AL TAQADDUM, Iraq --
The charred remains of the old chapel at Combat Outpost Ready could be seen only a few months ago after an electrical fire destroyed the building. Soon the soldiers will have a new place of worship, thanks to the versatility of the Seabees.
Working in waves, the Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One, Detachment Al Taqaddum attacked the project with their vast skills in carpentry, electrical work and everything in between.
“(The new chapel) went up really fast,” said Spc. Jose I. Rodriguez, from 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, Supply Support Activity platoon. “It looks better than the old one,” said the 22-year-old from Miami.
The final stages were spent laying down the floor and finishing up last minute wiring. Despite their specific trade, everyone took part in the effort to work as a more efficient team.
“We generally have a multitude of talent working with us,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Billy J. Thomas, a builder from Fort Worth, Texas. “When they’re taken away to work on other projects, it hurts, but that’s why we cross train.”
Bouncing from site to site and job to job, the Seabees have learned to adapt by cross training and learning each other’s trade.
This multi-faceted approach is not uncommon for the Seabees who learn each other’s job to get things done faster.
“When it’s a slab, you can’t do anything so you learn from the ground up,” explained Seaman Jarred W. Jones, an utilitiesman with the project. Before they use their expertise to teach others, the Seabees help out with everything leading up to their role. That way, they learn what everyone else does, said the 21-year-old from Belpre, Ohio.
“We have two plumbers in there now putting up trim,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class David Winters, a builder with the chapel project. “They’re doing a good job, learning as they go.”
This multi-tasking and multi-training is not only a marketable skill, but can also speed things along during a long tour.
“It makes the deployment go faster,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brad K. Bazemore, from Stuart, Fla. “You spend two and a half months doing the same thing and it gets old,” commented Bazemore.
Bazemore has been working at the chapel providing his assistance wherever necessary, just like the rest of the Seabees who deployed from their home station of Gulfport, Miss.
“Right now, I’m doing builder work since all the electrical is done,” said Bazemore, as he helped Jones lay down the new wooden floor.
The new church now stands with a completely new structure. With the installation of the roof, walls, and the six new air conditioning units, the building is a welcome replacement to the smaller South West Asia hut used temporarily during construction.
The Seabees continue on upcoming projects, including helping the military transition teams. Whatever the challenge, the Seabees are ready to step up to it.
“We build, we fight,” said Lt. Chris S. Casne, officer in charge of detachment Al Taqaddum. “We’re all about quality construction and building quality products to be used for years to come.”