This Week in Seabee History: April 5 – 11

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

During the 1980s

The Seabees provided support for the Fleet Hospital program. These Fleet Hospitals were rapidly deployable systems of expandable shelters, pre- positioned worldwide, and assembled/erected by Seabees. Of the 23 hospitals required, 8 would be built and supported by active-duty Seabees, eight by Reserve Seabees, and the remainder programmed for future years. The Reserve Naval Construction Force participated in a field test of a partial hospital in Operation “Golden Shield” during 1986. Active-duty Seabees supported a follow-on test and evaluation of a complete 200-bed hospital in April and May 1987.


This Week in Seabee History (Week of April 9)
USS Marvin Shields (DE-1066) was commissioned at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington on April 10, 1971. The destroyer escort was named in tribute of Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin Shields, a member of Seabee Team 1104. Shields was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his personal valor during combat action in the Battle of Dong Xoai in Vietnam. This Medal of Honor was the first ever awarded to a Seabee and the first awarded to a United States Navy man in the Vietnam War. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)


April 5

1968: NMCB 6 main body of 21 officers and 585 enlisted men arrived in Davisville, Rhode Island.

1968: Seabee Team 0408 arrived in Ca Dau Ha, RVN and Seabee Team 0409 arrived in Vinh Long, RVN to begin engineering construction support.


April 6

1943: 8th Special NCB formed at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1966: Main body of NMCB 7 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for assignment to the 30th NCR for duty at Phu Bai, RVN.

1966: NMCB 7 main body moved from Construction Battalion Center Davisville, RI to Hue – Phu Bai, RVN.

1968: In the Republic of Vietnam, the Hill 494 Quarry Cantonment and Rock Production was dedicated as Camp DeShurley by Rear Adm. J.V. Bartlett, CEC, commander, 3rd Naval Construction Brigade, and Cmdr. J.A. Wright, CEC, commanding officer of NMCB 9, in honor of mortar crew leader Builder (Light) 3rd Class George R. DeShurley and the five other Seabees of Detail Echo, killed in action in the defense of the facility on the morning of March 31 at Phu Loc.

1968: Construction Mechanic (Heavy) 2nd Class Teddy “J” Baker and Construction Mechanic Constructionman Michael D. Chascsa, of NMCB 4, were wounded while riding a truck which struck a land mine in Mai Lang, RVN.


April 7

1942: Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox announced that the Navy would enlist African-Americans for general service, with open enlistment for messmen and the Seabees. Over 12,500 African-Americans would serve in the Seabees during World War II.

1967: Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 201 commissioned at CBC, Port Hueneme, California.

1967: NMCB 40 departed Chu Lai, RVN.

1968: Main body of NMCB 6 arrived in Davisville, Rhode Island from Chu Lai, RVN.


April 8

1942: 2nd NCB commissioned.

1946: 28th NCB inactivated on Okinawa.

1967: Main body of NMCB 71, consisting of 16 officers and 684 enlisted men, departed Davisville, Rhode Island on C-141 aircraft for duty at Chu Lai, RVN.


April 9

1966: Rear echelon of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 transported on three C-130 aircraft from Davisville, Rhode Island to Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

1967: Main body of NMCB 40 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from Chu Lai, RVN.

1971: Seabee Team 0105 departed Bac Lieu, RVN.

1971: Main body of NMCB 40 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for deployment to Diego Garcia, Reindeer Station.


April 10

1963: During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Equipment Operator (Construction Equipment) 3rd Class George J. Denich, Jr., a 21-year old Reserve Seabee assigned to Mobile Construction Battalion (MCB) 7 as a heavy equipment operator, was killed in an accident on a 280-foot hill at Guantanamo Bay. When the accident occurred, Denich was operating a mobile crane in the construction of fortified defensive positions for Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. On June 26, 1963, a memorial plaque was placed on the hill, which was then named Denich Hill in honor of the dead Seabee.

1967: Seabee Team 0808 departed for Port Hueneme, California, for training and eventual deployment to Thailand.

1967: NMCB 71 arrived at Chu Lai, RVN.

1968: NMCB 71’s commanding officer took command of Camp Miller, RVN.

1970: Seabee Team 0312 returned to CONUS (continental U.S.) via government aircraft.

1971: The USS Marvin Shields (DE-1066) was commissioned at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington. The destroyer escort was named in tribute of Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin Shields, a member of Seabee Team 1104. Shields was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his personal valor during combat action in the Battle of Dong Xoai in Vietnam. This Medal of Honor was the first ever awarded to a Seabee and the first awarded to a United States Navy man in the Vietnam War.

A starboard bow view of the frigate USS MARVIN SHIELDS (FF-1066) underway. (Photo by PH3 John Cross)

2003: Seabees cross the Diyala River into Baghdad, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom.


April 11

1943: ACORN 5 arrived at Espiritu Santo. (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 sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island, and Majuro.)

1945: 60th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.

1966: Recommissioning ceremony for the 20th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) held at Gulfport, Mississippi under command of Cmdr. N. L. Martinson, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC).

1967: NMCB 9 main body, consisting of 716 personnel, returned to CONUS on 10 C-141 aircraft. Seven flights terminated at Naval Air Station, Point Mugu, California, one flight at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, and two flights at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey.

1967: NMCB 1 main body deployed to Da Nang, RVN on seven C-141 aircraft from Naval Air Station (NAS) Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

1969: Three members of Seabee Team 0604 were ambushed at a project site in Long An Province, RVN. The Seabees came under rocket, grenade, automatic and small arms fire. They were able to radio for help, however, and the enemy forces were routed by helicopter gunship fire and ground troop support. One Seabee, Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Peter L. Stith, was wounded. He was evacuated by gunship but died before reaching the hospital.

1969: Main body of Construction Battalion Unit (CBU) 201 arrived in Davisville, Rhode Island, from Antarctica.

1970: NMCB 7 change of command ceremony. Cmdr. P. Oliver, Jr., CEC, relieved Cmdr. J.C. Rickels, CEC.

2008: Cmdr. Dean VanderLey, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Steve Hamer, CEC, as commanding officer, NMCB 4 at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, California.

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