NAVAL MOBILE CONSTRUCTION BATTALION FIVE Naval Base Ventura County
To the Professionals of Five!
CDR Scot T. Sanders Commanding Officer, NMCB 5 Strength and Honor
April has come and gone and just like that we are one month into deployment. The men and women of NMCB Five continue to inspire me with their ability to adapt to arduous circumstances and to get the job done. The last three months have been some of the most challenging I have seen any unit endure during my career and yet we have reset the bar for what a battalion can accomplish. A Field Training Exercise with only one month’s notice, hundreds of classes to squeeze into March, embarking to Afghanistan and turning over in April. Within days of turnover you were starting night crews and hitting every project with a gusto and motivation that has impressed the I-MEF staff from the Commanding General and Sergeant Major on down the line. You turned to and jumped on 2 critical projects for the Marines headquarters to ensure they were done on time. These are just a few of the many accomplishments that you can already list to your credit. I have no doubt through the months ahead that you will continue to amaze me and redefine the meaning of “Can Do.” I look forward to what we can do together as team through this deployment and to looking back fondly on what we were able to accomplish and contribute to the eventual victory in the Global War on Terrorism. Keep pushing hard. You have lived up to the name “THE PROFESSIONALS” and served with Strength and Honor and you have every right to be proud.
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CM1 (SCW) Gongas of NMCB FIVE diligenty inspects an MTVR engine April 7, 2010 during the turnover of the ALFA yard and CESE.
The Professionals Relieve The Fearless The last weeks before NMCB Five headed out the door for its second deployment to Afghanistan since 2009 were filled with the preparation, communication and coordination necessary to move a battalion of Seabees. Passports, uniforms, re-organization of the battalion—all had to be complete before the first wave of NMCB Five, the Advanced Party, was allowed to head out the door. The journey from Port Hueneme, California to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, a distance of over 7, 000 miles, was long and tiring, but spirits remained high! A few days stop in Kuwait allowed most of the first wave of Seabees to acclimate to the new desert environment, take advantage of readily available internet, and the unique opportunity to wear PT gear all day! The desert hiatus was short-lived, however, and soon the advanced party movement was on its way to Afghanistan. Touchdown at Bastion Airfield—the wave of heat is unmerciful with full gear, weapon, and assault pack, and the reality of the deployment starts to set in. Shown to the rooms and given a bit of time for chow, it was straight to work; 74 and 5 were paired with counterparts, and there was no time to look back! A huge yard of CESE, the pre-fabrication yard, battalion spaces, projects—all had to be turned over within a few days time in order to meet the turnover deadlines. Luckily, NMCB Five is indeed seasoned with regards to contingency turnovers…. Leave it to two outstanding battalions to deliver! The BEEP was completed in great time, spaces and materials were turned over, and NMCB Five quickly settled in to its new home on Camp Krutke. The afternoon of the 10th of April was designated as the official date of camp turnover, and distinguished guests from the Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Marine Expeditionary Force and the Naval Construction Regiment were present to witness and give accolades to both NMCB 74 and NMCB Five on a job well done. NMCB 5 I The Professionals 2
Past and Present
Utilitiesman Constructionman Nikolaus Weldon (Left) is interviewed by Former Seabee and Freelance Journalist Jim Wade April 15, 2010.
Seabee History By ENS Rolle Airstrips, roads, bridges--all essential to basic transportation. Fighting positions, base camps, bunkers and warehouses; critical to success in modern warfare. Lest we forget the hospitals, basic infrastructure, and amenities necessary for the support of both the war fighter, and local population within a dense jungle. Imagine no one existed to build landing zones for aircraft delivering much needed medication and ammunition to troops on the front. Envision the frustration of thousands of marines and soldiers incapable of movement through an impenetrable forest while the enemy swiftly advanced towards their objective. Visualize the catastrophic effects of the Vietnam War without the valiant contributions of Seabees. Closely with the Marines and the Army, Seabees conducted contingency construction operations in a manner that would baffle the modern Constructionman. It was the first time America experienced â€œnon-traditionalâ€? warfare; asymmetrical battlefields, opposed to the kinetic fighting lines of the World Wars, More than 11, 000 Seabees deployed to the south Pacific in direct support of the Vietnam War.
