This Week in Seabee History: May 19 - 25

May 22, 2019 | By ggranger
Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, Naval History and Heritage Command [caption id="attachment_13610" align="alignnone" width="630"]
VIRIN: 161114-N-ZY182-3610
On Memorial Day 1974, the Seabee Memorial Monument was dedicated. The monument is located on Memorial Drive leading to the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. 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. (Photo by NAVFAC Public Affairs)  

May 19

1968: A rocket attack began at 1930 (7:30 p.m.) on NMCB 4 s almost completed camp site at Camp Evans, RVN. One rocket hit the ammunition supply point (ASP). Fires and explosions spread destruction to the major ASP area and fuel farm. Debris from the exploding shells and rockets caused moderate damage to five berthing huts, and Alpha Company shops and repair parts buildings. Explosions continued into the morning of the 20th, but with no Seabee casualties. 1971: Ceremony held turning Camp Moscrip, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico over from NMCB 1 to NMCB 62. May 19-20, 1971: NMCB 1 main body flights departed Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico for Davisville, Rhode Island. 2007: Capt. Katherine (Kate) Gregory assumed command of the 30th NCR, the first female active duty regimental commander in the history of the Naval Construction Force. [caption id="attachment_16516" align="alignnone" width="453"]
VIRIN: 180514-N-ZY182-6516
Sept. 2012, Real Admiral Katherine L. Gregory, Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Chief of Civil Engineers, United States Navy. (Photo by NAVFAC PAO)

May 20

1946: 29th NCB inactivated at Truk, Caroline Islands. 85th NCB inactivated on Wake Island. 96th NCB inactivation at Tsingtao, China began, completed by August 1, 1946. 1965: Part of NMCB 3 main body departed Guam on the USS Point Defiance for Vietnam. On Guam, the battalion was the backup battalion. 1969: Main body of NMCB 71 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for assignment to Roosevelt Roads Naval Base, Puerto Rico.

May 21

1946: 58th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated on Okinawa, Japan. 1966: The first five flights of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 8 departed Vietnam for the continental United State (CONUS). Seabees on the first three flights had to be transported to Da Nang airfield by helicopter because of road blocks caused by civil strife in the city of Da Nang.

May 22

1943: 93rd 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: 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, 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 U.S. 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, Civil Engineer Corps (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, U.S. Navy Reserve (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 CONUS via government aircraft.