By Metalsmith 2nd Class Bernard (Barney) O’Donnell, 117 Naval Construction Battalion
Editor’s note: The following poem was sent to Seabee Online by ME2 O’Donnell’s great-nephew, Christopher Werner. From World War II to the present, any Seabee who has worn the uniform can understand the sentiment behind the poem. ME2 O’Donnell died in service to his country on Saipan one year after writing the poem, on November 19, 1944.
The Seabees’ Consolation
Written on Nov. 11, 1943, Gulfport, Mississippi
I’m sitting here thinking of the things I left behind
I’d hate to put in writing just what is on my mind
We’ve dug a million ditches, and cleaned off acres of ground
We’ve tried to find some “liberty” in honky-tonky towns
But there’s one consolation – gather round me while I tell
When we die, we’ll go to heaven, for we’ve had our stretch in hell.
We built a million kitchens, for the cooks to burn our beans
We stood a million guard mounts, and we’ve cleaned the camp latrines
We’ve slept at night with scorpions; we’ve peeled a million spuds
And killed a million snakes and ants, who tried to steal our grub
When our words on earth are over, then our friends behind will tell
When they died, they went to heaven, for they had their stretch in hell.
When the final taps are sounded, and we lay aside life’s cares
And we stand our last inspection on the shining golden stairs
The angels they will welcome us, and their golden harps will play
We’ll dream a million canteen checks and spend them in a day
It is there we’ll hear St. Peter tell us with a loudly yell
Come in, you boys of the Seabees, for you’ve done your time in hell.