You've heard of the fliers, Marines, and the troops,
The Navy and frogmen, and all sorts of groups.
But give it some thought, and then tell if you can,
Have you ever heard of th'Amphibious Man?
This seldom seen gob is a wandering sort,
Since unlike his brothers he's got no home port.
He goes where he's needed, he does what he can,
This orphan-type sailor, th'Amphibious Man.
He might be a seaman from off of a ship,
Or just out of boot camp, a skinny young whip.
He's picked out at random-how else to decide?
A few might have chose it, but most were Shanghaied.
He runs with the boats, wherever they go,
And nobody told you, so you’d never know.
Yes, no one has told you of him or his job,
He’s not known or heard of, th’Amphibious Gob.
No matter his duty or how much he knew,
He got special training before he was crew.
They showed how to run ‘em, and told what they’re worth,
And taught how to land ‘em, then back through the surf.
You’ve heard of the Navy, of ships fore and aft,
But probably never of this: "landing craft."
They’re building 'em plenty, we need a lot more
To land on the islands, and win this damned war.
Both Mike Boats and Peters, and others as well,
Of wood and of metal, and sturdy as hell,
With ramps in the front, and with engines in back,
And armed with machine guns, for when they’re attacked.
They’re loaded from transports, in darkness of night,
He sails ‘em in circles without any lights.
Then out through the gunfire to land on the shore
Through surf that can kill them, then go back for more.
Surviving the first wave’s the start of his job,
Since those on the beach, they depend on this gob.
He brings reinforcements and all that they use,
His job’s in the battle, but not in the news.
When battles are over, the radio tells
Of soldiers and heroes, their beaches and hells.
You’ll thrill at the stories of them and their jobs,
But never a word of Amphibious Gobs.
And after the conflict, in good civvy life,
How can he explain to his kiddies and wife:
He fought in the Navy, but not on a ship—
An orphan-like sailor, now ain’t that a pip?
They’ve heard of the fliers, the troops and the draft,
Marines and the Navy, but not landing craft.
And no one has told them of him or his job...
He’s a hell of a mystery, th’Amphibious Gob.
Anonymous. Adapted by Louis F. Sander, 2007
This poem had its origin in World War II, when amphibious boat crews were assigned to boat groups rather than to ships. These crews are the "Amphibious men" referred to in the poem.
These sailors wore a red and gold patch on their sleeves, to show they had earned this special qualification. Their work was difficult, dangerous, and dirty, but it was essential to waging and winning the war.
Coxswains and Motor Macs would be plucked from other duty, given amphibious training in Fort Pierce, Florida, then rushed off to man the landing craft wherever they were.
Gob is a synonym for sailor. Motor Mac is WWII Navy slang for the Motor Machinists Mate rating; each landing craft had a Motor Mac in charge of the engine. A coxswain is an enlisted man in charge of a boat. You can learn about these Landing Craft HERE.
To Shanghai is to forcibly conscript a man to serve a term working on a ship, usually after having been rendered senseless by alcohol or drugs.