Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Natalia Murillo, Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti
Builder 2nd Class Jody Sambury feeds a two by four board through the wood planer. The smell of sawdust reminds him of working with his Grandpa Daddy in the wood shop back in Trinidad and Tobago. Every day at the Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti (CLDJ) wood shop Sambury relives childhood memories of working with his Grandpa Daddy, who made furniture.
“Sambury’s primary mission as the leading petty officer of Self Help is to repair and build structures, walkways and pretty much whatever else is needed on camp for all 27 tenant commands,” said his supervisor, Chief Electronics Technician Nicholas Niglio. “He runs the wood shop.”
Sambury, born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, moved to Brooklyn in 2002 to be with his family and further his education. He joined the Navy in 2012. At boot camp he qualified for Hospital Corpsman, but chose to be a Builder.
“I didn’t even know there was a Builder rate,” said Sambury. “It’s been great for me though because it’s something I know well.”
Builders make up the largest segment of the Naval Construction Force. They work as carpenters, plasterers, roofers, concrete finishers, masons, painters, bricklayers and cabinet makers.
“He is committed to helping others,” said Niglio. “He approaches everything and everyone with the spirit of the Seabee ‘Can Do’ attitude.”
Seabee is a nickname that comes from the first letters “C and B” from the words Construction Battalion. The Seabee “Can Do,” spirit symbolizes the Naval Construction Force Sailors’ positive attitude to succeed in any task presented and the commitment to make a difference to the mission.
Camp Lemonnier’s mission is to enable U.S., allied and partner nation forces to be where and when they are needed to ensure security in Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia.
Forward-deployed Builders can work either as part of a large team, or, like Sambury, they can work independently.
This is the second time Sambury deployed. In 2017, he served in Afghanistan also in a wood shop. In the summer of 2020 he arrived to Djibouti. Many of the shops were closed at that time, including Self Help.
As COVID-19 restrictions were being rolled out, Sambury built a wooden support structure at the Dorie Miller Galley which holds up the Plexiglas between patrons and servers.
According to Niglio, Sambury goes beyond the needs of building structures. He helps fellow troops to build things for their units or keepsakes of service here.
“He ensures that every Sailor, Marine, Soldier and Airman receives training to use the shop and its tools safely,” said Niglio.
According to Sambury, Self Help boosts morale and offers an opportunity to relieve some stress by doing something fun and different.
Sambury is headed home soon. He wants to ensure his work in the shop is carried on. He encourages troops stationed on camp to contact him regarding ongoing volunteer opportunities.
Being in an austere environment can be demanding but sometimes there is a chance for building community in unexpected places. Each day on this deployment Sambury’s work supports more than just the mission or morale, Sambury passes on a family tradition.
“I would go after school and Daddy would have all the parts of the tools laid out for me to assemble them,” said Sambury. “Now I am the one who gets to show others how to put it all together and teach them what Daddy taught me. That is something special.”