Comments: I have to report that Avery Stegmaier, WW2 Seabee with USNCB2 deployed to Wallis Island near Fiji, died on July 25, 2010. Avery had seen my MCB11 sticker on my car and introduced himself as a WW2 vet. He was very quiet about his wartime service; we have lost another contact with a very special group of men.
Comments: I sending this in hopes that they are something for the fallen seabee's. To honor them for what they did. My son was a seabee stationed in Gulfport Mississippi. He was deployed first to Japen then he was sent to Seychelle Africa. 19 days before he was to return home he lost his life. It was November 20, 2005. He loved the Seabee's. He was doing great. I miss him so much. There isn't a day that passes that i don't think about him and how i would have love to have one more hug. His mother Judy Turpin. Are they any way of getting garden flags with the Seabee's emblem on them. I keep a navy flag on his cemetary lot all the time. His mother Judy Turpin
Comments: I am searching for my uncle's, MM1 William Richard Sorensen, USNR WWII SeaBees war records. He was attached to the 517th Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit beginning the fall of 1943 and may have servied in other seabee battalions and units also. He was a crane operator. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Gerald R. Johnson, CPO, USN, Retired
Comments: MCB 11 WAS MORTARED ON THE 23 JULY 1966 8.0I PM FOR THE BATTALION, NEW CHAPTER NOT SINCE WW 2 ';HA IP: 188.8.131.52 Posted on July 24, 2010 at 01:46:09 PM by Anonymous
MCB 11 WAS MORTARED ON THE 23 JULY 1966 8.0I PM FOR THE BATTALION, NEW CHAPTER NOT SINCE WW 2 HAD NMCB 11 BEEN UNDER FIRED ON, AS A BATTALION .THOSE PARTICIPATING IN THIS ATTACK (OR ANY ATTACK ) CAN , BASED ON INDIVIDUAL CASE BY CASE TO A SUPERIOR OFFICER 4 THIS AWARD 4 TIME PERIOD A UNIT ,FROM MCB 11 SEA BEE 1104 A EARLY JUNE 1965 ,AND BY ALL RETROACTIVELY ACCOUNTS THE FIRST PARTICIPATING SEA BEES TO EARN A C.A.R. . THE SAME SEA BEE TEAM 1104 , 1965 WAS WORKING IN THE TOWN OF DONG XOA W/ A ARMY S.FORCES' A ' TEAM TO BUILD UP ITS DEFENSES THE VC ATTACKED . HERE IS PARTIAL ON THE BATTLE battle of Dong Xoai. Hoover and Shields were killed in the fight; the other seven members were wounded.TO VIEW THE BATTLE PLAN SEE THE GALLERY ON SEA BEE TEAMS 1104 THERE IS POSTED DEBRIEFING SKETCH IT .WILL WALK U THRU THE MOVEMENT TO Matt Mattick and three fellow American soldiers quickly loaded their wounded comrade onto the first “chopper.” The plan was that as soon as the critically injured Seabee was safely stored away, they would make a dash for the second chopper and get out of the fight.
Mattick, who found himself as the last man in the dash, was waved away from the second chopper. They were full, overloaded in fact. No big deal, Mattick thought, he would just get in the third chopper.
He quickly discovered, however, that there was no third chopper. It had been shot down enroute to rescue them.
Mattick stood there, small arms fire from the Vietcong kicking up dust all around him. As far as he knew, he was the last American soldier – alive, that is – standing in the midst of the battle at Dong Xoai.
Mattick and three other S.T.A.T. members arrived there June 4, after another harrowing plane trip. This time the plane didn’t crash, but Mattick got to watch the tops of 50-ft. trees pass by his plane window. The Seabees had underestimated the weight of the cargo and the plane fully loaded with fuel and taking off on a 2,000 ft. runway, was barely able to lift over the trees. The pilot was not a happy man.
Seabees and equipment continued to filter into the Special Forces (SF) camp at Dong Xoai for several days. However, two members were on R&R in Bangkok and two others were still in Ben Soi overseeing the convoy to move their heavy equipment to the new camp.
