SWCS(SCW) Joshua J. Schlegel, NMCB 1
Senior Chief Schlegel displayed courageous leadership and exceptional foresight in leading his 23-person tactical infrastructure construction team in support of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment (Task Force Forager) and the 25th Naval Construction Regiment (Task Force Overlord) executing engineering priorities of work for Regional Command South (RC-S) and West (RC-W) in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He planned and executed the safe relocation of his team 350 miles from Kandahar Airfield to a new RC-W construction site in a remote mountainous location along dangerous routes. Immediately upon arrival at the RC-W site, his team was redirected to complete an expeditionary gap crossing to replace a bridge that was blown up by insurgent forces. He developed an ingenious engineering solution that crossed the gap, allowing traffic to flow through a vital supply link in western Afghanistan. Working with a multinational force and integrating Afghan National Army (ANA) engineers, he completed the crossing in less than 48 hours. Schlegel and his team completed the construction of Combat Outpost (COP) Ludina while overcoming extreme logistical challenges and working through a complex contracting and funding situation with a multinational command to procure the required material and equipment for the project. Under sporadic small arms fire during construction, he ensured the safety of his personnel while still completing quality construction. He then provided the motivation and construction expertise for his team and ANA engineers to construct the 250’ x 250’ COP Golojirak, making adjustments to the build location to meet tactical objectives and engineering requirements. His work in the completion of COPs Ludina and Golojirak were vital in securing the bypass route in order to build the remaining link in the Afghanistan perimeter ring road, a vital coalition objective. Schlegel’s combination of superior leadership, unwavering commitment to his duties and engineering knowledge have greatly contributed to the legacy of the Seabees and Rear Adm. Combs.
This award is named in honor of Rear Adm. Lewis B. Combs, and is presented to an individual who has made the most outstanding contribution in perpetuating the legacy of the Seabees and the Civil Engineer Corps (CEC). Combs served as chief deputy to Adm. Ben Moreell, founder of the Seabees, and helped create the “fighter builders” and the CEC. He was active with the Seabee Memorial Scholarship Association from its inception in 1970, first as Chairman of the Board of Directors and later as Chairman Emeritus, until his death at age 101.