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This Week in Seabee History (Week of March 6)

March 6, 2016 | By Seabee Magazine
Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, U.S. Navy Seabee Museum  
VIRIN: 160306-N-ZY182-1530
Seabees installing AM-2 matting at the Chu Lai airfield, Republic of Vietnam, 1966. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

March 6

1947: 104th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) reactivated, eventually being reestablished in October 1950 as Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1. 1968: CDR Paul R. Gates, CEC, USN relieved CDR Anson C. Perkins, CEC, USN, as commander of the 21st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR). 1970: Seabee Teams 0103 and 0104 departed Vietnam for Davisville, RI. 1971: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 Detail Borealis at Ca Mau received eight rockets and heavy small arms fire. BU2 F.D. Lupo, USN, was killed inaction and four other Seabees wounded. Two of the wounded required medivac.

March 7

1967: EOC J.C. Haines, CET3, L.R. Riddle, and CMH3 R.E. Kasper, NMCB 4, were killed in action in a mine explosion on the road from An Hoa to Da Nang.

March 8

1968: Camp Barnes received 10 rounds of enemy rocket and artillery fire. The action resulted in 3 KIAs, CN E.E. Nevins, CEW2 J.P. Hartlage II, and BUL2 J.W. Borders. There were 8 men wounded in action. One berthing hut was completely destroyed.

March 9

1942: Camp Allen, Norfolk, VA established. 1950: A detachment of 105th NCB arrived in the Caribbean for a practice invasion. The occasion was marred by squalls and heavy surf conditions, making the battalion s job of invading the beach and setting up pontoon causeways doubly hard. The battalions had to make three tries for the beach before their task was accomplished, to put ashore the Army s Third Division. The invasion was successful due to the unstinting efforts of the Seabees. 1951:: NMCB 4 commissioned at Norfolk, VA. 1971: Seabees of NMCB 40 s advance party waded ashore at the remote atoll of Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The Seabees were there to begin a highly-significant undertaking the building of a United States Navy Communications Station. Up to this time, Diego Garcia had been a relatively unknown tropical atoll whose only industry was copra. Commissioning ceremonies for the Naval Communications Station, Diego Garcia were conducted two years later on March 20, 1973.

March 10

1920: Public Works officers or officers were first assigned to each of the naval districts. 1968: BUH3 Frank G. Goelz, USN, was killed in an accidental fall while engaged in constructing a pile bent as part of repairs to Liberty Bridge, Da Nang, RVN. Memorial services for Petty Officer Goelz were held at Camp Hoover on 11 March and at Liberty Bridge on 12 March. 1968: Detail Charlie of Construction Battalion Mobile Unit (CBMU) 301 was working at the Navy-Marine camp at Cua Viet, Republic of Vietnam, when the camp was attacked by enemy rockets, mortars and artillery. During the attack one of the incoming rounds detonated ammunition and gasoline stores located on the landing ramp at the river. The resulting explosions caused a fire which burned for 14 hours. Most of the damage to the camp was caused by concussion although shrapnel fell everywhere. When the attack was over, the men of Detail Charlie worked to control the fire. After that they restored the electrical and water supply systems in the camp. The following day, March 11, an ordnance disposal crew picked up approximately 10 tons of live ammunition in the camp area. Thirty-three men of the Unit s man body at Dong Ha were sent to Cua Viet to work with the sixteen men of Detail Charlie in the restoration work. Within a week the Seabees had the buildings and facilities restored and the ramp was again handling logistic materials. 1972: Seabee Team 0416, under LTJG R.A. Heisler, departed Kusaie and arrived in Port Hueneme, CA on 17 March 1972.

March 11

1941: A manufacturing and assembly plant for Quonset huts was established at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. 1945: Many times in the Second World War the Seabees were called on to do odd jobs of an urgent and extemporaneous nature. These jobs were dictated by the demands of combat operations. When the German lines in France were breached, the United States Army asked the Seabees to operate landing craft, pontoon causeways, and rhino ferries to help breach the Rhine River Barrier. The Naval Construction Force (NCF) accepted the challenge on March 11, 1945. The task was assigned to detachments from CBMU 627, 628, and 629. At ports in Normandy, the Seabees loaded their landing craft and pontoons on mammoth trucks and hauled them across France and the German borderlands to the Rhine River. The Rhine s swift and tricky currents had baffled armies since the time of Julius Caesar. However, the Seabees made the crossing with comparative ease. They first crossed the Rhine at Bad Neuenahr near Remagen. On March 22, General George Patton put his armored forces across the Rhine at Oppenheim in a frontal assault which swept away the Germans. The Seabees participated in the operation. In addition, the Seabees built pontoon ferries similar to their famous Rhino ferries to move tanks across the river in pairs. In all, the Seabees operated more than 300 craft as ferry service which shuttled thousands of troops into the heart of Germany. 1968: Seabee Teams 0310 and 0311 were transferred to Commander, 31st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) for Seabee Team Training prior to deployment to Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

March 12

1963: The village elder who recruited labor for Seabee Team 0502 in Chau Doc Province in the Republic of Vietnam was assassinated by the Viet Cong and his mutilated body left at the team project site. Mar. 12-16, 1966: NMCB 1 main body arrived at Da Nang, RVN. 1967: Seabee Team 0805 returned to the continental U.S. from Vietnam for leave before rejoining the battalion.    

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