The A-Team, overseeing the camp improvements, had commissioned the Seabees to expand the building complex into a mine field that had been laid by the South Vietnamese adjacent to the camp. The Seabees finished removing all the mines sometime in the afternoon of June 9.
Prior to the attack, the Seabees heard small arms fire and occasionally a mortar round landed in the camp. But the night of June 9 – at a quarter to midnight – the Vietcong (VC) hit and hit hard. Within seconds, four or five bombs struck the upper camp. The first mortar took out the first aid bunker where the supplies were; next the communication shack blew; one bomb landed in the barracks killing one American asleep in a bunk.
Seabee Johnny McCully had just finished rounds and was having a cup of coffee with Army Sergeant 1st Class James Taylor when the mortars struck without warning. McCully grabbed his M14 rifle and 300 rounds of ammunition. He ran to where fellow Seabees William Hoover, Lawrence Eyman and Marvin Shields were returning fire. Both Hoover and Shields had already sustained injuries.
Lt. Peterlin, awakened by the blast, grabbed his weapons and ammo and was soon engaged in the fight. For nearly an hour, the compound was pummeled by machine-gun fire, heavy mortar and grenades. During a lull, Shields sprinted to a burning shed to retrieve more ammo. McCully took a .50-caliber round through his shoulder but managed to keep his 57mm recoilless rifle in action.
At 02:45 June 10, waves of VC accompanied by flamethrowers overran the upper camp. Shields, Eyman and Taylor, along with two U.S. Army soldiers, withdrew, sprinting through enemy fire. Shields and Taylor carried a gravely injured Army officer. Peterlin, Hoover and SF Staff Sgt. Donald Dedmon became separated from the others. As they maneuvered across the camp, Peterlin was knocked to the ground by an explosion and wounded in the foot by a bullet. He managed to crawl through barbed wire, where he found a foxhole outside of camp and burrowed into it. He remained hidden away there until he was rescued on June 11. Hoover and Dedmon, unable to find foxholes, died fighting.
At the lower camp, Mattick, Dale Brakken, Jim Wilson, and James Keenan (corpsman) were fighting furiously. Shields and Eyman were able to reach the lower camp to join them, but Eyman was seriously wounded in the process.
McCully and two CIDG troops moved to the east in hopes of locating a buried cache of weapons and a radio. Instead they found 500 VC sitting over the cache, eating breakfast and having a “good time.” Heavy fire prevented them from returning to their original positions, so they pulled back and hid under a house in the nearby village. The CIDG troops had rifles and fired on the enemy until their ammo was exhausted. McCully passed out from his wounds.
Even after being wounded twice, Shields volunteered to accompany the commander to knock out an enemy machine gun placement. They were successful, but Shields was mortally wounded. Five of the 20 Americans at the camp were killed (two Seabees and three Special Forces); all the rest were wounded.
During the night, Mattick reports that they were given phenomenal air support. Mostly it was flares to keep the battlefield in light so the Americans could see their enemy to shoot. The Navy and Marine fighters offered the best ground support, Mattick said, adding that he believes if he had a 20-ft. stick he could have touched their planes – they flew that low to the ground bombing and strafing the enemy with their machine guns. It continued all night.
With morning light, the air support pulled back. Two companies of South Vietnamese sent as relief were met by the VC and annihilated. With no ground support available for hours, word was received that three helicopters were coming in to pick up the surviving Americans. Carrying Shields on a poncho, the Seabees and soldiers pulled him under the barbed wire fence with them and reached the landing site for the choppers. Only two choppers made it, and left Mattick stranded.
On board the choppers, Mattick’s buddies asked the pilot to return for him. They couldn't; they’re were overloaded, but they would make sure help was sent.
Standing alone in the field with bullets flying all around him, Mattick ran back to the pit and found the field radio they were using to communicate. Not knowing if the voice on the other end of the conversation was friend or foe, Mattick told him he was the last American left in the battle. The response was an astonished “holy cow,” which assured Mattick that the speaker was American.
