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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Seabees: 1943

Seabees: 1943

My grandfather Thomas A. Hawkins and his Navy peers in their enlistment group photo, about 1943. He enlisted in the Construction Battalion and was separated in 1953 as a Boatswain's Mate (Stevedore) Petty Officer First Class. This photo was taken either in Columbia or Charleston, S.C., where he entered). My grandfather is the second person directly above the head of the officer on the right. View full size.

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My granddad was a Seabee, too

My grandfather was in his early 40s and joined the Seabees after Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was a contractor and carpenter in a tiny Colorado mountain town, and was posted to Hawaii.

As a kid in the 1960s-1970s, I didn't understand the importance of the gifts he gave us - sailor hats and duffel bags and the denim jacket with a Seabee patch on the shoulder.

We have no photos of his time with the Navy. Thanks for this picture, it gives me a little window to see back what Granddad was doing during the war.

Thank you

Thank you for submitting this picture of your grandfather, and his brothers in arms. Also, thanks for the comments in your post above detailing the point in American history that African-Americans were finally given an opportunity to show their true value, and worth to America.

I appreciate your Grandfather's service to our country, and to all those of the "Greatest Generation."

Wonderful Picture

Thank you for posting this wonderful picture. I am sure that most, if not all, of these men, who proudly served their country during WW2, went on to lives that were much better than the ones they left behind when joining the Navy. Hopefully you will post some more of your family pictures.

My Grandfather's Generation

New member, been browsing the site for a while now, couldn't resist wanted to post a photo. Love reading the comments, people's imaginations, thoughts and knowledge related to the photos.

This photo stars my own grandfather

For most of us African Americans, WW2 was the beginning of our life. The first war that AA's were allowed to participate in and therefore a gateway for AA's to get out of poverty and away from segregation, and have a better opportunity for education, employment, housing, and treatment. This basically became part of the AA great migration from the south to cities in the north and west. For a lot of young people, there was no other way out except this way, all of them didn't know what they're future held. Some may have died during the war or because of the war, my grandfather's eldest brother also served during this war, the Army's Police force (196th Co.) and 15 years after being separated, died a tragic death. He was only 38, no children.

I ask questions about the men in this photo, I think all of Americans echo the same stories as African Americans when it comes to WW2. This was the beginning of all of our lives, and I think a lot of us in my generation and my parents' generation can say, if it wasn't for this war we would still be living there, we would not have what we have today. That's personal in our lives, but also as a people, a nation, AA's could say, you let us fight in the war but you won't let us vote, this war was the turning point of the treatment of blacks and women, since this country fought discrimination in another country, but had it's own to deal with in this country.

These 39 men were going to participate in this war and did not know what the future held, but they were pioneers, they are post-WW2 fathers, the military, this country and all that this country stands for was built on their backs. There so much I see in this photo, what it means, maybe some understood that, maybe most didn't, but they were going to do something none of them knew what they were doing. This is a great photo, this is my grandfather's generation, but this is the generation that started it all for me.

WW2 bridges the gap between what life was before and what life is after, this connects the two generations, where we came from, where we are, and where we're going. Look at these men's faces, and see the unsurety, uncertainty, not knowing what lies ahead, just young and black and don't know what's expected of them.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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