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History of the 79th Naval Construction Battalion

By Steve Karoly

The 79th Naval Construction Battalion was commissioned on February 1, 1943 at the Naval Construction Training Center, Norfolk, Virginia. After boot and advanced technical training at Camps Allen and Bradford, the 79th NCB shipped out for the Advanced Base Depot, Gulfport, Mississippi, where it received further training. The 79th NCB was again transferred from Gulfport to ABD Port Hueneme, California on March 28th. While at Port Hueneme, the battalion received additional training and was outfitted with equipment and materials for its construction mission overseas.

The 79th NCB departed Port Hueneme on May 3, 1943, shipping out for Seattle, Washington. They arrived on Kodiak Island on May 10, where it was assigned to maintain naval facilities at the Naval Operating Base. The 79th NCB assumed control of construction projects and base upkeep from battalions of the 4th Naval Construction Regiment of the 1st Naval Construction Brigade. Several Seabee units, including the 12th, 23rd, 38th, 41st, 43rd and 45th NCBs, had build built the large naval base complex on Kodiak Island in the year preceding arrival of the 79th NCB.

The 79th NCB remained in Alaska until the fall of 1944, when it departed for Camp Parks, California in two echelons. The first echelon arrived in San Francisco on September 9, while the second was delayed until October 11. During their tour in the Alaskan Sector, detachments of the 79th also served at Cold Bay and Amchitka.

The 79th NCB prepared for their second tour in the Pacific while stationed at Camp Parks, located near Dublin, California. On January 31, 1945 the 79th departed San Francisco. Destined for Okinawa, the 79th NCB landed on Saipan Island on February 26. While located on Saipan, the 79th NCB prepared for the Okinawa campaign.

A, C and D Companies plus a portion of Headquarters Company left Saipan on April 18. Twelve days later they landed on Okinawa and reported to the 45th NCR of the 11th NC Brigade. B Company and the remaining portion of Headquarters Company stayed on Saipan until May 7. On September 30, the 79th NCB was transferred to the 39th NCR.

The 79th NCB was decommissioned on Okinawa on November 30. 1945. However, prior to decommissioning, the battalion lost about one-third of its compliment. Between July and October 1945, 350 Seabees were shipped to the United States because they were over age or had been overseas too long. The remaining Seabees were transferred to battalions on Okinawa.

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