Eddie Hopp and the Swinging Seabees of ACORN 44

EddieAtTheKeysI found an old black wax 78 rpm record disk among my father’s things. It was unlabeled, but I put it on my digital disk recorder and there was Pop, aged 17 or 18, playing three of his boogie woogie classics: Bumble Boogie, Rib Joint, and his own composition, Hopp’s Boogie. The energy level of his pounding eight-beats-to-the-bar rhythm still makes you want to jump up and dance after all the years that have transpired since the recording was made in 1942 or 1943.

Have a listen: 02 A Little Idea Of My Own (Hopp’s Boogie) Never mind the scratchiness of the recording. Turn the volume up and feel that beat!

A lot of history has transpired in that time, including the invasion of Okinawa, Japan, during World War II. Ed Hopp was there as a seaman second class with the Naval construction unit, ACORN 44. The boys went ashore just days after the Marines hit the beaches of Okinawa. The shores were silent by then but the sound of cannonades rumbled through the island’s hills for two more months.

ACORN44 Swing BandThe Seabees were there to establish a seaplane base on the Katchin Hanto Peninsula in preparation for the invasion of the main islands of Japan. Ed Hopp drove motor launches and worked in the personnel offices in his time there, and he lived through the deadly typhoon that struck in July 1945. His tent was well-pitched. It was one of very few that withstood the storm.

The war diary of ACORN 44 reported that the men were greatly entertained by the unit’s 18-piece swing band. I’m not surprised. The man who cut that fantastic record was now the piano player for that dance combo. They must have swung mightily, with his strong left hand pounding out its boogie-woogie bass lines. The picture shows them on the base’s stage in front of the movie screen. Click on the image for a better look at the boys in the band. Entertainment was a critical factor in maintaining the men’s morale. So Eddie Hopp did double duty in the war effort. He worked all day and played all evening.

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes Peyton McKean mystery stories and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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2 Responses to Eddie Hopp and the Swinging Seabees of ACORN 44

  1. Suzanne Bell says:

    Hello Tom,

    I was so delighted to read your article titled “Eddie Hopp and the Swinging Seabees of ACORN 44″ online. I am currently trying to research the ACORN 44 unit since discovering “The Cook Book of the United States Navy”, which belonged to my Dad, George Thierry, a first class petty officer. Dad was a cook, stationed on Okinawa, I’m not sure of the exact dates, but I do recall hearing stories of surviving the typhoon by waiting it out in the huge freezer and eating rolls. Also that the Quonset huts were stabilized during the storm by placing trucks on either side with chains attached to the vehicles to hold the structures in place.

    I would like to donate this title to the War in the Pacific Museum in Hawaii and would like to include more information about my Dad and his unit ACORN 44 during this period. He passed away in 1996, age 90 and no doubt was entertained by your Dad’s band and their boogie woogie music.

    Regrets: I wish I had listened more attentively to my Dad, although he infrequently mentioned his experiences in Okinawa, evidently common among our heroes that served in combat areas.

    Best regards,

    Suzanne

  2. Tom Hopp says:

    Suzanne, good luck with that cookbook. It sounds like it would be a valuable addition to Navy lore. And I know what you mean about wishing you had learned more from your dad. I keep thinking of questions I should have asked mine.