AT-TAQADDUM, Iraq --
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One honored their history by celebrating the 66th birthday of the U.S. Navy’s Seabees here, March 5.
After the Dec. 7, 1942 attacks on Pearl Harbor, the use of civilian labor in wartime became impractical and the need for builders who could fight became a necessity. One month later marked the beginning of Seabees, their motto, “The first and the finest.” Their mission is to provide advance base construction and battle damage repair.
Battle damage repair is just what the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One, detachment al-Taqaddum have been doing, since their beginnings in World War II to their current assignment in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
One of their biggest contributions was finishing the at-Taqaddum runway project in 2008. Al–Taqaddum is one of the largest logistical hubs in the region, enabling supplies to be flown all over Iraq to support troops on the ground. The completion of the runway made operations more efficient by having the capability to fly in supplies, troops and provide fast air support in time of need.
“This project was a big accomplishment for us,” said Navy Lt. Chris S. Casne, officer in charge of NMCB-1, detachment al-Taqaddum.
Five other Seabee battalions played a role in the runway project, but NMCB-1 finished the reparations project Jan. 8, 2008 making this the Naval Construction Force’s longest running repair project, lasting more than two-and-a-half years.
The Seabees have been involved with other projects here, such as building combat outposts for the security of at-Taqaddum and rebuilding a burned-down chapel. The Seabees don’t always build, they sometimes aid in humanitarian efforts such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Even in Iraq, NMCB-1 honored their history, with the same traditions shared stateside.
Casne led their ceremony by reminding his Sailors about their history and what they have accomplished.
“I’m proud to be part of the Seabee history,” said Casne, from Helena, Mont.
Throughout the Seabees history, they have always worked hand in hand with the Marines, said Navy Chief Mary Jo Medeiros, logistics cell chief, from New Orleans.
Now serving with the Marines in al-Taqaddum, the Seabees here play a continuing role in the repair and development of the camp.
“I’m proud to be a part of something that has been around for sixty-six years,” said Navy Petty Officer First Class Daniel S. Harper, construction electrician, with the detachment here, who received a Navy Achievement Medal during the celebration.
Harper received the medal for his accomplishments with NMCB-1 here and for his roll as a supervisor during the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
“I have never seen anything like this,” said Harper from Meridian, Miss. “It’s the end of my tour and I received a NAM on the Seabees birthday. That’s something that I will never forget.”