Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans


Ira Rigger | 301st Construction Battalion - Navy

3:03   |   It was curiosity and the possibility of finding a war souvenir that made Seabee Ira Rigger descend into a tunnel on Iwo Jima. What he found there nearly killed him. The island was declared secure but every night there were curious footprints left in the sand.

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Keywords   :     Ira Rigger    Seabee    Construction Battalion    tunnel    mining    souvenir    sword    land mine    bodies    Japanese    shoe

Videos ( 6 )
  • Ira Rigger  |  WWII  |  301st Construction Battalion  |  4:14

    Ira Rigger worked in constuction and he heard that the Navy Seabees were building incredible things in the Pacific out of almost nothing. He thought that sounded exciting so he enlisted. Much to his disappointment, he was assigned to watch a boiler, then to plumb a new building on base in Virginia.

  • Ira Rigger  |  WWII  |  301st Construction Battalion  |  6:00

    Seabee Ira Rigger never knew where his unit was going until it got to its destination. The first mission tuned out to be Guam, where the Marines had just taken the beach. After building a new harbor there, a detachment was formed to pack up and head to the next unknown operation.

  • Ira Rigger  |  WWII  |  301st Construction Battalion  |  6:56

    The first order of business for Seabee Ira Rigger when he arrived at Peleliu was to scrounge up food and shelter because the Army wasn't going to feed the Navy personnel. Fortunately, the dynamite they used to blast through the coral killed plenty of fish, which helped a lot. Before they were gone, they did liberate some Army rations thanks to a barge stuck on a reef.

  • Ira Rigger  |  WWII  |  301st Construction Battalion  |  5:09

    Ira Rigger was on Peleliu when he was sent alone to join with a new Seabee detachment which was soon anchored off Iwo Jima. There was fierce fighting inland when they went ashore at Blue Beach. As they went about their work, they would sometimes take fire from Japanese riflemen, who emerged from tunnels that permeated the island.

  • Ira Rigger  |  WWII  |  301st Construction Battalion  |  4:51

    While on Iwo Jima, the closest that Seabee Ira Rigger came to dying was when an ammunition dump right next to his camp blew up. They never knew why, but they did know why live Japanese were there long after the battle was over. The island was honeycombed with mining tunnels.

  • Ira Rigger  |  WWII  |  301st Construction Battalion  |  4:08

    It's not true that there is no water on Iwo Jima, says Seabee Ira Rigger. It's just that once you drill a well, you have to cool the water overnight before you can even take a hot shower. He explains that bit of engineering and then recalls his surprise when a certain destroyer escort arrived.

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