Navy’s Annual Stethem Award Goes to NMCB-11 Seabee

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael
130309-N-PO929-001 CRYSTAL CITY, ARLINGTON, Va. (March 9, 2013) Naval Facilities Engineering Command Commander and Chief of Civil Engineers Rear Admiral Kate Gregory, right, and Rear Adm (retired)  Benjamin Montoya, left, present Builder 1st Class Nicholas R. Mileham, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, the 2012 Steelworker 2nd Class Robert D. Stethem award for his outstanding achievements during the year. The Stethem award recognizes outstanding individual moral courage in support of Seabee traditions while conducting actual operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Thien  / Released)

130309-N-PO929-001 CRYSTAL CITY, ARLINGTON, Va. (March 9, 2013) Naval Facilities Engineering Command Commander and Chief of Civil Engineers Rear Admiral Kate Gregory, right, and Rear Adm (retired) Benjamin Montoya, left, present Builder 1st Class Nicholas R. Mileham, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, the 2012 Steelworker 2nd Class Robert D. Stethem award for his outstanding achievements during the year. The Stethem award recognizes outstanding individual moral courage in support of Seabee traditions while conducting actual operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Thien / Released)

GULFPORT, Miss. — Builder 1st Class (SCW) Nicholas R. Mileham, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, was awarded the Steelworker 2nd Class Robert D. Stethem Award during a ceremony in Crystal City, Arlington, Va., March 9, 2013.

One recipient is chosen each year for the award which recognizes outstanding individual moral courage in support of the traditions of the Seabees while in the course of actual operations.

Mileham, a native of Oakfield, N.Y., was selected for the award based on his exceptional meritorious service in connection with combat operations against the enemy while serving as a member of the Construction Management Training Team (CMTT), the first of its kind, for NMCB-11 from February to August 2012 during a U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) deployment in Afghanistan.

“Winning the award has been kind of humbling,” said Mileham.  “It makes a person wonder how they would have acted in the same situation as SW2 Robert Stethem found himself in.”

As a CMTT member, Mileham trained 22 Civil Affairs Marines, local Afghan contractors and crews, and a Quality Control Inspector with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) in construction methods and management of six infrastructure projects valued at over $1.6 million.

He also led over 19 foot patrols and served as Vehicle Commander and team navigator on 72 mobile convoys to assess remote construction sites.

Among the projects Mileham was instrumental in successful completion of were two schools, a sports complex, a health clinic, a bridge connecting two small villages, and the Nawa District Agriculture Training Center.

After the Taliban destroyed two schools in the Nawa District, Mileham was a key player in surveying this as well as the replacement of a U.S. Military bridge, both considered to be future stabilization and quick-impact projects for local construction.

Mileham also assisted in the quality assurance of the Nawa – Lash, a critical road connecting the Nawa district to Lash Kar Gah district. 

Mileham’s actions In the days following a suicide bomber attack and multiple Improvised Explosive Devise strikes in the Nawa District, built trust with the civilian population and enhanced security and overall health and well-being of the local people when he participated in six security shuras and assisted in the training and installation of two operational solar powered reverse osmosis water purification and power generators for the local health clinic.

When he completed his work in the Nawa District Mileham instructed 120 members of the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) Engineering Kandak, the first of its kind, in construction safety, quality control, tools and their uses, framing and security fencing.  He also mentored them in managing their manpower, material, equipment and tools.

The assistance Mileham provided to the ANA was done as a member in the multinational training team on Camp Black Horse in Kabul, Afghanistan during a time of high tensions between locals, ANA trainees, and multinational military trainers, and he greatly impacted current and future Kandak’s ability to complete expeditionary construction and survivability projects in a combat environment.

“Looking back at the CMTT mission and the ANA training missions from deployment, I hope the impact that I made was a lasting one,” reflected Mileham. 

“Teaching the people of Afghanistan, and the ANA to be self-sufficient hopefully improved their quality of life at least a little, and I hope training the contractors and the Quality Control Inspector helped build trust between the people of Afghanistan and the legitimate GIRoA government,” Mileham concluded.

Mileham has made six deployments to date in his 11-year Navy career:  Two to Okinawa, Japan, two to Iraq, Detail San Diego, and Afghanistan.  Before being assigned to NMCB-11 Mileham was a member of NMCB-133, and Navy Recruiting District Pittsburgh.

The award is named after Steelworker 2nd Class Robert D. Stethem who was killed by terrorists on board TWA flight 847 while returning from an underwater construction team project in Greece in 1985.  Stethem was posthumously awarded the bronze star medal and advanced to Steelworker 2nd Class.

NMCB-11 is a Seabee battalion specializing in contingency construction, disaster response, and humanitarian assistance. The battalion’s homeport is in Gulfport, Miss.

Related:  Civil Affairs Teams Continue to Make a Difference in Afghanistan: A firsthand perspective by Builder 1st Class Nicholas R. Mileham

See also:  Lucky ELEVEN blog posts for category ‘CMTT’

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