Seabee Team 0512

Seabee Team 0512
Branch U. S. Navy
Group Type
Group Name
Wall GG
Direction East
Row 2
Plaque Number 2

Let all who view this honor and recognize Seabee Team 0512:

Don Evans, Officer In Charge

Jay Adkins Curt Bensen

Fred Coates Robert Cockrell

Ken Elliott Phil Erickson

Ken Hanggi Keith Mattson

Mike Renfro Larry Sassaman

Jim Tokar Terry Whitt

On May 11, 1967 while serving their country in Viet Nam, 13 men were chosen from the 5th Naval Construction Battalion to come together to train and work. Their individual and unique skills and talents led them to form a highly competent team that would serve in the remote jungles of southeast Thailand. Here they built roads, bridges, schools, offered medical services and built good will while striving to improve the quality of life for the local people. They trained together, worked together, lived together and formed a bond which has carried through the rest of their lives.

BIO for Seabee Team 0512:

Our story begins on Thursday May 11, 1967 in the country of Viet Nam when 13 members of USNMCB Five were chosen to form Seabee Technical Assistance Team 0512. The Team consisted of an Ensign, designated OIC, a Chief, designated AOIC, and eleven enlisted men chosen from the ranks for their service to MCB Five’s mission in Viet Nam. Each enlisted man had shown his superior expertise in a particular construction trade while deployed with MCB Five near Da Nang, Viet Nam. The enlisted men, 2 – Builders, 2 – Equipment Operators, 2 – Mechanics, 1 – Steel Worker, 1 - Utilities man, 1 – Engineering Aide, 1 – Electrician, and probably the most important 1 – Corpsman. After a well deserved post deployment leave the Team assembled at CBC Port Hueneme, CA to begin their training in July 1967.

The course of study consisted of 10 weeks of construction cross training where we learned the basics of the other men’s trades, 1 week of small group tactics, 1 week of weapons training, 1 week of dreaded survival training, a 2 week Field Problem at Vandenburg Air Force Base and of course, lots of PT which started each day with a 5 mile run just to warm up. A week of down time to get our gear in shape and we were ready to head to far away Thailand.

Our flight aboard an ancient C-54 prop plane from Point Mugu NAS to Bangkok, Thailand lasted 4 days and involved stops at such scenic Pacific Islands as Hawaii, Midway, Guam, Philippines, then on to Saigon and finally Bangkok. By the time we arrived Bangkok we were all tired of boxed in flight meals and flying in general. In Bangkok we boarded a special short take-off and landing C- 7 Caribou aircraft for our flight to Camp 1 in Ban Hin Kohn Dong, Thailand where we relieved SBT 0910 and took over responsibility for the camp.

Our first job was to plan for and move our camp 120 miles Southeast to a new location. Half the Team moved to the site of new camp while half the Team remained behind to decommission the old camp and ship materials, tools and equipment to the site of the new camp. All heavy equipment was driven to the railroad station at Buriram, loaded on flat cars, and hauled by a wood fired steam locomotive almost 80 miles to the remote railroad station at Sisaket. There other members of the Team met the train, off loaded the heavy equipment and drove it to the site of the new camp. By December we had abandoned the old camp and moved all personnel and equipment to the new camp site. With the presence of the whole Team at the new site work progressed rapidly and soon essential buildings such as barracks and mess hall were completed. A bathhouse, water heater, an aerial water tank and electricity were some of the luxuries which came next. The last camp project completed by the entire Team was the erection of a dam on a local stream to ensure a source of water for the camp.

The new year, 1968, brought changes to the camp. Plans were made to begin projects outside camp and a 5 man detachment composed of 2 – Seabees, their 2 Thai Border Police counterparts and a Thai interpreter was sent to a Thai Border Police Outpost on the Thai/Cambodian Border about 50 miles from our main Seabee Camp. The detachment spent the next 4 months at this and several other Thai Border Police Outposts. Their mission for the US AID Agency was to organize, supply tools and materials to rural Thai Border villages in order to improve their standard of living. These projects included basic schools, teacher housing, medical dispensaries and simple wells to provide clean drinking water for the village. The projects were meant to gain the trust and support of the villagers in the Thai efforts to combat cross border raids by Cambodian Communist Rebels.

Mean while back at Main Camp the rest of the team and their Thai Border Police counterparts were busy adding finishing touches to the site, planning and executing our biggest project of the deployment, a 10 mile road through the jungle in order to link several remote villages with the main road to Sisaket. Building the road entailed removing many trees, building bridges across many streams. Using a dozer and grader they converted many miles of jungle into a useable road. Quite an accomplishment for our small construction company!

By May of 1968 we had completed all our many and varied projects and our thoughts naturally turned to loved ones and home. A new team relieved us and after a few meetings in Bangkok we found ourselves winging our way to the land of the big PX. After our post deployment leave we gathered one last time to say our goodbyes. Some of us were due to be discharged from the Navy and others were to be sent back to MCB Five on the DMZ in Viet Nam.

1978 saw most of the Team gather in Cripple Creek, CO for a 10 year Reunion. In November 2017 surviving Team members made plans to attend an MCB Five Reunion in Branson, MO. Many had not seen their teammates for 50 years but happily discovered their sense of brotherhood had survived the years. Since then the Team has gathered once a year to reminisce and to celebrate and preserve the brotherhood that was begun in 1967.

Plaque Wall Map

Plaque wall map