NMCB Five was fortunate to have been visited by one Jim Wade, a former UT3. Mr. Wade served two tours in Vietnam; first from 1965-66 and again in 1968-1969. Always the story teller, Wade is quick to recount his assignments on DET Charlie and DET Delta in Qua Viet. Excitedly, he recounts his days as a fighting Seabee: Was on river just Northeast of Quang Tri airstrip operating 1500 gallon per minute water pump. Was with Detail Charlie from May 1, 1969 until August 12th, 1969. There I operated the Water Point. When I got there we drank sea water purified with fresh water units. We used charcoal to kill the salt taste. It didn't work well. We dug a fresh Water Point where Mike Crogan UT2 got stuck in quicksand. Took about an hour to get just his foot out of it. But we all had fresh water to drink after that. The stories are just a brief look into what life was like in a time when few of us were old enough to understand the magnitude of the Vietnam war, let alone appreciate the contributions of thousands of Seabees, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen. NMCB 5 I The Professionals 3
Mr. Wade described the differences between the modern Seabee and those of yester-year. Vietnam Era Seabee engineering reconnaissance teams would travel to objectives alone; a jeep was the typical mode of transportation. The notion of MRAPs, the Marine Corps Planning Process or convoy briefs was non-existent. It was up to a strong Petty Officer to take on a mission, maintain order and discipline, and make it back with their team in one piece, with the mission accomplished. Our predecessors faced different challenges than we do today; the modern conveniences we take for granted, Facebook, email, MWR lines to call home—did not exist to ease the pain of separation from home and loved ones. What would deployed life be like without that constant connection to kin, without the protection of our pods? A look back to our Seabee past serves to humble us, but also make clear the importance of our legacy. History is an important lesson to all. LTJG Darren Jacques, ALFA company commander, shares his thoughts: “listening to Mr. Wade talk about Seabee history was a reminder that we are neither the first nor the last NMCB to serve US Expeditionary Forces. Although the times have changed, our mission and dedication will remain steadfast.” Let us begin this deployment with the strength of our Seabee forefathers, the competency of our trade, and the honor it takes to be a Professional.
Mr. Wade conducted interviews with NMCB Five Seabees; it is his mission to ensure the word gets out about the role modern Seabees in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Currently, Mr. Wade works as a freelance journalist out of Melbourne, Florida. As a result of his prior military experience, he is authorized to embed with active units in combat zones in order to tell their story. At Camp Krutke last week, Mr. Wade conducted interviews with NMCB Five Seabees; it is his mission to ensure the word gets out about the role modern Seabees in Operation Enduring Freedom. Interviews will be available on Facebook.
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HQ Equipment Operator Chief (SCW) Robert McGaha from Butte, MO. teaches Headquarters (HQ) Company Seabees attached to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 General Military Training (GMT) at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan April 24, 2010.
HQ’s Finest By GM1 Morgan and ENS Riedel The beginning of this year’s deployment has been an exciting and fast paced time for Headquarters Company. New faces are everywhere right alongside the experienced Seabees, all tackling the challenge with the Can Do Attitude that defines the finest support organization in the Fleet. Deploying back to the same location has some great benefits like being in a familiar location, but the first month has been marked with great surprises. From the challenge of catching up on 7 months of growth on camp to the excitement of being located in the best spot on base, HQ types everywhere have been leading the pack and showing the way ahead. For the Armory, deployment is an especially challenging endeavor. Due to the sensitive nature of the equipment the armory is responsible for, there is little room for error. Accountability is a must, especially during the embarkation phase of the deployment. Once all crew served weapons, night vision and optic devices, and collateral equipment was packed up and readied for shipment, every member of the Battalion was issued their individual weapons. NMCB Five’s Armory staff was meticulous in ensuring 100% accountability for all items, tracking which equipment and which personnel were in which location at any given time. Immediately upon arriving at our final destination the Armory had a lot of work to do. We got right to work turning over the new armory facility, getting accountability of any controlled equipment that was turned over, counting ammunition, and ensuring all items were unpacked and the Battalion is combat ready.
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Logistics Specialist Seaman (SCW) Travis Atkinson from Phoenix, AZ., a Headquarters Company Seabee attached to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, uses a forklift to move Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle parts in the NMCB 5 Material Liaison Office (MLO) at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan April 20, 2010.
