Skip to comments.on assignment In the Persian Gulf - [more Dani Dodge excerpts only]
Posted on 05/06/2003 8:49:40 AM PDT by AFPhys
With the Seabees every step of the way will be Ventura County Star staff writer Dani Dodge, a veteran reporter whose latest assignment has been covering law enforcement in eastern Ventura County. To get ready for this assignment, she has been writing about the Seabees for the past month -- in addition to preparing herself with everything from shots to camouflage outfits.
Her stories about the men and women of Port Hueneme's Seabees, your neighbors and friends and loved ones, will appear in The Star as part of its expanding coverage of the events in the Persian Gulf.
Seabees take pride in good works under fire
Others came to fight. The Seabees came to build. This week Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 completed the first major humanitarian construction project of Operation Iraqi Freedom: a $4 million bridge to allow food, medicine and other aid to flow to the country's capital city. It is their third bridge of the war.
Seabees leaving Iraq undergo hostile fire in Baghdad convoy
As Equipment Operator Chief Michael Neumann rode out of Baghdad on Wednesday, the Iraqis blew him a goodbye kiss -- with an AK-47. It's the third time Neumann has taken fire since arriving in the Middle East in February. The Port Hueneme-based battalion was the most forward Seabee unit of the war, getting to Baghdad even before the city fell to coalition forces.
Seabees scrounge food, gear for needy Iraqi children
Seabees from Port Hueneme went on a spree Monday, grabbing 67 chairs and 5,610 pounds of beans, rice and flour from abandoned Iraqi military storage sheds, kitchens and classrooms. The battalion's chaplain even crawled through the broken window of a rancid-smelling office to take 13 desks.
Seabees' work in war garners admiral's praise
In this war, the Seabees have proved they can play a new and more critical role in conflict, Rear Adm. Charles R. Kubic told members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 on Sunday. But Kubic said the Seabees still have a role to play, and time in Iraq to make a difference.
Seabees discover dangers continue though war is over
The call went into the Seabees security tent at 3 p.m. Saturday: An Iraqi civilian had tossed a grenade at a Seabee work site. No explosion occurred. The Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 are on edge. Although combat hostilities in Iraq have dwindled to small pockets of resistance, danger is still never far away.
Seabees build humanitarian bridge
On the west side of the river is Equipment Operator Chief Mike Neumann, awake for more than 48 hours and still driving his team to pound in steel piles around a dirt pier sticking out into the Diyalah River. On the east side of the river is Equipment Operator Chief Tom Kuntz, refreshed from a night's sleep, directing his men to smooth out the approaches to their own dirt pier. Friday, both Seabees and their crews from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 wanted to be the first to finish work on their side of the river.
'Worst duty' for Seabees -- latrine detail
Someone has to do it. Getting rid of human waste in the war zone is probably one of the most unglamorous jobs the Seabees do. John Wayne sure wasn't given the mission in the movie "The Fighting Seabees."
Life and desert decisions
In this hospital, there are no pastel walls or New Yorker magazines. No nurses take the patient's weight and temperature. And there's no hourlong wait before seeing the doctor. This is medicine in the war zone. Each Navy battalion has its own doctor, hospital corpsman chief and corpsmen with specialties. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, based in Port Hueneme, has one doctor and nine corpsmen in three locations to care for 700 Seabees, which include the battalion, reserve and support units.
Stadium camp a welcome respite from desert
The Seabees from Port Hueneme's Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 Task Force Mike are the forward-most naval construction group in the war. They have built two bridges and, Sunday, were waiting to build a third. They are seeing and doing things that Seabees, who usually stay farther in the rear, rarely have a chance to experience. This weekend that meant roaming through a hastily deserted Iraqi military academy, where the teapot in each barrack bedroom was still half-full.
Seabees face explosions, blown kisses
If the Seabees from Port Hueneme didn't know the meaning of war before they arrived in Iraq, they are learning it now in Baghdad. About 100 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 woke abruptly Thursday night when a mini van ran over a land mine and blew up into a two-story fireball just across the street from their camp. But along with the horrors of war were the accomplishments.
Seabees confront chaos on bridge to Baghdad
In that deep guttural Marine shout, Lance Cpl. Nick Bibby commanded the crowd in Arabic to back off of the bridge. But the several hundred surged forward. Women in black dresses and black headscarves. Men in sweat pants and long-sleeved button-down shirts. Children with big fearful round brown eyes.
Seabees reach Baghdad, get to work
While U.S. mortar shells and artillery landed on Iraqi targets nearby, Seabees began repairing a bridge today that had been blown up by Iraqi forces and was holding up the entrance of combat forces into the city.
Returning Seabees find role different
The sun. The sand fleas. The stink. And Saddam Hussein. For some of the Seabees in the Middle East, this is the second time around for every bit of it. For the Seabees who served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, it's quite a different role than they played 12 years ago.
Seabees span canal in 4 days
The mission started with lines drawn in the sand and ended with a back door supply route that skirted enemy-infested Nasiriyah and could hasten the end of the war. The U.S. military needed a bridge over the Saddam Canal. It called the Seabees. It is the longest bridge built by Seabees, a construction unit of the U.S. Navy, since World War II. Like the road to Baghdad in this war, the path toward completion was filled with unexpected detours and dead ends.
Former gang member fights to save his Seabees
'Kevlars' serve as Seabee canvas
On the top of Seabee John Tunis' desert-camouflage-covered lid is a Celtic cross surrounded by the words: "Lord Protect Us." "I think it will keep me more focused; you don't get to go to church much around here" Tunis said. "And yeah, I think it might make me a little safer." In a world where dressing with any individuality can get a soldier dressed down, the Seabees from Port Hueneme have used their heads to flaunt their own personal style. .
