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ISBN 0-9701678-0-6 

Revised Soft-cover edition. 546 pages, 250
photos & illustrations, appendices, biblio index. Published Nov. 2000.
$35 plus $4 shipping. 


The Naval Armed Guard in 
World War II

This "Kid’s Cruise" was no picnic!
From shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to the atomic bomb testing at Bikini, Bill McGee experienced WWII in the Pacific like few others. 

Author McGee, a Montana country boy, joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 on his 17th birthday He had to agree to serve in the regular Navy until he was 21. These minority enlistments were tagged a "Kid’s Cruise’ probably by some salty old bosun. But McGee was no kid when his four-year hitch was over!

All aboard for the Armed Guard
He was assigned to the Naval Armed Guard, the Navy branch that protected Merchant Marine ships and their valuable cargo and crew from enemy attacks and sabotage. After gunnery training, McGee’s "Kid’s Cruise" threw him in the middle of air attacks at Guadalcanal and 

torpedoings in the South Pacific; carried him through the action in the Western Pacific; and ended in peacetime on the cruiser USS Fail River with the atomic bomb tests at Bikini. Along the way, he experienced the ups and downs of Navy life: boot camp in Idaho, life (and marathon poker games) on merchant ships, duty In the Fleet, ‘stewed, screwed and tattooed in Tijuana" (well, almost), endless days of drills, drills and more drills, followed by moments of sheer terror.

All from the enlisted man’s viewpoint
McGee has produced an engrossing book, all from the unique perspective of a volunteer enlisted man, one who has been there and done that.

The book is a combination of his own daily shipboard journal with three recent years of interviews with former shipmates, records and declassified documents from the National Archives, and exhaustive personal research.

The book Is an honest, factual story - laced with humor - that takes the reader for a ride through the war zones on four merchant ships and the Fail River heavy cruiser. Dubbed by one reader as a "must-read and not just for veterans’ you’ll experience history at such now legendary places as Guadalcanal, New Guinea, the Marshals and Marianas, and even kamikaze attacks in Leyte Gulf the Philippines.


McGee's enlisted man's perspective on the Bikini atomic
bomb tests - by itself - makes this book worth owning.


The USS Fall River, steaming form Pearl Harbor to Bikini for the atomic tests.

Aboard the heavy cruiser USS Fall River, the rear admiral’s flagship, Bill McGee had a front row seat at the beginning of the Atomic Age. "Operation Crossroads:’ the post-war atomic bomb tests, grew from a few thousand people into a mammoth operation of 150 ships, 75 aircraft and more than 42,000 men, including political observers, the media and scientists of every calling.
BMC Publications

The two bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, destroyed 21 ships. The display of American power -the ability to blow up warships but also dispose of them so readily - awed the world, especially the Soviet Union. Aided by personal interviews with others who were there, McGee covers the event in such complete and exciting detail, you’ll almost believe you were there, too.
Ground-level shot of the "Baker Day" bomb test taken about a half second after detonation (25 July 1946)
BMC Publication

Read What Others Are Saying About Bluejacket Odyssey…..

"A must read for all Armed Guard and Merchant Seamen and their families."
C.A. Lloyd, Chairman USN Armed Guard Veterans of WWII

"I’ve really enjoyed reading Bluejacket Odyssey. A well-written, interesting book with an abundance of factual information."
Arnold Latare, Skipper Iowa Crew, USN Armed Guard

"Bluejacket Odyssey is one of the best books I’ve read so far. Very, very good, sir."
Henry Carringi New York State Director USN Armed Guard Veterans

"Just finished Bluejacket Odyssey and found it very interesting. Your career parallelled mine in many ways and am sure our paths crossed during the war."
Bill Tubbs, USN Armed Guard Illinois-Wisconsin Crew Seymour, WI

"Have read most of the books about the Armed Guard and yours is the best of them all."
Bob Coffman, USN Armed Guard Cambria, CA

"Your book really jogged my memory bank. One hell of a book, difficult to put down. Here’s my check for another copy."
Lou Fantacone, USN Armed Guard Bensalem, PA

"Odyssey is very well done. You have done your research homework very well. I give your book a 4.0."
Duane Curtis, USN Armed Guard SS Nathaniel Currier Central Point, OR

"I enjoyed Bluejacket Odyssey very much. It is factual and I see no embellishment. Really entertaining. It brought back many memories I had almost forgotten. Hard to imagine the research and work you put in to complete it."
Ray Simpson, US Merchant Marine Tukwila, WA

"I really enjoyed reading your excellent Bluejacket Odyssey. Recalled many good Fall River memories as well as provided Armed Guard insights."
Bob Snow, Ensign, USNR USS Fall River (CA-131) Carlsbad, NM

"You did a marvelous job of evoking the era of WWII and making the war a very personal experience. I hadn’t heard some of the slang and expressions for over forty years. Your use of news summaries was a great way to keep the personal story in perspective with the events of the time."
Bob Cornell Cornell Law Group Palo Alto, CA

"Bluejacket Odyssey will make a great gift. Enclosed is my check for another copy for my dad who also served in the Navy in WWII."
Gilbert Mackey Engineer Los Alamos, NM

"I served in both the Atlantic and Pacific, including 34 days in a lifeboat. If you want to relive your life again, read this outstanding book!"
Alvin Kemble, USNR Harrisburg, PA

