Thanks! I was proud to wear it.
Thank you, Terry Mross, and thank you for your service.
I have to say, there’s a special place in my heart for the Seabees.
My father got orders to Yokosuka, Japan when I was nine years old. When we got there, there were no quarters available for us. I was one of a family of eight, so we had to stay somewhere while we waited for housing to become available.
We ended up staying at the base motel for, I think 2 to 3 weeks. I recall that my mother and father had a room of their own, and all six of us kids crowded into one motel room ourselves. That’s the first time that I lived somewhere where I could actually see all the way out to the ocean. Everyplace else I had lived was either a suburb somewhere, or housing on a base near the harbor facilities. Yokosuka was like that as well, but looking out from our motel, we could see out to the Pacific. My initial memory of that place was a lot of gray sky, and lots of gray choppy water. I remember going down the beach right next to the motel, and looking out at the U.S. Navy ships heading seaward or heading to port. I stood there on the beach and watched their gray forms heading out to to the open ocean, their masts sticking up above the horizon until they disappeared. There were long lengths of enormous anchor chains on that beach, completely encrusted with rust and eroded. I remember there were long lines of them, just sitting on top of or half buried in the sand.
But it’s interesting, the thing I remember most, is that great big huge Seabee statue on top of that pedestal, the Thompson with that disc magazine in one articulated arm, the other ones holding hammers, wrenches or some other implement of construction. I remember each arm had a blue sleeve, with a red enlisted sleeve insignia on it.
There it was, the big yellow and black striped abdomen with that big stinger on one end, and the grimacing face on the other end with the Dixie cup on top.
I can tell you, I spent many hours walking around that thing because I was so completely bored that I couldn’t think of anything else to do. We weren’t in school, didn’t have any friends, and weren’t allowed to go anywhere, so we had to hang around in the immediate vicinity of the motel. And that statue was right there.
When we finally got our quarters assigned (we were waiting for some other officer and his family to move out) we discovered that we were right next to the Seabees barracks. We thought those guys were just great. They would be sending out on the concrete steps, shooting the breeze, and we would stand around talking to them, sometimes six or seven of us, sometimes just myself. I look back on it now, and I recognize that many of those men had families of their own that they couldn’t be with, so I think they were extra nice with us.
There was one Seabee in particular, he was a petty officer, and his last name was Barker. (We didn’t have to ask, we read it off of his chest :-) He was a nice guy, he had a very broad face, and short, very curly hair. He actually looked Irish. One day, he had a cardboard box with a puppy inside it. It was predictable, we went running inside the house holding the puppy, and my mother shot a poisonous glare through the front window towards the Seabees barracks, but she let us keep the dog.
We ended up naming him “Brutus”.
Here is a SeaBee story from Vietnam: