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    Hard Hats, Harder Workers: The Dedication of MCAS Iwakuni Seabees

    Hard Hats, Harder Workers: The Dedication of MCAS Iwakuni Seabees

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Colin Thibault | A metal circle painted with the emblem of the U.S. Navy Seabees outside the facilities...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Colin Thibault 

    Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – Among the many different residents of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni exist service members from various parts of the armed forces. They all work together with the same goal in mind, to improve the air station every day. It is not uncommon to spot Marines working diligently on aircraft, Sailors going to and from the Branch Health Clinic, Soldiers working with animals at the Veterinary Treatment Facility, or Airmen providing communication support to the base. Like a wildlife safari, a tour through MCAS Iwakuni is sure to lead to sightings of all kinds of military uniforms. One group of Sailors, however, have a particular embellishment that subtly sets them apart from the crowd. These Sailors sport a unique logo of a “Fighting Bee'' sewn on their left breast pocket, and underneath it lies the word “Seabees.”
    The renowned Seabees have been deployed globally in every theater of the world since their inception in 1942 with the objective of building roads, bridges, bunkers, airfields, facilities, disaster recovery operations, and more. These engineers of the Naval Construction Force (NCF) got their name from the letters “C.B.,” the initials of their designation as “Construction Battalions,” and the U.S. Navy Seabees with the facilities department of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron (H&HS), MCAS Iwakuni, continue to uphold that storied name. They have been constantly building, maintaining, and supporting station projects that are essential to the mission of the air station.
    “No matter what, we get the job done here,” says U.S. Navy Seaman Apprentice (SA) Jyvan Marquez-Fontanez, a Seabee with H&HS, MCAS Iwakuni. “A lot of people are not able to do the jobs we do...I’d say that one of our biggest impacts is to facilitate jobs on base for all commands.”
    Day-to-day, you’ll find the Seabees of Iwakuni helping with small scale tasks such as installing TVs to something much larger in scope like airfield damage repair (ADR) missions. The MCAS Iwakuni Seabees are also in a distinctive position to work with both Marines and Japanese personnel on a daily basis to expand their field of expertise.With the high expectations of a long legacy to live up to, Seabees continually work to construct, repair, or otherwise complete whatever is needed with minimum delay.
    U.S. Navy Builder 2nd Class (BU2) Andrew Busken, the assistant work center supervisor and airfield damage repair lead noncommissioned officer coordinator, highlights the adaptability and versatility of the Seabees at MCAS Iwakuni as one of the critical features of their unit. They continuously assist tenant commands with daily projects or coordinate training exercises like “Active Shield” or “Cobra Gold” for the air station.
    “Before Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 171 went to Cobra Gold, we let them use some of our tools for some on-the-job training,” said Busken. “I said, ‘We’ll lend you these tools but let my guys come up there and assist you in laying blocks.’ In doing this, we were able to get Sailors like Marquez-Fontanez and a few others out there and help them with their overall mission.”
    The job orders for the MCAS Iwakuni Seabees fluctuate sporadically between calm and chaotic, but their main goal is to be ready to build anything at a moment's notice if they are required to.
    “Of course, some days we're busier than others,” said Busken. “For instance, we could be installing TVs for a flight simulator and then when we get closer to exercises such as Active Shield, [where] we’ll be setting up and building the exercises while making sure the other tenant commands we’re working for are in good status. All of this is happening while we are ensuring that our repair times will be within the desired time that we’re supposed to have all of it done.”
    Being stationed in Japan, the Seabees have the special opportunity to work with Japanese master labor contractors (MLCs) who are proficient in their trade and can share decades of knowledge with the service members working alongside them, and vice versa.
    “We have a very unique experience to work with the MLC's,” said Busken. “They’re very knowledgeable, hardworking, and have a lot of passion for their work. When we work together the hardest thing is the language barrier, but luckily their foreman can translate, or we can just point at things to get a good grasp of figuring things out.”
    Despite facing challenges such as language barriers and adapting to different construction techniques, the Seabees persist in their dedication to their craft. Through collaborating with and learning from MLCs, they continually hone their skills and capabilities.
    Other opportunities for collaboration stem from the Seabees of MCAS Iwakuni playing a crucial role in airfield damage repair. They’ve coordinated with various units for ADR, including MWSS-171, other Seabees that are deployed to MCAS Iwakuni on a rotational basis, and, perhaps most notably, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
    “Since I got here, there really wasn’t a huge airfield damage repair program,” explains Busken. “Then our facilities officer, Commander Hansen, found out that I came from my last command and did ADR, so we kind of really got this program up and running.”
    The recently implemented airfield damage repair program has given the MCAS Iwakuni Seabees more training opportunities with other units to expand not only their knowledge, but preparedness.
    “For instance, for this current ADR, we coordinated with the Marines on base with MWSS-171, JGSDF, and JMSDF to provide help with training,” said Busken. “For example, we’ll go out to MWSS-171's dig pit area and we'll simulate an attack on the runway. We’ll go out and create the craters, then assess the damage and begin repairing it. We'll just go through and excavate our desired depth, backfill, and then we'll fill it with capping materials.”
    MCAS Iwakuni’s Seabees continue to demonstrate their unwavering dedication and versatility in fulfilling their mission of building, maintaining, and being ready at all times. They continue to broaden their skill sets by taking advantage of being stationed with both Marine and Japanese units and integrating themselves in exercises while persisting in the mission-critical operations they do on base. With an immense legacy to uphold, they continue to embody the motto of, "We Build, We Fight".



    Date Taken: 04.02.2024
    Date Posted: 04.08.2024 20:19
    Story ID: 467545

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