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Hastings woman's book recalls World War II

She lived it and now she is writing about the World War II years.

Hastings resident Yvonne Cecchini's latest book, "The Seabee and His Sidekick ... A Tale of World War II," is dedicated to her uncle Ed Nesbitt who was a Seabee. He was also the major male role model for Cecchini after her father died when she was a child.

Most of the book is written from a child's viewpoint. Cecchini lived with her mother in Washington, D.C., during World War II. How she and her mother survived those years, the patriotism, and her uncle's influence in her life is the book.

It was a book she had to write, said Cecchini. And she had to bring more awareness about the Seabees to readers.

"There's been so little written about the Seabees," she said. "And the Seabees deserve some recognition.

"My uncle is so deserving of some recognition too," she said. "Here was someone who gave up his bachelor pad to move in with my mother and me after my father died."

But few people know about the Seabees and what they did during the nation's wars.

The Seabees have built entire bases, bulldozed and paved thousands of miles of roads and airstrips, and accomplished a number of construction projects.

The Naval Construction Battalions were established in 1941. They were recruited from the civilian construction trades and were placed under the leadership of the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps. The average age was 37 - Cecchini's uncle was 40 when he joined. He stayed in the unit for three years.

More than 325,000 men served with the Seabees in World War II, fighting and building on six continents and more than 300 islands. In the Pacific, where most of the construction work was needed, the Seabees landed soon after the Marines and built major airstrips, bridges, roads, warehouses, hospitals, gasoline storage tanks and housing.

Much of her uncle's years in the Seabees is revealed through stories in the book, stories Cecchini was able to tape-record during one of her uncle's visits to Minnesota.

"We talked for two days," she recalled.

Writing the book was the easy part; getting it published was more challenging.

"Writing it was a joy," said Cecchini. "I've written other stories for children, poetry, memoirs."

When she moved to the area, she joined the Southside writer's group, which meets Saturday morning at the Wescott Library in Egan. Many of the attendees have also been published; they share tips and support.

Cecchini rewrote her book four times, which she considered the normal number. Before finally having the book published at Farmington Printing, Cecchini worked with two different companies in Colorado, with less than satisfactory results.

But she was determined to get the book published.

"I had to get this information recorded for others to know about the Seabees," she said.

She has her own website: and can be contacted at seabeeandsiekick@gmail. com.

The books are $9.95 each plus shipping ($2.50 for first book, $1.50 for each additional book) can be ordered by sending check to Box 94, Hastings MN 55033.