This Week in Seabee History: June 2 – 8

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

During the Normandy invasion in World War II, Seabees with the 111th Naval Construction Battalion unload heavy equipment from a Rhino ferry, June 1944. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

June 2

1942: Advance Base Depot (ABD_ Gulfport and Camp Hollyday, Mississippi, established.

June 2-3, 1942: Attu and Kiska, Alaska, were occupied by the Japanese after their unsuccessful attack on Dutch Harbor. Approximately 2,000 Japanese composed the Attu garrison, and the main installation at Kiska was several times larger and better developed.

1945: 130th NCB, Okinawa, (Operator) Machinist Mate 2nd Class John Wiebe and (Helper) Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Harry Lehr were operating their bulldozer in a road near the beach. Suddenly they and their machine dropped out of sight. When workers nearby looked around all was emptiness except for a gaping hole. After recovering from their astonishment they walked over and looked into the chasm. About 15 feet down was the vanished dozer with Wiebe still at the controls –with a surprised look on his face. Demolition crews blasted a ramp and the “cat” was driven out and back to work by Wiebe, who received only minor lacerations from his experience.

1966: Cmdr. Paul R. Gates, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Richard T. Hardy, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 1.

1967: Cmdr. L.D. Lawson, commanding officer, NMCB 7, assumed operational control of Camp Adenir from Cmdr. E.J. Williams, commanding officer, NMCB 5.

1969: Seabee Team 7103 was assigned to the 21st NCR for 18 weeks of specialized training.


June 3

1965: The main body of NMCB 9 departed Port Hueneme, California, aboard the USNS Blatchford for Vietnam. This was the first battalion to depart from the continental limits of the United States for duty in Vietnam. Previously, NMCB 10 had departed from Okinawa and NMCB 3 had departed from Guam. NMCB 9 arrived in Da Nang on 27 June.

1968: Cmdr. C.J. Mathews, commanding officer, NMCB 58, assumed control of Camp Haskins North from Cmdr. R.M. Fluss, commanding officer, NMCB 4. The NMCB 4 flag was transferred to Camp Evans. NMCB 4 personnel moved to Camp Evans between 27 May and 4 June.

1968: Cmdr. William E. Burdick, CEC, relieved Lt. Cmdr. H.A. Holmes as commanding officer, CBMU 301.

1968: NMCB 4 redeployed from Camp Haskins North to Camp Evans, RVN.

 

2005: Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 24 constructed the framework for an eating facility aboard Camp Blue Diamond, Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The Marines assigned to the 2nd Marine Division were conducting counter-insurgency operations with Iraqi Security Forces to isolate and neutralize Anti-Iraqi Forces and create a secure environment. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

 

2007: Builder 2nd Class Michael Schneider (left) attached to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7, raked concrete with his Philippines Navy Seabee counterpart, Fireman 1st Class Builder Elmer Ang. They are part of over 50 Seabees from both countries working on an Engineering Civic Action Project (ENCAP) for the students and teachers of Kuampurnah Elementary School in Isabella, Philippines. The concrete work was the beginning of a larger courtyard at the school during the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series. Carat is an annual series of bilateral maritime training exercises between the United States and six Southeast Asia nations designed to build relationships and enhance the operational readiness of the participating forces. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

June 5

1967: Main body of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 58 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

1968: NMCB 74 advance party, consisting of three officers and 85 enlisted personnel, arrived at Camp Shields, Chu Lai, RVN.

2009: Capt. Louis Cariello, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieved Capt. Robert McLean III, CEC, as commander, 22nd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Mississippi.

 

2005: Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 24 lifted a 80′ wall section for a hospital triage wing under construction in Al Asad, Iraq. NMCB-24 was deployed to central and western Iraq in support on the global war on terrorism. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

June 6

1942: 9th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1943: Naval Combat Demolition Unit (NCDU) training school established at Amphibious Training Base Fort Pierce, Florida. Volunteers assembled for the first classes came from the Bomb and Mine Disposal School in Washington, D.C. and from Camp Peary, Virginia (both Seabees and CEC officers).

1944: In the initial stage of the Allied invasion of Normandy, Seabees formed the nucleus of naval combat demolition units. Each demolition unit was under the command of a junior officer of the Navy Civil Engineer Corps. Team members placed explosive charges beneath the underwater steel barriers that prevented thousands of ships from reaching shore. As they were placing the charges the teams were under constant fire from the enemy. Whole teams were wiped out when shells hit their explosives. The men ignored the dangers and kept at their work. When the explosive charges were placed, survivors remained on the beach or swam back to the landing ships waiting in the channel. The explosives went off on schedule and huge holes were blown into the German defenses. Ships and landing craft darted for the shore through gaps in the barriers. Thousands of Seabees were soon manhandling their pontoon causeways onto the beach to let the infantry charge ashore.

1967: Khe Sanh came under enemy mortar attack. Builder (Light) 3rd Class C.A. Hubbard was killed in action; six men were wounded in action.

1969: Equipment Operator 1st Class R.R. Anderson, Regimental (21st NCR) Seabee Team instructor, drowned while participating in training field operations at Buck Hill Scout Reservation, Rhode Island.

1969: 21st NCR Detail Yankee of Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for Santa Maria, Azores Island for underwater construction in support of NATO-sponsored Project AFAR (Azores Fixed Acoustic Range).


June 7

2008: Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 and Armed Forces of the Philippines soldiers from the 546th Engineer Construction Battalion carried a wooden form to the construction site to create concrete manholes for the Greenland subdivision septic tank system Calbayog City, Philippines during a Pacific Partnership engineering civic action program. The Pacific Partnership team of regional partners, non-governmental organizations (NGO), military engineers, doctors and healthcare providers was been asked by the government of the Philippines to conduct various medical, dental and civic-action programs in the area. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

 

2013: Cmdr. Cameron Geertsema, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Pete Maculan, CEC, as commanding officer, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, at Camp Shields, Okinawa, Japan.