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This Week in Seabee History (October 24 - 30)

Oct. 25, 2021 | By U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, Naval History and Heritage Command

October 24

 
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1944: Tank mounted flame throwers became a productive weapon for routing Japanese soldiers out of caves and pillboxes during the Second World War. A composite group was set up to assist the Army s Chemical Warfare personnel in developing this weapon. Included in the group were an officer and 25 Seabees from the 117th NCB. After several demonstrations, the flame throwing tank proved to be generally satisfactory except for one technical detail, which the tankmen said was a distinct disadvantage. The Seabees set to work on a design for a functional modification of the weapon. Not only did the Seabee design eliminate the objectionable feature of the prior models, but it greatly reduced the number of moving parts. At its first demonstration on October 24, 1944, the new weapon was given enthusiastic approval by tankmen and chemical warfare officers. In addition to building these flame thrower tanks, Seabees also instructed tankmen how to operate them. The Seabee instructors assisted in making experts out of Army and Marine tankmen before the tanks went into action in such places at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Peleliu.
1944: 9th Naval Construction Brigade commissioned; 41st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) commissioned.
1945: 36th NCR inactivated.
1967: Cmdr. D.W. Wittschiebe, CEC, USN, commanding officer of NMCB 128, relieved Cmdr. E.H. Marsh, CEC, USN, commanding officer of NMCB 133, at camp Faulkner, Da Nang East, RVN; NMCB 128 main body arrived in Da Nang, RVN; NMCB 71 main body of 20 officers and 782 Seabees departed Chu Lai, RVN for Davisville, Rhode Island on nine C-141 aircraft; NMCB 40 main body arrived in Chu Lai, RVN.

October 25

1945: 6th NCB inactivated. 11th Special NCB inactivated at Okinawa.
1963: U.S. Naval Ship Missile Systems Engineering Station officially dedicated at CBC Port Hueneme, California.
1967: Main body of NMCB 71 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from Chu Lai, RVN.

October 26

1966: Capt. Greer A. Busbee, Jr., relieved Capt. Spencer R. Smith as commander, Atlantic Fleet Naval Construction Battalions; NMCB 1 main body left Da Nang, RVN for Davisville, Rhode Island by C-141 aircraft via Japan and Alaska.
2012: Rear Adm. Katherine (Kate) L. Gregory assumed duties as commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and chief of Civil Engineers, the first woman in Navy history to hold either position.

October 27

1943: During the invasion of Mono Island in the Treasury group of the Solomon Islands, a party of Seabees from NCB 87 landed within an hour after the assault began. The party, headed by Lt. Charles E. Turnbull, CEC, U.S. Naval Reserve, also included Machinist Mate 1st Class (Construction Battalion Equipment Operator) Aurelio Tassone and his 20-ton bulldozer. The assaulted troops were being held down by fierce Japanese gunfire from cannon and machine guns hidden in a strongly built pillbox. After some discussion, it was decided that Tassone would see what his dozer could do to it. Raising his blade for protection, and supported by Turnbull, who was armed with a carbine, Tassone rushed the pillbox. When he reached the obstruction, he exerted down pressure on the blade and tore into the barricade, covering the defenders with logs and tons of earth. None of the enemy troops emerged alive. Both Tassone and Turnbull were awarded the Silver Star Medal for their bravery.
1970: Seabee Team 0319 deployed to Xuan Loc, RVN, via government aircraft.
 
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October 28

1942: 1st NCR commissioned; 37th NCB commissioned at Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.
1965: At Marble Mountain, Da Nang East, RVN, Viet Cong bands with mortars and satchel explosives blasted an air facility and a badly-needed advanced base hospital being built by NMCB 9. The assault killed two Seabees and wounded over 90. Eight Quonset huts housing surgical, laboratory, X-ray and other wards lay in shambles. The Seabees paused to honor their dead and then set about rebuilding the hospital. They erected and outfitted the surgical and clinical wards, added living quarters, and opened the 400-bed hospital in less than three months.

October 29

1943: 132nd NCB inactivated at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.
1944: 9th NCR inactivated.
1945: 8th Special NCB inactivated at Port Hueneme, California.
1967: Seabee Team 1010 departed Thailand and arrived at 31st NCR for leave and debriefing.

October 30

1945: 7th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated at Okinawa.
1964: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 main body aboard USNS Patrick arrived at Guam.
1966: In a ceremony at the Sands Point Naval Air Station (NAS), Seattle, Washington, Rear Adm Lewis C. Coxe, commander of the Southwest Division of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), presented the Perry Award to the commanding officer of Reserve Mobile Construction Battalion (MCB) 18. This was the first year the Perry Trophy was awarded. The Perry Trophy competition provides a yardstick for measuring the mobilization capability of each Reserve MCB. Military and operational readiness, manning level, overall proficiency, leadership and morale are considered in the selection process.
1966: Personnel of NMCB 7 assembled to pay tribute to one of their own. In a brief ceremony, the battalion camp at Phu Bai, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), was dedicated in memory of a lost shipmate, Steelworker (Erector) 3rd Class Stanley Claus Campbell. On August 25, 1966, Campbell gave his life on the defensive perimeter of the camp which now bore his name.
 
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