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Capt. Kurgan Legacy of Service

Sept. 7, 2021 | By Ensign Drew Verbis, Naval Base Ventura County
Capt. Christopher M. Kurgan, former commanding officer, Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering (CSFE) and Naval Civil Engineer Corps Officers School (CECOS) retired during a ceremony held at Seabee Chapel onboard Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC), Port Hueneme, Aug. 27, 2021.

Kurgan, a native of Chicago, retired after 30 years of service.

“Kurgan’s journey of service comes to an all stop,” said Rear Adm. John W. Korka, commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAFAC) and Chief of Civil Engineers. “Throughout his 30 years of service, Chris Kurgan exhibited exceptional competence, unyielding compassion, unflappable adaptability, and extremely broad array of operational, staff, and command assignments.”

Kurgan has served in numerous expeditionary units across many commands. This includes Public Works Officer of Camp David, Operations Officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4, Commanding Officer of NMCB 133, Deputy Commander for NAFAC Pacific, Commanding Officer of NAFAC Northwest, Commanding Officer of CSFE and CECOS, Commodore of Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1. Kurgan has led troops in combat theater during multiple deployments while serving as commanding officer or commodore, four times during his career.

“As you can see, this is a man who never took the easy way out and his service tells the story,” said Korka. “He is an officer with seawater in his blood. One who is born to lead.”

Kurgan established his reputation for leadership during his 2004 U.S. Central Command deployment to Iraq in support Operation Enduring Freedom, with NMCB 4. During this tour his leadership contributed to the command’s success and recognition of service members who received the Battle-E, Peltier Award, Moreell Medal, Marvin Shields Award, Steelworker Second Class Robert D. Stethem Award, and Rear Adm. Lewis B. Combs Award.

“NMCB 4 suffered casualties while supporting Marines in the Second Battle of Fallujah,” said Korka. “It was a difficult time, but Chris rallied the command to accomplish the mission and established a bond of unity, confidence, and trust. This propelled Chris’ career for years to come and explains why he has so many follow-on command tours; leaders want Chris Kurgan.”

Kurgan took the stage to address the audience with his final remarks in uniform. He thanked people by name, his family, and fellow service members; many who travelled across country to wish him farewell.

“When I look back at my 30 years of service to this country, all that matters is the lack of two sets of footprints,” said Kurgan. “This is because I’ve been carried a lot. I’ve been carried by my faith and through the military community, their leadership, friendship, heart, and love. I appreciate everyone who carried me and who I served with, especially my wife who was burdened with much of the heavy lifting.”

Kurgan graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program in 1990. He earned a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2001 and completed Executive Training Program, Kellogg School at Northwestern University in 2012.

“There’s a good reason why I only remember one college professor,” Kurgan stated. “I learned more from the Chief Mess than anything I learned at institutions of higher learning. I learned what’s real and what’s important in life and I am eternally grateful for these lessons.”

His awards include Bronze Stars, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Meritorious Service Medals, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Joint Service Achievement Medals and the Presidential Service Badge.

“I believe in the constitution,” said Kurgan. “I believe that a small number can make a big difference, I believe 56 great souls can change the world, that 1 great soul can change the landscape. No matter how bad things may get in the world, America will be safe because of the minority who sacrifice to protect the majority; and I have been eternally grateful to serve and lead in this small group.”

Kurgan goes ashore for the last time during the age of great power competition, lamented Korka.

NBVC is a multi-dominant mission facility operating the world’s largest instrumented sea range. NBVC is home to Point Mugu, Port Hueneme, San Nicolas Island, Laguna Peak, the Pacific Coast Seabees, the Westcoast Hawkeyes, 3 warfare centers, and 80 tenants. It is the largest employer in Ventura County and actively protects California’s largest coastal wetlands through its award-winning environmental programs.