By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Lindsey
April 23, 2010 - GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74's Delayed Party arrived in their homeport of Gulfport, Miss., April 18 marking the completion of a successful eight-month deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
More than 160 NMCB 74 seabees deployed in August of 2009 for a scheduled six-month deployment. NMCB 5 transferred authority to NMCB 74 at Camp Natasha, located on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan August 18, 2009 and immediately NMCB 74 began their mission of building and expanding camps, forward operating bases (FOBs) and combat outposts (COPs) spread across the country.
"I am overwhelmed with pride and impressed with the accomplishments of NMCB 74 during this deployment. The quantity of work accomplished is unprecedented," said Commanding Officer Cmdr. Bruce Nevel, "The most rewarding aspect of our work over here is when we hear from the warfighters how grateful they are and what a positive impact we have made in their ability to perform their mission and quality of life in Afghanistan."
NMCB 74 provided contingency construction support in several different locations with many detachments and details spread across Afghanistan operating at the tip of the spear. They were in direct support of not only U.S. forces, but NATO and International Security Afghan Forces (ISAF) forces as well.
"You should be proud of the accomplishments of the battalion as well as your own individual accomplishments and sacrifices. It is a team sport over here and our chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Whether you were on a project, working for camp maintenance, in the BAS (battalion aid station), the armory or the public affairs office, no one person's contribution was any more or less significant than another. NMCB 74 made history this deployment and every one of us should be extremely proud of that fact," said Nevel.
In late December, not long after 74 had celebrated its mid-deployment party, Nevel announced to his troops that the deployment was being extended two months; a result of President Obama's planned 30,000 troop surge in Afghanistan.
"News of the extension was a huge challenge!" said Victoria Vanginkel, a command ombudsman. "We had a lot of upset spouses, and we had to tell them that it wasn't our commanding officer's decision and that it came down from much higher level. It was hard, but I think it was worth it, and it made a lot of people stronger, especially the newer spouses that didn't think they could make it through these things."
"I feel proud to have been a part of this historical deployment," said Gunner's Mate Seaman Mark Sorokey. "It feels good to know that our hard work and sacrifice was in direct support of the war effort against terrorism."
NMCB 74 transferred authority back to NMCB 5 April 10. The ceremony was held on the recently completed Seabee camp, Camp Krutke, located on the expansion area of Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
"Everything has changed," said Nevel. "From our Seabee camp to berthing, logistic processes and MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) assets, even the battlespace AO [area of operation]. This is going to be a completely different deployment for NMCB 5 than their previous experience in southern Afghanistan."
Now that NMCB 74's remaining troops have returned home, after just a few days rest the battalion will begin its homeport training cycle in preparation for the next deployment. NMCB 74 is scheduled for their next deployment to the European/African area of operations later this year.