Newest Battalion Recommissions
Story Number: NNS070921-06
Release Date: 9/21/2007 3:52:00 PM
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd CLass Erick S. Holmes, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 Public Affairs
GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- The words ,“I hereby commission Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11,” were spoken for the third time in U.S. Naval history, Sept. 14.
The first generation Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 served proudly in the Pacific during World War II from 1942-1945. Ironically, the second generation NMCB 11, which served in the Pacific including several tours in Vietnam from 1953-1969, was commissioned exactly 54 years ago on Sept. 14, 1953 in Port Hueneme, Calif.
Today, the need for critical Seabee skills to support efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Theater Security Cooperation Plans in the Horn of Africa and the Pacific have helped pave the way for the recommissioning of NMCB 11, according to statements from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen.
“There were a lot of eyes on us up to the commissioning,” explained Lt. William “Ross” Pitcairn.
Pitcairn was the first Civil Engineer Corps officer to report to the pre-commissioned NMCB 11 in March when he took the lead in coordinating the planning efforts for the commissioning ceremony.
“Getting everything ready for the 14th of September was a challenge,” said Pitcairn. “We were limited on everything and we had so many people who were new, weren’t familiar with the base or any procedures for commissioning and on top of that. Everybody was getting the logistics and structure of the battalion set up.”
“'Eleven' has a lot of history and we are the first battalion to be commissioned in 20 years, that added to all the stress,” Pitcairn continued explaining. “But [the commissioning staff] hung together and everything fell into place.”
Guests included about 150 members from the MCB-11 Association, veterans who served with NMCB 11 in previous campaigns, as well as Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields’ wife and daughter.
Shields served with NMCB 11 during the Vietnam War. The combination of past and present reflected NMCB 11's motto, “Constructing the Future, Remembering the Past.”
“When I graduated [Officer Candidate School], it was a normal ceremony,” Pitcairn said. "NMCB 11's commissioning was something to be proud of, especially with the reaction from the MCB-11 Association.”
As the men and women of NMCB 11 marched the command in review at the end of the ceremony, veterans stood up to applaud, cheer and call out their old companies.
“That was my favorite part of the day,” said Steelworker Constructionman Apprentice Matthew Pavlinich. “The vets yelling and cheering, you don’t get to see that every day. That’s real pride.”
“We hope that pride stays with the new battalion,” said Joe Mecca, who served as a Builder 3rd Class with NMCB 11 in Vietnam. “We were always proud of our work, our friendship and the history that followed us. That’s what we see in the new guys and gals.”
With the commissioning of NMCB 11, active duty battalions will eventually transition to a 6-month deployment and 12-month homeport cycle allowing more time to train and more time to spend with families.
NMCB 11 begins a 13-month homeport training cycle in October before deploying to the Pacific next year.
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