‘Fighting Forty’ Finishes Nine Month Deployment with Humanitarian, Civic Mission
VINH, Vietnam - Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 40 pack their seabags one last time July 21 before returning home after a nine month forward deployment.
Twenty-two ‘Fighting Forty’ Seabees, along with four containers packed with tools and equipment, departed Okinawa in late June to Nghe An province. After 30 hours from their base in Japan to their hotel rooms in Vietnam, they began construction efforts in support of Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12).
“Our mission was to construct a four-room health clinic in one of the most impoverished communities in the country and renovate two other clinic buildings,” said Senior Chief Builder Todd Bernashe, assistant officer-in-charge, NMCB 40 PP12 detachment.
Bernashe described how the Seabees attached to this team have overcome adversity and shortcomings in manpower and equipment, not to mention having many who are deployed for the first time and maintaining a 24-hour operation on the ground.
“After all was said and done with country clearances and manning shortfalls, there were 22 Seabees to conduct a mission originally intended for 25,” he said. “After our departure flight was pushed back for the third time, there were 29 days to complete what was originally planned for 34.”
The Seabees worked seven days a week and exceed a ‘normal’ work day, constructing and renovating buildings and sites in over 100 degree weather and high humidity while wearing long sleeve shirts and pants to prevent against insect-borne illnesses.
“It’s hot out here but we know what we’re doing here matters to this community,” said Builder 1st Class David Garcia. “To be a part of something that will help the members in this community long after we leave means something, especially since our unit will soon be decommissioned.”
NMCB 40 is slated to be decommissioned in August, but the work of the ‘Fighting Forty’ in Hung Lam and Hung Tam will serve their communities for many years to come.
“The finished product of our efforts will be part of our legacy,” said Engineering Aide 3rd Class Kyle Jeffreys.
Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships and disaster response capabilities in the Asia Pacific region.