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This Week in Seabee History (Week of June 4)

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

This Week in Seabee History

The front gate at Camp Hoover, Republic of Vietnam, circa 1968. Camp Hoover was named after Steelworker 2nd Class William C. Hoover, the first Seabee killed in action in Vietnam.  Although wounded in the initial Viet Cong mortar barrage at the Battle of Dong Xoai on June 10, 1965, Hoover quickly went to his assigned defensive post and began firing at the enemy.  For his heroism, Hoover was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star.  Also killed during the battle was Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin C. Shields, the first Seabee to receive the Medal of Honor.  Both men were members of Seabee Team 1104.  (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

June 5

1967: Main body of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 58 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

1968: NMCB 74 advance party, consisting of three officers and 85 enlisted personnel, arrived at Camp Shields, Chu Lai, RVN.

2009: Capt. Louis Cariello, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieved Capt. Robert McLean III, CEC, as commander, 22nd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Mississippi.

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June 6

1942: 9th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1943: Naval Combat Demolition Unit (NCDU) training school established at Amphibious Training Base Fort Pierce, Florida. Volunteers assembled for the first classes came from the Bomb and Mine Disposal School in Washington, D.C. and from Camp Peary, Virginia (both Seabees and CEC officers).

1944: In the initial stage of the Allied invasion of Normandy, Seabees formed the nucleus of naval combat demolition units. Each demolition unit was under the command of a junior officer of the Navy Civil Engineer Corps. Team members placed explosive charges beneath the underwater steel barriers that prevented thousands of ships from reaching shore. As they were placing the charges the teams were under constant fire from the enemy. Whole teams were wiped out when shells hit their explosives. The men ignored the dangers and kept at their work. When the explosive charges were placed, survivors remained on the beach or swam back to the landing ships waiting in the channel. The explosives went off on schedule and huge holes were blown into the German defenses. Ships and landing craft darted for the shore through gaps in the barriers. Thousands of Seabees were soon manhandling their pontoon causeways onto the beach to let the infantry charge ashore.

1967: Khe Sanh came under enemy mortar attack. Builder (Light) 3rd Class C.A. Hubbard was killed in action; six men were wounded in action.

 

1969: Equipment Operator 1st Class R.R. Anderson, Regimental (21st NCR) Seabee Team instructor, drowned while participating in training field operations at Buck Hill Scout Reservation, Rhode Island.

1969: 21st NCR Detail Yankee of Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for Santa Maria, Azores Island for underwater construction in support of NATO-sponsored Project AFAR (Azores Fixed Acoustic Range).

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June 7

2013: Cmdr. Cameron Geertsema, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Pete Maculan, CEC, as commanding officer, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, at Camp Shields, Okinawa, Japan.

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June 9

1943: ACORN 1 dissolved. (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.)

1952: In Korea, a detachment from Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 landed behind enemy lines on the island of Yo. There they built an emergency landing airstrip for crippled U.S. Marine aircraft. The planned 2,400 foot runway had been estimated to be a 45-day project. The Seabees finished it in 16 days.

1965: Just before midnight on June 9, 1965, an estimated 2,000 Viet Cong launched an attack upon the still unfinished U.S. Special Forces camp at Dong Xoai in the Republic of Vietnam. The men of Seabee Team 1104, who were building the camp, joined with a small detachment of U.S. Army Special Forces and 400 RVN irregular forces to put up a heroic defense. At daybreak on June 10th, human wave attacks of Viet Cong made further resistance impossible, so the surviving defenders were evacuated by helicopter.

1968: An NMCB 5 patrol, patrolling the area south of Sector II on the Dong Ha Combat Base, RVN, set off an explosive device resulting in the injury of one member of the patrol, Builder (Heavy) 3rd Class T.L. Richart.

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June 10

1944: Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia disestablished.

1965: The first Seabee killed in action in Vietnam, Steelworker 2nd Class William C. Hoover, was killed at the Battle of Dong Xoai. Although wounded in the initial Viet Cong mortar barrage, Hoover quickly went to his assigned defensive post and began firing at the enemy. He was subsequently killed in the fighting. For his heroism, Hoover was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star. Also killed in the battle was Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin C. Shields, the first Seabee to receive the Medal of Honor. Both men were members of Seabee Team 1104.

2014: Cmdr. Kemit Spears, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieved Cmdr. Chad Brooks, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 1 during a change of command ceremony at Camp Shields in Okinawa, Japan.


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