History of  MCB 11 1960's

With the new development in warfare during the 1960's a new type of Seabee evolved. Modern warfare became a normal part of the MCB's training and the true mobility of the Battalion began to be one of its leading military assets. February 16, 1960, CDR H. R. Liberty was relieved by CDR John P. Williams. July 1960, MCB 11 was relieved by MCB Five. November 1960, Eleven arrived on the island of Guam, the battalion was billeted at the U.S. Naval Station, Guam, Marianas Islands.

1961-65 deployments, the Navy "E" for efficiency was awarded to MCB 11 in 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1965. In the late 1960's - 1970's the new type of Fighting SeaBee was a true heir of a proud tradition. We were a generation of 'CAN DO' SeaBees, construction and defending what we built at various locations in VietNam from DaNang to as far north as the DMZ.

The Seabee history in Vietnam starts long before the United States openly declared its support of the South Vietnamese Government in 1961.

As early as 1954 the Seabees were in Vietnam helping refugees across the borders of the newly divided nations of Vietnam. It wasn't until May of 1965 however, that a full-scale Seabee battalion set up a base in Vietnam. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Eleven was first deployed to Vietnam in 1966, to the I Corps of Vietnam (the northern-most part of South Vietnam).

In 1966 the battalion was in Da Nang East for its first deployment. During the deployment at Camp Adenir the battalion built the Monkey Mountain Road, the Tourane Bridge, a main hospital and did work for the Marines and other units in the area.

In 1967 at Dong Ha, less than 10 miles from the Demilitarized Zone, MCB-11 became the northern-most Seabee battalion  in Vietnam. Subject to frequent enemy Artillery attacks from across the DMZ the battalion experienced one of the biggest ammunition explosions in history when the base ammunition supply point was hit on September third. This deployment of the battalion was then deployed to Quang Tri, three miles south of Dong Ha.

The history of MCB-11 dates back to July of 1942 when it was commissioned as a wartime battalion. June of 1943 found them at Tuluila, Samoa building airstrips, hospitals, and quarters for the Marines, and later that year repair and construction of the Pacific Supply Depot at Nouma Harbor, New Caledonia Island.

The following year the men of Eleven were at Lobror Point and Los Negros Island repairing seaplanes and building a small landing craft facility. In June of 1945 the battalion deployed to Subic Bay, Philippines for construction of an amphibious training center and a Marine railway. In December of that same year the battalion was deactivated.

On September 14, 1953 MCB-Eleven was re-commissioned. The battalion saw construction work at Cubi Point, Philippines that year and again the following year. In 1955 Eleven was at Kodiak, Alaska and later that year Kwajalein, Marshall Islands. In 1959 the battalion was in Guam. In the years 1961-1965 the battalion won the Efficiency Award four times, missing it in 1964.

1968 Deployment

The leave period was barely over in January, when preparations for the next deployment started for the men of the battalion. They underwent both technical and military training. They started with construction schools and then five weeks of military training, with courses covering the land and people of Vietnam, along with combat training, culminating in two weeks of training at Camp Pendelton under Marine instructors. 

The last flight of men departed from Point Mugu Naval Air Station on May 13, 1968 on C-141's, and on May 15 a complete battalion assembled to work on Quang Tri Combat Base, Republic of Vietnam. The last flight of MCB-11 crashed on landing at the Quang Tri airstrip. Seven passengers were injured and were immediately flown to the hospital ship, USS Sanctuary, cruising off the coast of Vietnam. For heroism immediately following the disaster Edwin D. Balke BU1 and Harry G. Adams UT2 received the Navy Marine Corps Medal for entering the plane to rescue people as did Ltjg Louis A. Marano who received the Navy Commendation Medal and Henry M. Knowles EOC and J.A. Matis CN who were awarded the Navy Achievement Medal. Lt Conley T. Snidow III received the Navy Achievement Medal for giving first aid to the injured as they were brought off the plane.

Preparations began for a new camp early in deployment. Working night hours and utilizing pre-cut and pre-fab measures, the camp was finished in record time. In June, six weeks after the construction had started the new camp was ready.

On September 18, 1968, U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Eleven's new camp was named in the memory of Lt. Joseph J. Rhodes, CEC, USNR, the first Civil Engineer corps Officer to die in Vietnam action.

The battalion then spread out on all fronts, starting a bridge at My Chanh, a Petroleum Oil Lubricants pipeline, work at the new Ammunition Supply Point and miscellaneous projects for other units. There was no spare time after work or on Sunday afternoon, with every free moment put to use sandbagging the huts and buildings throughout the camp area and completing minor construction work.

Constructing over 2000 structures in eight weeks, the men of Eleven completed one of the largest scoped programs ever undertaken by the Seabees during their Quang Tri deployment. To the men of the battalion, who utilized over five hundred miles of two-by-fours and several million square feet of plywood during the project, MER meant 10 1/2 hour work-days and roast beef. In addition to the hundreds of SEA huts (living huts designed especially for South East Asia) which made up the largest part of MER, roads were carved and 75 mess halls, 77 shower buildings and 14 dispensaries were built.

Some of the self-help projects accomplished by MCB-11's Seabee Teams were building dams to irrigate rice paddies, clearing land to build new schools and helping the villagers build hospitals, churches and schools. Unlike combat units or regular Seabee Battalions, the teams are assigned by the State Department to their area of work. Before Vietnam the teams were assigned all over the world, but since the war the teams have been assigned to South East Asia. Out of the 17 Seabee Teams that were in operation, 14 were in Vietnam with the remaining three in Thailand. MCB-11 had three Seabee Teams, 1110, 1111, and 1112.

During the Quang Tri deployment the men of the battalion initiated and completed numerous projects for units both on and off the combat base. Traveling as far south as Da Nang and as far north as Dong Ha and Cam Lo the battalion's construction forces applied the knowledge and skills of their respective fields, whether builder, equipment operator, electrician or other, to make the deployment a most successful one.

After nine long months, the battalion, is transported to Da Nang and then home to Point Mugu.

1969 Pappy Hinson brought down the battalion flag the day Eleven was decommissioned.

                             submitted by Bob (Marty) Marten, USN MCB-Eleven EO3