Seabee Battalion Commander Honors Veterans Past and Present

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael, NMCB-11 Public Affairs

GULFPORT, Miss. – Cmdr. Lore Aguayo, Commanding Officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, was the featured speaker at a Veterans Day observance held Monday in downtown Gulfport near the World War II Memorial.

Roughly 50 guests, including veterans and city officials attended the event which was hosted by American Legion Post 119.

Aguayo, whose family immigrated to Tempe, Ariz. from Guadalajara, Mexico when she was five years old, humbly expressed her unique perspective on living in the United States.

“While I am very proud of my Hispanic culture, I learned at a very young age how fortunate I was to be living in a country that values freedom, equality, and opportunity.”

After some brief background on herself, Aguayo expressed her gratitude for all veterans, past and present.

“The American spirit, the resilience, the love of country and each other that you exemplify every day is what we honor today.  We are in eternal gratitude for your selfless service and sacrifices, and those of your families,” Aguayo stated.

Having returned less than two months ago from a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan, Aguayo spoke of some of the accomplishments her Seabees achieved while deployed.

She mentioned a massive road improvement project in which Seabees donned tactical gear, loaded up in their heavy equipment and mine resistant ambush protected vehicles, and went outside the wire every single day of the seven-month deployment in support of a freedom of movement initiative.

By the deployment’s end, they had completed over 32 kilometers of high priority route improvements that were critical to the Marine Regimental Combat Team’s kinetic operations.

Aguayo proudly spoke of the courage demonstrated by her Seabees during the construction of Village Stability Platform Watan II in which the Seabees came under enemy attacks three to four times per day.

“Responsible for the security of the construction site, (the Seabees of NMCB-11) effectively engaged the enemy time and time again, allowing our project crews to complete 700 meters of Hesco barrier, six towers, an entry control point and an ammo supply point,” explained Aguayo.

This was the same mission in which Equipment Operator 1st Class Robert W. Dorch, from Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a Purple Heart, an example that Aguayo mentioned to illustrate the bravery of her Seabees.

A number of additional accomplishments by the Seabees were mentioned, effectively illustrating the continued legacy of the men and women serving our nation in a military uniform.

Before closing her remarks, Aguayo revealed a personal observation which links the veterans of the past to today’s military members.

“I think of my father in law who served in World War II, and I think about my combat deployment I just returned from in Afghanistan,” said Aguayo.  “Though they are two very different wars, I feel a very special bond with him having a better appreciation for what he experienced.

“When I have the pleasure of attending veteran reunions, I am always in awe at the camaraderie that permeates through the room, and I am so honored to be a small part of that,” Aguayo added.

In her closing remarks, Aguayo exhibited her gratitude and sense of responsibility for the legacy of our nation’s veterans.

“We must be proud and live up to your example, and I promise you that we work hard every day to make all of you proud, just like you made your nation proud and made it the stronghold that it is,” Aguayo avowed.

NMCB-11 returned home to Gulfport, Miss. in September and was recently called upon to support recovery efforts in the north east U.S. following hurricane Sandy where 90 members of the battalion are currently preparing to return home after two weeks of clearing debris, dewatering, and other acts of humanitarian assistance.  The battalion continues training and exercises in preparation for its next deployment less than a year from now.


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