Seabees – their simple motto tells their story: “We build, We fight.” For 75 years the Seabees have demonstrated their skills as builders and fighters. From the islands of the Pacific, to the jungles of Vietnam, to the mountains of Bosnia, and to the sands of the Mideast; they have built and fought around the globe for freedom through the years to preserve our liberties abroad and at home. In peacetime, they have been goodwill ambassadors, sharing American values across the world. In peace and in war, they have lived their slogan: “Can Do!”
With the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks recommended establishing Naval Construction Battalions, and in January 1942 was given the go-ahead. As the battalions grew in number, on 5 March, 1942 Moreell approved the logo and name “Seabees”, a force which grew to over 325,000 men by the end of the war. More than 700,000 men and women have proudly served as Seabees and continue to define and perpetuate their legacy.
This limited edition print is a montage of the Seabee experience over the past 75 years. The intent of the painting is to show how the mission of the Seabees remained steadfast throughout their history despite hanges in where they work, the tools of their trade, and the ever changing world. Using photographs housed at the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme, California, the artist has created a background that spans the history of the Seabees, morphing from a scene of airfield construction on one of the Pacific islands during World War II on the left to one of airfield construction in current day combat operations on the right.
The figures featured in the center of the portrait depict how the Seabees themselves have changed over the years both with respect to diversity and the uniform they wore. On the far left is a Civil Engineer Corps officer in khaki’s reviewing a set of construction drawings standing next to a bare-chested enlisted Seabee in dungarees from World War II. In the center stands a Vietnam-era Seabee wearing the classic green utilities, a soft cover, and a flak jacket. Crouched in front are a Cold War-era Seabee Chief Petty Officer in woodland camouflage uniform and a Seabee diver wearing the green digital camouflage uniform, as well as a current Seabee in digital camouflage standing behind him wearing a hard hat. On the far right is a female Seabee who wears the original three color desert uniform. All are focused and ready to accomplish their mission. Seabees Can Do.
“WE BUILD, WE FIGHT” was created in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the U.S. Navy Seabees on 5 March, 2017 and is dedicated to all Seabees and Civil Engineer Corps officers past, present, and future.