By Scott Ghiringhelli, NAVFAC Headquarters Public Affairs
GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- With 2017 marking the 175th anniversary of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), the 150th of the Civil Engineer Corps, and the 75th of the Seabees, the Dec. 1 dedication of the Seabee Memorial Plaza at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport was a fitting finale.
"I think the timing is perfect. We spent the whole year celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Seabees, our diamond anniversary year," said NAVFAC Commander and Chief of Civil Engineers Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg. "We've been all over the country, and we're finishing up with this event."
Muilenburg was the guest speaker at the dedication ceremony, where he expressed his fondness for the installation and the community, having been stationed there previously three times.
"From so much of our 75 year history, it's happened right here from this base," said Muilenburg. "It was 75 years ago that we started the Seabee journey. It's a journey that has taken us to all corners of the globe, and has dropped Seabees into every major conflict since World War II."
Seabees from NCBC Gulfport were put into action in the gulf after Hurricane Katrina and were ready to help in relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey, as well as other Seabees assisting with relief efforts in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Key West after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
"Seabees have been there, fighting and building, and providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and building friendships and partnerships at home and abroad," said Muilenburg.
The nearly 5,000-square-foot memorial plaza was constructed by Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 with nearly 7,000 bricks, on which the names of Seabees and others who have served can be engraved to honor their service, some already containing the names of those honored.
In his remarks, Muilenburg acknowledged the various distinguished guests, but asked that they not be referred to as VIPs, saying, "Let's all agree that the people on these bricks are the VIPs today."
The plaza also serves as the entryway to the Seabee Heritage Center that honors much of the Seabees' rich history.
"You and I will be escorted by the very men and women who created that history," said Muilenburg of the names engraved on the Plaza's bricks.