Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FOUR
So begins the long and prestigious history of U.S. Naval Construction Battalion FOUR. Commissioned on May 11, 1942. The compliment of this first FOUR was approximately 32 Officers and 1,073 enlisted men whose age averaged 37 years. The men of FOUR began WW II constructing advance bases in the frozen Arctic of Alaska and the Aleutians where the Japanese bombed them daily. By 1943 they were constructing more bases on the tropical island of Guam. Twenty-six men landed on Guam on D-day plus 6. The remainder of the battalion landed on 30 August 1944. By 1945 FOUR had moved to Okinawa to build roads, camps and a large ship repair facility in Baten Ko. Effort was also spent cleaning up from the Typhoon of 9 October 1945. Eventually, during the mass demilitarization following the war's end, USNCB FOUR was decommissioned.
Six years later, President Truman called on the American Armed Forces to lead the vanguard of United Nations troops to repel the North Korean invasion of South Korea. During this new conflict the Navy added the critical word "Mobile" to the battalion's name. On February 12, 1951, in the middle of the Korean War, the order was given to activate Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FOUR at Norfolk, Virginia. Less than 30 days later the recommissioning ceremony took place on March 9, 1951 at the U.S. Naval Yards and Docks, Norfolk, Virginia. Eight Officers and 282 enlisted men became Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FOUR boarded a ship for deployment. The new battalion FOUR was homeported in Davidsonville, Rhode Island and deployed to such diverse locales as Bermuda; Port Lyautey, Morocco; Naples, Italy; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Trinidad; Ecuador; Newfoundland; Puerto Rico; Holy Loch, Scotland; and Rota, Spain. After the Spain assignment was completed the battalion was moved to a new homeport.
The Seabees of NMCB FOUR were called into action in 1962 at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when the threat of attack from the Communist regime Fidel Castro seemed imminent. Throughout the alert, the Seabees of FOUR worked with great speed fortifying the base's perimeter and assisted the Marines in its defense.
In November 1965, the battalion transferred to the West Coast for permanent duty at Port Hueneme, California. NMCB FOUR conducted four tours in Chu Lai and DaNang, Vietnam, where the largest timber bridge ever built in the country was constructed by the Seabees of FOUR.
In December, 1965 the battalion was flown to Chu Lai, Vietnam, for its first Vietnamese deployment. This was the beginning of the battalion's invaluable work performed in Vietnam during these present hostilities. Chu Lai was the first of three deployments to South Vietnam.
In Chu Lai, Four was assigned the task of repairing airport runways which had been damaged by the monsoon rains. They also installed a runway lighting system at the airfield. In addition the battalion built a helopad. In March a detachment was sent to the Kham Duc airfield near the Laotian boarder to repair the runway. In August 1966 the battalion returned to Port Hueneme for leave and retraining.
The second Vietnam deployment for MCB FOUR was a DaNang East. Here the battalion worked at the DaNang Air Base, dug wells at the Special Forces Camp at Con Thien and built a galley for Marines. "Fabulous Four" remained in Vietnam until October 1967 when they returned to Port Hueneme.
Four months later in February 1968, the battalion returned to Vietnam. This time Quang Tri and Camp Evans. The assignment for this deployment was the building of facilities for the Commander, Naval Force in Vietnam.
In this third deployment, the battalion did near record breaking construction projects along the coast of Vietnam and national highway Route One. Approximately one half of the battalion deployed to DaNang and points near by. The other half of the battalion deployed to Phu Bai and the surrounding area. At Phu Bai it engaged in aircraft revetment construction and laying of 850,000 square feet of steel aircraft matting for the Marine Air Group strip. Also the Phu Bai detachment strung 18 miles of eight-inch fuel line from Wonder Beach through Hai Lang to Quang Tri. This was only a part of the many projects accomplished by the battalion.
In the north the other detachment on 3 June was assigned to Camp Haines to build the Army's huge Camp Evans. The battalion erected nearly 1000 wooden buildings for the Army. Also, the detachment resurfaced and matted a 2900-foot aircraft runaway. Almost incidentally the battalion constructed a 23 mile 8 inch Petroleum Oil line to the camp. In October the battalion moved back to the United States for more training and refitting after having engaged in one of the busiest deployments for any battalion in Vietnam.
NMCB FOUR completed the fourth tour in Vietnam from April 1969 to December 1969.
NMCB FOUR moved into the 1970's visiting such places as Diego Garcia, Guam, Hawaii and Japan. During the decade the battalion completed over 3,800 structures at the Guam relocation site for Vietnamese refugees known as OPERATION NEW LIFE. The battalion was called into action again after Typhoon Tip destroyed the U.S. Marine Barracks at Camp Fuji in 1979. The Seabees responded by rebuilding the barracks and operated a Military Affiliate Radio Station for the Marines until normal lines of communication were restored.
The 1980's brought the battalion to new countries around the world, including Bahrain, Greece, Crete, Palau and Yap (U.S. Trust Territories), Egypt, Kusco, Panama, Costa Rica, Africa, Korea and Sicily. In 1989, members of the battalion's air detachment participated in TEAM SPIRIT, providing contingency construction support to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) at Camp Pohang, Republic of Korea. In addition, Seabees boarded USS Robert E. Perry (FF1037) performing civic action support at various ports across the South Pacific.
This decade, NMCB FOUR redeployed from Camp Moscrip, Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico to Camp Rohrbach, Saudi Arabia as part of the U.S.Forces involved in OPERATION DESERT SHIELD. With Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990 the Seabees of NMCB FOUR were called upon to provide contingency construction support to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. The men of FOUR set up a 2,000-man tent camp, built a 3600 foot taxiway, 20 hides (parking stalls) and various other projects necessary to support U.S. and Allied Forces in the Middle East.
On June 15, 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo redirected NMCB FOUR and their entire Table of Allowance from their current deployment site at Camp Shields, Okinawa to the Republic of the Philippines to help the Subic Bay Naval complex recover from the devastation inflicted by the twelve inches of ash that blanketed the area. The battalion worked around the clock clearing roadways and collapsed buildings, restoring utilities and building shelters, these actions allowed the base to quickly resume its vital fleet mission.
In the wake of Hurricane Andrew on 24 August 1992, the battalion mounted out a 150-man Air Detachment and the largest ever Seabee airlift to provide disaster relief efforts in the communities of Homestead and Florida City, Florida-two of the hardest hit areas by the Hurricane. NMCB FOUR's Air Det along with nine other Seabee units, all part of the TWENTY SECOND Naval Construction Regiment Forward, came in force to make a local school safe and operational by tearing down collapsed buildings, clearing debris, restoring utilities, repairing roofs, putting up downed fence and general cleanup. The Seabees also worked in the community clearing debris from private residences in the area, government facilities, military units, and volunteer organizations.
The main effort in Cuba, in December of 1994, was Operation "Sea Signal" during which Joint Task Force 160 constructed facilities to improve and stabilize the quality of life of migrants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When the project concluded, two tent cities were constructed that were capable of housing almost 20,000 people. As a part of this multi-national joint-service effort, Seabees completed an astonishing 100,000 man-days of construction in a harsh environment.
The battalion was honored as the Best of Type battalion twelve times, six as an East Coast Battalion and six as a West Coast Battalion. NMCB FOUR has received three Peltier Best of Best awards, three Navy Unit Commendations, the Joint Meritorious
Unit Award, four Golden Anchor and three Silver Anchor awards for retention excellence.
The Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FOUR have excelled through the course of three major wars and many contingencies around the world since first commissioned in the spring of 1942. They personify a tradition of excellence because they successfully and enthusiastically confront the challenges that lie ahead.
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