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THIS WEEK IN SEABEE HISTORY (Week of Oct. 18)

Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., HistorianU.S. Navy Seabee Museum

Seabee Team 0511 in RVN

Seabee Team 0511 begins work on a dispensary building at Phuoc Trach, Republic of Vietnam (RVN) in March 1968: As Engineering Aide Constructionman Sam Cottrell (left) looks on, Builder (Light) 3rd Class Douglas Hutmacher sets the batter board and forms with his Vietnamese crew, and Equipment Operator 2nd Class Ron Kramarz completes site preparation for proper drainage during the rainy season.  (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

October 18

1942: 33rd Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) is commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1944: Camp Thomas, Davisville, Rhode Island is disestablished.

1945: 12th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) is inactivated.

1967: Seabee Team 0308 arrived at Phu Bai, RVN upon completion of six months deployment.

1971: Seabee Teams 7107 and 7108 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for reassignment to Officer in Charge (OIC), Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Pacific Fleet Detachment (CBPACDET), RVN and deployment to My Tho and Go Cong, RVN, respectfully.

OCTOBER 19

1943: The Secretary of the Navy designated the Advance Base Depot Receiving Barracks, Davisville, Rhode Island as Camp Thomas.

2011: Chief Builder (SCW) Raymond J. Border of West Lafayette, Ohio killed by improvised explosive device in Afghanistan while assessing a road in Paktika Province while deployed with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74.

OCTOBER 20

1945: The 30th Special NCB was inactivated at Naval Construction Training Center, Davisville, Rhode Island. Men eligible for discharge were sent to discharge centers. The ineligibles were shipped to Port Hueneme, California for further assignment. 30th Special NCB inactivated at Davisville, Rhode Island.

1970:  NMCB 5 main body departed Vietnam for Construction Battalion Center (CBC) Port Hueneme, California.

OCTOBER 21

1943: 138th NCB commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

OCTOBER 22

1942: 35th NCB commissioned at Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1967: Main body of NMCB 40 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for reassignment to the 30th NCR for duty at Chu Lai, RVN; NMCB 128’s main body deployed from CBC Gulfport, Mississippi to Camp Faulkner, Da Nang, East RVN in eight C-141 aircraft.

1968: NMCB 4 main body departed Camp Haines for Da Nang, RVN and from Da Nang to CBC, Port Hueneme, California.

OCTOBER 23

1943: 130th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1944: Advance Base Depot Receiving Barracks (Camp Thomas), Davisville was disestablished and facilities and functions of the barracks were transferred to NCTC Davisville.

1947: 109th NCB inactivated on Guam.

1966: Main body of NMCB 58 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for Da Nang, RVN.

1967: The first Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) officer to be killed in Vietnam was Lt. Joseph J. Rhodes, a member of Mobile Construction Battalion (MCB) 121. Rhodes was riding in a jeep that struck a land mine and he died from multiple shrapnel wounds. Two other occupants of the jeep, Chief Steelworker Gordon J. Dibble and Builder (Concrete) 3rd Class Jon R. Morbay, were also killed. A Seabee camp at Quang Tri, RVN was later dedicated in Rhodes’ memory. A plaque bearing the inscription, “Camp Rhodes Dedicated in Honor of Lt Joseph John Rhodes, Killed in Action October 23, 1967” was unveiled by Rear Admiral A.C. Husband, then Chief of Civil Engineers.

1967: Main body of NMCB 133 departed RVN and returned to CBC, Gulfport, Mississippi; an NMCB 11 advance party of two officers, 27 enlisted personnel, and 1 dog (Seabee Team 1108’s mascot “Colonel”) departed Dong Ha, RVN for return to the continental U. S. (CONUS).

1968: Cmdr. D.A. Bartley, commanding officer of NMCB 10, relieved Cmdr. R.M. Fluss, commanding officer of NMCB 4, as commanding officer of Camp Haines, RVN.

1969: Seabee Teams 0915 and 0916 were transferred to NMCB 10.

2009: Rear Adm. Richard E. Cellon, CEC, USN was relieved by Rear Adm. Mark A. Handley, CEC, USN as the commander, First Naval Construction Division, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Virginia.

OCTOBER 24

1942: The African American 34th Naval Construction Battalion is commissioned by Rear Adm. Lewis B. Combs at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia. The 34th NCB is the first African American Seabee battalion in the Navy.

1944: Tank mounted flame throwers became a productive weapon for routing Japanese soldiers out of caves and pillboxes during the Second World War. A composite group was set up to assist the Army’s Chemical Warfare personnel in developing this weapon. Included in the group was an officer and 25 Seabees from the 117th NCB. After several demonstrations, the flame throwing tank proved to be generally satisfactory except for one technical detail, which the tankmen said was a distinct disadvantage. The Seabees set to work on a design for a functional modification of the weapon. Not only did the Seabee design eliminate the objectionable feature of the prior models, but it greatly reduced the number of moving parts. At its first demonstration on October 24, 1944, the new weapon was given enthusiastic approval by tankmen and chemical warfare officers. In addition to building these flame thrower tanks, Seabees also instructed tankmen how to operate them. The Seabee instructors assisted in making experts out of Army and Marine tankmen before the tanks went into action in such places at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Peleliu.

1944: 9th Naval Construction Brigade commissioned; 41st NCR commissioned.

1945: 36th NCR inactivated.

1967: Cmdr. D.W. Wittschiebe, CEC, USN, commanding officer of NMCB 128, relieved Cmdr. E.H. Marsh, CEC, USN, commanding officer of NMCB 133, at camp Faulkner, Da Nang East, RVN; NMCB 128 main body arrived in Da Nang, RVN; NMCB 71 main body of 20 officers and 782 Seabees departed Chu Lai, RVN for Davisville, Rhode Island on nine C-141 aircraft; NMCB 40 main body arrived in Chu Lai, RVN.


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

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