2015-16 Board of Directors
Harold Schrage, President
James Gibbs, 1st VP
Victor Horvath, 2nd VP
Phil Weatherwax, Secretary
Kenneth Gordon, Treasurer
James Pimental, Master at Arms
Dave Walker, Chaplain
Ray Yeatman, Chaplain
On December 28, 1941, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks (BUDOCKS), requested specific authority to activate, organize, and man a unique, very special organization that would support the Navy and Marines in remote locations and defend themselves if attacked — the Naval Construction Battalions. On January 5, 1942, he was given that authority and the original Battalions were formed at a new Naval base in Davisville, Rhode Island.
United States Naval Mobil Construction Battalion THREE was commissioned July 1950 by the Chief of Naval Operations for advanced base construction and for participation in special task force projects. Immediately thereafter, MCB THREE began its construction capabilities with projects in Alaska, the Philippine Islands, Okinawa, Thailand, and in Vietnam. The construction completed by MCB THRE throughout the Pacific area had become strategically more important with the conflict in Vietnam.
As the year 1966 unfolded, current plans had MCB THREE scheduled to return to her previous camp at the foot of hill 327 at DaNang, RVN. This changed in early January with the requirement for an additional battalion at Chu Lai. The task of planning and constructing a new camp would have to be done in a very brief time. During the period 6 January to 7 Marc 1966 MCB THREE planned a camp, ordered $150,000 worth of material, accepted a new equipment allowance, receipted and shipped camp construction materials, and landed an advance party with equipment and materials at Chu Lai, RVN.
The new camp was located on Rosemary Point --- a peninsula at the northern tip of the Chu Lai enclave. The advance party, composed of two platoons of Delta Company augmented by specialist from Headquarters, Alpha, and Bravo Companies, completed construction of 116 huts and 500 man galley- messhall, installed showers, built roads, and partially completed construction of six 40’ X 100’ stran steel buildings and an equipment yard. The majority of this effort took place during the twenty-one day period preceding the 28 March arrival of the first plane carrying the main body personnel. By 2 April the entire battalion --- 580 strong --- was settled and ready for work.
MCB THREE’s primary construction mission was development of the Naval Support Facility complex at Chu Lai. The month of April, however, was one primarily of planning, surveying, ordering materials, and continuing construction of the MCB THREE base camp. Delta Company commenced construction of 116 huts for the 1 st Marine Division Command Post and Charlie Company began a complete rebuilding of the only hospital in Chu Lai. The remainder of the battalion spent long hours filling the numerous sand bags that were to be used in construction mortar bunkers.
With the month of May, material began arriving for the vast warehouse, berthing, and messing facilities to be built for the Naval Support facility. Alpha Company moved the earth, Charlie and Delta Companies split the general construction work, and Bravo Company provided utilities for all jobs. Charlie Company completed construction in mid-June of the 1 st Medical Battalion Hospital. Construction continued at a steady pace through June, July, and August. Most of the effort was concentrated on Rosemary Point with other jobs interspersed: such as, the FLSG 1600 man galley- messhall and the MAG-36 Command Operation Center.
Seabee teams 0305 and 0306 returned to the battalion in August after 9 months of detached duty in Thailand.
The month of September started quietly enough. Alpha Company had just completed the fill for 360,000 square foot extension of the MAG-36 helo pad and had channeled their entire earth-moving effort in support of MCB-40, then constructing the Chu Lai Crosswind Runway and related taxiways. Charlie and Delta Companies were about to embark on a joint venture to construct a 1700 man cantonment for MAG-13. Delta Company was assigned to construct the First Force Hospital and all companies were still committed, in part, to construction of Naval Support Facility projects. At this point the Chu Lai Crosswind Runway Facility became the most urgent military project in South Vietnam. Seabees were tasked with completion of the entire facility by 1 October. The 30 th Naval Construction Regiment answered this requirement by pooling the assets of four battalions --- MCB’s ONE, THREE, SIX and FORTY --- for the construction of the project. MCB THREE was assigned the construction of a 300 foot long concrete triple culvert and a connecting taxiway which was 3500 feet long and 72 feet wide. The task assignment included the stipulation that all other projects to which the battalion was committed would continue.
September 1966 is now history of which MCB Three is justifiably proud. The entire battalion rose to the occasion. Delta Company attacked the construction of the triple box culvert, completing it after sixteen days of round-the-clock effort. They left a beautiful structure containing 115 tons of steel and 1076 cubic yards of concrete; the last 660 yards being placed in a continuous pour of thirty-three hours, unintimidated by a 0100 mortar attack on the northern end of the taxiway. Meanwhile, Alpha Company had completed the rough earth work on the crosswind runway and had turned to the task of preparing the base for the connecting taxiway. To Charlie Company fell the difficult task of assuming all jobs that Delta Company had to abandon for the culvert project, plus continuing their assigned work, and taking on the additional responsibility of being the lead company in the construction of the taxiway itself.
Through it all, Bravo Company was there providing night lights, laying water lines and sprinklers for the hydraulic sand consolidation, and dewatering construction sites. Bravo Company also provided labor for the soil cement and mat laying crews.
Even with the efforts of the line companies, more labor was required for this high priority project and Headquarters Company was requested to furnish it. The security force, yeomen, corpsmen, personnelmen, draftsmen, disbursing clerks, and communications personnel all helped to swell the ranks of the work crews. The work continued night and day.
October arrived and all projects were under control. MCB THREE returned to its September schedule with a sigh of relief. The MAG-13 cantonment was nearing completion on schedule (245 buildings plus a 1600 man galley- messhall), the MAG-36 helo pad was operational, the first Force Hospital cantonment was occupied, and the Crosswind Runway Facility though not completed was “out of the woods” and nearing completion. The routine schedule didn’t last long however as the date of 1 November became the goal for the completion of three 10,000 barrel bolted steel tanks. Again, by working around-the-clock, the POL facility was completed on schedule.
With the arrival of MCB EIGHT’S advance party and the departure of MCB THREE’s on 1 November, the long awaited date of 1 December and a return home became a reality. Even though minds were turned toward home and backs and limbs were weary from seven months of continuous work, the battalion continued its steady productivity. The first Force Hospital galley- messhall was built, ten more 40’ X 100’ buildings were completed, all the Naval Support Facility projects were completed for occupancy, a sewer system was installed at NSF, roads were kept in passable condition during monsoon rains, and 300 huts were reroofed.
In November, the battalion also sent Seabee team 0308 to Port Hueneme to commence its military and technical training.
The MCB-3 Seabees efforts were rewarded when Rear Admiral W.M.Heaman, Commander, Construction Battalions Pacific announced on 11 September that MCB THREE had been chosen Pacific Fleet “Best of Type” Mobile Construction Battalion for fiscal year 1966. Admiral Heaman made a personal visit to the Chu Lai camp for presentation of the award.
MCB THREE left Chu Lai in early December. The statistics tell the story: 15,000 cubic yards of concrete in place and 1208 buildings constructed totaling 240,000 square feet, for a material value of $4.8 million dollars. The Pacific Fleet’s “Best of Type” battalion had left its mark monumentally.