Story by Cpl. Andrew Jones, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – The Navy’s “Better Than Best” battalion, NMCB-3, left their homeport in Port Hueneme, California and deployed to Iwakuni in October 2018.
What could a unit of the Navy’s construction force be doing in Iwakuni? NMCB-3 is building 27 enclosures that are designed to withstand the harsh outdoor elements and keep wildlife away from garbage. They are the first unit to come to Iwakuni as a part of a rotational deployment site for West Coast Naval Construction Force Seabee units.
So far, the Seabees have poured 150 cubic meters of concrete in support of their mission in Iwakuni. They have been buzzing around base doing more than just construction though they have made crucial connections and built relationships with local military and other entities to ensure that future generations of Seabees will thrive in the hive called MCAS Iwakuni.
“Our success is boundless [on] this deployment,” proclaimed Steel Worker 1st Class Guillory Bryant, the leading petty officer for NMCB-3 Detachment Iwakuni and a native of Tabernacle, New Jersey. “We made a lot of deals with a lot of different people around the base. We got to
communicate with a bunch of different Marines and civilians to make sure that we had all the things that we needed whether it be hazmat, materials or tools. We also coordinated with the local facilities Seabees to make sure that we had everything that we need to set up shops for the alfa company so that the future Seabees have nothing to procure when they get here, all they have to do is work.”
These accomplishments didn’t come without some bumps in the road. According to most of the Sailors, the weather was the most difficult obstacle to overcome. The deployment lasted through the winter months and all of the construction was outdoors. On top of the physical discomfort of the cold temperature, frequent rain interfered with construction that involved mortar or the pouring of concrete.
While working outside and engaging in physical labor may not be some people’s idea of a dream job, the Seabees expressed a sense of pride in their work.
“I’m definitely a construction kind of person,” said Builder Constructionman Brandon Curly, with NMCB-3 Detachment Iwakuni and a native of West Branch, Michigan. “I very much enjoy working with my hands. Being able to build stuff for people that can’t do it themselves, it feels really good. The people are great. I’ve met a lot of really good people during my time in the military. I can’t complain at all, I’ve made some lifelong friends.”
Outside of work, the Seabees took advantage of liberty, visiting sites like the Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni and Peace Park in Hiroshima City.
“Iwakuni is a different place for me to be,” said Builder 2nd Class Matthew Lind, with NMCB-3 and a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “This is my first deployment to Japan. It’s nice to see a different culture and see what this part of the world is all about.”
The Sailors experienced more than the local culture during their deployment, they learned more about their jobs and each other.
“A lot of us have become pretty good at laying block which sets up for more places to go to,” said Curley. “We all became pretty close with each other. I know a lot of us never really knew who each other were until we got here, and now were all friends. You know we hangout, we go to the bar, play darts or just hang out together and its super cool and I would say we’ve really accomplished a lot more than any of us thought we were going to.”
NMCB-3 is forward deployed throughout the Indo-Pacific region and United States ready to support major combat operations, theater security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Seabees provide general engineering and civil support to Navy, Marine Corps and joint operation forces globally.