This Week in Seabee History: August 16 – 22

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

Aug. 20, 1942, 6th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) Commander, Cmdr. Joseph P. Blundon, Civil Engineer Corp, reported to Gen. A.A. Vandegrift, U.S. Marine Corps, at Lunga Point in the northern coast of Guadalcanal. The mission of the Seabees at Guadalcanal was to make repairs and complete construction of Henderson Field, a vital air station that was controlled by Japanese air forces in the Pacific campaign of World War II prior to the U.S Marine invasion that had overtaken it. “I guess I was the first Seabee to go under fire,” Blundon recalled in William Huie’s “Can Do! The Story of the Seabees.” “The Marines had been on Guadcanal 13 days…while I was reporting to Gen. Vandegrift, the [Japanese] bombers came over and I hit my first foxhole. I just lay there…while the bombs fell around us.” (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)


August 16

1966: NMCB 4 departed Chu Lai for Continental U.S. (CONUS).

1968: Seabee Team 0809 departed RVN via government aircraft for CONUS.

1969: Lt. Cmdr. H.H. Harrell, CEC, relieved Lt. Cmdr. H.W. Filbry, CEC, as commanding officer,  CBMU 302.

2009: NMCB 24 finished expansion and upgrade of entry control point on Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, with completion marked by ribbon-cutting ceremony. During construction, Alfa Company graded over 341,000 square feet of roadways and parking areas, excavated and hauled almost 2,400 cubic yards of fill dirt, and placed more than 400 barriers stretching approximately 6,000 feet.


August 17

1969: Hurricane Camille wreaked havoc on the residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In her trajectory across the Gulf Coast, she destroyed or damaged 30,000 homes and hundreds of business, civic and religious structures, severed communications, and knocked out water, power and sewer service. At Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, 29 buildings were destroyed and more than 90 percent of the structures were damaged. However, after the eye of the hurricane passed over the Gulf Coast, Seabees implemented a massive mobilization effort to assist the surrounding community in recovery operations. Seabees cleared roads, located bodies, rescued survivors, restored water, gas and electrical power, put out fires, set up mobile dispensaries, and unloaded food, supplies and medicine. On October 31, the Center’s military population was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service before, during and after the devastating hurricane. In addition, there were numerous individual awards to military and civilian personnel at the Center.

1969: Cmdr. T.J. Mitchell, CEC, was relieved of command of NMCB 1 by Cmdr. C.V.W. Popowich, CEC.


August 19

1943: 102nd NCB commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

2005: Construction personnel from Philippine Navy, and U.S. Navy Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Five (NMCB-5), put the finishing touches on a two-room schoolhouse they built jointly at the Doce Martires Elementary School, San Narciso, Philippines as part of the Philippines phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2005. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

August 20

1942: 20th NCB commissioned at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1965: NMCB 8 was transferred from CBC Davisville, Rhode Island, to Port Hueneme, California. The change in home port was part of the augmentation and reorganization of Seabee units for operations in RVN.

1965: Capt. William M. Heaman, CEC, was promoted to Rear Admiral.


August 21

1943: The 100,000th recruit was sent through the Seabee induction mill at Camp Peary, Virginia, less than eight months after the first recruit was processed at Peary on Dec. 6, 1942. Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Emil Mascotti, Bessemer, Michigan, had the figure 100,000 written in mercurochrome across his chest at medical inspection.

1969: Seabee Team 0513 completed its deployment to Ben Tre, Republic of Vietnam (RVN). All enlisted personnel returned to Port Hueneme, California.  Lt. Cmdr. T.N. Withrow, team officer-in-charge (OIC), reported to Camp Hoover, RVN.

2008: A CH46 helicopter transported Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 to a bombing range off the coast of Okinawa. NMCB-133 was generating a plan to make the site more useable for Navy, Air Force, and Marine personnel after a survey team performed a site visit. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

August 22

1951: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 commissioned at Construction Battalion Center (CBC) Davisville, Rhode Island.

1954: The French Colonial Forces were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in French Indo-China, May 7, 1954. In accordance with the Geneva Convention of July 21, 1954, Indo-China became a number of sovereign states: Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In addition, Vietnam was divided into two, thus creating North and South Vietnam, roughly at the 17th parallel. The truce agreement declared that the people of the two Vietnams should be permitted to reside in the country of their choice, and the United States was asked to provide transportation for the anticipated mass migration from Communist North Vietnam to free South Vietnam. The U.S. Navy was given the task of providing transportation for the migrants, and Seabees of Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 were charged with installing and operating pontoon bridges where necessary and building campsites for the refugees. However, when the amphibious Seabees arrived in Haiphong on August 22, 1954, they learned that the truce agreement signed in July prohibited the landing of foreign military units in Vietnam. Thus, the Seabees were prevented from operating until all military insignia was removed from uniforms and equipment; some even donned nondescript clothing. Then they returned to their tasks. The Seabees not only assisted in moving several hundred thousand Vietnamese and their possessions, but also built camps that contributed to the refugees’ comfort. While assisting the Vietnamese in their mass migration, the Seabees helped French troops evacuate the country and built a recreation center in the south for U.S. 7th Fleet personnel engaged in the operation. ACB 1 Seabees who participated in Operation “Passage to Freedom” were commended by the Task Force Commander.

1967: The NMCB 4 advance party, commanded by Lt. R.B. Thatcher, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) departed Camp Hoover for the Continental United States (CONUS).



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