Story by NCTC Gulfport and CSFE Public Affairs; Photos by NCBC Gulfport Public Affairs Mr. Brian Lamar and NCTC Asst Public Affairs UT2 Huot
GULFPORT, Miss. – Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Gulfport celebrated 50 years as a Commissioned Naval Training Command on July 13, 2017. They had the honor of sharing the wonderful celebration with the first commanding officer, retired Capt. Brian Leap, of what was then called the Construction Training Unit Gulfport. Leap was greeted by the current commanding officer, Cmdr. Ana Franco.
Leap stood with the formation consisting of Navy, Air Force, and Army students during morning quarters on 13 July and it was evident that his presence demanded attention. Leap was very interested in seeing the changes that have occurred since his time as the commanding officer years ago. During his two year tour as Commanding Officer, his command processed over 9,000 men into the Navy Seabee community, similar to today’s throughput. Not only did he enjoy being a part of the celebration, interacting with the staff and students was also one of the highlights of his visit.
Following quarters he was guided along a tour of the campus and was in awe of what his command has grown into. It was the advancements in technology and classroom settings that fascinated him most; striking a bit of pride that he contributed to the evolution of what his command has become.
It wasn’t until 1995 that NCTC became a Joint Training Command. eap was impressed to see how well the Navy, Air Force, and Army worked together as a single unit to produce the best and brightest Sailors, Airmen, and Soldiers to the mission worldwide. During his two year tour as commanding officer, his command processed over 9,000 men into the Navy Seabee community.
At the end of the tour, NCTC Gulfport celebrated a cake cutting in true Navy fashion with their oldest and youngest Seabees doing the honors. Master Chief Dan Walker and Builder 2nd Class Caleb Walters joined Leap and Franco to cut the cake. Following the cake cutting, Leap spoke as the guest speaker for Builder (BU) Class 17340’s graduation from “A” School. He was the first to shake the new Seabees’ hands as NCTC Gulfport welcomed them to the Seabee Community.
Additional special guests include retired Capt. Finn, who was the commanding officer during Hurricane Katrina and his wife; as well as retired Chief Ron Harvey and retired Builder 1st Class Cajun Smith who were present during morning quarters.
NCTC Gulfport today develops and graduates over 4,500 Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen a year. They train in basic and advanced construction trades and military skills to accomplish contingency and peace time construction operations, CBR operations, and humanitarian assistance missions worldwide.