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This Week in Seabee History (Week of May 28)

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

This week in seabee history

 

In 1963, Seabee Teams were sent to Thailand to assist in the Royal Thai Government’s Accelerated Rural Development Program. In the northern provinces these diversified units taught and advised local Thais in an effort to help them form the cadre of essential rural public works organizations. Three years of diligent work in this region was finally concluded in May 1966. In this photograph, circa 1966, Seabees are installing a water well.  (Photo by NAVFAC Public Affairs)

May 28

1944: 32nd Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) disbanded at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.

1963: The first Seabee Team to Thailand, 0902, deployed to commence the joint Seabee civic action program. Between May 1963 and December 1965, 10 Seabee Teams trained students and built roads, dams and other community projects in seven provinces in northern and northeastern Thailand.

1967: Capt. A.R. Marschall, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), presented the Peltier Award for 1966 to the commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1.

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May 29

1968: NMCB 9 main body returned to the continental United States (CONUS) on three super DC-8 passenger aircraft and two cargo/passenger aircraft. All flights terminated at Naval Air Station (NAS) Point Mugu, California, except one Super DC-8 aircraft which landed at Los Angeles International Airport (concluded 3 June).

1968: Cmdr. T.J. Mitchell, CEC, commanding officer, NMCB 1, relieved Cmdr. J.W. Wright, CEC, commanding officer, NMCB 9, at Camp Hoover, Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

May 29-June 3, 1968: NMCB 9 main body, consisting of 22 officers and 648 enlisted men, returned to CONUS via three Super DC-8 passenger aircraft and two C-141 cargo/passenger aircraft. All flights terminated at NAS Point Mugu, California, except for one Super DC-8 aircraft which landed at Los Angeles International Airport.

1968: NMCB 1’s main body deployed via three DC-8 and two C-141 aircraft from Davisville, Rhode Island, to Da Nang, RVN.

2015: Capt. Maria Lore Aguayo, CEC, relieved Capt. Stephen Revelas, CEC, as commander, 22nd NCR during a change of command ceremony at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Mississippi.

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May 30

1943: ACORN 8 arrived at Noumea. Later moved to Guadalcanal, Munda and Russells for restaging and then on to Biak. (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 initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn. During the war, ACORNs were sent to such places as Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island and Majuro.)

1944: The versatile match of Seabee and bulldozer is an image which will never be forgotten by citizens of Falmouth, England. When a German air strike exploded a fuel dump and sent a river of flaming gasoline flowing downhill toward the town, Seabee Philip Bishop, NMCB 81, quickly bulldozed a dam which stopped the channel of fire and saved the community from destruction. The bulldozer-fireman received the British Empire Medal (Military) and the enduring gratitude of an English seaport town.

1944: 26th NCR commissioned.

1945: ACORN 8 decommissioned.

1965: The second section of the main body of NMCB 3 arrived in Vietnam aboard the USS Belle Grove from Guam.

May 30-June 4, 1967: NMCB 7 main body consisting of 15 officers and 599 enlisted men was airlifted from Davisville, Rhode Island, to Da Nang, RVN, aboard seven C-141 aircraft provided by Military Airlift Command.

1972: The Vietnam Detachment of the Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, United States Pacific Fleet was disestablished at Port Hueneme, California. The detachment exercised operational, administrative, troops and technical control over all Seabee Teams employed in Vietnam. The last Seabee Team site in Vietnam was closed in April 1972, and the RVN detachment was transferred to the 31st NCR at Port Hueneme for dissolution.

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May 31

May 31-June 4, 1942: 10th NCB commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1943: Construction Battalion Maintenance Units (CBMUs) 509, 510 and 511 commissioned. 7th and 8th NCR commissioned. Construction Battalion Detachment (CBD) 1004 inactivated. CBDs 1007, 1008 and 1021 commissioned.

1944: ACORN 7 arrived at Emirau. CBMUs 591 and 603 commissioned. CBMUs 516 and 526 inactivated. 1st Naval Construction Brigade inactivated. 5th Naval Construction Brigade commissioned. 27th, 28th, 29th NCRs commissioned. 29th Special NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia. CBD 1025 inactivated.

1945: ACORN 13 arrived at Samar. ACORN 45 arrived at Sangley Point, Manila. 148th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island. CBDs 1086 and 1090 commissioned.

1946: CBMUs 503, 607, 616 and 634 inactivated. 34th NCR inactivated. CBD 1085 inactivated. CBDs 1151, 1154, 1157, 1158 and 1159 commissioned.

1946: 48th NCR inactivated.

1947: CBMU 630 inactivated. CBDs 1156 and 1158 inactivated. CBD 1512 activated.

