Lt. Cmdr. Elizabeth Durika
Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202
Little Creek, Va.
I attended Carnegie Mellon University on a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship. I majored
in civil engineering and was able to receive a direct
commission into the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps. The
Civil Engineer Corps career path is split between the
Seabees and naval facilities, where we provide public
works services to bases around the world.
I’m from Northern Virginia and I come from a family
with a long history of military service. My father was a
submarine captain and my sister holds the rank of commander serving in the Coast Guard. Both of my grandfathers served in World War II, and then many aunts and
uncles also served in the military. Some served until they
were eligible for retirement and others completed their
initial tour and then transitioned on to civilian careers.
My husband is a Naval Intelligence Officer. There was
never any pressure to join the military, but it felt natural.
I was commissioned in 2003 and my first tour was
on board Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., where I was
assigned to the public works department. From there,
I went to a Seabee battalion located in Port Hueneme,
Calif., the home of the Pacific Fleet Seabees.
I don’t know if it was being in the right place at the
right time, but I was afforded some amazing oppor-
tunities as a pretty junior lieutenant. I was able to be
the water well officer in charge with Naval Mobile
Construction Battalion 40 as we drilled wells in Kenya.
On the west coast of Africa, I was the officer-in-charge
with a handful of Seabees supporting Africa Partnership
Station, doing projects in 11 different ports throughout
the continent. That was my first Seabee tour.
Looking back, you’re like, “Wow, as a 25-year-old
lieutenant they gave me way too much authority!” I
worked with amazing folks. You can easily credit any
success I’ve had to the folks I have worked with.
We moved to Hawaii from there. I was an aide to
the NAVFAC [Naval Facilities Engineering Command]
Pacific commander. This was an awesome experience.
I think the best part of that job is you’re almost a fly
on the wall and I got to understand how those holding
senior-level positions in the Navy operate.
Following Hawaii, I did an IA — an individual aug-mentee — billet to Djibouti for a year as the deputy
public works officer. Camp Lemonnier is a large base
and while we laid the groundwork for future expansion and development, I was again reminded that the
Seabees are some of the best people in the world and
they can do anything. They can turn lemons into lemonade any day.
Following my IA, I took orders to Naval Support
Activity Naples, Italy, where I was the contracting
officer for the public works department. All the construction and service contracts in Naples fell under
my purview. In July 2015, I assumed command of
Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202 and I
love coming to work every day. The pride and professionalism of the Seabees I work with is incredible.
I’ve had some great mentors along the way, junior and
senior alike. We, as an organization, owe it to our junior
Sailors to mentor them and grow the future of the Navy.
We reap the rewards of having good mentors that have
pushed or pulled us, whichever way you want to look at
it. You can find Seabees in every corner of the world doing
great things, sometimes sight unseen.
Next March, the Seabees will celebrate their 75th
birthday. Despite our short history within the Navy,
we’ve done some incredible stuff. From island hopping
in the Pacific during World War II, through Vietnam,
Korea and into Operations Iraqi and Enduring
Freedom, it’s just an incredible, storied history.” n
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 56 SEAPOWER / JUNE 2016