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This Week in Seabee History (Aug. 14)

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

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Seabees of CBMU 301 repair a track in Khe Sahn, RVN, 1968. (Photo courtesy ofU.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

August 14

1970: Cmdr. H.E. Keppel Jr., Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieved Lt. Cmdr. H.H. Harrell, CEC, as commanding officer, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 302, at Naval Support Facility (NSF), Cam Ranh Bay, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

August 15

1942: 19th Naval Construction Brigade (NCB) established at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1944:  Invasion forces landed on Guam in the Marianas Islands, July 21. The initial objective was to take possession of Apra Harbor, together with the surrounding development area and airfield on Orote Peninsula. Landing forces struck north and south of the harbor. Seabees participated in the assaults: the 25th and 2nd Special NCBs on the beaches north of the harbor, and the 53rd and 13th Special NCBs, and CBMU 515 on the southern beaches. For three weeks, combat and construction continued until finally, on Aug. 10, Japanese resistance ended. Since considerable development had been planned for Guam, the 5th Naval Construction Brigade was established. The brigade assumed control of the construction and development of base facilities for both the Army and Navy. Guam became a great Army air base, as well as the principal naval base in the Western Pacific.

1944: 120th NCB inactivated at Davisville, Rhode Island.

1945: 38th Special NCB inactivated at Advance Base Depot (ABD), Port Hueneme, California.

1951: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 established at Construction Battalion Center (CBC) Davisville, Rhode Island.

1971: Construction Battalion Unit (CBU) 417 established at Naval Air Station (NAS), Whidbey Island, Washington.

August 16

1966: NMCB 4 departed Chu Lai for Continental U.S. (CONUS).

1968: Seabee Team 0809 departed RVN via government aircraft for CONUS.

1969: Lt. Cmdr. H.H. Harrell, CEC, relieved Lt. Cmdr. H.W. Filbry, CEC, as commanding officer,  CBMU 302.

2009: NMCB 24 finished expansion and upgrade of entry control point on Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, with completion marked by ribbon-cutting ceremony. During construction, Alfa Company graded over 341,000 square feet of roadways and parking areas, excavated and hauled almost 2,400 cubic yards of fill dirt, and placed more than 400 barriers stretching approximately 6,000 feet.

August 17

1969: Hurricane Camille wreaked havoc on the residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In her trajectory across the Gulf Coast, she destroyed or damaged 30,000 homes and hundreds of business, civic and religious structures, severed communications, and knocked out water, power and sewer service. At Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, 29 buildings were destroyed and more than 90 percent of the structures were damaged. However, after the eye of the hurricane passed over the Gulf Coast, Seabees implemented a massive mobilization effort to assist the surrounding community in recovery operations. Seabees cleared roads, located bodies, rescued survivors, restored water, gas and electrical power, put out fires, set up mobile dispensaries, and unloaded food, supplies and medicine. On October 31, the Center’s military population was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service before, during and after the devastating hurricane. In addition, there were numerous individual awards to military and civilian personnel at the Center.

1969: Cmdr. T.J. Mitchell, CEC, was relieved of command of NMCB 1 by Cmdr. C.V.W. Popowich, CEC.

August 19

1943: 102nd NCB commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

August 20

1942: 20th NCB commissioned at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1965: NMCB 8 was transferred from CBC Davisville, Rhode Island, to Port Hueneme, California. The change in home port was part of the augmentation and reorganization of Seabee units for operations in RVN.

1965: Capt. William M. Heaman, CEC, was promoted to Rear Admiral.


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