Diary of a Higgins Boat Sailor in the Pacific
Robert (R.C.) Triebull, a Higgins Boat Sailor in the Pacific
When one thinks of travel and adventure, a pleasant and well-planned vacation most often comes to mind. There are times, however, when a person is thrown into the midst of an epic adventure that becomes both unpleasant and entirely unpredictable. When speaking of these journeys, there are none more honorable than those enterprises of selfless service where life and liberty hangs precariously in the balance.
In 1942, the entire world was at war. My grandfather, Robert (R.C.) Triebull, answered his country’s call and reported to his local recruiter in Cicero, Illinois for enlistment in the Naval reserves. Though Robert is no longer here to tell his story, he leaves behind a diary to offer a mere snapshot of that experience. There are countless veterans who have proudly served this country since its founding; this is just one sailor’s legacy.
Robert Triebull strikes a pose before going off to war.
Robert relaxing on friendlier shores.
Identification page of diary
Robert C Triebull
Boat Div. c/o Fleet P.O.
San Francisco, Calif.
Robert C Triebull
1. Tarawa Nov. 20, 1943
2. Saipan June 15, ’44
3. Peleliu Sept. 15, ’44
4. Leyte Oct. 20, ’44
5. Luzon Jan. 9, ’45
6. Iwo Jima Feb. 19, ’45
Dec. 10, 1942
Camp Hill, Farragut Idaho
March 15- Destroyer Base Landing Craft School. San Diego, Calif.
USS Ormsby PA49
Oct. 1 –
USS Bellatrix KA3
RobertTriebull was one of 293,000 sailors who attended boot camp in Camp Farragut, Idaho during its 30 short months of existence. Camp Farragut was established as a naval training center in September of 1942. Robert reported there as a fresh recruit on December 10, 1942.
My grandfather (top, left) as a naval recruit in Camp Farragut, Idaho ( Company 166, 15th Battalion) -1942
A panoramic view of the Bitterroot Mountain range in the backdrop of Camp Farragut, Idaho.
After completing his basic training at Camp Farragut, my grandfather reported to Landing Craft School, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet in San Diego, Ca. – March 15, 1943
Certificate of Completion from Higgins Boat (Landing Craft School, Amphibious Fleet), San Diego, California
It was off the sunny San Diego shores that Robert learned the crucial skills needed to carry US Marines to the hostile beaches of the Pacific campaign.
The Higgins boat or L.C.V.P. (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel) offloads combat troops on a foreign shore.
Upon completion of Landing Craft School, my grandfather boarded the USS Ormsby (PA49) on July 26, 1943 and landed in Pearl Harbor, HI on August 4.
The USS Ormsby (APA-49) in San Francisco Bay, July 1943
Robert Triebull (right) outside Lan Ting Chinese Restaurant in Waikiki, Hawaii in 1943
These two Higgins boat sailors just palin’ around in the future Aloha State.
On October 1, 1943, Robert Triebull got underway aboard the USS Bellatrix (KA-3)
USS Bellatrix (AKA-3), 1943
Oct. 10 Crossed the equator.
Oct. 15 Arrived in New Zealand
Oct. 25 USS La Salle P102
Nov. 2 Loaded up with 2nd & 6th Marines for an invasion.
Nov. 10 New Hebrides, Efate
Nov. 20, 1943 Invasion of Tarawa
Remained 5 1/2 months of “Hell” in boat pool.
April 3, 1944 Boarded USS Yarmouth
left Tarawa “Happy Day”
April 11 Pearl Harbor boarded USS Sheridan ‘PA 51
April 16 USS Calvert PA 32
May 3 Boarded USS Hercules for duty
May 29 Left Pearl Harbor loaded with 5th Marines for new invasion.
June 10 Enewatak Marshalls
June 15, 1944 Invasion of Saipan
June 26 left Saipan for Marshall
July 1 Enewatak, Marshalls
July 4 Roi, Marshalls
July 6 Kwajalein Marshalls
July 12 Back in Pearl Harbor
Aug. 1 Loaded up
Aug 3 Got underway for Solomon Is.
Aug. 13 Arrived in Guadalcanal
Aug. 16 Tulagi
USS La Salle (AP-102)
On October 25, 1944, after enjoying some good liberty in Wellington, New Zealand, Robert Triebull boarded the USS La Salle with the 2nd & 6th Marines and prepared for the invasion of Tarawa. As part of Task Force 53, the USS Lasalle steamed into the New Hebrides on November 10, where Robert conducted landing boat exercises with marines in preparation for the assault on Tarawa.
On November 20, my grandfather participated in the bloody invasion of Tarawa by delivering the 2nd and 6th Marines to the beaches under the heavy fire of 4,500 Japanese defenders. Unfortunately, on the day of the invasion, the tides fail to rise like normal and the majority of the Higgins boats got caught on the reefs stranding many marines 500 feet off shore.
Marines climbing down ropes to an awaiting Higgins boat below during the invasion of Tarawa.
Loaded up with 2nd & 6th Marines, this is the view my grandfather would have beheld as he sped towards the exploding Tarawa beach on his Higgins boat .
After surviving the invasion, my grandfather remained on the island of Tarawa for what he referred to as “5 1/2 months of hell”.
