This Week in Seabee History (March 25 – March 31)

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

This Week in Seabee History – March 26, 2017
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presents the Silver Star to Brooke Toner, widow of Navy Lt.j.g. Francis L. Toner, IV, at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2011. Halfway through a year-long Individual Augmentee (IA) assignment with the Afghan Regional Security Integration Command North, Lt.j.g. Toner didn’t hesitate when a terrorist attacked his shipmates on Forward Operating Base Shaheen near Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. Unarmed, he charged the lone gunman, saving innocent lives that day, March 27, 2009. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)


1993: By the end of March, the Seabees had successfully completed their support of Operation “Restore Hope” and returned to their previous deployment sites or their home ports.

1995: In support of Joint Task Force “Provide Promise,” a 35-person team from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 successfully brought to a close the Navy’s turn at providing public works maintenance and operations functions at the Joint Fleet Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia.


A Seabee operates an earthmover as another Seabee uses a pick axe at one of several sites being worked on at Camp Pleso. (Exact date unknown/National Archives)


1996: NH96 – ES consisted of deploying 46 active-duty personnel from NMCB 7 and 18 reserve personnel from NMCB 14 to El Salvador from January 1996 through March 1996. The detail drilled two water wells, constructed a base camp at La Montana, and constructed a two-room school.


March 25

1967: Seabee Team 0911 departed the main body at Da Nang, RVN, via C-118 aircraft, for the 31st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) to commence military and technical training.

1969: Seabee Team 5301 deployed from Davisville, Rhode Island to RVN for assignment to the 30th NCR for duty at Da Nang, RVN.


March 26

1969: Seabee Teams 0703 and 0704 arrived in Davisville, Rhode Island, from Vietnam for reassignment to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7.

1970: Seabee Team 0516 was disestablished.

1970: 21st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) Detail Yankee (Underwater Construction Team 1) returned to Davisville, Rhode Island from the Navy’s Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC).


March 27

1964: On Good Friday, a disastrous earthquake and tidal wave leveled much of the city of Kodiak, Alaska. One day later, Seabee volunteers from Port Hueneme, California, were on the scene working at disaster relief. Over a period of several weeks they restored utilities, provided a dry dock for the heavily damaged fishing fleet and participated in the rehabilitation of the city.

2009: Lt. j.g. Francis L. Toner IV, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii, of Panorama City, California, was killed when an Afghan National Army soldier opened fire on U.S. Navy personnel assigned to Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan at Camp Shaheen, Mazar-E-Sharif, Afghanistan.


March 28

1969: NMCB 22 was disestablished as an active duty unit.


March 29

Mar. 29-Apr. 1, 1966: NMCB 3 arrived at Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).


March 30

1942: In California, the Oxnard Harbor District formally turned over the Hueneme Harbor to Lt. Gustave G. Werner Jr., CEC. Werner accepted the harbor and adjoining land on behalf of the U.S. Navy. On this site a Seabee support base was built under the name of the U.S. Naval Advance Base Depot. It was the predecessor of the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC), Port Hueneme, California.

1968: NMCB 53 constructed the first Ammi Pontoon Bridge in Vietnam, and became operational on this date.

1970: Seabee Teams 0315 and 0316 returned to the continental United States (CONUS) via government aircraft.


March 31

1943: 65th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned at Freetown, Sierra Leone, from a merger of Construction Battalion Detachments (CBD) 1001 and 1002.

1945: ACORNs 7, 12, 25, and 26 decommissioned.  (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 World War II, ACORNs were sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island and Majuro.)

1968: Seabee Team 0912 completed training at the 31st NCR, and deployed to Vietnam via C-118 aircraft.

1968: Detail Echo of NMCB 9 at Hill 494 Quarry Cantonment and Rock Production Facility came under attack at 0225, receiving approximately 25 rounds of mortar fire. Seabee mortar and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) artillery fire was returned. Seven Seabees were wounded including Construction Mechanic (Construction) James F. Galati, who died as a result of his wounds at 1200 en route to Naval Support Activity Hospital, Da Nang. At 0710, the quarry cantonment sustained a second attack, receiving recoilless rifle fire and approximately 10 rounds of mortar fire, two rounds of which impacted within Detail Echo Mortar Position No. 2. Five Seabees were killed and one seriously injured. Killed in action while directing fire against the enemy were Builder (Light) 3rd Class George R. DeShurley, Builder (Light) Constructionman Mark E. Hodel, Builder (Light) 3rd Class Allan L. Mair, Builder (Light) 3rd Class John F. Peek and Builder (Heavy) Constructionman James R. Retzloff Jr. Subsequent investigations of the area from which enemy fire was initiated revealed that four Viet Cong positions were hit by the Seabee mortar crews’ return fire, killing at least nine of the enemy.

1968: Capt. John R. Fisher, CEC, relieved Capt. Charles W. Turner, CEC, as Commander, 30th NCR.


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