This Week in Seabee History: May 24 – 30

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

This week in seabee history
In 1963, Seabee Teams were sent to Thailand to assist in the Royal Thai Government’s Accelerated Rural Development Program. In the northern provinces these diversified units taught and advised local Thais in an effort to help them form the cadre of essential rural public works organizations. Three years of diligent work in this region was finally concluded in May 1966. In this photograph, circa 1966, Seabees are installing a water well. (Photo by U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)


May 24

1943: ACORN 7 arrived at Guadalcanal. (Used during World War II, 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each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn.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 war, ACORNs were sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island and Majuro.)

1945: Approximately 50 Seabees of the 87th NCB were working the night shift at the Yontan Airfield on Okinawa when the airfield was bombed and then subjected to an attack by airborne enemy demolition squads. This was the debut of the Giretsu, Japanese, suicide warriors. As the first enemy aircraft screeched along the coral airstrip, the Japanese soldiers within it leaped for the ground, tumbling head-over-heels. They quickly recovered themselves and sprinted off into the darkness. Immediately thereafter from all directions, blinding flashes illuminated the hardstands. Gas tanks exploded and parked planes became flaming infernos. The enemy soldiers were destroying U.S. planes with magnesium grenades and phosphorous bombs. Seabees and Marines grabbed their guns and began firing at the Japanese, who by now, were silhouetted around the burning planes. When the action was over, all of the invading saboteurs were dead. However, 20 United States planes were completely destroyed and a fuel dump was in flames.

1969: Seabee Team 0604 returned to Davisville, Rhode Island.

1969: NMCB 5 conducted a change of command ceremony as Cmdr. R.B. Wilson, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), was relieved by Cmdr. R.A. Schade Jr., CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 5.

1971: Capt. D.W. Wittschiebe, CEC, officially relieved Cmdr. R.D. Gaulden, CEC, as commander, 30th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) in ceremonies on Okinawa.


May 25

1942: 5th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1946: 125th NCB inactivated on Okinawa.

2009: Cmdr. Duane G. Wolfe, CEC, U.S. Navy Reserve (USNR), Los Osos, California, was killed along with three other people by a roadside bomb in Fallujah, Iraq. Wolfe was serving as officer-in-charge of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division’s Al Anbar Area Office. He is the highest ranking CEC officer ever killed in action.

1949: The main body of 12 officers and 354 enlisted men from NMCB 6 returned to Davisville, Rhode Island, on two DC-8 aircraft from Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.

1970: NMCB 3 main body returned to CONUS via government aircraft.


May 26

1943: 92nd NCB formed at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1965: The first section NMCB 3 main body arrived in RVN aboard the USS Port Defiance from Guam.

1967: Seabee Team 0309 departed CONUS for duty in Vietnam.

1970: Cmdr. R.D. Gaulden, CEC, commanding officer, NMCB 4, relieved Cmdr. J.L. Godsey, CEC, commanding officer, NMCB 3, as Commander of the 30th NCR. Also, NMCB 4 assumed responsibilities as U.S. Pacific Fleet Alert Battalion.

1965: NMCB 3 landed at Da Nang, RVN, to commence construction of the large military complex at Da Nang and Da Nang East. In the next four months, NMCBs 5, 8 and 9 joined NMCB 3 in the construction of cantonments, roads, piers, and storage buildings and yards.


May 27

1942: U.S. Marines and Seabees occupy Wallis Island, South Pacific Ocean.

1961: Detachment Kilo of NMCB 14 arrived in Holy Loch, Scotland. The Seabees had come for the purpose of erecting a floating dry dock, capable of docking Polaris submarines. A floating dry dock had not been erected since the end of World War II. The dry dock to be installed at Holy Loch was of World War II-vintage and had been kept in mothballs since the war. When it was decided that an overseas repair facility for Polaris submarines was a strategic necessity, the dock was reactivated and towed from Green Cove Springs, Florida, to Holy Loch, Scotland. To complete the dry dock, the Seabees’ major tasks consisted of placing 22 mooring legs weighing approximately 1,000 tons each, jacking eight wing-wall structures weighing 450 tons each to a vertical position, erecting more than 825 feet of steel structure to support cranes weighing 240 tons, and welding four dock sections. In addition, Seabees installed electrical, plumbing and interior communication systems. Other projects included erecting living and office spaces, and painting the exterior and interior of the dry dock.

