William Sabel

350th Engineer Service Regiment

William Sabel Today

Sabel with watermellon 1944

Abandoned Japanese Gun

Seeds of Hope
Seeds of Hope

I am now 86 years old and enjoy telling anyone who will listen about my experiences of introducing watermelons to the natives of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific during World War II. During World War II, I was an officer with the 350th Engineer General Service Regiment and we left the states in January 1943 for the South Pacific. As the military was segregated in the war years, the enlisted men in the 350th were black while the officers were white. Our first stop was at Espiritu Santos in the New Hebrides where our unit constructed warehouses, docks, roads and hospitals. We also constructed an attractive looking officers club of beautiful California redwood, which I understand is still in use today.

Railroad Trains Overseas
Learn about the 350th Engineers' path overseas

Farm On Kolombangara
An abandoned Japanese airfield is turned into a vegtable farm for fresh produce to be sent back to the base hospital to augment the drab, dehydrated menu that the wounded men were served during their recuperation.

Jungle Trails
While I was supervising the vegetable farm on Kolombangara, my younger brother back home asked I could find some Japanese souvenirs and send them home to him.

Letters Home
During my 5-year military career, I sent home more than 300 letters to my folks in Chicago describing my activities at the various bases where I had been stationed. After the war and I returned home, Mother hands me a box with all of my letters as she had saved every one of them. I still have those 50-year-old letters and since I acquired a computer in 1991, I have compiled them into a book entitled, "Bill's Letters Home---World War II". I have given copies to my children, grandchildren, and siblings and sold others to my old comrades in arms in the 350th Engineers who were with me in the South Pacific. The Purdue University Press has published my letters in a book entitled "Seeds of Hope" and it is available on the internet or from me.


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