The motto for the Navy Seabees is “We build, we fight.” The Seabees assigned to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1, based out of Gulfport, Miss., are living up to that slogan by not only conducting convoy security missions, but also working on construction projects on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
The Seabees of NMCB-1 have been in Afghanistan for over a month and recently finished a number of improvements for the Wounded Warrior Care Center on KAF. They built a ramp and walkway deck that will make it easier for injured service members to get around the facility with ease.
The care center helps service members who receive injuries on the battlefield recuperate on KAF and has the capacity to accommodate them from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on their injuries. Once the Wounded Warrior is in good health, they are able to return to their respective unit so they can get back to their mission.
The non-commissioned officer in charge of the WWCC, Staff Sgt. Ellen Smith, of Alexandria, La., said the upgrading of the center took approximately two weeks to complete and the Wounded Warriors were really appreciative of the Seabees’ hard work.
“The Seabees have done a great job improving the WWCC,” said Smith, a health care specialist assigned to 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, based out of Fort Riley, Kan.
“The Seabees are awesome, I wouldn’t work with anybody else,” Smith said. “They worked hard and didn’t complain; in fact they thanked me for letting them work here.”
The liaisons’ mission at the WWCC is to provide Wounded Warriors with a room and clothes if their uniform was cut for medical reasons. They make sure they have their proper medications, and drive them to their appointment.
“It is a major improvement to what the WWCC use to be,” said Sgt. Frank Romanowski, a health care specialist assigned to C Company (Medical), 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based out of Fort Drum, N.Y.,
Romanowski, liaison non-commissioned officer for the WWCC, said the upgrade not only makes his job easier, but “it is a blessing for the Wounded Warriors.”
The WWCC facilitates service members from all the branches of the military transition on their journey through recovery.
“We are under one mission, it doesn’t matter whether they are; Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Reserves or what have you,” Romanowski said.
The Seabees were excited about the upgrading of the WWCC, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Wong, assigned to NMCB-1.
“As soon as we found out it was a Wounded Warrior project; especially after finding out one of our guys ended up coming over here [to the WWCC], that was the driving force behind us wanting to do this,” he said.
“Whatever we can do to make the wounded warriors’ lives easier; making them more comfortable, we will do it, no hesitation,” Wong, said. “This is what we do best, putting something up that wasn’t there before,” said Wong, of Virginia Beach, Va.
Every member of the NMCB-1 takes pride in being a Seabee.
Petty Officer 3rd Class, Jacob LaMountain, assigned to the NMCB-1, has been a Seabee for four years and said he loves to build which is the reason he joined the Navy.
“I think it’s great that we are doing this project for the Wounded Warriors, I have a lot of respect for them,” said LaMountain of Albany, N.Y. “I hope they get better, and I hope they enjoy what we built for them.”
One soldier temporarily staying at the WWCC, Spc. Matthew LeBlanc, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based out of Fort Drum, N.Y., said he was at a loss for words upon arriving at the WWCC. He did not know a place existed for soldiers to recuperate from battlefield injuries.
“It provides all the amenities to try and ease the stress and pain that people are going through,” said LeBlanc, of Allegany, N.Y.
As much as he enjoys his stay at the WWCC, LeBlanc said he looks forward to going back to his unit.
“Within the next couple of days I will get back my unit, get back with my guys and get back to doing the patrols and missions,” LeBlanc said. “I know my guys need me out there and I just want to get back with them and help them out.”
He said he has spoken with other Wounded Warriors at the WWCC and they say the same thing; they all appreciate the Seabees’ hard work improving the facility.