"Your book is a very fine tribute to a branch of the Navy which deserves and has heretofore not had the respect and appreciation it should have had. Having attempted to write for publication, I fully appreciate the enormous amount of research and re-write required."
      W.T. (Bim) Miller Miller and Robinson Gonzales, TX

"Bluejacket Odyssey arrived in the mail the other day and I could hardly put it down. It’s amazing how you were able to compile all that information after 50 years…You can be very proud of this accomplishment."
John Stambaugh, QM1/c, USN USS Fall River (CA-131) York, PA

"Bluejacket Odyssey by Bill McGee includes his experiences aboard the USS Fall River during Operation Crossroads. We give it our highest recommendation."
Dr. Oscar Rosen, Editor Atomic Veterans Radiation News

"Having personally experienced a full measure of life at sea during World War II, in both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, I found Bill McGee's Bluejacket Odyssey a `must read,’ and not just for veterans. It is detailed, vivid, and accurate. It captures the essence of that war."
Anthony P. Tesori, Ed.D. Professor and Director Emeritus University of Central Florida

"Your Odyssey is tremendous. The most complete and well-researched document covering a major dramatic event in our young lives."
Tony Gray, Quartermaster 3/c, USNR USS Celeno (AK-76)

"Thanks to you, I've learned things I never knew before and some I'd completely forgotten. Loads of luck with your new book; you deserve it."
Pat Paones, Shipfitter 1/c, USNR USS Deimos (AK-78)

"Thanks for the manuscript. With reference to Task Unit 32.4.4 [Chapters 7 & 8] you are writing facts. How do I know? I was there!"
L. Ray Weathers, Boatswain Mate 2/c, USN USS Deimos (AK-78)

"I found your writing most interesting and realistic. Enjoyed every page immensely."
Charles Maiers USS Deimos (AK-78)

"Just finished your book and loved it! As an old WWII navy man, it brought back many nostalgic memories...authentic and exciting. It's recommended reading for all ages."
David Morris, Yeoman 3/c, USN President, USS Fall River Shipmates Assn.

"Bill McGee's straight-forward, personal narrative—buttressed with well-documented facts, and laced with dramatic combat interviews tells it `like it was’ and brings closure to this memorable period in our lives."
Spencer Boise, Non-Com Officer with Ninth Air Force in Europe, WWII

"The tragic voyage of Task Unit 32.4.4 [Chapters 7 & 8] still haunts me after all these years. Thank God I was one of the lucky ones. Your eyewitness accounts of all the June 1943 action is spellbinding. I couldn't put the book down."
Roy Lucy, Radioman 3/c, USNR USS Aludra (AK-72)

"Congratulations! Your book is very well-written—and I say that as a former college professor of English 101 and 102. Not only that, parts of it brought tears to my eyes. A `must read’ for all sea services veterans and their descendants, too."
Charles C. Espy, Lt (jg), USNR SS Thomas Nelson Armed Guard C.O.

"Odyssey sure took me back. It means a lot, more than you’ll ever know, to lots of people!!!"
Len Honeycutt, Radarman 1/c, USN USS Skylark (AM-63)

"Your book is great. I will definitely include excerpts in our next issue of GUNS."
Jack Photenhauer, Editor Association of Gunner’s Mates

"You have every reason to be proud. It’s a true and exciting story, and a masterful job of historical research. Your adventures brought back a host of memories, many of which I’d completely forgotten."
      Alan W. Cundall, USMCR

"Enjoyed Bluejacket Odyssey very much. So many mixed memories. Looking forward to Pacific Express."
Gerhard R. Hess, USNR LST-342

"Bluejacket Odyssey brought back many memories. Some good, some bad. I now will reread it!"
Alfred Warm, USNR LCI-222

"Have greatly enjoyed reading Odyssey. My family has enjoyed reading it as well."
Ross Osborn, USNR USS Aludra

"I spent time in ‘The Corps’ and mainly had different experiences but your book puts one right there with you. I felt like I was one of your shipmates. What a marvelous read."
      J.M. Brigham, USMCR

"A magnificent job of research and presentation. I will be passing it around to our shipmates here in the Wilmington area."
George W. Cameron, Crew Chief Armed Guard Mid-Atlantic Chapter

"I really enjoyed your book. I was born in 1926, so it was a real revelation to me to read of your childhood and compare it with mine….I could have read on and on about your early years—your family and the ranch work—I found it so interesting."
E. V. Clothier Dagenham, Essex, U.K.

"Thanks, Bill, for bringing back many good memories of my days in the Navy. Bluejacket Odyssey is one of the best books ever published on WWII. . . .Will treasure it as will all of my family."
      Carlo Mangiaracina, USNR

"Just finished reading your Odyssey. . .a very fine memoir. I enjoyed it very much. Nice to find a book that gives you a different view of naval service."
      Chris Jackson, Churwell, Leeds, U.K.


Also check out Mr. McGee's other books

For more information on The Amphibians Are Coming! Click here

For information on Volume II The Solomons Campaigns Click here

A added bonus for us is if you order the book using our order form that is linked below before December 31,2001 we will receive 20% from each sale to help support our web site. Click here and print out our order form. 

Please send all inquires on orders to


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