Elkview Sailor Continues 75 Years of Seabee Tradition

October 11, 2017


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“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.  Elkview, West Virginia native and 2003 McArthur High School graduate, Navy Chief Petty Officer Selectee Jonathan Kessell, builds and fights around the world as a member of a naval construction battalion center located in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Kessell works as a builder which is responsible for horizontal and vertical construction, to include steel reinforced structures from foundation to final finishing.

“My fond memories of home are of hard working, blue collar people,” said Kessell. “I did a lot of asphalt roofing and Spanish mission tile before joining the Seabees.”

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 have five civilian certifications from the Department of Labor, and a degree in forensics,” said Kessell. “I am also very happy to have been selected for Chief Petty Officer.”

Serving in the Navy allows people to create a legacy for the next generation. “I am providing a better life for my kids, and I’ve been able to see the world,” added Kessell.

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