Story by Naval Construction Group 1 Public Affairs
The oldest and youngest Seabees, Retired Master Chief Equipmentman Jim Daniels, right, and Constructionman Recruit Colin Ryniec, assigned to Naval Construction Training Center, cut a cake with Maj. Gen. Daniel O’Donohue, commanding general, 1st Marine Division, during the 75th Annual Seabee Ball at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., on Feb. 25, 2017. The ball was held to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the U.S. Navy Seabees, 150th Anniversary of the Civil Engineer Corps, and the 175th Anniversary of Naval Facilities Engineering Command in 2017. (Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Lowell Whitman/170225-N-HA376-204)
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (NNS) — Seabees from around Naval Base Ventura County gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the U.S. Navy Seabees, 150th Anniversary of the Civil Engineer Corps, and 175 years of Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Feb. 25.
More than 1,200 active duty, reserve, and retired Seabees, service members, and civilians crowded two floors of the library to mark the occasion.
Maj. Gen. Daniel O’Donohue, commanding general, 1st Marine Division, attended as the guest of honor, and highlighted the unique characteristics of the Seabees as builders and fighters, their capabilities in expeditionary construction, and honored Seabee veterans in attendance from every conflict since World War II.
“I will never be eloquent enough to talk of the brotherhood and immense mutual respect forged in combat between us, and I will forever answer any call from the Seabees,” said O’Donohue. “Seldom in history has a body of men and women given so much in selfless service in freedom’s cause than the Seabees.”
O’Donohue spoke of his past combat experiences with the Seabees during the invasion of Baghdad. A detachment of Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 21 created roads to cross into Iraq, helped open the port of Umm Qasr, constructed forward operating bases, and worked within his Marine task force to stabilize Al Anbar Province.
“Under the toughest conditions imaginable – those of danger, harsh terrain, extreme weather, and the urgent compression of time when lives and mission are at stake – you are essential to the preparation of any command, committed to the most decisive actions of the fight, and when the smoke clears, instantly in action to provide humanitarian assistance so key to lasting peace,” said O’Donohue.
Following O’Donohue’s remarks, retired Master Chief Equipmentman Jim Daniels, the oldest Seabee in attendance and a veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, joined O’Donohue and the youngest Seabee in attendance, Constructionman Recruit Colin Ryniec, for a ceremonious cake cutting. Following a rendition of the “Song of Seabees,” the attendees celebrated with music and dancing.
The Seabees were created on March 5, 1942, after Adm. Ben Moreell, chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks, recognized the need for a militarized construction force. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Navy saw the formation of naval construction battalions.
With the motto “We Build, We Fight” the Seabees have gone on to construct thousands of miles of roadways and airstrips, entire bases, and thousands of other projects around the world.
Naval Facilities and Engineering Command, established in 1842, is the Navy’s oldest systems command. The Navy Civil Engineer Corps was established in 1867 following the Civil War.
Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1 prepares Pacific Fleet Naval Construction Force units to conduct deliberate construction in support of combatant commanders, numbered fleet commanders, Marine air-ground task forces, and other warfighter requirements.