Cecil Bunch, Frank Phillips

Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.

Cecil Bunch
Date of birth: Dec. 19, 1923
Dates of Service: 1944 to 1946
Hometown: Lindsay, Oklahoma
Theater and location of service: Pacific
Branch: Navy
Rank: Seaman 1st Class, Machinist Mate 1st Class
Unit and Specialty: 61st Construction Battalion and 123rd Construction Battalion; Construction
Lives in: Clovis

In his words: Working up the courage to tell his father, it was only a couple of days before he broke the news that he was going into the Navy. A deferment had been issued so that Bunch could stay home and help his father but as he recalls he wanted to go so bad that he went down and signed up. His fathers words are still with him. He told him two things; “he said ‘remember to treat others as you would like to be treated’” and then the words that affected Bunch the most “‘Don’t forget that’s my blood that runs in your veins, don’t disgrace it.’ That really stuck with me.” Of the nine boys in his family, five served, all in the Pacific. All of them returned home, only one was slightly injured by shrapnel.

His brother convinced him shortly after basic training that the CBs were the unit to join “he told me how much better it was because it was construction” he said. He applied and was accepted. Bunch said “I was happy in the CBs, it was a kind of work I was used to. I was raised on farm in Oklahoma.”

Entering areas held by the enemy, the CBs often encountered heavy fire. Always attached to a Marine division, the CBs would begin construction while the Marines offered protection, Bunch recalls. At times they even entered ahead of the Marines to conduct demolition.

Among the accomplishments of Bunch’s unit was a highway that connected three islands in the Philippines, an airport in Guam and building the harbor in Guam. Many of the things that they built are still in use today “they’re still flying off the same runway in Guam” he tells.

When the war ended Bunch remembers they were getting ready to go to Japan, “we had all our equipment ready” he said. The end of the war was cause for happiness he recounts, telling that the invasion of Japan would have been horrible.

Frank Phillips
Date of birth: Aug. 17, 1925
Dates of service: August 1944 to 1946
Hometown: Taiban
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: Pacific
Branch: Army
Rank: Staff sergeant
Unit and specialty: 24th Corp, Army Artillery; administration and supply NCO for Detachment C USMG in Korea

In his words: Serving in Okinawa, Phillips was sent to Korea following the surrender of Japan to deactivate headquarters and the observation battalion. Only himself and an officer were assigned, the two men were assisted by 72 Koreans — tasked with returning equipment, organizing and shipping records and disposing of radio equipment and materials no longer necessary with the end of the war.

One of the items Phillips was told to dispose of was a large, black cast iron safe, more specifically the contents. Using a sledge hammer, he worked until he was finally able to open the safe — inside lay the plans for the invasion of Japan. According to what he saw, Phillips says the 10th Corp was to invade the southern tip with other units placed at stragegic points around the Japan mainland. “I burned these plans on instructions” he says telling “the plans weren’t faulty but the Japanese were strong nationalists. It would have taken 20 million dead Americans to take Japan.”

During his time in the service, Phillips said the men he was assigned with looked out for him.

“Honestly the guys I was stationed with had been there since 1938 and they wouldnt let me get into trouble, they shepherded me around and kept me out of trouble. The Lord took care of me through them.”

World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail: sharna_johnson@link.freedom.com