Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 Detail Horn of Africa, transferred authority to NMCB 133 DET HOA, during a ceremony June 24, 2014, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
The ceremony began with the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and an invocation by U.S. Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Joshua Okwori.
U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Alexander Krongard, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa deputy commander, presided over the ceremony.
“The Seabees, in many ways, are the heart and soul of Camp Lemonnier and CJTF-HOA,” Krongard said. “You guys are an incredible inspiration to me and everyone else on this camp. Your work ethic, professionalism and competence are absolutely amazing.”
NMCB 74 will return to Gulfport, Miss., and will decommission on July 25, making this the unit’s final deployment.
“We have lived out our command cornerstone of ‘honoring the past, succeeding in the present and preparing for the future,’” said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Joshua Sharp, NMCB 74 officer in charge. “In honor of those who served before us, NMCB 74 has spent every day of the last six months building on our heritage.”
During their tour to CJTF-HOA, NMCB 74 completed a storage warehouse that protects equipment from the harsh East African environment, prolonging the life of the equipment and ensuring safe keeping of materials.
The unit also assisted other units with construction and logistic support.
While the Seabees were building or improving facilities on the camp and local area, they were also maintaining and repairing their tools and equipment.
“Our heavy equipment mechanics worked from dawn until well after sunset to improve our equipment availability from 63 percent to 90 percent,” Sharp said.
The Seabee’s continuous hard work paid off in more ways than one.
CJTF-HOA, the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti and NMCB 74 began construction on a local maternity clinic to provide Djiboutian partners a reliable birthing facility. The clinic will provide better equipment and care for pregnant women.
“This has huge potential to help future generations,” Sharp said. “The infant mortality rate is nearly ten times higher here than it is in the United States.”
Building facilities that will make a lasting impact in Djibouti was only a part of what the Seabees accomplished. Shortly before their redeployment back to Gulfport, NMCB 74 left a legacy at CJTF-HOA that will not soon be forgotten.
Four NMCB 74 Seabees, Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan Olds, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessie Pringle, Seaman Andrew Murphy and Seaman Alfred Rutkowski, were presented medals for freeing a service member pinned under a Humvee following a recent rollover near Camp Lemonnier. Their quick actions helped save the life of the individual.
“It really came down to the Seabees showing up with equipment and figuring out how to get in the vehicle without hurting the individual inside any further,” Krongard said. “The Seabees stated ‘we finished it, we cleaned up the site, and we got back to work.’”
The incoming NMCB 133 Seabee unit has big shoes to fill as they take over the existing projects of NMCB 74 and begin new projects all while keeping the Seabee heritage alive.
“There is no group that is more honest or more willing to stop what they are doing to help a shipmate or someone they do not even know, than a bunch of Seabees,” U.S. Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Aaron Kulp, NMCB 133 DET HOA, officer in charge. “As we start this deployment, let us continue to build the legacy of the Seabees, add to the history of NMCB 133 and continue to show the world who we are.”