In Supply, counting is the theme of Turnover. Whether it is MREs or lumber, there is always another inventory to be done. In only a few days, the personnel of NMCB FIVE accurately turned over all the gear and materials that NMCB 74 had amassed in their eight month deployment. Many of FIVE’s personnel got satisfaction in finding material and gear they had placed on order during the previous deployment. After being in country for a couple of weeks, the Supply Department has begun to get into a daily routine and become acclimated to Camp Leatherneck’s supply system quirks. Each day sees the MLO staff making trips to the local SSA yard and USMC Class IV yard to pick up the materials that will keep NMCB FIVE gainfully em-
ployed throughout the coming months. On these trips, it is not unusual to cross paths with Supply department personnel on their way to pick up the mail or loading up Gatorade and snacks for FIVE’s detachments. The Comm Shop has been a particularly exciting place to be this deployment. From the challenges posed to the equipment by the rough environment to the mounds of paperwork, the hours have been long, but the work has been rewarding. Being the lynchpin of the Battalion for operations and morale is serious business, but one which they do with the best attitudes in the Battalion. Headquarters continues to provide the finest support to the Battle ‘E’ Battalion and looks forward to more great times to come.
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Construction Mechanic Constructionman Jessica Koker, an Alfa Company Seabee attached to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, lifts an engine crank shaft in the Alfa Yard at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan April 17, 2010.
Alfa Dogs Lead the Way The Advanced Party (AP) arrived almost three weeks earlier than the Delayed Party (DP), so it was good to have the entire company back together in theatre once everyone arrived. While a significant number of our personnel are pushed out to DET sites all over the country, we’re making it work with who we’ve got here at Main Body. The need for experienced ALFA leadership on those DET sites has provided some excellent 2nd and 3rd class Petty Officers a great opportunity to lead. Many of the first class Petty Officers serve in an administrative role in support of company requirements and day-to-day operations. The day after we arrived on camp, our projects crew hit the pad, if you will, and began the CLB 6 lay-down area. Though turnover projects are generally tricky due to different manning and OPTEMPO, the Project Supervisors, EO1 (SCW) Workman and subsequently EO1 MerazKing, did a great job of getting right into gear. With an outstanding and motivated
Crew Leader, EO2 (SCW) Sutheimer, the project was completed on time. More junior operators, including EO3 Ott and EOCNs Gutel and Lincolnpons, did an outstanding job and worked hard to hone their skills to prepare for more challenging future ALFA operations. In the heavy shop CMCR Koker poured her heart into the revitalization of a motor that needed almost a full week of TLC. Diligently, she cleaned, filed, and finally reassembled a critical piece of machinery. With the support of her Floor Supe, CM2 Aldinger, she was able to see the reconstruction of the motor through to the end. Quite a feather in any CM’s cap. This deployment was a short time in coming for the ALFA dogs, and its been incredible to see just what we’re capable of. With a limited company, everyone’s role has become truly critical to the success of ALFA company. We look forward to the upcoming months, and the results that come from the exceptional attitude, teamwork and leadership inherent to ALFA Company. NMCB 5 I The Professionals 7
Seabees attached to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 mark a spot for entrance to the Alfa yard at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan April 14, 2010.
The chain of command would like to recognize the following ALFA dogs for their attitude, commitment to excellence and continual outstanding performance: EO2 Gbla: “He does the right thing when no one is looking, and is a great role model for the junior troops” –EQCM (SCW) Messer, A5 EOCN Watkins: “She hit the ground running last deployment, and she’s just getting better. More competent and confident. She functions easily at the level of a third class” –EOC (SCW) Hampton, A3 CM1 Peart: “HARD CORE ALFA DAWG LEADER! Through sheer determination and brute strength of his leadership, he’s strengthened the maintenance program overcoming all challenges unique to this theater of operation. A heavy-hitter among strong First Classes in Alfa Company” –CMCS Hidalgo (SCW), A4 The Crane Crew (EO1 MerazKing, EO2 (SCW) Neill, EO2 (SCW) Gbla, CM3 Winters, CM3 Quick and EO3 Wellington): “This crew takes no risks when it comes to safety and procedure. With the level of experience and competence on the crew, we don’t worry.” –ENS Rolle, A6A
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Barlie Engineering Aide Constructionman Rachel Schaeffer (Right) from Okauchee, WI. and Engineering Aide Constructionman Apprentice Ashley Cox (Left) from Gloucester, VA., both Seabees attached to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, take measurements at a project site at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan April 20, 2010.
