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This Week in Seabee History (September 30 – October 6)

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

CBMU 301 working at Khe Sanh, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), 1968. On 6 October 1966, a 113-man advance party of NMCB 58 arrived at Red Beach, Da Nang, RVN. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

 

September 30

1942: Aviation, Construction, Ordnance, Repair, Navy (ACORN) 1 arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia. (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each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn.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.)

1963: Commander Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CBPAC) Seabee Technical Assistance Team (STAT) Detachment, RVN established under commander of LCDR J.A. Wright, CEC, with its headquarters in Saigon, RVN.

1965: The last echelon of NMCB 8’s main body arrived at Da Nang, RVN, to establish a new Seabee camp. NMCB 8 was the first battalion to send a construction detail out from a battalion.

1967: NMCB 4 main body moved from Da Nang, RVN to Port Hueneme, California.

1969: NMCB 5’s Lt. Cmdr. W.S. Smyth, CEC, acting commanding officer, changed Operation Control (OPCON) from 30th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), Da Nang, RVN to 31st NCR, Port Hueneme, California.


October 1

1944: ACORN 38 was decommissioned and Naval Air Base Saipan commissioned.

1945: ACORN 24 was decommissioned; the 29th, 30th, 49th NCRs were inactivated.

1951: Commander Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CBLANT) was established. This activity was placed under the command of the Commander of the Service Force of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet so he could effectively fulfill his responsibility as construction battalion type commander.

1952: 103rd NCB was disestablished on Guam, and NMCB 10 commissioned the same day on Guam.

1965: Two Atlantic Fleet Seabee Teams were assigned to Project Demo, a project in support of the Department of State at embassies behind the Iron Curtain.

1967: NMCB 9 relieved NMCB 4 and commenced its third consecutive deployment to the RVN near Da Nang.

1967: Seabee Teams 0601 and 4001 graduated from Seabee Team Training and were assigned to Officer in Charge (OIC), Construction Battalions, Pacific Detachment, RVN, deploying to Tu Duc and Lei Thieu, respectively.

1970: NMCB 5 Detail Yankee transferred from Camp Haskins North to Camp Haskins South, Da Nang, RVN. Detail Yankee was relieved at Camp Haskins North by elements of the Third Marine Amphibious Force.

1970: Seabee Team 0317 deployed to Yap, TTPI via government aircraft.

1985: Command status of UCT’s upgraded to commanding officer.


October 2

1799: The United States’ first navy yard was established at Washington, D.C.

1952: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 10 activated on Guam.

1967: Seabee Team 0601 arrived in Thu Duc, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

1967: NMCB 71 advance party of two officers and 19 Seabees departed from Chu Lai for Davisville, Rhode Island, on two C-141 aircraft. NMCB 40 advance party arrived at Camp Shields, Okinawa.

1968: Cmdr. J.A. D’Emidio relieved Cmdr. G.W. Schley as commanding officer, NMCB 74.

1986: Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 became the first Seabee unit ever awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Service Award. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. The award recognized ACB 2’s unsurpassed operational tempo, including support of the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon, and Operation “Urgent Fury” in Grenada, Teamwork 84 in Northern Europe, Ocean Venture 84 in the Caribbean, and Joint Logistics Over the Shore Test II. Over 100 members of Amphibious Construction Battalion 1 were also eligible for the award, since they were assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 on temporary duty during Joint Logistics Over the Shore Test II.

2010: Capt. Paula C. Brown promoted to rear admiral, becoming the second female CEC flag officer and first female deputy commander of the First Naval Construction Division (1NCD).


October 3

1942: The first decorated Seabee hero was Seaman 2nd Class Lawrence C. “Bucky” Meyer of the 6th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB). While working as a truck driver on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Meyer took cover in a Marine machine gun pit during an enemy strafing attack on the airstrip. Manning the machine gun, he fired at the lead Japanese Zero and shot it down. For his exploit, Meyer was awarded the Silver Star Medal. Unfortunately, the medal had to be awarded posthumously, because 13 days later Meyer was killed in action when Japanese dive bombers attacked and destroyed the gasoline barge on which he was working.

1945: 48th NCB inactivated at Guam.

1964: NMCB 7 inaugurated the first fully computerized programming of a Seabee construction project when that battalion’s workload at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was planned and programmed by computer. This method of planning became a useful tool in preparing for subsequent construction projects.

1968: NMCB 3 relieved NMCB 62 at Camp Haskins South, RVN.

October 3-21, 1971: NMCB 71 detachment CHAGOS departed Davisville, Rhode Island, for deployment to Diego Garcia (Reindeer Station).

2007: Utilitiesman 2nd Class Craig Gardner and Builder 2nd Class William Lathan, Seabees attached to Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), built a gazebo at the Zanderij Clinic Zanderij, Suriname. Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical treatment to patients in a dozen countries. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

October 4

1942: 29th NCB commissioned at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1966: NMCB 71 was recommissioned at Davisville, Rhode Island, and assigned to the 21st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR).

1969: At 2330 (11:30 p.m.), Gunner’s Mate (Guns) 2nd Class P.W. Larremore was killed in action approximately 5 miles southeast of Da Nang in Binh Ky Hamlet, RVN.


October 5

1971: NMCB 71 departed Davisville, Rhode Island, for deployment to Antarctica.


October 6

1945: Seabees are ready to build anything, anytime, anywhere. Thus it came as no surprise to Seabees stationed on Attu in the Aleutian Islands in 1945 when they were ordered to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula to build a Fleet Weather Central to be operated by the U.S. Navy. Work on preliminary plans began immediately, and within seven days 20 Seabees were aboard ship with supplies and equipment bound for the southern end of Kamchatka Peninsula. The site chosen for the weather station was near the city of Petropavlovsk. It was in rolling, wooded country within view of the active volcano, Keryakchaya. The weather central itself consisted of six standard-size Quonset huts attached to a central wood structure. The arrangement permitted centralization of utilities and complete access to all facilities without the necessity of going outdoors. It included quarters for the nine Navy officers and the 24 enlisted men assigned to operate the station. The project was completed in 18 days, working 10.5 hours per day. The Seabees were assisted by the weather station personnel and Russian Army laborers. In addition to the housing, the Seabees cleared the site and leveled it, erected radio masts, and installed utility and weather equipment. On 6 October 1945, the project was completed and the Seabees returned to Attu.

1945: 52nd NCB inactivated on Guam.

1966: A 113-man advance party of NMCB 58 arrived at Red Beach, Da Nang, RVN.

1968: First Engineer Battalion (1st MARDIV) relieved NMCB 3 at Camp Faulkner.

1969: Seabee Team 4004 was assigned to 21st NCR for 18 weeks of specialized training.


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