Guadalcanal to Bikini, Naval Armed Guard in the Pacific
By William L. McGee

Foreword by C. A. Lloyd, Chairman, USN Armed Guard Veterans of WWII

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546pp., 250 b&w photos, plus appendices, bibliography, index, 6”x9”, ISBN 13: 978-0-9701678-0-4,
Softcover: $35.00. BMC Publications (1997, Revised Edition 2000).

“Little has been written about service in the Naval Armed Guard in which nearly 145,000 men served….McGee remedies this with a book that offers a clear picture of the duties and dangers of service in the Armed Guard. The book has value for historians.”
—Naval History Magazine

In 1942, at the age of 17, Montana cowboy Bill McGee joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the Naval Armed Guard, the branch of the Navy that protected merchant ships and their valuable cargo and crew from enemy attacks.

During his first voyage in the South Pacific between New Caledonia and Guadalcanal, his Task Unit suffered two major enemy attacks—the first, the largest Japanese air attack since Pearl Harbor; the second, by torpedoes. Of the four Liberty ships in the original Task Unit, only one survived—the SS Nathaniel Currier, the ship McGee was assigned to.

His “kid’s cruise” (as these minority enlistments were called) ended in 1946 on the heavy cruiser USS Fall River, the Target Fleet Flagship for Operation Crossroads and the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll.

McGee draws on his shipboard journal, interviews with former shipmates and other survivors, and extensive research to produce an engrossing book that has the inimitable mark of one who has “been there, done that.”

McGee’s enlisted man’s perspective on the Bikini atomic bomb tests—by itself—makes this book worth owning. The author had a front row seat at the beginning of the atomic age. Operation Crossroads, the post-war atomic bomb tests, grew from a few thousand people into a mammoth operation of 150 ships, 75 aircraft and more than 42,000 men, including political observers, the media and scientists of every calling. McGee covers the event in such complete and exciting detail, you’ll almost believe you were there, too.

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From the Author
“All these years after the war, I was curious about what happened to the other ships in my Task Unit and to the men on them. This information was classified during the war, but when I began my research in the 1990s, a lot of information had become declassified and provided answers to many of my questions.”
—William L. McGee