By MCCS (SCW/SW) Jeffrey J. Pierce, NCG 2 Public Affairs Officer
Cmdr. Lester Ortiz (left) relieves Cmdr. Gregory Schell as the commanding officer of NMCB 27 during a change of command ceremony held on board NCBC Gulfport, Miss., Nov. 6. (Photo by MCCS Jeffrey J. Pierce)
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 14 and NMCB 27, held change of command ceremonies a day apart aboard Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Mississippi, in November.
Cmdr. David W. Wilhite assumed command of NMCB 14, Nov. 5, during a ceremony held at the Training Hall. Wilhite relieved Cmdr. Marc F. Williams, who transferred to Naval Facilities Engineering Command’s (NAVFAC) Navy Reserve Contingency Engineering Unit as a staff officer. Wilhite reported from NAVFAC headquarters based at the Washington Navy Yard., D.C.
Capt. Frederick A. Mucke, commodore, 7th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) served as guest speaker for the ceremony. The 7th NCR is one of two reserve regiments in the Naval Construction Force, and is homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi
During his speech, Williams expressed the emotions he felt as NMCB 14’s commanding officer.
“Today is a little bittersweet for me, but as the man I’m about to introduce has told me, Command is a lot like owning a boat. The two best days are the day you get it and the day you give it up with a whole lot of fun and maintenance in between,” Williams said.
Upon receiving the reigns of NMCB 14, Wilhite expressed gratitude for the opportunity.
“I would like to thank the men and women of all ranks currently serving as members of NMCB 14 for all of their extremely valuable service, for the opportunity to join their team and for the privilege of command,” Wilhite said. “I am humbled with this great honor of having been selected to lead this battalion for the next two years. I am very excited about the future of NMCB 14 and the accomplishments that lie ahead for the battalion… OORAH SEABEES, OORAH NMCB14!”
The following day, NMCB 27 followed suit with its own change of command ceremony.
CMDCM James McKinney (right), NMCB 14, begins the transfer of the command colors from Cmdr. Marc F. Williams (far left) to Cmdr. David Wilhite. This simple display is symbolic of the peaceful transfer of command from one commanding officer to the next. (Photo by MCCS Jeffrey J. Pierce)
Cmdr. Lester Ortiz assumed command of NMCB 27, Nov. 6. The ceremony was held at the Navy Operational Support Center onboard NCBC. Ortiz relieved Cmdr. Gregory C. Schell, who transferred to NAVFAC Headquarters. Ortiz reported from NAVFAC’s Reserve Contingency Engineering Unit.
Rear Adm. Mark J. Fung, deputy for Naval Construction Force (NCF), Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, was the guest speaker for the ceremony.
During his farewell speech, Schell commented on what it was like being the commanding officer for NMCB 27.
“When the rough times hit, that’s when these folks really shine. They pull together and help each other, including me, said Schell. “Just the mentorship, the guidance, the leadership that I’ve gotten from all of my shipmates has been quite uplifting.”
During his introductory speech, Ortiz expressed what he hopes to accomplish.
“As NMCB 27’s commanding officer, I’m looking forward to having a pivotal role in the continued mentorship and development of the Seabees from this great battalion,” he said.
NMCBs 14 and 27 are two of the five reserve Seabee battalions in the NCF. Both are homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Seabee battalions specialize in contingency construction, disaster response and humanitarian assistance. Both NMCB 14 and NMCB 27 have a complement of over 560 officers and enlisted personnel.