A Seabee Chapter Closes: Camp Moreell Transfers to Army

By MCC(SW/AW) Scott B. Boyle, 25th NCR Public Affairs

Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 and members of the U.S. Army Alpha Company, 427th Brigade Support Battalion, stand in formation during a transfer ceremony at Camp Moreell, Southwest Asia, May 23. Seabees operated Camp Moreell, named for Adm. Ben Moreell, “Father of the Seabees,” for almost 10 years as the main Seabee ground base and assembly point for many Sailors who deployed across Southwest Asia before transferring responsibilities to the Army.

The primary hub for Seabee deployments to and from Iraq and Afghanistan was closed during a ceremony held on Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, May 23.

For 10 years, Camp Moreell served as the main Seabee ground base and assembly point for all ‘Bees and many Sailors who deployed across Southwest Asia, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

Cmdr. Matthew Motsko, officer-in-charge, 25th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) Forward, said Camp Moreell was a mainstay for all Seabees who prosecuted the multiple operations over the past 10 years.

“The closing of Camp Moreell is a somber feeling,” Cmdr. Motsko said. “It’s the end of an era, but a necessary event given the positive progress being made.”

Lt. Cmdr. Sean Dalton (far right) and Chief Petty Officer Andre Sanders lead the formation for Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 as they pay respects to fallen Seabees during a transfer ceremony at Camp Moreell, Southwest Asia, May 23.“The camp was the first stop for Seabees, where we acclimatized to the cold desert air in winter and the heat of summer,” said Capt. Darius Banaji, 25th NCR Commander. “It was where we recounted our deployments and went through a transition period before heading home to our families."

Named after Adm. Ben Moreell, the former commander of the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps and the founding father of the Seabees, the camp supported 55,000 Seabees during 39 NMCB deployments and 20 NCR deployments.

Master Chief Constructionman Rodney Gardner, 25th NCR Command Master Chief, said the camp went through some major changes over the years.

“The first time I went through [Camp Moreell] back in 2002, it was nothing but tents with plywood floors,” he said. The showers were so far away that you would be covered in dust by the time you got to your tent.

“But over time, the tents were replaced by permanent structures — Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities and a great gym,” Gardner said. “It really became a home away from home for us.”

For Motsko, the Camp’s legacy will live on even after it closes.

“Camp Moreell is what Seabees remember as home, right before they went out the door to perform their missions –further into harm’s way while feeling comfort knowing someone had the watch and they could rest easy,” he said. “[Camp Moreell] was, and still is, an icon.”

(From left) Master Chief Petty Officer Charles Boris and Cmdr. Matthew Motsko prepare to furl the colors of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 as Lt. Cmdr. Sean Dalton salutes during a transfer ceremony at Camp Moreell, Southwest Asia, May 23.While Camp Moreell is now closed for the Seabees, its importance to the mission has not changed. The U.S. Army’s Alpha Company, 427th Brigade Support Battalion is keeping the name intact in honor of the men and women who built and maintained it for the past 10 years.

“We will honor the namesake of [Camp Moreell] and respect what it means to your storied and proud heritage,” U.S. Army Col. Robert Cheatham Jr., commander, Area Support Group – Kuwait, said during the transfer ceremony.

Col. Cheatham also thanked the Seabees for building, maintaining and preparing the camp so that it could continue to support troops coming through Kuwait.

“We are humbled the Army and future tenants will keep the namesake of Camp Moreell,” Banaji said.

At the beginning of the transfer ceremony, Master Chief Equipmentman Charles Boris read the names of 20 fallen Seabees who all passed through Camp Moreell between 2003 and 2011.

“It was important, even imperative, to remember that all gave some, but some gave all, and some paid the ultimate sacrifice during operations over the past 10 years,” Motsko said.

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