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NMCB-21 Navy Reserve Seabees Prepare to Mobilize

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050930-15
Release Date: 9/29/2005 10:00:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class Ron Kuzlik, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 21 Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR ENGINEERING STATION LAKEHURST, N.J. (NNS) -- Approximately 150 Navy Reserve Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 21 will be reporting to their Navy Reserve centers (NRC) in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in October to mobilize and deployment to Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Seabees, predominantly engineers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and other tradespeople in their civilian careers, will report to Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, Calif., for training prior to deploying overseas. The training in Port Hueneme will include combat skills, communications, vehicle operation and maintenance, convoy tactics and life saving skills.

The scene of ‘Bees completing orders and travel arrangements, getting last minute shots and filling seabags with uniforms and equipment for their deployment is being replicated at Navy Reserve centers in the Bronx, Horseheads, Buffalo, Rochester, and Mattydale (Syracuse) in New York; Fort Dix and Earle (Colts Neck) in N.J.; and Lehigh Valley (Allentown), Avoca (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), and Reading in Pennsylvania.

Lt. Cmdr. Susan K. Allen, commanding officer of NRC Avoca near Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa., said, “Our role is to make sure that the Seabees and their families are ready for such a mobilization. We need to facilitate the transition from citizen to Sailor and make it as seemless as possible.“

Each Reservist has orders for one year, with the possibility of an extension for up to an additional year. The Navy’s Fleet Response Plan prescribes that the Navy will have as many Seabees as required to support the combatant commander wherever they are needed for as long as they are needed. However, the Seabees from NMCB 21 anticipate likely spending six to seven months in the area of operation.

While the Seabees are awaiting the job ahead with anticipation, there were also concerns for families and loved ones they would be leaving behind.

“My family is holding up pretty good. My wife is being very supportive of me and my job in the Seabees,” said Equipment Operator 2nd Class Andrew Gamble, of Fairlawn, N.J. “I love my family, and I’m going to miss them. But I’m strengthened knowing that my family loves and supports me.”

“This is something that you have to prepare for,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Heather Glietz, of Sinking Spring, Pa., who has been in the Reserves for little over two years. “The possibility of mobilization is something that every Reservist and their family has to be prepared for. I’m ready, and so is my family.”

The battalion and the mobilized air detachment in particular have been preparing for this moment for several months.

NMCB-21 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Alan W. Flenner said he cannot overemphasize the importance of continuous training and being ready.

“This is a critical time when the battalion is being called upon to lend a hand in support of our nation," said Flenner. "However, as we work on the home front to ensure the members of this detachment and their families are taken care of, we must be continuously ready to mobilize additional personnel and to execute operational support missions assigned by 1st Naval Construction Division (1NCD).”

Detachment 1121 Officer in Charge at NRC Bronx, Chief Builder Len Abbate of Bayville, N.Y., deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003. He had these words of advice for his deploying Seabees: “Work together and be safe. Take care of one another.” And to the families of these Seabees, he said, “Be patient, have faith and utilize the command ombudsman for any issues or emergencies that may arise while your Seabee is deployed.”

The Seabees of the Naval Construction Force have been engaged in support of combat operations and the reconstruction of infrastructure in Iraq. Examples of their work include troop housing and dining facilities, schools, roads, bridges, runways, power distribution systems, pump stations and various other public works.

NMCB-21 is based at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, N.J., with detachments at Navy Reserve centers in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Its mission is to train for mobilization readiness and construction operations in support of Commander, First Naval Construction Division.

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