William Sabel Today
Sabel with watermellon 1944
Abandoned Japanese Gun
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.
Learn about the 350th Engineers' path overseas
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.
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.
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.