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This Week in Seabee History (Week of July 2-July 8)

This World War II-era advertisement showcased the Seabees' rhino ferry. It was a huge barge constructed from pontoons with two propelling units. In the first 10 days of the invasion of Normandy, 85 percent of all vehicular equipment was transported to shore using the rhino ferry. It was critical to defeating the Germans and proved to be a "bridge to victory," as the ad says. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

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

July 2

1943: Lt. j.g. George Stephenson, CEC, and Lt. Irwin Lee, CEC, of the 24th NCB, were killed on Rendova in the Solomons, the first CEC officers to be killed in action in World War II.

1944: Less than a month after D-Day in France, while the Normandy invasion was still underway, the 81st NCB experienced one of those odd happenings of war on which legends are built. Early on the morning of July 2, Lt. Cmdr. Richard Anderson, Seabee medical officer for the recently-landed battalion, was visited in his foxhole by a breathless American military policeman. A woman in the nearby village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont was about to have a baby and a doctor was urgently needed. Anderson immediately dispatched his assistant medical officer, Lt. Douglas Butman. Butman arrived at the house only to discover that the young woman had spontaneously delivered her child, a little girl, only moments before. The doctor immediately rendered the appropriate postnatal care. In the days that followed, the medical staff of the battalion paid many visits to the home of Henri and Marie Fouchard. Finally, the time came for christening the baby girl. The mother asked Commander Anderson if the baby could bear a part of his wife’s name. Anderson delightedly suggested the initials of his wife’s maiden name, C.B., for he knew that such a choice would serve a two-fold purpose. The initials would honor his wife and also would honor the battalion as “Sea Bee.” Thus, Sea Bee Paule Fouchard was christened in honor of an informal battalion of godfathers who had attended her birth at the height of fighting in Normandy.

1966: NMCB 62 was commissioned and was the first battalion assigned to the NCBC, Gulfport, Mississippi, after the Center’s mission was increased “to provide home base facilities for naval construction battalions.”

1969: Seabee Team 0913 returned to NAS Point Mugu, California on a DC-8 aircraft from Da Nang, RVN.

July 3

1965: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 10 completes construction of the 8,000-foot Short Airfield for Tactical Support at Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam, for the 1st Marine Air Wing.

2013: Lt. Cmdr. Jason Fahy, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieved Lt. Cmdr. Charles Kubic, CEC, as commanding officer of Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, at the command’s headquarters at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Port Hueneme, California.

July 4

1942: Advance Base Depot (ABD), Davisville, Rhode Island, formally commissioned.

1968: Twelve Seabees reported to the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) for duty with Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 302 two days late. While bound for Vietnam, the aircraft was forced down by Russian jets on a small island near Japan. The American crew and passengers were detained for 48 hours before the U.S. military-chartered aircraft was released by the Russians. The incident occurred because the Russians claimed the aircraft had violated Soviet air space.

July 5

1942: The 4th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) arrived at Dutch Harbor, Alaska. This was the first Seabee battalion to arrive in that area. Because of the variety of construction needs in Alaska, the battalion was employed at three different locations: one detachment of approximately 200 men went to Eider Point; another detachment of about 350 men went to Unalaska Village on Unalaska Island; and the remaining men were quartered in the Fort Mears Area on Amaknak Island.

1943: The 95th NCB was commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC), Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1966: A change of command for NMCB 6 was held with Cmdr. J.D. Day Jr., Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieving Lt. Cmdr. H.A. Tombari, CEC.

1970: At an awards ceremony in Davisville, Rhode Island, the 21st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) and 20th NCR, and Commander, Construction Battalions, Atlantic (COMCBLANT) were awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Citation for meritorious service from September 1, 1965 to December 31, 1969.

July 6

1944: ACORN 9 was decommissioned. (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.)

1945: The 51st NCR was commissioned.

1953: NMCB 11 was activated.

July 7

1968: Cmdr. L.D. Lawson, CEC, relieved Cmdr. R.B. Wilson, CEC, for NMCB 7.

2009: NMCB 11 presented the battalion colors at Camp Mitchell, Rota, Spain, reestablishing the base after closing down Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

2011: Cmdr. James (Gordie) Meyer, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Jayson Mitchell, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 7 during a change of command ceremony at Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi.

July 8

1945: The 50th NCR was commissioned.

2016: Cmdr. James Cho, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Jeffrey Lengkeek, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 4 during a change of command ceremony aboard Camp Shields in Okinawa, Japan.

This World War II-era advertisement showcased the Seabees’ rhino ferry. It was a huge barge constructed from pontoons with two propelling units. In the first 10 days of the invasion of Normandy, 85 percent of all vehicular equipment was transported to shore using the rhino ferry. It was critical to defeating the Germans and proved to be a “bridge to victory,” as the ad says. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

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