Home / Departments / Heritage / THIS WEEK IN SEABEE HISTORY

THIS WEEK IN SEABEE HISTORY

Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, Naval History and Heritage Command

CBMU 301 Bees in Khe Sanh

Two Seabees assigned to Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 301 stand outside their bunker, which was located near the runway they were building at Khe Sanh, Vietnam, in 1968.

Sept. 13

1942:  25th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1945:  6th NCB inactivated at Okinawa, Japan.

1966: Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin Shields was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his acts of heroism at the 1965 Battle of Dong Xoai in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN). The medal was presented to his wife, Joan, and his daughter, Barbara, by President Lyndon Johnson at the White House. This Medal of Honor was the first ever awarded to a Seabee.

Sept. 14

2007: 25th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 are re-commissioned at Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Gulfport, Mississippi.

Sept. 15

1943: 4th NCR inactivated. Section I of 106th NCB decommissioned at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.

1944: A naval task force landed the First Marine Division, accompanied by Seabees of NCBs 33 and 74 and Construction Battalion Detachment 1054, on Peleliu, Palau Islands, in the Western Carolines. The island had been subject to air and shore bombardment prior to the landings, while minesweepers and personnel of the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) cleared channels and beaches. The UDTs, led by Civil Engineer Corps officers, consisted for the most part of Seabees. Peleliu marked the first employment by the Japanese of new tactics to oppose amphibious assaults. The tactics included light resistance on the beaches with heavy counterattacks, and a main line of defense inland. Fighting on Peleliu was heavy, because the Japanese had well-prepared positions in caves and tunnels. The island was not secured until November 25, 1944.

1945: 27th NCR inactivated. 41st and 59th NCBs inactivated on Guam.

1950: Seabees of NCB 104, later redesignated as Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1, participated in amphibious landings with the U.S. Marines at Inchon, Korea. Pontoon causeway construction and the unloading of eight tank landing ships carrying supplies into Inchon posed unheard of problems for the Seabees. Inchon harbor had a fantastic tide, over 30 feet in most places. The tide would run out to the main channel and leave a vast mud flat in front of the city. Small craft, tank landing ships, patrol craft, and other supply vessels were left high and dry on the mud when the tide ran out. In their usual “can do” spirit, Seabees had a pontoon causeway built on the second day to allow General Douglas MacArthur to walk ashore dryshod, from the USS Mount McKinley.

1950: NMCB 2 commissioned.

1967: Commander Foley departed as Officer in Charge of the “Ghost Battalion,” Site X, Quang Tri Province, RVN.  Lt. Cmdr. T.L. Lonegan assumed command as acting commanding officer of NMCB 3.

Sept. 16

1967: Main body of CBMU 302, commanded by Lt. M.H. Harper, departed CBC, Port Hueneme, California for duty at Cam Ranh Bay, RVN.

1968: A ceremony was held to officially present NMCB 7 with the Navy Unit Commendation, earned for serving as the supporting battalion of the 30th NCR in the RVN during the period of Sept. 1, 1966 through July 31, 1967.

1970: 21st NCR Detail Yankee (UCT 1) returned to Davisville, Rhode Island from Santa Maria, Azores Islands.

Sept. 17 

1943: 133rd NCB formed at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1945: Aviation, Construction, Ordnance, Repair, Navy (ACORN) 29 is decommissioned and absorbed into Naval Air Base, Yonabaru, Okinawa. During WW II, in an island’s development stage, a Navy ACORN unit, composed of a Naval Construction Battalion and other components, construct an airfield and maintenance facilities.

1962: NMCB 10 departed Camp Kinser, Okinawa for CBC Port Hueneme, California.

Sept. 18

1942: Authority for the organization of a number of special-duty battalions was granted. This was the first departure from the standard battalion, and the new units were known as Special Naval Construction Battalions. These special battalions were composed of Seabee stevedores and longshoremen who were badly needed to break a bottleneck in the unloading of ships in the combat zones. Their officers, drawn largely from experienced personnel from the steamship and stevedoring companies, were commissioned in the Civil Engineer Corps. The Seabees were trained practically from scratch, and the efficiency of their training was demonstrated by the fact that cargo handling in the combat zones compared favorably with that done in the most efficient ports in the United States.

1942: 26th NCB commissioned at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1968: BU2c Gary L. Murphy of New Albany, Indiana, of NMCB 121, was traveling as part of a 30-truck unit of Seabees in a U.S. Marine Corps convoy on National Highway One, south of Phu Loc, RVN, when the unit came under sudden and heavy enemy fire. Heavy mortar and automatic weapons fire were directed against the Seabee vehicles from concealed enemy positions. The truck upon which Murphy was riding was disabled in the initial onslaught. From an exposed position on the rear of the truck, he laid down a heavy covering fire allowing other Seabees to reach the safety of the ditch. After they had reached cover, he withdrew to a more secure position. From there he killed two enemy soldiers who were moving toward the disabled truck. As smoke from another burning vehicle partially obscured the enemy, Murphy, without regard for his personal safety, returned to the damaged truck, climbed onto an exposed position on top of it, and retrieved a machine gun and ammunition that had been jammed in place during the initial attack. Murphy passed the gun and ammunition down to other Seabees and returned to the ditch to man the gun. An enemy sapper exposed himself and threw a satchel charge but was promptly shot down by Murphy. He then continued to direct heavy fire against the enemy positions, holding them in place until armed helicopter gunships and a Marine Corps relief force arrived. For his actions during the attack, Petty Officer Murphy was awarded the Silver Star medal on January 23, 1969 during a ceremony at Camp Wilkinson, Gia Le, RVN.

1968: The new Seabee camp built by NMCB 11 at Quang Tri was named Camp Rhodes, in honor of Lt. Rhodes, CEC officer, killed in action.

1970: NMCB 1 main body deployed to Camp Moscrip, U.S. Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, with Cmdr. V.W. Popowich, CEC, commanding.

2004: Members of NMCBs 1 and 74, an element from the 22nd NCR, and four members of the Port Hueneme-based Mobile Utilities Support Equipment (MUSE) division provided disaster recovery efforts at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida after Hurricane Ivan severely damaged the base on September 17th.

Sept. 19

1943: 114th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1944: The Army Distinguished Unit Citation was presented to the 40th NCB at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.

1967: Silver spike ceremony held at the Liberty Bridge over Thu Bon River south of Da Nang, RVN. Lt. Gen. Hohang Xuam Lam, Army of the Republic of Vietnam, drove in the ceremonial spike. The 2,040-foot long bridge was built by NMCB 4.

1970: NMCB 1 assumed command of Camp Moscrip from NMCB 40.

1970: Main body of NMCB 1 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for deployment at Camp Moscrip, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.


Check Also

This Week in Seabee History (June 17 – June 23)

Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, Naval History and Heritage Command

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.