This Week in Seabee History (December 15-21)

Consolidated by U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, Naval History and Heritage Command

The first B-29 Superfortress bombers land Dec. 21, 1944, at North Field on Tinian, the massive airbase being constructed by the 29th, 30th and 49th NCRs under the 6th NCB, commanded by Commodore Paul J. Halloran, CEC. Since July, the Seabees worked around the clock to construct North and West Fields on the island into the main B-29 bomber bases for the ensuing air campaigns against the Japanese home islands. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

December 15

1942: When the Seabees were first established, the United States Navy recruited skilled construction workers and taught them how to use advanced base equipment and how to fight. Because they were skilled in their trades, the men were offered petty officer rates based on their experience and their age. However, on December 15, 1942, direct voluntary enlistment in the Seabees was ended in compliance with a Presidential Order requiring all the military services to obtain their manpower through Selective Service. By that time, about 60 battalions had been assembled.

1942: ACORN 2 arrived at Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu; 48th NCB commissioned at Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1942: Diorama recruitment trailer at a recruitment stop, pictured here during World War II. Navy recruiters traveled around the country passing out brochures and enlisting trained construction professionals into the Seabees. Per Presidential order, direct voluntary enlistment into the Seabees ended on December 15, 1942, requiring all future procurement of military personnel through the Selective Service. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

1944: One of the heroes of the World War II was Seabee Machinist Mate 3rd Class Malcolm Peppo of the 113th NCB.  While unloading stores from an LST during the assault on Mindanao, Philippine Islands, Peppo’s ship was attacked by a Japanese kamikaze plane.  Because the ship was being unloaded, its bow doors were open and its ramp was down, making it helpless to maneuver.  When the anti-aircraft gun crew looked up and saw the suicide plane headed straight for the beached vessel, the men instinctively abandoned their positions and scattered.  Peppo, however, jumped into the vacated gun emplacement and fired at the oncoming plane until it crashed.  For his courageous actions, Peppo was awarded the Silver Star.

1945: 8th Naval Construction Brigade inactivated; 52nd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) inactivated; 71st NCB inactivated on Okinawa, Japan.

1967: Seabee Team 0309 returned to the main body at Camp Wilkinson. (Camp Wilkinson was the Seabee camp at the Gia Le Combat Base near Phu Bai, RVN.

1969: Construction Battalion Unit (CBU) 401 was established at the Public Works Center, Great Lakes, Illinois. It was a pilot unit in the Seabees Ashore Program and was to provide assistance to all United States Navy activities at Great Lakes in their self-help efforts. Depending on the size and complexity of projects assigned, it provided skilled supervisions of non-Seabee ratings, Seabee equipment, and its own manpower to enhance living spaces and expand and improve recreational facilities.


December 16

1942: 1st Special NCB commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1943: ACORN 11 dissolved.

1967: Seabee Team 0407 arrived in the continental U.S. (CONUS) following successful deployment to Can Tho, RVN.

1970: Cmdr. Roy D. Gaulden was relieved as commanding officer of NCMB 4 by Cmdr. J.A. Ruscyk.

1970: Camp Kinser, Okinawa was officially rededicated as Camp Marvin G. Shields, in honor of Seabee Medal of Honor winner Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields. Rear Admiral S.R. Smith presided over the ceremony. Honored guests included Mrs. Virginia Castellery, petty officer Shields’ mother, and Brig. Gen. R.H. Barrow, commanding general of USMC Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa.

2004: Builder 1st Class Neil Reno, front, and Construction Electrician 3rd Class Scott Tyner of Navy Reserve Seabees assigned to the Tactical Movement Team (TMT) of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Two Three (NMCB-23), clear a building prior to an assessment team mission in Fallujah, Iraq. Teams attached to the I Marine Expeditionary Force Engineer Group (I MEG) began conducting assessments on the heels of some of the fiercest fighting since the war’s onset. TMT is a mobile engineering and security force, designed to offer Seabee expertise with Marine tactical capabilities. TMT provide security escort formerly only offered by Marine forces. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Journalist Suzanne Speight.

December 18

1942: 49th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia; 57th NCB commissioned at Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.


December 19

1944: 42nd, 45th, 46th, 47th, 48th Naval Construction Regiments (NCR) commissioned.

1945: 126th NCB inactivated on Okinawa.

1971: Seabee Team 4005 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) for reassignment to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1; Seabee Team 4005 returned to NMCB 40 from the Island of Truk, TTPI.


December 20

1943: 18th and 19th NCRs commissioned. 138th NCB decommissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1945: 3rd and 51st NCRs inactivated. 5th NCB inactivated. 87th NCB inactivated on Okinawa. 99th NCB inactivated at Samar, Philippines. 115th and 118th NCBs inactivated at Subic Bay, Philippines. 119th NCB inactivated at Manila, Philippines. 5th Special NCB inactivated at Samar, Philippines. 21st and 24th Special NCBs inactivated at Subic Bay, Philippines. 22nd Special NCB inactivated at Los Negros and Manus.

1967: NMCB 3’s advance party of one officer and 24 enlisted men departed Camp Wilkinson for Port Hueneme, California.

1949: NMCB 8 officially disestablished at Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Port Hueneme, California. The disestablishment ceremony was held on 15 December.


December 21

1944: The first B-29 Superfortress bombers land at North Field on Tinian, the massive airbase being constructed by the 29th, 30th and 49th NCRs under the 6th NCB, commanded by Commodore Paul J. Halloran, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC). Since July, the Seabees worked around the clock to construct North and West Fields on the island into the main B-29 bomber bases for the ensuing air campaigns against the Japanese home islands.

1945: 147th NCB inactivated on Okinawa.

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