Photograph my grandfather presumably removed from the remains of dead Japanese soldier on Tarawa
My grandfather brought this Japanese Type 99 Light Machine Gun home from the Pacific by allegedly concealing parts inside cigarette cartons and duffel bags.
On May 29, 1944, Robert Triebull loaded up with the 5th Marines aboard the USS Hercules (AK-41) and set sail from Pearl Harbor – underway for a new invasion.
USS Hercules (AK-41)
On June 15, 1944, Robert Triebull participated in the invasion of Saipan. During the onset of the invasion, Japanese warplanes made multiple attacks on his ship without causing any significant damage.
A sunken Higgins boat still rests on the ocean floor. It took a direct hit during the Saipan Invasion on June 15, 1944.
Aug. 24 Russell Is.
Aug. 28 “Espirito Santo” New Hebrides
Sept. 2 Back in Guadalcanal
Sept. 8 Underway for a new invasion.
Sept, 15, 1944 Invasion of Peleliu in the Palau Group
Oct. 1 Hollandia, New Guinea, Dutch East Indies
Oct. 5 Loaded up with doggies (army soldiers) for new invasion.
Oct. 20, 1944 Invasion of Leyte in the Philippines
Oct. 27 Back in Hollandia, New Guinea, Dutch East Indies
Nov. 5 Morotai Is., New Guinea across from Jap held Halmahera
Nov. 6 Loaded up with more supplies & doggies to take to Leyte.
Nov. 14-17 Unload at Leyte
Dec. 1 Aitape, New Guinea
Dec. 28 Underway with doggies and cargo for new invasion
Jan. 4 Mindanao Sea
Jan. 5 Mindanao Sea
Jan. 6 Sulu Sea
Jan. 7 South China Sea
Jan. 8 South China Sea
Jan. 9-13, 1945 Invasion of Luzon Philippines, Lingayen Gulf
Aerial view of Peleliu invasion on September 15, 1944
After offloading marines to shore during the assault on Peleliu, Robert Triebull returned to the USS Hercules where he set sail for New Guinea. In Hollandia, the USS Hercules was loaded up with army soldiers and new supplies in preparation for the next invasion. On October 20, 1944 , my grandfather was amongst the group of sailors that carried General MacArthur to shore in the battle for Leyte Gulf. General MacArthur vowed to one day return to Leyte after suffering defeat there in 1942. When the General had fled the Philippines nearly three years earlier, he had left behind nearly 90,000 malnourished and sickened American and Filipino soldiers. Those soldiers eventually surrendered to Japanese forces and were led on the infamous Bataan Death March. During the sea battle that ensued outside of Leyte in 1944, American sailors encountered Kamikaze pilots for the very first time.
General MacArthur wades to shore in the invasion of Leyte, Philippines.
Higgins boats also carried General MacArthur to shore in Luzon on January 9, 1945. The Allied victory in Luzon ended the Japanese occupation in the Philippines permanently.
Jan. 13 South China Sea
Jan. 14 South China Sea
Jan. 15 Sulu Sea
Jan. 16 Leyte, Philippines
Jan. 19 Underway for Ulithi
Jan. 23 Arrived in Ulithi, Carolines
Feb. 6 Underway for Guam
Feb. 8 Arrived in Guam, Marianas
Feb. 17 Left Guam loaded with 3rd Div. Marines & cargo, headed north for scheduled operation.
Feb. 19 circled island
Feb. 27 Iwo Jima operation “D+8” unloaded 3rd Marines and cargo
March 20 Underway from Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands with 4th Marines & cargo, headed for Guam
March 22 Arrived in Guam
March 23 Underway with same load aboard, got rid of boats but we stayed aboard.
March 27 Arrived in Enewatak, Marshalls
March 28 Underway with same load for Hawaii
Apr. 4 Pearl Harbor
Apr. 6 Underway with same load for Maui, Hawaiian Is.
My grandfather carried the 3rd Marines to the shores of Iwo Jima on the eighth day of the invasion – February 27, 1945. He arrived the same day the American flag was being raised over Mount Suribachi. The historic photograph snapped that day would inspire a war-weary nation and forever symbolize the faithfulness and valor of the United States Marine Corps.
US Marines raise the Stars and Stripes over the volcanic island of Iwo Jima.
Apr. 7 Arrived in Maui, Hawaiian Is. had a big reception waiting at the dock for the 4th Marines. WELCOME HOME IWO HEROES. Native girls danced, ect. Unloaded troops and cargo
April 8 Back in Pearl Harbor
May 1 Honolulu Harbor loaded up.
May 4 Underway for Guam. Scuttle butt pretty thick about going to the States after Guam.
May 12 Enewatak, Marshall.
June 1st Underway for Guam
June 3 Arrived in Guam, commenced unloading
June 9 Underway for San Francisco “Happy Happy Day” (final entry)
In memory of Robert Charles Triebull, US Navy – WWII
Whatever journey life takes us on, let’s not forget those that have gone before. Many have sacrificed greatly so our paths could become that much easier. Thank you for reading my article and I hope you visit my site again real soon. Feel free to explore other areas of my blog, post a comment, and share some love on social media.
Posted in Adventurous Places, Asia, Historical Journeys and tagged Hawaii, Higgins boat, US Navy, Waikiki, World War II by Big John with 20 comments.