MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines and sailors gathered at the Paradise Point Officers’ Club aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to celebrate the Seabees’ 70th birthday, the 170th anniversary of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and the 145th year of the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps, March 10.
The ball was a chance to give thanks and remembrance to the forbearers who helped engineer the legacy that the Seabees and others continue to uphold. Guests at the ball raised their glasses to give honor to the nation’s civilian and military leadership, the branches of the armed service and the “Bees of the seven seas.”
“For anybody who has gone to a Seabee ball in the past, you know that it is truly the Seabees that make it a Seabee ball,” said Navy Cmdr. Marc R. Delao, commanding officer, Officer in Charge of Construction, Marine Corps Installation East. “Tonight is your night. This is why we have a Seabee ball. It is to recognize those men and women who serve the Seabees, the Civil Engineer Corps and the (Naval Facilities Engineering Command).”
The Seabees were born from the fires of an attack that struck the U.S. at Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. Established March 5, 1942, they rapidly earned their motto “We Build, We Fight” by putting their can-do attitude to work during numerous, hotly-contested battles in World War II.
In peacetime, the Seabees have even used their construction skills to help various developing countries. When war called again, they brought their fighting spirit with them, serving throughout the Cold War and into operations from Albania to Afghanistan.
The NAVFAC and the CEC were established in the 19th century and today NAVFAC delivers quick, effective facilities engineering and expeditionary logistics solutions worldwide, while the CEC officers stand poised around the world to provide combat construction and engineering support to the Navy and Marine Corps.
As the host of the ball, Delao thanked the guests for their service to the base and in operations overseas. After dinner, Delao welcomed Col. Daniel J. Lecce, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, who was the guest of honor for the event.
“The importance of events like this are to recognize where we come from,” said Lecce. “We are part of this organization where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Lecce drew upon the history of the Seabees, Marines and other service members who selflessly gave everything they had in conflicts past and present. The room went quiet as Lecce recounted the bravery of Sgt. Dakota Meyer, the recent Medal of Honor recipient who repeatedly risked his life to retrieve his fallen comrades from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
“(Our service) means to live by a code,” said Lecce. “We talk about honor, courage and commitment. I know these are our core values, but to me and to all of us in here, it’s a code. It’s what you live by, what you personify.”
Traditionally, the ball recognizes the youngest and eldest Seabees in attendance with a cake cutting ceremony, a symbol drawing the past and the present together. Once the cake was cut, the guests sang “The Song of the Seabees”, promising to pave the path to victory and guard it always.
“We have something special, and it is right here,” said Lecce. “That’s the ethos, that’s the code, that’s the (brotherhood). You’ve all earned it, and you should enjoy it tonight. Thank you very much for having me. We build, we fight, and Semper Fidelis.”