WASHINGTON, D.C. (NNS) -- Active duty, Reserve and veteran Seabees came together with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) to commemorate the 78th birthday of the Seabees March 7 with a ceremonial wreath laying at the Seabee Memorial in Arlington Memorial Cemetery.
Rear Adm. John Korka, commander, NAVFAC and chief of Civil Engineers, was joined by Force Master Chief of the Seabees Delbert Terrell Jr. in celebrating the heroism and accomplishments of Seabees past and present.
"It’s been 78 years since we embarked on this journey of building and fighting,” said Korka. “78 years since Admiral Ben Moreell put into action the team to fulfill the dire need for construction workers capable of defending themselves while moving forward and constructing vital facilities to support our troops in the Pacific and Europe.”
“Today we have Seabees deployed all around the globe, answering the call, providing humanitarian assistance and building relationships,” said Korka.
Korka recently visited Port Hueneme to give reverence to a fallen Seabee.
“Force [Terrell] and I had the solemn honor to preside over an event to honor one of our fallen Seabees, Petty Officer Knott.” said Korka. “We renamed the main gate to the Pacific Fleet Seabees after Petty Officer Knott. I think it’s appropriate that today we are continuing our celebration of our birthday with an honor.”
On Sept. 4, 2004, Steelworker (SW) 3rd Class Eric L. Knott was deployed in Iraq with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) FOUR fabricating parts to enhance a security at Camp Fallujah when a rocket struck just meters away from the front gate. Knott was killed in the attack.
The Seabee Memorial, dedicated in 1974, honors those individuals who were, and are, a part of the Seabee community. An inscription reads “With compassion for others We Build We Fight for Peace with Freedom.”
The ceremony occurs each year on the same day as the annual Seabee Ball where more than 500 people assembled in Arlington, Virginia, for the annual celebration of the anniversaries of the Seabees, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), and NAVFAC.
This year's ball marked the 78th anniversary of the Seabees, the 153rd anniversary of the CEC, and the 178th anniversary of NAVFAC, which was established in August 1842 as the Bureau of Navy Yards and Docks.
During the anniversary celebration, two Seabees were recognized for their outstanding achievements last year by the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation.
The Steelworker Second Class Robert D. Stethem Award is given annually to the CEC officer or enlisted Seabee who has exhibited outstanding moral courage in support of the traditions and legacies of the U.S. Navy Seabees. Stethem was killed by terrorists on board TWA flight 847, while returning from an underwater construction team project in Greece. Stethem was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals.
The winner of the 2019 Steelworker Second Class Robert D. Stethem award is SW1(EXW/SCW) Joanna Iglesias of Naval Special Warfare Group ONE logistics and support unit. Iglesias deployed as the mobility officer and lead logistics coordinator of SEAL Team FIVE in support of multiple operations throughout U.S. Central Command and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). She was responsible for the coordination and execution of theater logistics and tactical mobility for nine special operation units comprised of 603 personnel dispersed across four different outstations.
The Rear Adm. Lewis B. Combs award, named for the assistant to the chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks under Moreell during World War II, is presented to the individual who has made the most outstanding contribution in perpetuating the legacy of Seabee, CEC, and NAVFAC accomplishments and traditions.
The winner of the 2019 Rear Adm. Lewis B. Combs award is Senior Chief Equipment Operator (SCW/EXW) Matthew Dooley of NMCB-11. Dooley served as operations chief responsible for the operational oversight of 600 forward deployed Seabees. He displayed exceptional leadership as he led Seabee operations during the Naval Station Rota deployment, executing six active construction projects valued at $15.3 million in support of Exercise Sea Breeze, and Juniper Cobra. Additionally, he managed six work centers with more than 7,000 pieces of equipment at three deployment sites throughout the INDOPACOM area of operations.
NAVFAC, a global organization, is one of the Navy's major systems commands. It delivers global life-cycle technical and acquisition solutions to Fleet and Marine Corps priorities.