This Week in Seabee History (Week of June 19)

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

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Seabees use a pontoon lighter barge to tow a Martin PBM “flying boat” aircraft off Okinawa, May 1945. The pontoon barge was used to bring damaged and powerless planes to repair bases, and it was built of the same 5’ by 7’ steel boxes used to construct causeways and supply barges. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

JUNE 19

1943: The 96th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) was commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island; the 12th Special NCB was formed at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1968: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 58’s main body redeployed from Hoi An to Camp Haskins North, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

JUNE 20

1967: NMCB 11’s temporary Enlisted Men (EM) Club placed a “Dairy Queen” machine in operation, and commenced serving chocolate and vanilla ice cream to eager Seabees and Marines.

1967: Seabee Team 0307 arrived in the continental U.S. (CONUS) from Vietnam; Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 301 main body leaves Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Port Hueneme, California for Da Nang, RVN, with the primary mission of maintaining the advance airfields in the I Corps area.

1968: Dong Ha Combat Base in Vietnam came under enemy artillery fire resulting in the destruction of the Dong Ha (Ammunition Supply Point (ASP). Three NMCB 5 personnel, Builder (Heavy) 2nd Class R.D. Eastman, Construction Mechanic (Automotive) 3rd Class B.E. Hall, and Builder (Concrete) 3rd Class F.J. Rupert were injured as a result of the action. Camp Barnes received major structural damages to all shop areas and damages varying from slight to major in the berthing and administrative areas.

2007: Capt. Robert McLean III, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieved Capt. Eric Odderstol, CEC, as commander, 22nd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), CBC Gulfport, Mississippi.

2008: Capt. Kelly Schmader, CEC, assumed command of the 30th NCR from Capt. Katherine (Kate) Gregory, CEC, at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, California.

JUNE 21

1968: NMCB 58 deployed from Hoi An to Da Nang, RVN and established battalion command at Camp Haskins, North, RVN.

1969: NMCB 58’s Detail Quebec at Cam Lo, RVN crusher site credited with at least one enemy killed when they discovered a body during sweep of the area prior to starting work. The enemy soldier had apparently been setting a booby trap when he detonated another booby trap set by the Seabees the evening before. Local Vietnamese said other Viet Cong had been killed but were carried off during the night.

JUNE 22

1944: The 22nd NCB was inactivated at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.

1945: The 69th NCB was the first full Seabee battalion to move by air from one location to another. It was flown in echelons from Bremen, Germany, to London, England, a distance of about 600 miles.

1968: NMCB 3’s advance party departed CBC, Port Hueneme, California in three flights on C-130 aircraft from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California to RVN.

1970: Seabee Team 0707 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island  from Vietnam for reassignment to NMCB 7.

2009:  Cmdr. Stephen Revelas, CEC, was relieved by Cmdr. Michael Monreal, CEC, as commander, NMCB 11 at ceremony held at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

JUNE 23

1942:  The 7th NCB arrived at the Naval Advance Base Depot Receiving Barracks at Port Hueneme, California. This was the first Seabee battalion to occupy and stage through the Port Hueneme Depot. While at the receiving barracks, it underwent advanced military and construction training, and was outfitted for overseas duty.

1944:  The 1st NCB was inactivated.

1945: The 47th NCB was inactivated at Noumea, New Caledonia.

1969: Seabee Team 0603 returned to Davisville, Rhode Island.

1970: NMCB 7 turned Camp Shields, Chu Lai, RVN over to the U.S. Army, thus closing the oldest Seabee camp in Vietnam. Cmdr. P. Oliver, Jr., CEC, commanding officer of NMCB 7, and the last of the battalion’s main body, departed Vietnam and arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island on this date.

1971: In a ceremony at the 21st NCR, Lt. Cmdr. D.L. McCorvey, CEC, relieved Cmdr. P. Oliver, Jr., CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 71. Oliver then relieved Cmdr. C.V.W. Popowich, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 1. It was the first time in Naval Construction Force (NCF) history that a double battalion change of command ceremony was conducted.

2005: An improvised explosive device killed NMCB 18’s Navy Culinary Specialist 1st Class Regina Renee Clark of Centralia, Washington, when it detonated near her convoy vehicle in Fallujah, Iraq. Clark became the first female Seabee ever killed in action, and arguably the first female enlisted woman in the Navy ever killed in action. Two other women were killed in the vehicle with Clark from the explosion.

JUNE 24

1942:  The 6th NCB was commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1943: The 99th NCB was activated at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1969: Seabee Team 0603 arrived in Davisville, Rhode Island from Vietnam for reassignment to NMCB 6.

2016: Cmdr. James Brown, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Jorge Cuadros, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 11 during the battalion’s change of command ceremony at Gulfport, Mississippi.

JUNE 25

1944:  ACORN 18 was dissolved. (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.)

1969: Seabee Team 13304 landed at Moen Island in the Truk District of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI). This was the first Seabee Team to be deployed to the TTPI. While on Moen, Seabee Team 13304 improved roads and water storage facilities. Members of the team also supervised the construction of two dispensaries on Tol Island and provided medical services to the residents of other islands in the TTPI.

2009: Cmdr. Chris Kurgan, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Paul Odenthal, CEC, as NMCB 133 commander at a ceremony at NCBC Gulfport, Mississippi.