View Full Version : Celebrating 62 years of faithful service

03-06-04, 01:47 PM
Celebrating 62 years of faithful service
Submitted by: MCAS Iwakuni
Story Identification Number: 20043423150
Story by Iwakuni Seabees

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan(March 5, 2004) -- From World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Seabees were an integral part of the operations that involved constructing numerous camps, airstrips, supply roads and humanitarian projects.

In December 1941, Rear Adm. Ben Moreell (Father of the Seabees), Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks, created the Naval Construction

The earliest Seabees were recruited from the civilian construction trades and were placed under the leadership of the officers of the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps. Because of the emphasis on experience and skill, the average age of Seabees during the early days of the war was 37.

In addition, most Seabees were volunteers, since all constructions trades were exempted from the draft due to their trade skills. More than 325,000 men served with the Seabees in World War II, fighting and building in six continents.

In the Atlantic during the D-Day landing at Normandy, some of the first personnel to go ashore were the Seabees. They were organized into teams to create avenues of approach in the thousands of barricades that were preventing the landing ships from hitting the beach. They suffered numerous casualties as daylight gave away their positions, but the teams completed what they set out to do.

In the Pacific, where most of the construction was needed, the Seabees landed soon after the Marines and built major airstrips, bridges, roads, warehouses, hospitals, gasoline storage tanks and housing.

The Korean Conflict saw a call up of more than 10,000 men. The Seabees landed at Inchon with assault troops. They fought enormous tides as well as enemy fire and provided causeways within hours of the initials landing. Their actions at Inchon and other landings demonstrated their versatility.

During the Vietnam War, the Seabees were primarily builders and instructors. Seabee team members were sometimes directly involved in battle. In June 1965 at Dong Xoai, Navy Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in carrying a critically wounded Army Special Forces soldier to safety and in destroying a Viet Cong machine gun emplacement at the cost of his life. Not only was Marvin Shields the first Seabee to win the nation's highest award, but he was also the first Navy service member to be so decorated for action in Vietnam.

After Vietnam, the Seabees continued with constructing and repairing bases worldwide.

In 1971, the Seabees went on to construct the $200 million base known as Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. This project took 11 years. This base proved invaluable when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm were launched.

During the Gulf War, more than 5,000 Seabees (4,000 active and 1000 reservist) served in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia the Seabees built 10 camps for more than 42,000 personnel, 14 galleys capable of feeding 75,000 people, and six million square feet of aircraft parking apron.

After Sept. 11th during the Afghanistan War, the Seabees were forward deployed Kandahar. Throughout the region they were establishing base camps, repairing water supply points and repairing aircraft runways out of anything they could find. While back in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, they also were busy helping construct detention facilities, Camp X-ray, for the incoming Taliban and Al Qaida prisoners.


Seabees and contractors carefully remove the historic display Seabee from its pedestal in front of Camp Moscrip, Iraq. The metal bee was originally placed there by NMCB-4ís Bravo Company in June 1982. Photo by: Seabees