This Week in Seabee History (Week of Jan. 8)

Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, Naval History and Heritage Command

Susan Hayward, Dennis O’Keefe and John Wayne on the set of “The Fighting Seabees” in 1943. The film’s world premiere was held simultaneously at seven Seabee camps across the country on Jan. 14, 1944.  (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

January 8

1943: 64th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1946: 47th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) inactivated; 4th Special NCB inactivated at Okinawa.

1968: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 8’s advance party arrived on board at Camp Wilkinson, RVN.

1970: Seabee Team 7102 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from Vietnam for reassignment to NMCB 7.

1973: Seabees of NMCB 71 complete construction of a geodesic dome at the new Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Over the next few decades, the dome becomes the iconic image of the South Pole station.

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January 9

1969: Seabee Team 0914 completed training at the 31st NCR and deployed to Camp Kinser, Okinawa, on a C-118 aircraft from Naval Air Station (NAS) Point Mugu, California.

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January 10

1942: The first man received at Quonset Point, Rhode Island for the newly formed construction force was Shipfitter 1st Class Robert Thomas Adams, USNR, from Newport, Rhode Island. He arrived on January 10, 1942. Adams was not the first man enlisted, but because of the alphabetical sequence of his name, he appears in the original construction battalion books as the first Seabee.

1943: 68th NCB commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1946: 37th Special NCB inactivated at Oahu, Hawaii.

1967: Seabee Team 0510 deployed to the Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

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January 11

1959: The men of Mobile Construction Battalion (MCB) 10 boarded the USNS Daniel Sultan at Guam, Mariana Islands for transfer to their homeport at the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC), Port Hueneme, California. MCB 10 was established on Guam in 1952. This establishment was actually a re-designation of the last active World War II Naval Construction Force unit, the 104th Naval Construction Battalion, under its new mission concept as a “mobile” land-based construction battalion. Until its recent disestablishment in July 1976, MCB 10 was the only construction battalion in continuous operation since World War II.

1967: Five NMCB 8 personnel were wounded in an enemy mining incident approximately 12 miles south of Chu Lai, RVN on a road leading from Route 1 to the 2/7 Marines Echo Company area. The vehicle involved was well sand-bagged and as a result, the personnel injuries were relatively slight. The two men in the cab of the vehicle were air evacuated to the First Medical Battalion.

1968: NMCB 7’s Detail Alpha Nine returned from Khe Sanh, RVN to Camp Adenir after being relieved by NMCB 53 personnel; Seabee Team 0602 arrived in Saigon, RVN. The team moved by convoy to Phuoc Tuy Province, RVN on January 22, 1968.

1971: NMCB 4 main body departed Okinawa for the continental U.S. (CONUS).

2005: NMCB 40 Seabees arrived in Sri Lanka in response to the December 26, 2004 tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia. Other Seabees from NMCB 7, 30th NCR, and Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2 arrived within days to Sri Lanka and Thailand to provide disaster relief and survey port facilities.

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January 12

1967: Seabee Team 0807 deployed from Port Hueneme, California to Diem Khanh, RVN.

1968: Steelworker (Fabricator) 3rd Class J.R. Couch, USN, drowned while swimming near Red Beach, Da Nang Bay, RVN. His body was recovered on January 16 by a U.S. Marine Combined Action Platoon near Nam O Point.

1972: Seabee Team 6206 returned to the Construction Battalion Center (CBC), at Gulfport, Mississippi.

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January 13

1968: Equipment Operator (Construction Equipment) 3rd Class Daniel E. Houle, and Equipment Operator (Hauling) 3rd Class Rodney L. Taylor, were wounded by shrapnel from a booby-trapped sand bag while working on Route No. 1, RVN.

1972: Seabee Team 4006 returned from Vietnam deployment.

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January 14

1943: 2nd Special NCB commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1944: The world premiere of “The Fighting Seabees” was held simultaneously at seven Seabee camps across the country.

1968: Equipment Operator (Construction Equipment) Constructionman H.G. Hodges was killed, and Equipment Operator 3rd Class J.G. Stotko, was wounded, by an enemy grenade detonation while they were manning a defensive position at the “Project Beaver” helicopter repair facility project at Red Beach, Da Nang, Vietnam. Stotko was flown by medevac to the 1st Marine Medical Battalion where he was listed in good condition. Preliminary investigations indicated that Hodges shielded the force of the blast from Stotko while attempting to hurl the enemy grenade from the bunker. Subsequently, the Silver Star Medal with combat “V” was posthumously awarded to Hodges for his heroic action. These men were part of a 16-man security detail from NMCB 9 charged with manning the perimeter of the project site from December 25, 1967 to January 14, 1968.

1969: Seabee Team 0513 departed for Ben Tre, RVN.

 


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Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, Naval History and Heritage Command