By Petty Officer 1st Class David R. Finley Jr., Navy Office of Community Outreach
PORT HUENEME, CA – “We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for more than seven decades. The Navy Seabees are an elite group of personnel trained in both combat and the craft skills of the construction industry. Petty Officer 2nd Class Divino Gonzales, a native of Concord, California, builds and fights around the world as a member of a naval construction battalion center located in Port Hueneme, California.
Gonzales is serving as a Navy engineering aide, who is responsible for providing engineering support for construction projects.
“We serve in a civil engineering or surveyor type role in the civilian world,” Gonzales said.
Building in austere environments can be a challenge. Fighting in harsh conditions can also be a challenge. Building in austere environments while fighting in harsh conditions takes a special kind of person with a great deal of perseverance and determination, according to officials with the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command. These are the kinds of people being trained at Port Hueneme, to provide crucial support to Seabee units deployed around the world.
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, said Lara Godbille, director of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum.
“I enjoy doing my job, especially drafting and using AutoCAD,” said Gonzales. “I get a chance to work with some high-tech software.”
Seabees have served in all American conflicts for nearly 80 years. They have also supported humanitarian efforts using their construction skills to help communities around the world following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
According to Gonzales, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Concord.
“I learned self-discipline and how to be independent at a young age,” Gonzales said.
Port Hueneme is the West Coast homeport of the Navy’s Seabees. It’s one of five learning sites in the Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering domain. They train and develop sailors, soldiers, airman, and Marines in construction trades and military skills for Department of Defense operating forces to accomplish contingency and peacetime construction, chemical, biological, and radiological operations, and humanitarian assistance missions worldwide.
Port Hueneme and the men and women who serve there play a key role in the Navy’s broader mission of protecting American interests on the world’s oceans.
According to Navy officials, maintaining maritime superiority is a vital part of a Navy that is present today and prepared for tomorrow. The impact affects Americans and their interests around the world, as more than 70 percent of the Earth is covered by water and 90 percent of all trade travels by sea.
The foundation of the Navy the nation needs includes a focus on warfighting, warfighters and the future of the fighting force.
“I am confident that we will maximize the Navy we have today while delivering the Navy that our nation will rely upon tomorrow,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “We will do so with urgency. Our fleet will be a potent, formidable force that competes around the world every day, deterring those who would challenge us while reassuring our allies and partners.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Gonzales is most proud of earning his first Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
“I performed maintenance on life-saving equipment,” said Gonzales. “I know that my work is making a difference in the fleet.”
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Gonzales, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“I am happy to be a Seabee and contribute to the humanitarian mission of the Navy,” said Gonzales. ‘It is something that I will be proud of for the rest of my life.”