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This Week in Seabee History (March 18 – March 24)

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

Seabees with CBMU 301 fixing a bulldozer’s track near Khe Sanh in 1968. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

 

March 18

1964: The first men assigned to a Well Drilling Team arrived in Vietnam. Made up of men from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 9, the team was employed in support of two well-drilling programs – one sponsored by the U.S. Army Special Forces and the other sponsored by the United States Operations Mission. In addition to supplying potable water to rural areas of Vietnam, the team trained Vietnamese to perform drilling operations. Before the phase-out of this program, five Well Drilling Teams were sent to Vietnam. The Seabees trained their Vietnamese Army counterparts in drilling techniques. The well drilling ended in December 1965.

1966: The 20th and 21st NCRs were reestablished as part of the United States military buildup for the Vietnam War. The 20th NCR was headquartered at the CBC, Gulfport, Mississippi and the 21st NCR at the CBC, Davisville, Rhode Island. These regiments were tasked with the coordination and administration of the technical and military training of the battalions during their stays at the two centers.

1970: NMCB 1’s main body flights departed Camp Haskins North, RVN for CBC, Davisville, Rhode Island.

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March 19

1942: The Secretary of the Navy authorized officers of the Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) to exercise military command over all officers and enlisted men assigned to construction units. Prior to this date, military command of naval personnel was limited to line officers.

1967: The commanding officer, operations officer, supply officer, Alpha Company commander, and one chief petty officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 departed Port Hueneme, California, to act as an Advance Planning Group for the battalion deployment.

1969: NMCB 3 relieved by NMCB 8 at Camp Haskins South, Republic of Vietnam (RVN); NMCB 3 main body returned to the continental United States (CONUS) via government and commercial aircraft.

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March 20

1971: NMCB 5’s deployment to WESTPAC (Western Pacific) began, including Vietnam, Guam, and the Philippines.

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March 21

1942: The first Seabee training camp was commissioned with the official name of United States Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC), Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia. It was named Camp Allen in memory of Capt. Walter H. Allen, who, during the First World War, commanded a Public Works Regiment at Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois.

1944: Camp Hollyday, Gulfport, Mississippi disestablished.

1969: Capt. R.M. Fluss, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), was relieved as commanding officer of NMCB 4 by Cmdr. R.D. Gaulden, CEC. The change of command ceremony was held on the Construction Battalion Center (CBC) main parade grinder, Port Hueneme, California.

1981: NMCB 133 was chosen Best of Type in the Atlantic Fleet for fiscal year 1980 for their labors in Diego Garcia. The Kangaroos went on to win the coveted Peltier Award, symbolic of the best Seabee battalion the Naval Construction Force. In a ceremony conducted on May 21, 1981, Captain Herbert H. Lewis, Commanding Officer of NMCB 133, accepted the Peltier Award on behalf of the entire battalion. The winning of the Peltier Award was to be repeated to historical proportions by the battalion during the 1980s.

2003: Seabees cross the line of departure into Iraq with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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March 22

1945: Seabee barges put Patton across Rhine River into Germany.

1966: Equipment Operator (Heavy) (EOH) 3 Arnold J. Faulkner of NMCB 4 was killed at Kham Duc, RVN, in a construction accident.

1970: NMCB 1 was relieved at Camp Haskins North, RVN, by NMCB 5.

1970: NMCB 5 commanding officer, Cmdr. R.A. Schade, Jr., CEC, relieved NMCB 1 commanding officer, Cmdr. C.V.W. Popowich, CEC.

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March 23

1944: 106th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) split into Section I and Section II.

1967: First increment of the NMCB 11 advance party, consisting of two officers and 40 enlisted personnel, deployed from CBC, Port Hueneme, California via VR-21 aircraft to Da Nang, RVN.


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