East Bay Grad, Navy Sailor Continues 75 Years Of Seabee Tradition

By Alvin Plexico

“We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees”, for the past 75 years. Riverview native and East Bay High School graduate, Petty Officer 2nd Class Juan Gonzalez, builds and fights around the world as a member of a naval construction battalion center located in Port Hueneme, California.

Gonzalez works as a builder in the Navy.

“I’m a carpenter in the Navy and work construction with the Seabees,” said Gonzalez.

The jobs of some of the Seabees today have remained unchanged since World War II, when the Seabees paved the 10,000-mile road to victory for the allies in the Pacific and in Europe, according to Lara Godbille, director of the U. S. Navy Seabee Museum.

“It’s a small community, so you get to see some of the same people and familiar faces,” said Gonzalez. “You also get to keep up with your mentors.”

For the past 75 years Seabees have served in all American conflicts. They have also supported humanitarian efforts using their construction skills to help communities around the world following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

“I am proud of the hard work that Seabees do every day,” said Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg, Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command. “Their support to the Navy and Marine Corps mission is immeasurable, and we look forward to the next seven decades of service.”

Seabees around the world will take part in a yearlong celebration in 2017 to commemorate the group’s 75-year anniversary.  The theme of the celebration is “Built on History, Constructing the Future.”

“Seabees deploy around the world providing expert expeditionary construction support on land and under the sea, for the Navy and Marine Corps, in war, humanitarian crisis and peace,” said Capt. Mike Saum, Commodore, Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1. “Seabee resiliency, skill, and resolution under hostile and rough conditions prove our motto ‘We Build, We Fight.’ The Seabee patch we wear on our uniform signifies to the warfighter and civilian alike that they’re in good hands.”

“Celebrating our 75th anniversary shows how a smaller community can thrive throughout our history,” said Gonzalez.