1952: CBD 1523 inactivated.

1965: 30th NCR reactivated.

1967: NMCB 5 main body moved from Vietnam to CBC, Port Hueneme, California.

1968: NMCB 40’s advance party of one officer and 27 enlisted men departed RVN aboard a military Airlift Command Aircraft C-141 for return to Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Davisville, Rhode Island.

1968: Cmdr C.J. Mathews, CEC, relieved Cmdr. W.W. DeGroot III, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 58 at change of command ceremonies held at the 2nd Republic of Korea (ROK) Marine Brigade drill field, Hoi An, RVN.

1971: Cmdr. Robert A. Schade Jr. was relieved as commanding officer, NMCB 5, by Cmdr. Robert J. McHugh Jr., CEC.

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June 1

1944: 11th NCR inactivated.

1945: 114th NCB inactivated at Attu and reconstituted as CBD 1161. 134th NCB activated in the field at Guam.

1946: 140th NCB inactivated at Manus.

1965: At Chu Lai, RVN, NMCB 10 constructed a 4,000-foot aluminum plank Short Airfield for Tactical Support (SATS) for Marine Air Group 12. The first eight A-4s landed at the field on June 1, with the first air strikes launched hours later in the day.

1966: The 3rd Naval Construction Brigade, which gained renown in the Southwest Pacific area during World War II, was reestablished in Saigon, RVN, to exercise operational control over the NCRs and other directly assigned Naval Construction Force units. The brigade was commanded by Rear Adm. Robert R. Wooding, CEC.

1966: Construction Battalion Unit (CBU) 201 was commissioned at Davisville, Rhode Island, and assigned to the 21st NCR. CBU 201 would later serve in repeated deployments to the Amundsen – Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica.

1968: Seabee Teams 0101 and 0102 graduated from Seabee Team Training and were assigned to Officer in Charge, Construction Battalions, Pacific Detachment, RVN, deploying to Cha Phu and Phu Vinh, respectively.

1968: Seabee Teams 0601, 0602 and 4001 arrived in Davisville, Rhode Island, from RVN for reassignment to their respective mobile construction battalions.

1969: Seabee Team 7102 deployed to RVN for assignment to Officer in Charge, Construction Battalions, Pacific Detachment for duty at Phan Rang.

2010: Capt. Katherine L. Gregory, CEC, promoted to Rear Admiral (RDML), becoming the first female CEC flag officer.

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June 2

1942: Advance Base Depot (ABD_ Gulfport and Camp Hollyday, Mississippi, established.

June 2-3, 1942: Attu and Kiska, Alaska, were occupied by the Japanese after their unsuccessful attack on Dutch Harbor. Approximately 2,000 Japanese composed the Attu garrison, and the main installation at Kiska was several times larger and better developed.

1945: 130th NCB, Okinawa, (Operator) Machinist Mate 2nd Class John Wiebe and (Helper) Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Harry Lehr were operating their bulldozer in a road near the beach. Suddenly they and their machine dropped out of sight. When workers nearby looked around all was emptiness except for a gaping hole. After recovering from their astonishment they walked over and looked into the chasm. About 15 feet down was the vanished dozer with Wiebe still at the controls –with a surprised look on his face. Demolition crews blasted a ramp and the “cat” was driven out and back to work by Wiebe, who received only minor lacerations from his experience.

1966: Cmdr. Paul R. Gates, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Richard T. Hardy, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 1.

1967: Cmdr. L.D. Lawson, commanding officer, NMCB 7, assumed operational control of Camp Adenir from Cmdr. E.J. Williams, commanding officer, NMCB 5.

1969: Seabee Team 7103 was assigned to the 21st NCR for 18 weeks of specialized training.

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June 3

1965: The main body of NMCB 9 departed Port Hueneme, California, aboard the USNS Blatchford for Vietnam. This was the first battalion to depart from the continental limits of the United States for duty in Vietnam. Previously, NMCB 10 had departed from Okinawa and NMCB 3 had departed from Guam. NMCB 9 arrived in Da Nang on 27 June.

1968: Cmdr. C.J. Mathews, commanding officer, NMCB 58, assumed control of Camp Haskins North from Cmdr. R.M. Fluss, commanding officer, NMCB 4. The NMCB 4 flag was transferred to Camp Evans. NMCB 4 personnel moved to Camp Evans between 27 May and 4 June.

1968: Cmdr. William E. Burdick, CEC, relieved Lt. Cmdr. H.A. Holmes as commanding officer, CBMU 301.

1968: NMCB 4 redeployed from Camp Haskins North to Camp Evans, RVN.


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