This Week in Seabee History (Week of May 22)

May 22, 2016 | By Seabee Magazine
Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, U.S. Navy Seabee Museum
VIRIN: 160523-N-ZY182-2368
Seabees helped clear Rio Reventado Channel in Costa Rica to divert mud-slides in 1964. (U.S. Navy photo by All Hands Magazine, August 1965)

May 22

1943: 93rd Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island. 1964: A team of 33 Navy Seabees and 271 tons of heavy equipment was airlifted to Costa Rica to carry out emergency flood control measures in the Mount Irazu Volcano area and along the Reventado River. The assistance was requested by the government of Costa Rica. While there, the Seabees placed more than 700,000 cubic yards of material along the dikes, and strengthened and rebuilt portions of a dike weakened by floods. Furthermore, the Seabees trained Costa Ricans to use modern flood control equipment and techniques. For their work, the Seabees received special recognition from the President of Costa Rica, as well as from several high-ranking United States officials. 1966: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 8 camp dedicated Camp Faulkner in memory of Equipment Operator (Heavy) 3rd Class Arnold J. Faulkner. Faulkner, attached to NMCB 4, was killed in a construction accident while rehabilitating the Special Forces air strip at Kham Duc, Republic of Vietnam (RVN). 2008: A joint U.S. Army-Navy-Marine Corps and Iraqi engineer group completed construction of a 301-meter bridge at Baghdadi, Iraq, over the Euphrates River. Seabee steelworkers from NMCB 17 worked with their counterparts in the Army 814th Engineer Company to weld the components together. 1970: NMCB 4 main body departed Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Port Hueneme, California and arrived at Okinawa, Japan. 1967: NMCB 3 main body to Phu Bai, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

May 23

1942: 8th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia. 1965: Part of NMCB 3 main body departed Guam on the USS Belle Grove for Vietnam. 1968: NMCB 10 Detail Juliet was authorized to wear the Presidential Unit Citation by Commandant of the Marine Corps for service performed at Khe Sanh, RVN, during the period of Jan. 10 to April 1, 1968 in support of the 26th Regiment, U.S. Marines. 2012: Camp Moreell, Kuwait, formally closed during a ceremony held on Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The camp served as the main Seabee ground base and assembly point for all Seabees and Sailors deployed across Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

May 24

1943: ACORN 7 arrived at Guadalcanal. (Used during World War II, an ACORN was a tailored unit designed to carry out the rapid construction and subsequent operation of a landplane and seaplane advance base. Each ACORN had a construction battalion attached to it, as well as trained personnel to operate the control tower, field lighting, aerological unit, transportation, medical, berthing and messing facilities. A Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) also accompanied each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn. During the war, ACORNs were sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island and Majuro.) 1945: Approximately 50 Seabees of the 87th NCB were working the night shift at the Yontan Airfield on Okinawa when the airfield was bombed and then subjected to an attack by airborne enemy demolition squads. This was the debut of the Giretsu, Japanese, suicide warriors. As the first enemy aircraft screeched along the coral airstrip, the Japanese soldiers within it leaped for the ground, tumbling head-over-heels. They quickly recovered themselves and sprinted off into the darkness. Immediately thereafter from all directions, blinding flashes illuminated the hardstands. Gas tanks exploded and parked planes became flaming infernos. The enemy soldiers were destroying United States planes with magnesium grenades and phosphorous bombs. Seabees and Marines grabbed their guns and began firing at the Japanese, who by now, were silhouetted around the burning planes. When the action was over, all of the invading saboteurs were dead. However, 20 United States planes were completely destroyed and a fuel dump was in flames. 1969: Seabee Team 0604 returned to Davisville, Rhode Island. 1969: NMCB 5 conducted a change of command ceremony as Cmdr. R.B. Wilson, CEC, was relieved by Cmdr. R.A. Schade Jr., CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 5. 1971: Capt. D.W. Wittschiebe, CEC, officially relieved Cmdr. R.D. Gaulden, CEC, as commander, 30th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) in ceremonies on Okinawa.

May 25

1942: 5th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia. 1946: 125th NCB inactivated on Okinawa. 2009: Cmdr. Duane G. Wolfe, CEC, USNR, Los Osos, California, was killed along with three other people by a roadside bomb in Fallujah, Iraq. Wolfe was serving as officer-in-charge of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division s Al Anbar Area Office. He is the highest ranking CEC officer ever killed in action. 1949: The main body of 12 officers and 354 enlisted men from NMCB 6 returned to Davisville, Rhode Island, on two DC-8 aircraft from Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. 1970: NMCB 3 main body returned to the Continental United States (CONUS) via government aircraft.

May 26

1943: 92nd NCB formed at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia. 1965: The first section NMCB 3 main body arrived in RVN aboard the USS Port Defiance from Guam. 1967: Seabee Team 0309 departed CONUS for duty in Vietnam. 1970: Cmdr. R.D. Gaulden, CEC, commanding officer, NMCB 4, relieved Cmdr. J.L. Godsey, CEC, commanding officer, NMCB 3, as Commander of the 30th NCR. Also, NMCB 4 assumed responsibilities as U.S. Pacific Fleet Alert Battalion. 1965: NMCB 3 landed at Da Nang, RVN, to commence construction of the large military complex at Da Nang and Da Nang East. In the next four months, NMCBs 5, 8 and 9 joined NMCB 3 in the construction of cantonments, roads, piers, and storage buildings and yards.

May 27

1942: U.S. Marines and Seabees occupy Wallis Island, South Pacific Ocean. 1961: Detachment Kilo of NMCB 14 arrived in Holy Loch, Scotland. The Seabees had come for the purpose of erecting a floating dry dock, capable of docking Polaris submarines. A floating dry dock had not been erected since the end of World War II. The dry dock to be installed at Holy Loch was of World War II-vintage and had been kept in mothballs since the war. When it was decided that an overseas repair facility for Polaris submarines was a strategic necessity, the dock was reactivated and towed from Green Cove Springs, Florida, to Holy Loch, Scotland. To complete the dry dock, the Seabees major tasks consisted of placing 22 mooring legs weighing approximately 1,000 tons each, jacking eight wing-wall structures weighing 450 tons each to a vertical position, erecting more than 825 feet of steel structure to support cranes weighing 240 tons, and welding four dock sections. In addition, Seabees installed electrical, plumbing and interior communication systems. Other projects included erecting living and office spaces, and painting the exterior and interior of the dry dock. 1968: NMCB 5 s Advance Party, comprised of one officer in charge and 16 enlisted personnel departed Camp Barnes to Da Nang, RVN and returned to CBC, Port Hueneme, California, with NMCB 9 s main flights on 30 May 1968. 1971: Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 returned from Keflavik, Iceland. 1974: On Memorial Day 1974, the Seabee Memorial Monument was dedicated. The monument is located on Memorial Drive leading to Arlington National Cemetery. It depicts the Seabee as builder, fighter and ambassador of good will. The larger-than-life-size figure of a Seabee on the monument stands in front of a semicircular bronze bas-relief on which is portrayed a panorama of Seabees in their various construction trades.

May 28

1944: 32nd NCB disbanded at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California. 1963: The first Seabee Team to Thailand, 0902, deployed to commence the joint Seabee AID civic action program. Between May 1963 and December 1965, 10 Seabee Teams trained students and built roads, dams and other community projects in seven provinces in northern and northeastern Thailand. 1967: Capt. A.R. Marschall, CEC, commander of the 30th NCR, presented the Peltier Award for 1966 to the commanding officer of NMCB 1.