By MC1 Patrick Gordon, NMCB 25 Public Affairs
Cmdr. Jennifer Donahue, NMCB 25 commanding officer, and CMC (SCW) Michael Helgeson case the battalion colors during the NMCB 25 casing of the colors ceremony, New Kabul Compound, Afghanistan, Nov. 1. The event ceremoniously brought an end to NMCB 25’s operations in Afghanistan, as well as 13 years of Naval Construction Force operations in the country. Photos by MC1 Patrick Gordon
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 25 officially concluded battalion operations in Afghanistan with the casing of its colors in a ceremony at New Kabul Compound, Afghanistan, Nov. 1.
As the last Seabee battalion to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), NMCB 25 also holds the distinction of being the battalion to officially end Naval Construction Force (NCF) operations after 13 years of service in the theater.
Cmdr. Jennifer Donahue, NMCB 25 commanding officer, commended the Seabees of her battalion and the entire NCF on their work during OEF in a speech after the casing of the colors.
“Today is not about NMCB TWO FIVE and our preparation to go home, but rather, we are just the physical manifestation of the departure of the last battalion,” said Donahue. “Almost exactly 13 years ago, the Naval Construction Force began their support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Today, we case the colors and conclude the operations Seabees have so long supported.”
Donahue noted the accomplishments of Seabees over more than a decade’s worth of operations, including base construction, Convoy Security Element support and humanitarian projects.
“We have supported the U.S. Marines, U.S. Army and the Afghan National Army,” said Donahue. “We have personified our motto: We Build, We Fight!”
Cmdr. Jennifer Donahue, NMCB 25 commanding officer, addresses the battalion and guests during the NMCB 25 casing of the colors ceremony, New Kabul Compound, Afghanistan, Nov. 1. NMCB 25 is the last Seabee battalion to serve in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
The battalion’s deployment was more than symbolic. NMCB 25’s primary effort during this deployment has been a Train, Advise and Assist mission with the new Afghan National Engineer Brigade, the Afghan National Army’s new engineering and disaster relief organization. And during the training mission, elements of the battalion have been retrograding more than 70 pieces of Civil Engineering Support Equipment valued at $14 million, 22 Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles worth $19 million, as well as turning in 610 pieces of theater-provided equipment and 997 Seabee table of allowance items.
Donahue’s comments were well received, especially by those who have completed multiple deployments in support of OEF. Builder 1st Class (SCW/EXW) David Shingleton, an NMCB 25 project supervisor on his third deployment to Afghanistan, recognized the gravity of the ceremony.
“I’ve done 25 years as a Seabee, and three of those have been in Afghanistan,” said Shingleton. “It really gives you an appreciation for the full spectrum of Seabee operations. During all this, I have been amazed at these guys’ ability to adapt to any situation and meet it head on. And being here for the end, it’s something special.”
As the colors were cased and marched off, Donahue reminded the audience that as one operation ends for the Seabees, another begins.
“Just as we are closing the chapter here in Afghanistan, other chapters are being written in other areas around the world,” said Donahue. “Many that are standing before me have already volunteered to deploy with other battalions in both CENTCOM and AFRICOM in the continual fight against terrorism with ISIS and now Ebola.”
With NCF operations in Afghanistan complete, the Seabees of NMCB 25 prepare to return home confident in their contribution to the people of Afghanistan, and their part in U.S. military history.
NMCB 25 color guard stands at attention with the battalion’s cased colors during the casing of the colors ceremony, New Kabul Compound, Afghanistan, Nov. 1.