Mattick was told it would take the choppers a hour and half to return. His response: I can’t make an hour and half; 10-15 minutes at the very best. I can’t hold out by myself.
Then Mattick got some good news: there were five Huey helicopters in the area. The radioman assured Mattick that they would come in over the area and one would come down to pick him up.
The Hueys came in five abreast, noses pointed to the ground and their 40 mm cannons laying down a wall of fire. Just before they reached Mattick, the two Hueys on the outside made a circle and started laying down a wall of napalm. The flames quickly formed a chimney out of the napalm and the middle chopper came down the chimney.
Mattick took off from his pit, but stopped and ran back to get his hat, then with his adrenalin pumping he ran as fast as an Olympic sprinter toward the Huey. Seeing the dust in front of him riddled with VC bullets, he jumped the last 20 feet and landed belly high in the chopper. The gunner grabbed him by the belt and pulled him in, all the while his machine-gun blazing.
Mattick saw the middle Huey hit on its nose, rock back to the end of its skid, and then hit on the nose again, but by that time he was on board and the chopper was off. It never had to land. Mattick heard later that the chopper had 80 bullet holes in it when it reached its home base, but no one inside was hit. They had gotten the last American out safely.
from the fleeing VC. At that time, Peterlin and McCully were also rescued from their hiding places. Mattick estimates that 1,000 South Vietnamese troops and 2,000 VC were killed in the fight.
Construction Mechanic Third Class Marvin G. Shields (picture, right) died on board the evac chopper. He is the only Seabee to ever receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. A destroyer escort has been named after him, the USS Marvin Shields, as well as new barracks at the naval Great Lakes Training Center in Illinois.
The seven Seabees surviving the battle plus the other four in the unit have been honored many times for their service. Deservedly so.
"We did not do anything that any other Seabee or soldier would not have done if placed in the same circumstances," Mattick said. Like other veterans, he shies away from the label "hero."
"We had a job to do, we did it," said Mattick.
And that is in the finest tradition of a U.S. Navy Seabee. MCB 11 WAS MORTARED ON THE 23 JULY 1966 8.0I PM FOR THE BATTALION, NEW CHAPTER NOT SINCE WW 2';HAD BEEN NMCB 11 IN AS A BATTALION IN HOSTILE ACTION MEMBERS IN THE CAMP WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE ATTACK ARE ELIGIBLE 4 A COMBAT ACTION RIBBON ( MCB 11 a**.TO GET U R ) IF U WERE THAT ATTACK ;;AND .D.D 214 SOON AFTER U ARE ELIGIBLE
WIA WERE 5 TOTAL= 1966 #1 T. BURKART CN. ' D ' CO.
> SHIPPED > JAPAN
#2 F. COPSON SWE 3 ' H 'CO. SHIPPED >PI. > US.
#3 C. LONG BUH3 ' D ' CO. > TO >DANANG EAST , RVN.
Comments: FROM THE WWW"When in 1970, Seabee activity drew to a close and the withdrawal of the last units commenced, the Navy's builder-fighters had made a lasting contribution to the people of South Vietnam. In a war where winning the hearts of the people was an important part of the total effort, Seabee construction skills and medical assistance proved powerful weapons in the Vietnam "civic action" war. The recitation of events and the quoting of statistics fail to reveal the true nature of the Seabees' involvement during the Vietnam years. True, they supported the Marines at Chu Lai and Khe Sanh, reopened the railroad line between Hue and Danang, struggled with the logistics problems of the Mekong Delta, constructed a new naval base on a sand pad floating on paddy mud, and built staggering quantities of warehouses, aircraft support facilities, roads, and bridges. But they also hauled and dumped numerous tons of rock and paving on roads that provided access to farms and markets, supplied fresh water to countless numbers of Vietnamese through hundreds of Seabee-dug wells, provided medical treatment to thousands of villagers, and opened up new opportunities and hope for generations to come through Seabee-built schools, hospitals, utilities systems, roads and other community facilities. Seabees also worked with, and taught construction skills to the Vietnamese people, helping them to help themselves and proving that the Seabees really are "builders for peace."