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This Week in Seabee History: August 15 - 21

Aug. 21, 2023 | By MC1 Adam Brock
By U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, Naval History and Heritage Command

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.

Operation "Desert Shield/Desert Storm" - On 2 August 1990 the armed forces of Iraq began the invasion and subsequent conquest of the Emirate of Kuwait. Under United Nations' auspices, the United States and other member nations responded by deploying military forces to Saudi Arabia. The immediate goal was to forestall further Iraqi aggression; the long-range goal was to compel Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. The initial allied military undertaking to protect Saudi Arabia was dubbed Operation "Desert Shield."

Among the U.S. forces deployed to the region was the First Marine Expeditionary Force. Seabees were to provide construction support for this force. On 7 August the Seabees began preparations to deploy four battalions to the region: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, 5, 7, and 40. On 13 August the first Seabees arrived in Saudi Arabia, an element of Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, comprising 210 personnel. These men immediately went to work unloading Marine Corps equipment and supplies from Maritime Prepositioned Force ships.




During the period 10-20 August, 100 Seabees of Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 departed Norfolk, Virginia, on amphibious ships bound for the Persian Gulf. While in the gulf these Seabees participated in numerous exercises with the Marines to prepare for an amphibious assault in the region.

The second wave of Seabees to arrive were personnel from Construction Battalion Units 411 and 415; they erected and maintained Fleet Hospital Five, a 500-bed hospital facility at Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Both units had female Officers in Charge, marking a first for the Seabees.

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).


August 25



2009:  Groundbreaking ceremonies are held at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, California, for construction of the new U.S. Navy Seabee Museum to replace the older facility which opened in 1956.

August 26

1943:105th NCB formed at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1944:302nd NCB formed at Maui, Hawaii.

1967:Capt. J.M. Hill, CEC,relieved Cmdr. R.L. Foley, CEC,as commander, 32nd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR).

1968:Seabee William Darrah, State Departments Naval Support Unit, was highly commended for heroic efforts in extinguishing what could have been a major fire at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Due to a curfew, the local fire department was unavailable. In response, the members of the embassy staff, U.S. news correspondents and private American citizens formed a bucket brigade, and managed to control and extinguish the fire. The U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia said, By general agreement, the person who merits the highest praise is Seabee William B. Darrah, who knew his job thoroughly and showed great personal courage.