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    • The Seabees Celebrate Their 79th Birthday


      The Seabees Celebrate Their 79th Birthday

       The US Navy Seabees are a group of enlisted and commissioned members of the military designated with the duties of constructing military bases and infrastructure. In the years leading up to America’s involvement in WWII, the US Navy had primarily used civilian contractors for construction. However, due to international law these civilian contractors were not allowed to defend themselves, lest they be considered guerillas and allowed to be summarily executed by the enemy. With the need of having naval construction capabilities, particularly in the Pacific theater which consisted of mainly remote islands, in December of 1941, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell requested the ability to form a special unit to assist Navy and Marine operations. In January 1942 this unit was organized into Construction Battalions (known as “CBs”) of enlisted tradesmen, builders, and equipment operators which could defend themselves. By March 5, 1942, the Department of the Navy officially named these men the “Seabees”.


      In WWII, the Seabees served in over 400 locations across multiple theaters of war, with 325,000 men serving with about 60 different trade skills among them. After WWII, they were disbanded due to demobilization, but by the Korean War they were reactivated from their original home base of Davisville, Rhode Island. They assisted in amphibious construction operations as well as developing and maintaining airfields, defending what they build. In Vietnam, they provided not only military construction but also humanitarian efforts. On June 9th, 1965, CM3 Marvin G. Shields became the first and only Seabee who was awarded the Medal of Honor for fighting alongside special forces in defense of the unfinished Army Special Forces Camp in Dong Xoai. It was awarded posthumously, as he died of his multiple injuries during the evacuation.


      Seabees also served in other parts of the world, expanding and strengthening America’s power and influence. More recently, they’ve also served during the Global War on Terror, building and repairing airfields, bridges, and camps in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq. With their “Can Do!” attitude, the Seabees are ready to deploy anywhere around the world to assist in construction and humanitarian efforts, abiding by their motto they’ve had since their creation: "Construimus, Batuimus," We Build, We Fight.

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