This Week in Seabee History (Week of May 15)

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

Seabees return from deployment

Capt. Katherine (Kate) Gregory, commodore of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), welcomes the unit’s Gold Team on their return to Naval Base Ventura County, March 18, 2008, after a one-year deployment to Fallujah, Iraq. Gregory assumed command of the 30th NCR May 19, 2007, the first female active duty regimental commander in the history of the Naval Construction Force. She went on to become the first female commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and chief of civil engineers in 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernesto Hernandez Fonte/080318-N-9584H-003)

May 15

1944: ACORN 23 dissolved and absorbed into Naval Air Base, Ebeye (Kwajalein Atoll).  (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each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn.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.)

1966: Cmdr. Tom C. Williams, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 10, assumed command of Camp Hoover, Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

1968: The last flight of NMCB 11’s 16-flight airlift to Vietnam was marred by disaster. The flight crashed on landing at Quang Tri airstrip. Seven passengers were injured and immediately flown by Medevac helicopters to the hospital ship, USS Sanctuary, cruising off the coast of Vietnam. The left wing was torn from the plane on impact and strewn ablaze for several hundred yards from the plane. Fires broke out within the fuselage of the plane, and one of the remaining engines burst into flames. While the crash trucks were rushing to the scene, Seabees poured out of the rear hatches carrying the injured with them. The battalion’s dentist, Lt. Conley T. Snidow, who was accompanying the troops, administered first aid on the scene.

1968: The second increment of NMCB 1’s advance party of 48 personnel deployed via one C-141 aircraft from Davisville, Rhode Island to Da Nang, RVN.

1969: NMCB 121’s Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Gustave Pappas was wounded by a grenade thrown into the back of an ambulance during a civic action visit to the village of Phu Long, RVN.

May 16

194310th Special Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) formed at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1966Seabee Team 0405 departed Chu Lai for Port Hueneme for training prior to deployment.

1970 NMCB 5’s battalion flag was transferred from Camp Haskins North, Da Nang to Bien Hoa, RVN. Personnel remaining at Camp Haskins North became Detail Yankee.

May 18

1942: Advance Base Depot Port Hueneme, California was established and went into operation.

1943: 67th NCB commissioned at Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1965: An NMCB 3 advance party of one officer and 99 enlisted men arrived at Da Nang, RVN from Guam. They traveled by US Air Force (USAF) aircraft.

1966: Construction Battalion Base Unit (CBBU) homeported at Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Port Hueneme, California,  was redesignated as the 31st NCR under command of Capt. Robert D. Thorson, CEC, with Capt. Harold F. Liberty, Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of CBBU as the deputy of the regiment.

1969:  Team 1013 compound and Xuan Loc City, RVN came under heavy enemy rocket, mortar, and small arms fire. Construction Electrician 2nd Class (CE2) Phillip Lee Grieser was killed by shrapnel.

1970:  Seabee Team 0313 returned to the continental United States (CONUS) via government aircraft.

May 19

1968: A rocket attack began at 1930 (7:30 p.m.) on NMCB 4’s almost completed camp site at Camp Evans, RVN. One rocket hit the ammunition supply point (ASP). Fires and explosions spread destruction to the major ASP area and fuel farm. Debris from the exploding shells and rockets caused moderate damage to five berthing huts, and Alpha Company shops and repair parts buildings. Explosions continued into the morning of the 20th, but with no Seabee casualties.

1971: Ceremony held turning Camp Moscrip, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico over from NMCB 1 to NMCB 62.

May 19-20, 1971: NMCB 1 main body flights departed Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico for Davisville, Rhode Island.

2007:  Capt. Katherine (Kate) Gregory assumed command of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), the first female active duty regimental commander in the history of the Naval Construction Force.

May 20

1946: 29th NCB inactivated at Truk, Caroline Islands. 85th NCB inactivated on Wake Island. 96th NCB inactivation at Tsingtao, China began, completed by August 1, 1946.

1965: Part of NMCB 3 main body departed Guam on the USS Point Defiance for Vietnam. On Guam, the battalion was the backup battalion.

1969: Main body of NMCB 71 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for assignment to Roosevelt Roads Naval Base, Puerto Rico.

May 21

1946: 58th NCB inactivated on Okinawa, Japan.

1966: The first five flights of NMCB 8 departed Vietnam for CONUS. Seabees on the first three flights had to be transported to Da Nang airfield by helicopter because of road blocks caused by civil strife in the city of Da Nang.

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