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This Week in Seabee History (Week of Sept. 11)

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

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Seabees of Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) 33 dispose of Japanese bombs on Peleliu, Palau Islands, in the Western Carolines, 1944. The Seabees arrived in Peleliu on September 15. Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) cleared channels and beaches after the island had been subjected to air and shore bombardment. Fighting was heavy, and the island was not secured from the Japanese until November 25. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum) 

September 11

1943: The 11th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) was commissioned.

1945: The 62nd Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) was inactivated at Iwo Jima.

1965: The main body of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 8 moved from Port Hueneme, California, to Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), via Military Airlift Command.

1966: NMCB 3 received message notification from Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMCBPAC) of its selection as fiscal year 1966’s “Best of Type,” Pacific Fleet.

September 12

1944: UDTs, led by Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) officers and mostly comprised of Seabees, began clearing the approaches to Peleliu for an amphibious assault. Three days later, Marines of the First Division came ashore accompanied by Seabees of NCBs 33 and 73, and Construction Battalion Division (CBD) 1054. Initially, CBD 1054 Seabees operated pontoon barges and causeways to assist in the landing of supplies and vehicles, while the Seabees of the 33rd and 73rd worked on the beach unloading cargo. On September 19, however, when the airfield was captured, they began clearing debris from the airstrips. The following day, their construction equipment was brought ashore and the Seabees began making rapid repairs. Only 72 hours later, three squadrons of fighter aircraft were able to land and begin operations. On September 23, the Seabees began constructing a bomber base which, despite land mines and mortar fire, was made operational in seven days.

1945: The 80th NCB was inactivated at Subic Bay, Philippines.

1966: A facility containing two NMCB camps and the 30th NCR headquarters at Red Beach, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), was named Camp Haskins in memory of Builder (Light Construction) 2nd Class Donald Dean Haskins, NMCB 9, who was killed in action on October 28, 1965, when Camp Adenir, Da Nang, RVN, came under Viet Cong attack.

1968: An NMCB 1 jeep carrying the Delta Company commander and company chief, Lt. j.g.  Arthur D. Moscrip Jr., and Builder Constructionman W.W. McGinn, hit a mine en route to a job site at 2/1 Marines south of Da Nang, RVN.  McGinn was killed instantly, while Moscrip died the following morning.

September 13

1942: The 25th NCB was commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1945: The 6th NCB was inactivated at Okinawa, Japan.

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

September 14

2007: The 25th NCR and NMCB 11 were re-commissioned at Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Gulfport, Mississippi.

September 15

1943: The 4th NCR was inactivated. Section I of 106th NCB was 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 CBD 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 UDTs cleared channels and beaches. The UDTs, led by CEC officers, were mostly Seabees. Peleliu marked the first time the Japanese used 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.

1945: The 27th NCR was inactivated; the 41st and 59th NCBs were inactivated on Guam.

1950: Seabees of NCB 104, later re-designated as Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1, participated in amphibious landings with the Marines at Inchon, Korea. Building pontoon causeways and unloading eight tank landing ships carrying supplies into Inchon posed major challenges for the Seabees. Inchon harbor had a fantastic tide, over 30 feet in most places. The tide receded to the main channel and left 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 withdrew. In their usual “Can Do” spirit, the Seabees had a pontoon causeway built on the second day that allowed Gen. Douglas MacArthur to walk ashore dry-shod, from USS Mount McKinley.

1950: NMCB 2 was commissioned.

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

September 16

1854: The Mare Island Navy Yard, San Francisco, is formally established with Cmdr. David G. Farragut as its first commandant. This was the first West Coast navy yard.

1967: The main body of Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (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 a supporting unit of NCR 30 in RVN during the period of September 1966 through July 1967.

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

September 17

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

1945: ACORN 29 decommissioned and absorbed into Naval Air Base (NAB), Yonabaru, Okinawa. (Used during World War II, an ACORN was a tailored unit designed to carry out the rapid construction and subsequent operation of a landplane and seaplane advance base. Each ACORN had a construction battalion attached to it, as well as trained personnel to operate the control tower, field lighting, aerological unit, transportation, medical, berthing and messing facilities. A CBMU also accompanied each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn. During the war, ACORNs were sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island and Majuro.)

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


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