Story courtesy of Seabee Memorial Scholarship Association
Forty-eight years ago, in August of 1970, the articles of incorporation were signed to create the Seabee Memorial Association. From the Articles of Incorporation, the purposes of the corporation included:
“The construction of appropriate memorials to commemorate the work of the Seabees throughout the world and to perpetuate the memory of the Seabees who, by their labors and valor. Have contributed so greatly to the Naval Construction force as an essential element of sea power in the defense of our nation.”
The signatories of the original document were Commander Charles Diehl, Robert Burch and Commander Philip Birnbaum. Rear Admiral George Reider, CEC, USN served as the first president and lead a group of dedicated volunteers to raise funds to build the memorial.
Sculptor Felix de Weldon was chosen to design the memorial. de Weldon served with the Seabees in WWII and also designed the United States Marine Corps Memorial. Final construction was completed just over four years after the organization was founded. On May 27th, 1974 the Memorial was dedicated and officially opened to the public. RADM Ben Moreell, the founder of the Seabees was one of the featured speakers at the dedication. May 27, 2019 will mark the 45th anniversary of the dedication of the memorial.
The words on the back of the memorial expand on the “Can Do” attitude of the Seabees.
“With Willing Hearts and Skillful Hands the Difficult We do at Once, the Impossible Takes a Bit Longer.”
The first scholarships were awarded by the Seabee Memorial Association in 1972 when six awards were made totaling $4200. Since that time over $5 million has been granted to over 800 students. The Seabee Memorial Association became the Seabee Memorial Scholarship Association (SMSA) on August 31st, 1978, so 2018 is the 40th Anniversary of the change to the SMSA!
For more information on the memorial, Felix deWeldon and the early days of the Seabees, see the Seabee Museum website at https://seabeemuseum.wordpress.com.