This Week in Seabee History (Week of May 8)

Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, U.S. Navy Seabee Museum

Bougainville

Seabee sign at the Bougainville Navy Yard in the Solomon Islands, Jan. 2, 1944. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

May 8

1943: 7th Special Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1945: 46th NCB inactivated at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.

1967: A detachment of Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 was assigned the task of building underground bunkers, defensive positions, and galley and storage facilities for a United States Army Special Forces unit at Con Thien, Republic of Vietnam (RVN). Con Thien was located approximately two kilometers south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). At first, the Seabees conducted their construction work on a nearly normal daily routine and were able to complete the initial portion of their projects without harassment. On May 8, however, Con Thien came under attack by an estimated two reinforced North Vietnamese Army battalions. The enemy fired an estimated 600 to 1,000 rounds of mortar at the camp. The assault on the camp was successfully repelled by Seabee, Marine, and Special Forces personnel. After the attack, the Seabees returned to their construction work, but the camp continued to be harassed by enemy mortar and small artillery fire. From the time of the first attack to the time the entire detachment of 25 Seabees was evacuated on May 13, eleven of the Seabees had been wounded. The construction work for the Special Forces camp was later completed by another detachment of Seabees from the same battalion.

1967: Utilitiesman 1st Class Lloyd O’Banion was awarded a Silver Star for his actions during an attack at Con Thien, RVN.

1967: 138 enlisted men and four officers of the NMCB 3 advance party arrived on board at Gia Le Combat Base, RVN.

1968: Arrival of first flight of NMCB 11 at Quang Tri, RVN.

May 9

1968: Cmdr. W.K. Hartell, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), of NMCB 11, took command of Seabee Camp at Quang Tri Combat Base, RVN.

1969: Seabees of NMCB 40 came under 122mm rocket attack at Camp Campbell, Phu Bai, RVN. Although this was the battalion’s third Vietnam deployment, it was the first time their camp had received fire. As a result of this attack, two Seabees were hospitalized and 13 Seabees were treated and returned to duty.

1969: NMCB 40 Phu Bai asphalt plant and fire truck personnel assisted in rescuing two pilots from an Air Force O-2 aircraft, which crashed near the plant.

1969: NMCB 3 base camp nine miles southeast of Hue, RVN received about five rounds of enemy 122 mm rocket fire. Seabee casualties were light with no fatalities and light damage to the camp.

1970: Seabee Teams 0705 and 0706 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from Vietnam for reassignment to NMCB 7.

1970: Seabee Team 0414 departed Saigon and arrived in Cao Lanh, RVN, their final deployment site.

May 10

1943: 121st NCB activated at Marine Corps Camp Lejeune, New River, North Carolina.

1944: ACORN 22 dissolved and absorbed into Naval Air Base, Eniwetok. (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.)

1946: 35th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) inactivated; 23rd NCB inactivated on Guam; 54th NCB inactivated at Mactan, Philippines.

1965: The 30th NCR was commissioned at Da Nang, RVN, under the commander of Captain Harold Liberty, CEC, as the planning arm of the Pacific Fleet Seabees (COMCBPAC) in Southeast Asia.

1969: Seabee Team 0914 deployed to RVN on a C-130 aircraft from Kadena AFB, Okinawa.

1971: Headquarters of CBMU 302 was moved from Cam Ranh Bay to Bien Hoa, RVN.

May 11

1942: The 4th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1944: The CEC Officers School (CECOS) opened at Camp Endicott, Rhode Island after having been moved from Camp Peary, Virginia.

1967: The NMCB 7 advance party of five officers and 97 men deployed to Da Nang, RVN aboard two C-130 aircraft provided by the Military Airlift Command.

1969: NMCB 40’s Phu Bai asphalt plant crew assisted in re-railing a car of the Republic of Vietnam national railroad after it derailed near the plant.

May 12

1965: NMCB 9 Air Detachment left Port Hueneme, California and arrived in Da Nang, RVN.

1966: NMCB 5’s main body departed Camp Hoover, Da Nang, RVN for Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Port Hueneme, California.

1969: Seabee Team 0604 arrived in Davisville, Rhode Island from RVN for reassignment to NMCB 6.

May 13

1967: One man was killed and seven were wounded following a nighttime mortar and recoilless rifle attack on the NMCB 8 compound located at Chu Lai, Vietnam.

1968: Due to the augmentation of the Naval Construction Force (NCF) required for the war in Vietnam, Reserve NMCBs 12 and 22 were ordered to active duty at Gulfport, Mississippi, effective this date. This is the first time reserve Seabee units were called to active duty; the last C-130 flight of NMCB 10 personnel departed Quang Tri for CONUS.

1969: Seabee Teams 0705 and 0706 were assigned to the 21st NCR for 18 weeks of specialized training.

1971: Delayed party for NMCB 40 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for deployment to Diego Garcia.

May 14

1943: Seabees from Camp Peary, Virginia (six CEC officers, 18 enlisted men) report to Amphibious Training Base Solomons, Maryland and begin four week training force for what will become the Naval Combat Demolition Units.

1943: 87th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1946: 3rd Special NCB inactivated on Okinawa.

1965: A detail of one officer and 74 enlisted men from NMCB 9 arrived at Da Nang to assist NMCB 3 advance party [to arrive 18 May] in construction of first Seabee camp at Da Nang main compound (Camp Hoover) near Hill 327. The camp was originally programmed for two battalions, but later reduced to one battalion.

1969: NMCB 12 (reserve battalion) was disestablished as an active duty unit and returned to reserve status.

1970: Seabee Team 0412 departed Guam and arrived on Koror Island, Palau District, Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands.

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