New Deployment, New Project, Good Ol’ Professionals By CE3 (SCW) Matt Tatro and CE3 Trevor Kieser NMCB 5 began construction of the new Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Facilities on April 20, 2010. The project is led by Steel Worker First Class (SCW) James Muskevitsch and Builder First Class (SCW) Freddie Pagan, with Builder Third Class (SCW) Jesse Jay Jensen as Project Safety Supervisor. The new facilities will accommodate the DEA with berthing and offices. The Southwest-Asia hut (SWAhut) is to be constructed as a ninety-six by thirty-two foot building, complete with AC’s. “Starting off is always the hardest part,” says Petty Officer Jensen. The project requires expert planning and great assistance from the Engineering Aides (EA) shop. The first step to the project is getting the material. Petty Officer Muskevitsch, the crew leader, says that he is “everybody’s middle man.” His job is to get all the material needed, supervise, and keep the peace as temperatures rise and egos collide due to heat. The second step in the project is to have the EAs come in to make sure the string line and batter boards are lined up correctly and make sure the building is level. Constructionman Cox said, “Our job really isn’t hard but it becomes hard when you have to be so precise, every little inch of moving the string line could off set the building by a couple feet and making the end result unstable.” The EAs were having a difficult time adjusting the calibrations to the rapid change of the Afghanistan weather, but, through past experiences and lessons learned from the previous deployment to Afghanistan, were able to set up and continue the work tasking to be done. So far the project is in its early stages of work, but with help from the pre-fabrication yard, the job should move smoothly only having to piece the puzzle together. With the members of Barlie Company eager to get the project going, these facilities should be up in no time. The newest members of NMCB 5 will benefit greatly from the experience learned from the building process, also adding a higher chance of a successful Afghanistan deployment and future deployments. These new “Bees” will pass on the knowledge learned from their on-the-job experience. For some new Seabees this is their first time learning new job skills other than what they were taught in “A” school. The project is set to take approximately 45 days to complete. NMCB 5 I The Professionals 9
Living the dream (LTD) Afghanistan style, LT. Greg Uvila, “Chaps” So here I am at Camp Krutke, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, preparing my sermon for this week’s chapel and “Joe Cool” comes to mind. Remember who he was? Hint: think God spelled backwards. That’s right, one famous D-0-G, dog, Snoopy. Charles Schultz did a phenomenal job with this crazy cool dog. What comes to mind when you think of this character? I think cool. I think secure. I think unphased. I think confident. I think intelligent. I think contentment. I think happy. Perhaps Joe Cool, Snoopy, is a character we need to learn from during the challenges of this deployment. There will be lots of rumors, reports, second and third hands, that will alarm and distraught. Inclined to panic? Think Snoopy, think Joe Cool!
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Det Dwyer The new Seabee Combat Operations Center (COC) located at Det Dwyer was completed April 14, 2010.
Dwyer COC Completed. By BU1 (SCW) Cid The Professionals of NMCB 5 Det Dwyer have taken ownership of the camp and are continuing the legacy that we established during our 2009 Deployment. Our Seabee COC was a work in progress when we turned over the camp from NMCB 74. This project has been both a challenge and a blessing. Material delays prevented NMCB 74 from completing the project requiring NMCB 5 to remain in temporary tent assignments for berthing until COC completion. But nothing can stop a motivated group of Seabees! The project is now complete and we will soon be operating from an updated and more functional Operations Center. It was great to have been given the opportunity to spread our wings and customize our new home with quality workmanship.
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EO3 Cole grading unimproved road project.
