My brother was in the Navy. He kind of persuaded me to join, but I’ve always had that
“I want to serve my country” role. I was like,
“Well, why not give it a try?” We saw his
graduation from boot camp and it was pretty
neat, and I decided I wanted to be part of it.
I grew up in Nebraska, in a very small town of 98
people, went to school with about 24 people. I really
just wanted to get out to see the world and, lo and
behold, I definitely have.
Being able to travel had intrigued me — and being
able to help. I had met a couple of people from my
hometown who were Seabees, so I wanted to be a
Seabee before I joined. It intrigued me that I could
make a difference, and that’s what I wanted to do.
I didn’t know what to expect. Once I got to battal-
ion, I was like, “This is my game. I like this.”
My dad was a welder, so that’s why I wanted to
become a welder, because I already knew how to weld.
It gave me a leg up when I joined, and I got to our “A”
School, in Gulfport, Miss.
I came to battalion here, my first command. As
soon as I got here, I was sent to China Lake, Calif., and
I helped build a PED [Pre-Engineered Building]. I was
already working in my rate, which is rare because most
people don’t get to do their rate very often. I was an
E- 3, steelworker.
That was a mini-homeport project. We were there
for a couple of months. We stayed up there for weeks
at a time. I was doing a lot of rebar work and putting
up beams. We did it for the quarry there because they
needed a place to work on their equipment.
I pretty much grew up around construction. The
equipment part, I didn’t know a whole lot. Electrical
was eye-opening for me. I had to learn to do a lot of
that. I took naturally to the welding aspect. When it
comes to working with my hands, I’m pretty good. But
the plumbing and the electrician side, you can count
me out. I can plan them, but doing the work is a little
bit difficult because I never went to the school for it.
That was definitely a learning curve.
I had a lot of mentors. I definitely prefer to know
what I’m doing rather than act like it and make a
The first deployment was to Okinawa, in 2013-
2014. We were on the CTF-76 [Task Force 76] project,
a warehouse. I had never been on such a large project.
I had never laid block before. That was my first time
planning for a project, so I learned how to plan and
estimate for a project to be done. It was hard at first
because you’re away from family. It really hits you:
“Wow, I’m in the Navy.”
We were there for the Christmas holiday, but every-
body there is family, so you make it what it is with
who you’ve got.
I worked on the warehouse pretty much the entire
time. That last 30 days of deployment, I got sent to
Thailand for a det [detachment] for [Exercise] Cobra
Gold. We built a two-room schoolhouse in 30 days.
That one was cool because we got to work with the
Thai Marines. It builds that special bond between us
and Thailand. It was a very small det, about 12 of us,
and maybe another 12 of them, so we all got to work
together to build this school.
We lived actually among the schoolhouses, slept
on some cots. Every morning, we’d see the kids go to
school. For lunchtime, we would play sports with them
or we’d take 10 minutes out of our work time and play
with the kids. We’d buy [supplies] locally. I think it
built a very good rapport. Our main purpose there was
to help them, and I think they were very grateful.
Steelworker 2nd Class
NAVAL MOBILE CONSTRUCTION BATTALION 3
PORT HUENEME, CALIF.