Mckee, Byron, MM1c

Deceased
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
99 kb
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Last Rank
Petty Officer First Class
Last Primary NEC
MM-0000-Machinist's Mate
Last Rating/NEC Group
Machinists Mate
Primary Unit
1948-1961, US Air Force (USAF)
Service Years
1939 - 1946
MM-Machinists Mate
One Hash Mark

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

17 kb

Home State
Iowa
Iowa
Year of Birth
1922
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Darwin (Mac) McKee, GMG3 to remember Mckee, Byron (Mac), PO1.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Perry, Iowa
Byron & Marvel
1922-93 1924-96
Married 1944

Date of Passing
Dec 17, 1993
 
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms WW II Honorable Discharge Pin


 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Shellback


 Military Association Memberships
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW)
  1992, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) [Verified] - Assoc. Page


 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Not Specified
   
Other Comments:
Web site for the USS Colorado BB-45
www.usscolorado.org/index.htm

      
Navy USS Colorado BB 45
           1940 - 1946
  
       Army Air Force
         1946 -1948

              USAF 
        1948- 1961

In  1940, Byron left his parents and the small coal mining town of Carbon, Iowa to join the Navy. Mac, who speaks of his dad very lovingly, said of his father's service:?Dad joined the Navy in very early 1940. Typical story of a farm boy seeking adventure somewhere besides walking behind a team of plow horses.?

Byron attended Naval Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill., and reported aboard the battleship USS Colorado (BB-45) as a Machinist Mate. By the summer of 1941, Colorado returned from the Pacific, headed for the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton for a shipyard overhaul, for what the entire crew knew to be an impending war. After the overhaul was complete, Colorado and her crew got underway, headed toward Pearl Harbor. But the battleship turned-back for Bremerton shortly after departure when it suffered a major engineering problem.

While repairs were being made to Colorado, Byron took leave and returned home to Iowa. He had been home for three days when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. When Byron learned of the attack, he made his way back to the Colorado with three of his shipmates, driving three days non-stop.

Repairs were completed in 1942, and Colorado got underway and into the war waging in the Pacific. Byron saw action during the battles of Tarawa, Guam, Leyte Gulf, Mindoro, and the invasion of Okinawa. USS Colorado played a major role in the Pacific campaign through the rest of the war.

Byron was still stationed aboard Colorado when World War II ended, but not before the McKee family suffered a great personal loss.

Byron's brother, Willard, made the ultimate sacrifice for his country on April 27, 1945, two weeks before the surrender of Germany. The oldest of the six McKee siblings, and only 25 at the time of his death. Willard is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in France and was awarded a Purple Heart.

In 1944, Byron married his high school sweetheart, Marvel Lola Davis. He served aboard USS Colorado until he left the Navy in 1946. That same year he and his wife welcomed a son, Darwin (Mac), and then joined the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF). A year later, Byron would transition from Soldier to Airman and into America's newest military branch -- the United States Air Force. Again, Byron became a part of military history.

Mac remembers his father as a Sailor, though he retired from the Air Force as Master Sergeant (E7). He recalls his Dad heading the crash boats at Langley AFB, Va., and taking servicemen out on the weekend to fish. During his childhood, Mac had a front row seat to American history. He saw the Panama Canal while his dad was stationed at Howard AFB, he met all the original Mercury Program astronauts while Byron as stationed at Langley, and Mac even remembers Navy astronaut Scott Carpenter's son attending his brother's birthday party.

By the time Mac was a teenager, the country was again at conflict. He was also aware that his family's history had already been tied to the Country's when his father served on the USS Colorado.

He says of the ship's fate: "If the Colorado had not returned to Bremerton, she would have been sitting right where her sister ship (USS West Virginia) had been moored -- at Pearl Harbor. My very existence may have been tied to that shaft malfunction. If dad had been killed at Pearl, my brother, our kids, and grandkids wouldn't be here.? 

     
   
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Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign (1944)/Battle of Guam
Start Year
1944
End Year
1944

Description
Guam, ringed by reefs, cliffs, and heavy surf, presents a formidable challenge for an attacker. But despite the obstacles, on 21 July, the Americans landed on both sides of the Orote peninsula on the western side of Guam, planning to cut off the airfield. The 3rd Marine Division landed near Agana to the north of Orote at 08:28, and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade landed near Agat to the south. Japanese artillery sank 20 LVTs, and inflicted heavy casualties on the Americans, especially on the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, but by 09:00 men and tanks were ashore at both beaches. The 77th Infantry Division had a more difficult landing. Lacking amphibious vehicles, they had to wade ashore from the edge of the reef where they were dropped by their landing craft. The men stationed in the two beachheads were pinned down by heavy Japanese fire, making initial progress inland quite slow.



US Marines move inland.
By nightfall, the Americans had established beachheads about 6,600 feet (2,000 m) deep. Japanese counterattacks were made throughout the first few days of the battle, mostly at night, using infiltration tactics. Several times, they penetrated the American defenses and were driven back with heavy loss of men and equipment. Lieutenant General Takeshi Takashina was killed on 28 July, and Lieutenant General Hideyoshi Obata took over the command of the defenders.

Supply was very difficult for the Americans in the first days of the battle. Landing ships could not come closer than the reef, several hundred yards from the beach, and amphibious vehicles were scarce. However, the two beachheads were joined up on 25 July, and the Orote airfield and Apra harbor were captured by 30 July.

The counterattacks against the American beachheads, as well as the fierce fighting, had exhausted the Japanese. At the start of August, they were running out of food and ammunition and had only a handful of tanks left. Obata withdrew his troops from the south of Guam, planning to make a stand in the mountainous central and northern part of the island. But with resupply and reinforcement impossible because of American control of the sea and air around Guam, he could hope to do no more than delay the inevitable defeat for a few days.

Rain and thick jungle made conditions difficult for the Americans, but after an engagement at Mount Barrigada from 2-4 August, the Japanese line collapsed; the rest of the battle was a pursuit to the north. As in other battles of the Pacific War, the Japanese refused to surrender, and almost all were killed. On 10 August, after three weeks of combat, organized Japanese resistance ended, and Guam was declared secure. The next day, Obata committed ritual suicide.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1944
To Year
1944
 
Last Updated:
Apr 21, 2007
   
Personal Memories
   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  191 Also There at This Battle:
  • Barr, John Andrew, PO3, (1943-1946)
  • Besson, John Henry, RADM, (1931-1959)
  • Chavez, Natalio, S1c, (1944-1946)
  • Crookshank, Irvin, PO2, (1942-1946)
  • Dawson, William L., PO2, (1942-1945)
  • Dikel, Samuel, PO2, (1942-1946)
  • Garrett, Earl, PO2, (1941-1953)
  • Garrettson, Charles
  • Hazelwood, Denna, PO1, (1942-1944)
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