Seabees from NMCB 11 DET Dwyer Complete Pre-Deployment Project for Veterans

By UTCN (SCW) Marlene M. Houngbedji – Photos by EO3 (SW) Carmen P. Rivera

We build, we fight, as our long standing history of erecting bases, bulldozing and paving thousands of miles of airstrips in military theaters clearly shows. If Seabees are known for a ‘Can Do’ attitude that has materialized in their determination to complete arduous tasks under the most challenging of circumstances, they are also willing to lend a helping hand when the need arises.  Though a mere few weeks away from their United States Central Command (CENTCOM) deployment, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11’s Det Dwyer, a small detachment of roughly 30 personnel led by LT Seth Cochran, took on the challenge of completing one last homeport project.

Six troops working in rotating teams of four were assigned to build six concrete pads on the premises of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) located in Biloxi.  Renovated then re-inaugurated in 2001, the AFRH’s mission is to fulfill the United States’ commitment to its veterans by providing retired Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers with state of the art accommodations.  Faithful to a tradition of constantly improving the lives of those who served, the AFRH requested NMCB 11’s assistance in giving elderly residents using walking facilitators easier access to surrounding benches and the nearby waterfront.

Under the leadership of project supervisor Builder 1st Class Stephen Brewer and crew leader Builder 2nd Class Trevor King, the crew contributed to the life-improvement project.  The crew included Builder 3rd Class William Hefner, Builder 3rd Class Erghen Aquino, Equipment Operator 3rd Class Carmen Rivera, Builder Constructionman Emilio J. Marmolmarchan and Builder Construtionman Anna L. Parcher.  Concrete was poured on Tuesday, 17 January and forms taken out the following day despite long delays on the first day.  Brewer commented, “There’s nothing to say, really, other than the outstanding job BU3 Aquino, BU2 King and the rest of the crew did during the project.”  12.34 man-days, concrete, steel wire, plywood and a combination of electric and non-electric tools were necessary to complete a task the team considered easy in comparison to previous, more elaborate homeport projects, yet rewarding in many regards. 

Taking some time off from deployment preparations was indeed more than just an opportunity to help veterans; it provided residents with a chance to interact with the next generation of service members.  “It definitely gives the elderly younger people to talk to,” says Hefner.  “They love telling us their stories,” confirmed Parcher, “especially those about times when there weren’t any women serving at all.” 

“This,” says Rivera, “is a way to give back to those who fought before us.”  Seabees may build and fight, but also consider lending a helping hand part of who they are.

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