By BU2 Christopher Moore, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 Public Affairs Office
DIEGO GARCIA – Seabees assigned to U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 participated in a community relations restoration project of colonial monuments in Diego Garcia, Oct 28.
Since its discovery in 1509, the island has had several occupants including the French who established four coconut plantations and a leper colony of small outlying villages in the 1790’s.
The regions where the plantations and colony were created are now controlled and monitored areas by the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) with minimal access. Due to the tropical weather, the jungle quickly took over the buildings.
NMCB 4 and Public Works Department (PWD) Diego Garcia worked over three hours to restore two monuments by clearing the overwhelming vegetation around the houses where the lepers lived.
“By gaining permission to access this area, we have the opportunity to become involved with an island-wide project to bring back the historical sites of the island,” said Chief Construction Mechanic James Eaton. “I think this is one way we can show the Chargos Islanders that we care to maintain their original history, culture and heritage.”
After the cleanup, the ancestors of the islanders came out to tour the area and lay flowers in memory of their loved ones.
“I was upset that we volunteered on our first off Saturday but after I saw what we accomplished, I realized that I did something bigger than myself,” said Equipment Operator Constructionman Dorian Macal. “I hope the Chargos are happy with the work we’ve done and the work we will do.”
NMCB 4, PWD and other volunteers have already made arrangements to return to the monuments to continue clearing vegetation in late November.
NMCB 4 is a forward deployed pacific NMCB, ready to support Major Combat Operations, Humanitarian Assistance/ Disaster Relief operations and to provide general engineering and civil support to Navy, Marine Corps and joint operational forces. Homeported out of Port Hueneme, Calif., NMCB 4 has detail sites deployed throughout the United States and Pacific area of operations, including Diego Garcia, Guam, Japan, Philippines, Republic of Korea and Timor Leste.
For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/seabee/nmcb4/Pages/default.aspx or follow NMCB 4 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NMCB4