Throughout my research prior to writing All Came Home, I suspected that the sailors in the boat groups assigned to attack transports were extraordinarily close as a unit. I did not understand this until I learned about the training that they all underwent.
Typically, when these sailors completed boot camp they were assigned to introductory amphibious training at, e.g., Little Creek VA. There they learned how to maintain and operate the landing craft and how to form up and follow their young officers in different formations all across the Chesapeake Bay.
Upon graduation they were assigned to advanced amphibious training at Ft. Pierce FL. There they began practicing amphibious assault landings along Florida beaches. They learned to: embark (or load) the “troops” into the boats, to form up, and then proceed to and “assault” a selected beach.
Artist Robert Benney portrayed an amphibious training exercise in a magnificent oil painting found at the Naval History and Heritage Command website.
After seven months of hard training every day from sunup to sundown, the boat group members (n = 140) would likely be assigned to a brand new attack transport. When they walked up the gangway for the first time to meet their new shipmates, they were already a close-knit unit who would spend much of the war together in small boats out in the open waters of the Pacific.
When they got some shore leave at Pearl Harbor, they went out together and had fun. Here are another group of boat group sailors from the USS Leon enjoying leave at Pearl. (If you recognize a family member here, let us here from you!)
They put the boots on the beaches at five amphibious assaults in the Pacific war. Well done!
Painting: Robert Benney Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command web site (https://www.history.navy.mil/)
Pictures: Irwin Goldstein Collection