By EO2 Padraig Martin After having their deployment unexpectedly extended by over two months, NMCB 74 facilitated an extremely thorough and successful turnover with NMCB 5. Upon arrival to Camp Dwyer, it was easy to see that NMCB 74 had been busy while 5 was away, as there were many improvements to the facility since mid2009. First, the recreational assets have greatly improved. There is now a volleyball court, a moderately stocked gym and a covered, open air space for cardiovascular activity. Also, a new COC building was started, and will provide a more functional space for C2 operations to monitor the growing construction being carried out in this area of operation. Other areas of noticeable improvement are the chow hall, laundry, shower and head facilities. These improvements, though seemingly minor, instantly boost the quality of life of the troops, and are more than welcome. As far as work is concerned, there is no shortage of projects to keep the Seabees of NMCB 5 busy. As soon as turnover with NMCB 74 was completed, the project crews began work on a much needed 3 mile road construction project, put the finishing touches on our new Seabee COC building, and the Firehouse TOC. We also began the planning and estimating for a new aircraft arresting gear project. All in all, NMCB 5 has hit the ground running full speed in true Professional fashion and it doesnâ€™t look as though there will be any reduction of pace in the foreseeable future. We are looking forward to a productive and successful 2010 deployment. NMCB 5 I The Professionals 12
First Impressions: Det 4 On 31st of March, a small group of NMCB 5 Seabees left their homes in sunny California for the mountains of Afghanistan. The trip took the Detachment (Det) 4 personnel half way around the world for a total of 7500 miles. Det 4 had a short stay over at Camp Virginia in Kuwait for RSO&I. Two days later they caught a flight to Bagram Airfield (BAF). For the Det personnel that served at Camp Leatherneck on the 2009 Deployment, their first impression of BAF was very different. The weather was overcast and slightly cool as opposed to the dry hot and windy weather down south. The scenery in BAF is different; the base is in a valley surrounded by snow capped peaks. CM1 (SCW/EXW) Fresquez noticed that “The weather was very pleasant, just like my boyhood home in New Mexico.” The other startling impression was the number of Army and Air Force personnel at the camp. Many on the Det have never served with the Army before and were immediately aware of the differences between Seabees and the other services. One startling difference was the Army personnel salute in PT gear! After our counterparts in NMCB 74 retrieved us from the Airfield we were taken to our new home, “Camp Vance”. Our collective first impression of Camp Vance can be summed up by CM3 (SCW) Mack: “Not too bad.” The Seabees of Five will be working to build up the area. NMCB 74 did an excellent job of setting Five’s Seabees up for success.
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Camp Improvement Project on Camp Vance BUCN Brooks from Birmingham, AL& BU3 Cheers from Chicago, IL
BU1 (SCW) Olds’ team has been tasked with improving regional camp infrastructure. BUI’s first impression was that the “Third Country Nationals (TCN’s) in the camp treat the Seabees really good. They like the Seabees and the food in the galley is much better than last year’s deployment.” CE1 (SCW) Limas and his crew’s first impression was that the “Camp is really nice. The [folks here] love the Seabees.” CE1 also mentioned that “we have installed some A/C units for them and really improved the guy’s quality of life. They were very grate-
ful to us.” Not everything has been easy for CE1 Limas crew, he said that “We have to shower in a different camp and that is a challenge for the guys.” Physical Training (PT) has also been tough because there are only 2 treadmills on the camp. Food on CE1 Limas’ camp is also good, every Thursday they cook fresh shiska bobs for everyone. Overall, Det 4 personnel have settled into their roles and they are looking forward to a productive deployment. The rest of the Det arrived at Bagram on the 17th April for a much needed fusion of manpower.
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Payneful Beginnings By HM1(FMF) Seth Secrease On the 30th of March, Detachment Payne’s Advanced Party set forth from southern California for its 2010 Afghanistan deployment. Each member was carefully hand selected for being the best at their chosen profession; this small group of men was biting at the bit to do what they do best. On April 5th, lead by a Marine Officer, Capt Joshua Guide, they landed at their final destination, a small camp in southern Afghanistan known as COP Payne. When Capt Guide was asked what he thought of COP Payne he responded “No comment.” Though the living conditions are primitive, the terrain is tough, and the weather is intense, this was not noticed by the Seabees of Det Payne, they had a mission to do. After a successful turnover was accomplished with our Seabee brothers from NMCB 74, the NMCB 5 Professionals wasted no time getting started. Within minutes the ground trembled with the pounding of feet and machinery, as the men began transforming the Seabee compound in preparation for the equipment, materials, and remaining personnel in route. The vehicle yard and construction material area were small, cramped, and unorganized. A single torn and tattered dust filled tent housed the administrative and operations office. Within days the compound had doubled in size and become an organized professional looking base of operations. The operations tent was also double in size and remodeled to provide an efficient and effective place for in-depth planning of the missions that lay ahead. The entire area was unrecognizable from its former self. The transformation was noticed by all on camp and word quickly spread that a new group of Seabees were aboard, and they get down to business. Requests for work and assistance increased greatly. On April 18th the remaining members of Det Payne arrive. Headed by the AOIC, Senior Chief Oliver, the detachment was now at full strength and eager to make difference in this area of the world. Shortly after his arrival Senior Chief was quoted as saying, “I am amazed at the accomplishments that have already been made in such a short period of time, not to mention the strong working relationship that the men have already established with the Marines and Civilian contractors here on the ground. Can’t wait to see what accomplishments lay ahead.” NMCB 5 I The Professionals 15
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