By BU1 (SCW/EXW) Garnett Whitmire, NMCB 11, CCAD Marshall Islands
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, Construction Civic Action Detail (CCAD) Marshall Islands, are deployed to Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, to complete humanitarian construction projects and conduct community engagement programs from January to July 2015. While expecting to build relationships with the Marshallese people during their 2015 deployment, a surprising source closer to home also had a big impact on the ‘Bees.
Members of CCAD Marshall Islands always look forward to their bi-weekly mail call of letters, photographs and sometimes even baked goods from their loved ones. But on May 1 they were surprised to see a small package delivered from Brookings, S.D., an unfamiliar town to the battalion. The package contained 30 white envelopes with meticulously written letters from school-age members of the Brookings County “Head, Hearts, Hands and Health” (4-H) organization.
As the Seabees read the letters they realized that each spoke volumes in just a few short sentences. Whether the letters described the child’s favorite foods or contained drawings of their animals, they all touched the hearts of their grateful recipients and reminded the Seabees that they are appreciated, missed and most importantly not forgotten by those back home.
“When I received my letters from the 4-H Club, they brought a smile to my face,” said Construction Electrician 3rd Class Jamette Coleman, NMCB 11. “Sometimes our service goes unnoticed, but the letters proved otherwise.”
4-H is the largest youth development organization in the United States and empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults. With origins as far back as the late 1800s, it was the passage of the Smith-Lever act in 1914 which created the Cooperative Extension System in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nationalized 4-H, and led to the adoption of the famous green clover emblem in 1924.
Today, 4-H serves youth in rural, urban and suburban communities in every state across the nation via 110 land-grant universities and more than 3,000 county offices. 4-H’s service is evident in their willingness to bring a piece of America to military members deployed overseas.
“We were looking for community service projects and we decided to do something to support our military. Once we got the idea into our heads we just had to do it!” stated Heidi Merriman, 4-H Military Service Committee member.
Military members do not expect to receive mail from perfect strangers, let alone letters with obviously so much thought put into them. The Seabees of CCAD Marshall Islands decided to write letters of their own to the 4-H students in Brookings, and the two groups have even exchanged photos. It will be a long time before the Seabees forget their new friends and the reminder that their service is appreciated.
CCAD Marshall Islands is tasked with providing Humanitarian Assistance (HA) construction, informal apprentice training in general engineering skills and Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tutoring. Their efforts demonstrate United States’ commitment to the Republic of the Marshall Islands and strengthen the bond between the two nations.
NMCB 11 is a Seabee battalion specializing in contingency construction, disaster response and humanitarian assistance. The battalion’s homeport is in Gulfport, Miss. The Naval Construction Force (NCF) is a vital component of the U.S. Maritime Strategy. NCF offers deployable battalions capable of providing contingency construction, disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance and combat operations support.