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This Week in Seabee History (Week of May 14)

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

This Week in Seabee History (5-14-17)

A Seabee in full deep-water diving gear used by the combat demolition units and deep sea construction divers circa 1943. On May 14, 1943, the first Seabees reported to Amphibious Training Base Solomons, Maryland, to begin the four-week training course for what would later become the Naval Combat Demolition Units.  (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

May 14

1943: Seabees from Camp Peary, Virginia [six Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) officers, 18 enlisted men], report to Amphibious Training Base Solomons, Maryland, and begin a four-week training course for what will become the Naval Combat Demolition Units.

1943: 87th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned at NCTC Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1946: 3rd Special NCB inactivated on Okinawa.

1965: A detail of one officer and 74 enlisted men from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 9 arrived at Da Nang to assist the NMCB 3 advance party in construction of the first Seabee camp at Da Nang main compound (Camp Hoover) near Hill 327. The camp was originally programmed for two battalions, but later reduced to one battalion.

1969: NMCB 12 (reserve battalion) was disestablished as an active duty unit and returned to reserve status.

1970: Seabee Team 0412 departed Guam and arrived on Koror Island, Palau District, Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands.

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May 15

1944: ACORN 23 dissolved and absorbed into Naval Air Base, Ebeye (Kwajalein Atoll). (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 Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (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each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn.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.)

1966: Cmdr. Tom C. Williams, CEC, commanding officer of NMCB 10, assumed command of Camp Hoover, Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

1968: The last flight of NMCB 11’s 16-flight airlift to Vietnam was marred by disaster. The flight crashed on landing at Quang Tri airstrip. Seven passengers were injured and immediately flown by Medevac helicopters to the hospital ship, USS Sanctuary, cruising off the coast of Vietnam. The left wing was torn from the plane on impact and strewn ablaze for several hundred yards from the plane. Fires broke out within the fuselage of the plane, and one of the remaining engines burst into flames. While the crash trucks were rushing to the scene, Seabees poured out of the rear hatches carrying the injured with them. The battalion’s dentist, Lt. Conley T. Snidow, who was accompanying the troops, administered first aid on the scene.

1968: The second increment of NMCB 1’s advance party of 48 personnel deployed via one C-141 aircraft from Davisville, Rhode Island to Da Nang, RVN.

1969: NMCB 121’s Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Gustave Pappas was wounded by a grenade thrown into the back of an ambulance during a civic action visit to the village of Phu Long, RVN.

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May 16

1943: 10th Special Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) formed at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1966: Seabee Team 0405 departed Chu Lai for Port Hueneme for training prior to deployment.

1970: NMCB 5’s battalion flag was transferred from Camp Haskins North, Da Nang to Bien Hoa, RVN. Personnel remaining at Camp Haskins North became Detail Yankee.

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May 18

1942: Advance Base Depot Port Hueneme, California, was established and went into operation.

1943: 67th NCB commissioned at Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1965: An NMCB 3 advance party of one officer and 99 enlisted men arrived at Da Nang, RVN, from Guam. They traveled by U.S. Air Force (USAF) aircraft.

1966: Construction Battalion Base Unit (CBBU) homeported at Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Port Hueneme, California, was redesignated as the 31st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) under command of Capt. Robert D. Thorson, CEC, with Capt. Harold F. Liberty, Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of CBBU as the deputy of the regiment.

1969: Team 1013 compound and Xuan Loc City, RVN, came under heavy enemy rocket, mortar, and small arms fire. Construction Electrician 2nd Class (CE2) Phillip Lee Grieser was killed by shrapnel.

1970: Seabee Team 0313 returned to the continental United States (CONUS) via government aircraft.

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May 19

1968: A rocket attack began at 1930 (7:30 p.m.) on NMCB 4’s almost completed camp site at Camp Evans, RVN. One rocket hit the ammunition supply point (ASP). Fires and explosions spread destruction to the major ASP area and fuel farm. Debris from the exploding shells and rockets caused moderate damage to five berthing huts, and Alpha Company shops and repair parts buildings. Explosions continued into the morning of the 20th, but with no Seabee casualties.

1971: Ceremony held turning Camp Moscrip, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico over from NMCB 1 to NMCB 62.

May 19-20, 1971: NMCB 1 main body flights departed Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico for Davisville, Rhode Island.

2007: Capt. Katherine (Kate) Gregory assumed command of the 30th NCR, the first female active duty regimental commander in the history of the Naval Construction Force.

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May 20

1946: 29th NCB inactivated at Truk, Caroline Islands. 85th NCB inactivated on Wake Island. 96th NCB inactivation at Tsingtao, China began, completed by August 1, 1946.

1965: Part of NMCB 3 main body departed Guam on the USS Point Defiance for Vietnam. On Guam, the battalion was the backup battalion.

1969: Main body of NMCB 71 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for assignment to Roosevelt Roads Naval Base, Puerto Rico.


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