1968: NMCB 5’s Advance Party, comprised of one officer in charge and 16 enlisted personnel departed Camp Barnes to Da Nang, RVN and returned to CBC, Port Hueneme, California, with NMCB 9’s main flights on 30 May 1968.

1971: Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 returned from Keflavik, Iceland.

1974: On Memorial Day 1974, the Seabee Memorial Monument was dedicated. The monument is located on Memorial Drive leading to the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. It depicts the Seabee as builder, fighter and ambassador of good will. The larger-than-life-size figure of a Seabee on the monument stands in front of a semicircular bronze bas-relief on which is portrayed a panorama of Seabees in their various construction trades.


May 28

1944: 32nd Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) disbanded at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.

1963: The first Seabee Team to Thailand, 0902, deployed to commence the joint Seabee civic action program. Between May 1963 and December 1965, 10 Seabee Teams trained students and built roads, dams and other community projects in seven provinces in northern and northeastern Thailand.

1967: Capt. A.R. Marschall, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), presented the Peltier Award for 1966 to the commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1.


May 29

1968: NMCB 9 main body returned to the continental United States (CONUS) on three super DC-8 passenger aircraft and two cargo/passenger aircraft. All flights terminated at Naval Air Station (NAS) Point Mugu, California, except one Super DC-8 aircraft which landed at Los Angeles International Airport (concluded 3 June).

1968: Cmdr. T.J. Mitchell, CEC, commanding officer, NMCB 1, relieved Cmdr. J.W. Wright, CEC, commanding officer, NMCB 9, at Camp Hoover, Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

May 29-June 3, 1968: NMCB 9 main body, consisting of 22 officers and 648 enlisted men, returned to CONUS via three Super DC-8 passenger aircraft and two C-141 cargo/passenger aircraft. All flights terminated at NAS Point Mugu, California, except for one Super DC-8 aircraft which landed at Los Angeles International Airport.

1968: NMCB 1’s main body deployed via three DC-8 and two C-141 aircraft from Davisville, Rhode Island, to Da Nang, RVN.

2015: Capt. Maria Lore Aguayo, CEC, relieved Capt. Stephen Revelas, CEC, as commander, 22nd NCR during a change of command ceremony at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Mississippi.

1969: An edition of the Davisville Yardarm featured a Memorial Day tribute to “recall to memory these Seabees who died in the service of their country in Vietnam to remind ourselves of the great debt we owe them.”


May 30

1943: ACORN 8 arrived at Noumea. Later moved to Guadalcanal, Munda and Russells for restaging and then on to Biak. (Used during World War II, 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 initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn. During the war, ACORNs were sent to such places as Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island and Majuro.)

1944: The versatile match of Seabee and bulldozer is an image which will never be forgotten by citizens of Falmouth, England. When a German air strike exploded a fuel dump and sent a river of flaming gasoline flowing downhill toward the town, Seabee Philip Bishop, NMCB 81, quickly bulldozed a dam which stopped the channel of fire and saved the community from destruction. The bulldozer-fireman received the British Empire Medal (Military) and the enduring gratitude of an English seaport town.

1944: 26th NCR commissioned.

1945: ACORN 8 decommissioned.

1965: The second section of the main body of NMCB 3 arrived in Vietnam aboard the USS Belle Grove from Guam.

May 30-June 4, 1967: NMCB 7 main body consisting of 15 officers and 599 enlisted men was airlifted from Davisville, Rhode Island, to Da Nang, RVN, aboard seven C-141 aircraft provided by Military Airlift Command.

1972: The Vietnam Detachment of the Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, United States Pacific Fleet was disestablished at Port Hueneme, California. The detachment exercised operational, administrative, troops and technical control over all Seabee Teams employed in Vietnam. The last Seabee Team site in Vietnam was closed in April 1972, and the RVN detachment was transferred to the 31st NCR at Port Hueneme for dissolution.

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