who served in the navy.