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This Week in Seabee History (September 9 - 15)

Sept. 10, 2018 | By ggranger
Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, Naval History and Heritage Command [caption id="attachment_14861" align="alignnone" width="640"]
VIRIN: 170911-N-ZY182-4861
From Rota to Zaragota the OICC Madrid was charged with building 20 major air and naval facilities with Rota being the crown jewel. Across the bay from Cadiz, Rota was the main terminal for the 485 mile underground fuel transportation system which supplied Air Force and Navy bases with aviation and motor fuel products. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

September 9

1943: Before dawn, initial Allied landings took place at Salerno, Italy. For these landings, the 12-mile beach was divided into two parts. The north section was invaded by the 46th British Division that landed from tank landing ships with the aid of the 1006th Seabee Causeway Detachment (CBD 1006). The south section was invaded by the American forces that also landed on causeways laid down by Seabee pontoon crews. The Germans, however, were prepared for battle at Salerno. The landing ships carrying the Seabees and their pontoons took a frightful beating. Many pontoon strings were sent ashore and blown up on the mined beaches. Allied ships guarding the beaches were bombed by German guided missiles, dive bombers and torpedoes, and shelled by German submarines and patrol craft. During the first 10 days of battle, the Seabees bivouacked on the Salerno beaches while they unloaded ships, built unloading-slips and roadways, and cleared traffic doing it all while under constant fire. CBD 1006 suffered 28% casualties. Lt. Carl M. Olson, CEC, officer in charge (OIC), CBD 1006, and seven of his men were killed in action during this conflict. The Allies won the battle at Salerno, and Seabee operations were invaluable in the great victory. 1967: The first flight of NMCB 9 advance party arrived at Camp Hoover.

September 10

1943: First CEC officer killed in action, Lt. Carl M. Olson, at Salerno, Italy. 1945: 8th and 42nd NCRs inactivated. 84th NCB inactivated at Palawan, Philippines. 1965: NMCB 10 renames Camp Banister at Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam (RVN) as Camp Shields, in honor of Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields, fallen hero of the Battle of Dong Xoai. Shields is the first and so far only Seabee to receive the Medal of Honor. 1968: Seabee Team 4002 arrived in Davisville, Rhode Island, from RVN for reassignment to NMCB 40. 2010: Capt. Louis V. Cariello, CEC, assumed command of NCBC, Gulfport, Mississippi, and 20th Seabee Readiness Group, from Capt. Ed Brown, CEC.

September 11

1943: The 11th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) was commissioned. 1945: The 62nd Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) was inactivated at Iwo Jima. 1965: The main body of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 8 moved from Port Hueneme, California, to Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), via Military Airlift Command. 1966: NMCB 3 received message notification from Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMCBPAC) of its selection as fiscal year 1966's Best of Type, Pacific Fleet.

September 12

1944: UDTs, led by Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) officers and mostly comprised of Seabees, began clearing the approaches to Peleliu for an amphibious assault. Three days later, Marines of the First Division came ashore accompanied by Seabees of NCBs 33 and 73, and Construction Battalion Division (CBD) 1054. Initially, CBD 1054 Seabees operated pontoon barges and causeways to assist in the landing of supplies and vehicles, while the Seabees of the 33rd and 73rd worked on the beach unloading cargo. On September 19, however, when the airfield was captured, they began clearing debris from the airstrips. The following day, their construction equipment was brought ashore and the Seabees began making rapid repairs. Only 72 hours later, three squadrons of fighter aircraft were able to land and begin operations. On September 23, the Seabees began constructing a bomber base which, despite land mines and mortar fire, was made operational in seven days. 1945: The 80th NCB was inactivated at Subic Bay, Philippines. 1966: A facility containing two NMCB camps and the 30th NCR headquarters at Red Beach, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), was named Camp Haskins in memory of Builder (Light Construction) 2nd Class Donald Dean Haskins, NMCB 9, who was killed in action on October 28, 1965, when Camp Adenir, Da Nang, RVN, came under Viet Cong attack. 1968: An NMCB 1 jeep carrying the Delta Company commander and company chief, Lt. j.g. Arthur D. Moscrip Jr., and Builder Constructionman W.W. McGinn, hit a mine en route to a job site at 2/1 Marines south of Da Nang, RVN. McGinn was killed instantly, while Moscrip died the following morning.

September 13

1942: The 25th NCB was commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia. 1945: The 6th NCB was inactivated at Okinawa, Japan. [caption id="attachment_14862" align="alignleft" width="296"]
VIRIN: 170911-N-ZY182-4862
Joan Shields, widow of CM3 Marvin Shields, with their daughter Barbara Diane, receiving her husband's Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Johnson, September 13, 1966. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum) 1966: Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his acts of heroism at the 1965 Battle of Dong Xoai, RVN. The medal was presented to his wife, Joan, and daughter, Barbara, by President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House. This Medal of Honor was the first and only one ever awarded to a Seabee.

September 14

2007: The 25th NCR and NMCB 11 were re-commissioned at Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Gulfport, Mississippi.

September 15

1943: The 4th NCR was inactivated. Section I of 106th NCB was decommissioned at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California. 1944: A naval task force landed the First Marine Division accompanied by Seabees of NCBs 33 and 74, and CBD 1054 on Peleliu, Palau Islands, in the Western Carolines. The island had been subject to air and shore bombardment prior to the landings, while minesweepers and personnel of the UDTs cleared channels and beaches. The UDTs, led by CEC officers, were mostly Seabees. Peleliu marked the first time the Japanese used new tactics to oppose amphibious assaults. The tactics included light resistance on the beaches with heavy counterattacks and a main line of defense inland. Fighting on Peleliu was heavy, because the Japanese had well-prepared positions in caves and tunnels. The island was not secured until November 25. 1945: The 27th NCR was inactivated; the 41st and 59th NCBs were inactivated on Guam. 1950: Seabees of NCB 104, later re-designated as Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1, participated in amphibious landings with the Marines at Inchon, Korea. Building pontoon causeways and unloading eight tank landing ships carrying supplies into Inchon posed major challenges for the Seabees. Inchon harbor had a fantastic tide, over 30 feet in most places. The tide receded to the main channel and left a vast mud flat in front of the city. Small craft, tank landing ships, patrol craft and other supply vessels were left high and dry on the mud when the tide withdrew. In their usual Can Do spirit, the Seabees had a pontoon causeway built on the second day that allowed Gen. Douglas MacArthur to walk ashore dry-shod, from USS Mount McKinley. 1950: NMCB 2 was commissioned. 1967: Cmdr. Richard Foley departed as officer in charge (OIC) of the Ghost Battalion, Site X, Quang Tri Province, RVN. Lt. Cmdr. T.L. Lonegan assumed command as acting commanding officer, NMCB 3.