OKINAWA, Japan - Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 held a change of command ceremony June 7 while deployed to Camp Shields in Okinawa Japan.
Cmdr. Cameron Geertsema assumed command from Cmdr. Peter Maculan, becoming the 39th commanding officer of NMCB 5.
“While visiting [battalion workshops, spaces, and construction sites] I met sharp articulate Seabees with the cleanest and most organized sites I have ever seen battalions have,” said Capt. Dean Tufts, the commodore of Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1 while speaking at the ceremony.
“Even though [Maculan] will always deflect credit and give it to the people under him, you would not be as successful without a great leader guiding you,” Tufts went on to say.
During the ceremony, Tufts presented Maculan with a Meritorious Service Medal for his successful two-year tenure as the commanding officer of the Seabee battalion known as the “Professionals.”
While under Maculan’s leadership, the battalion was deployed two times and one disaster relief response to New York City and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. From June 2011 until June 2013, the battalion has worked on more than 70 projects in 27 different geographical areas.
While speaking to the “Professionals” in the audience, Maculan thanked everyone for enduring and accommodating some of the grueling tasks that sometimes came up to help the battalion become a success.
“You are the most cohesive, professional and dedicated Seabees, and I’m proud to have worked with each and every one of you,” said Maculan.
The change of command between the two men was solidified by the passing of the colors from Maculan to Geertsema, a tradition very different that the rest of the Navy, but used by Marine and Army commands.
Geertsema, a native of San Antonio, Texas, earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University before he received his commission through the Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla.
Prior to assuming command, he was serving as the assistant regional engineer for Navy Region Southeast.
“Thanks to each and everyone for welcoming me,” said Geertsema. “I’m humbled and proud to be part of the FIVE family.”
Geertsema’s operation tours include assignments with NMCB 7, NMCB 133, and the 25th Naval Construction Regiment. During these tours he served as company commander, detail officer-in-charge, and operations officer while deployed to U.S. Central Command, Southern Command, Pacific Command, European Command, and Africa Command in support of multi-national training exercises, humanitarian aide missions, and combat related operations.
Since his commission, he has earned a Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from University of Texas and a Master of Arts Degree from Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va. He is a registered professional engineer in Texas, a certified energy manager, designated a Seabee combat warfare specialist, and a member of the Acquisition Professional Community.
Geertsema is married to the former Julia “Jill” Disharoon of Port Gibson, Miss. and they have four daughters.
Geertsema said “FIVE: family and mission, integrity, values, and esprit de corps are what you have lived by and I will continue to uphold and lead by those tenants as well. I look forward to serving with you ‘The Professionals’ as we proudly serve our country’s Navy combat team with honor, courage, and commitment.”
Maculan was selected to be promoted to the rank of captain and transferred to NCG 2 in Gulfport, Miss. as the chief of staff.
NMCB 5, homeported out of Port Hueneme, Calif., is currently supporting Navy and joint forces throughout the U.S. Pacific Command with construction projects and humanitarian missions in more than 17 different geographical locations.