Seabees solidifying links in military supply chain
After a day of accomplishment, Seabees from Port Hueneme faced a night of terror. But with a quiet dawn, they moved on to do their jobs. On Wednesday, a small group of Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 fixed three broken links in the U.S. military supply chain to Baghdad. But Wednesday night, when the hard-working Seabees returned to camp, they learned that 1,000 Iraqi soldiers were headed to take over a bridge. It was the bridge where they were camped.
Seabees keep their focus
On top of the threat of chemical weapons, Iraqi soldiers and sniper attacks, the Seabees must deal with the high expectations of the leaders who want to keep them alive.
Seabees begin bridge work near An Nasiriyah
The Seabees went to work Monday. Seabee dump truck drivers, road graders and bridge builders left their desert makeshift camp for this scene of heavy fighting to rebuild a bridge. "This will be your first real mission," Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 commandingr officer James Worcester told the group of less than 100 before they set out. "Go out and make us proud."
Seabees aid stranded Army soldiers
Seabees headed closer to fighting
Monday morning, local time, a small crew of fewer than 50 Seabees from Port Hueneme's Battalion 4 was lined up in convoy position headed toward An Nasiriyah, where, the day before, U.S. troops were captured and killed by Iraqi forces. They are needed to repair a bridge for the Marines.
Hueneme Battalion 4 crosses into Iraq
Petty Officer 3rd Class Cheryl Courier looked hard at the Marlboro burning between her dry, cracked fingertips. It was actually many hours and three cigarettes later when Courier drove across the Iraqi border with several hundred other members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 from Port Hueneme. While some of the 700 members of NMCB-4 are still living at Camp 93 in Kuwait, others moved to within three miles of the Iraqi border two days ago.
Local battalion's first sign of war: 2 flashes overhead
Two bright lights streak across the horizon from the south, shooting through the sky like Fourth of July fireworks, except they are heading straight north, where Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 is camped out in the desert. The Seabees from Port Hueneme stare dumbfounded for a moment. Their spoons, full of chili mac and fettucini and beef ravioli from the MREs, are motionless in front of their mouths. Several gasp. Then the screams: "Incoming! Incoming!"
Siblings reunite in Kuwait while preparing for war
Jan Beamer expects her baby brother, Matt O'Brion, to raid her Oxnard refrigerator. With 15 years between them, she's always mothered him. Feeding him brings her joy. So when he came to her tent recently looking for handouts, it really wasn't all that unusual. Except that the brother and sister Seabees haven't seen each other since August. Except that they are in the middle of the Kuwaiti desert preparing for war. Except that she's a chief and he's only enlisted and he can still stand at her tent flap and shout out, "Jan, anything to eat?"
Seabees hone their arts of war
Even in a training exercise, the Seabees' Underwater Construction Team 2 sends a message. The explosives, and their implications, were stuffed in a haversack and detonated about an hour later, blowing a hole the size of a hot tub in the Kuwaiti desert. The Seabees smiled.
Battalion 5 gets ready to ship home
When Seabee Kevin Gilley was deployed from Port Hueneme more than six months ago, his wife was pregnant. As he left Souda Bay, Crete, he got a message from the Red Cross that there were complications. When he arrived in Spain the next day, he learned his wife had recovered and he had a son. Now, after more than two months in the Kuwaiti desert, he's preparing to return to Port Hueneme and see his son for the first time.
Deployment included stops in Spain, Cuba
Seabee sees Navy as an opportunity to get on right path
John Stevens was 2 when his father went to prison. He was 7 when his mother became homeless and he landed in his first foster home. At 13, he stole a car. He seemed destined for a life of difficulty and disappointment. But now the United States is depending on Stevens. If there is war with Iraq, Stevens and his fellow Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 might be counted on to build roads and bridges into Iraq.
Desert plays havoc with high-tech communications
When the men and women of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 left for the Middle East, many told their wives and husbands they would call when they reached Kuwait. But when they arrived at Camp Castle in the Kuwaiti desert, their plans crackled like a bad connection. Held up by sandstorms and the huge influx of troops, the Marines hadn't yet put in the phone lines to camp. Then, the mechanical ditch digger broke.
Seabees hone bridge-building skills in Gulf
As Robby Moore stands watch over the guns of his fellow Port Hueneme Seabees who are busy building a bridge in the desert, he spits out long streams of Copenhagen from a broken-toothed grimace. His language still has the slur of his home town of Scroggins, Texas, pop. 20. But Wednesday, Moore's was the voice of experience.
Seabees seek peace at church services
In their first church services in Kuwait, Seabees from Port Hueneme held their machine guns firmly between their knees and prayed for peace. Sunday was the first time members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 held church services in the Kuwaiti desert. The battalion has been called up to support Operation Enduring Freedom and most of the 700-member battalion, including Chaplain Brandon Harding, arrived here this week.
Ernie and Bert more than just gas detectors: Pigeons become pets for Seabees deployed in Kuwait
Four days ago, Port Hueneme Seabees deployed in Kuwait got their first pets: Two pigeons they have named Bert and Ernie.
Friday, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 Commanding Officer James Worcester ordered that the birds, cooped up in parakeet cages next to a storage box, be more visible in the battalion's Combat Operations Center. Not only are these pigeons becoming pets for some battalion members like Petty Officer 1st class Tammy Baerwald, they also might save her life.
Better look at it while you can... There is no telling how long they will keep this current.
I intend to download at least several of these - If they disappear, you may try to contact me, but I suggest you keep them yourself.
Corralary: Make sure to extensively excerpt portions of these articles to this thread that you find useful.
Other stories of hers have already been posted on FR.