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Baltimore sailor continues 75 years of Seabee tradition

Lt. Lorna Mae Devera, Navy Office of Community Outreach | 10/13/2017, 6 a.m.
We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for ...
Baltimore native Monica Wahls is currently serving in the US Navy as a construction mechanic at a naval construction battalion center in Gulfport, Mississippi. Construction mechanics are responsible for the operation, repair and maintenance of military construction equipment. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tom Gagnier

“We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for the past 75 years. Baltimore native and 2009 Hillwood High School (Nashville, Tn) graduate, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Monica Wahls, builds and fights around the world as a member of a naval construction battalion center located in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Wahls works as a construction mechanic, which is responsible for the operation, repair, and maintenance of military construction equipment.

“I learned early on that hard work and integrity are important," said Wahls. "When no one is watching I still try to do my best and work hard. The library was a happy place for me because I love to read. To be a well-rounded sailor I not only need to be physically fit, but also academically smart."

The jobs of some of the Seabees today have remained unchanged since World War II, when the Seabees paved the 10,000-mile road to victory for the allies in the Pacific and in Europe, according to Lara Godbille, director of the U. S. Navy Seabee Museum.

For the past 75 years Seabees have served in all American conflicts. They have also supported humanitarian efforts using their construction skills to help communities around the world. They aid following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

“I am proud of the hard work that Seabees do every day,” said Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg, commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command. “Their support to the Navy and Marine Corps mission is immeasurable, and we look forward to the next seven decades of service.”

Seabees around the world are taking part in commemorating the group’s 75-year anniversary this year. The theme of the celebration is “Built on History, Constructing the Future.”

"Seabees deploy around the world providing expert expeditionary construction support on land and under the sea, for the Navy and Marine Corps, in war, humanitarian crisis and peace," said Capt. Mike Saum, commodore, Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1. "Seabee resiliency, skill, and resolution under hostile and rough conditions prove our motto 'We Build, We Fight.' The Seabee patch we wear on our uniform signifies to the warfighter and civilian alike that they're in good hands."

According to Saum the sailors who make up Seabee battalions are very driven and accomplished individuals.

“I was honored with the Blue Jacket Sailor of the Year Award,” said Wahls. “That’s an accomplishment that keeps me pushing to work hard.”

Serving in the Navy allows people to create a legacy for the next generation.

“There is a certain amount of pride tied to serving in a non-traditional career path,” added Wahls. “I get that serving in the Navy as a Seabee.”