NMCB 1 Builds Long-term Partnerships, Trust Throughout Pacific

By MCC Kim Martinez, NMCB 1 Public Affairs

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Seabees from NMCB 1 volunteer at  Bakhita Orphanage, Timor Leste, March 2. Photo by SW3 Amanda Reed

Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction (NMCB) 1 continued to build partnerships through volunteerism, March 2, 3 and 7, by participating in community relations events at orphanages in Timor Leste and Korea, and at the Busy Bee International School in Okinawa, Japan.

NMCB 1’s Civic Construction Action Detail (CCAD) Timor Leste teamed up with members of the Australian Police Force to prepare meals, garden and teach English to the residents of the Santa Bakita Orphanage outside of Dili, Timor-Leste, while NMCB 1 Detail Chinhae, Korea partnered with sailors from the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy to volunteer at the Aikwangwan Orphanage in Koje Island, Korea. The battalion closed out the week’s community relations efforts by teaching Okinawan children English through play at a Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa-sponsored event.

“The core intent of community relations activity in Timor-Leste is to create diverse opportunities for direct positive interaction with the civilian populace, open and maintain direct lines of communication with the public, and generate opportunities for future engagement,” said BUC Troy Ratliff, NMCB 1 CCAD Timor-Leste assistant officer-in-charge.

“We joined officers from Australia’s Timor-Leste Police Development Program in planting a garden for a sustainable food source at the Santa Bakhita Orphanage in Becora and also provided a barbecue lunch for the 29 children, who ranged in age from six to 18 years old,” Ratliff said. “I enjoyed volunteering at the orphanage and hope that we had a positive impact in the lives of the children here.”

A few thousand miles and several countries north of Timor Leste, NMCB 1 and sailors from the Republic of Korea Navy, took a break from participating in the annual multi-lateral exercise FOAL Eagle/Key Resolve, to volunteer at the Aikwangwan Orphanage in Koje Island, Korea.

“FOAL Eagle/Key Resolve is an opportunity for both armed services to work together and get to know how the other operates,” said UTC Todd Maxwell, NMCB 1 Detail Chinhae assistant officer-in-charge. “The difference between this year and prior years is that the U.S. Navy Seabees and the ROK Navy Seabees came together at the Aikwangwan Orphanage and installed a 20-meter handrail, flipped mushroom logs and participated in games with the local residents. This is a first for both Seabee teams to work together and hopefully will not be the last time we work side-by-side as one team.”

Seabees deployed to Okinawa spent time interacting with children from Kadena City, breaking language barriers, and building friendships through play and other activities.

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Seabees from NMCB 1 and Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa tenant commands play tug-of-war during an English through play community service event at the Busy Bee International School, Okinawa, Japan, March 7. Photo by MCC Kim Martinez

“When the military comes here to volunteer, it’s a great opportunity for [children] to enhance their vocabulary because they’re speaking in English,” said Michelle Deliz, first grade teacher, Busy Bee International School. “The Japanese [children] take great advantage of the practice that comes with the interaction they have with the [Sailors] and those who come here to volunteer.”

Deliz said the children look forward to playing sports like dodge ball with the volunteers, and teaching them a little Japanese.

“I feel really lucky [to participate in the COMREL] because not all Japanese schools get a chance like this to have [Sailors] come and play with them,” said a Busy Bee International School student.

Many Sailors in the battalion take advantage of the opportunity to immerse themselves in their host nation community, which is highly encouraged by the NMCB 1 chain of command.

“Our community relations here in Okinawa is an important part of our overall mission, which aids in developing strong partnerships grounded in trust and mutual respect,” said Cmdr. Chad Brooks, NMCB 1 commanding officer. “Our Sailors eagerly volunteer in Gulfport, Miss., and at many of our deployed sites throughout the world because they have genuine compassion for others and pride in representing the United States Navy.

“I know our volunteer engagements here will have a positive impact on many young people who may have only known about the United States through movies or the Internet,” Brooks said. “Now, they may also remember a genuine, caring American Sailor who invested time in their well-being.”

NMCB 1 provides combat-ready engineer forces in response to Combatant Commander and Naval Component Commander requirements and provides planning and operational support for Seabee employment. The continued operations in the Pacific Command help demonstrate the U.S. commitment to developing enduring relationships, and strengthening local institutions and communities throughout the region. At U.S. locations, Seabees perform missions to prepare for disaster support and civic assistance. NMCB 1 is homeported out of Gulfport, Miss., and has 13 global details deployed throughout the United States and Pacific area of operations in Japan, Korea, Diego Garcia, Cambodia, Philippines, Timor Leste and Guam.

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Seabees from NMCB 1 and Republic of Korea navy Sailors jump rope at the Aikwangwon orphanage as part of a community relations event, Koje Island, Republic of Korea, March 2. Photo by AB3 Leanna Manke

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Seabees from NMCB 1 construct a new bathroom facility as part of their 2014 Pacific Deployment, Cambodia. Photo by UT2 Kasandra Murphy

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A Seabee from NMCB 1 shares a photo with local children, Cambodia. Photo by CECN Alexis Martinez

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BU2 William Anderson, NMCB 1 DET Cambodia, cuts masonry unit blocks with a circular saw to maintain proper measurements for walls constructed for the foundation of a head facility at Sang Karat Primary School. Photo by CECN Alexis Martinez

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BU3 Francisco Berrios, NMCB 1 DET Cambodia, ensures a single block between the first and second stalls is leveled and aligned during a Construction Civic Action Detail (CCAD) at  Sang Karat Primary School. Photo by CECN Alexis Martinez

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