NMCB 11 was originally commissioned during World War II in June 1942 as 11th Naval Construction Battalion (11 NCB). On August 12th, 1942 11 NCB departed for Island "X" in the Pacific, Pago Harbor, Tutuila, and Samoa. Projects included moving 600,000 cubic yards of earth fill to form the base of the industrial area and constructing a command post, oil storage tanks, maintenance shops, taxiways and air strip extensions. After erecting a 11,000 man city, peace broke out and 11 NCB was formally decommissioned on December 1, 1945.
NMCB 11, also referred to as MCB 11, was recommissioned in July 1953 during the waning days of the Korean War as “the Newest Battalion in Existence.” While deployed at Cubi Point, Luzon in the Philippines, NMCB 11 set the record for the number of piles driven for piers in a single day. Following the Korean War, NMCB 11 deployed to Adak, Alaska for six months in 1957 to repair damage to a base after a 9.1 magnitude earthquake, then in1959 deployed to Okinawa, Japan to build permanent staging facilities for the U.S. Marine Corps.
During the Vietnam War, Seabee Technical Assistance Teams (STAT - later changed to Seabee Team) deployed to Vietnam and Thailand with U.S. Army Special Forces. Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields of NMCB 11 served with Seabee Team 1104 at Dong Xoai, South Vietnam. On June 9, 1965 a Viet Cong Regiment attacked. After being wounded in the initial mortar attack Shields continued to supply ammunition to the firing line. Shields was wounded a second time and then carried a critically wounded soldier, Captain William N. Stokes III, to safety. In the early morning hours of June 10, Shields volunteered to help First Lieutenant Charles Williams, the acting camp Commander, knock out a Viet Cong machine gun emplacement, located in a nearby school building. Under heavy enemy fire the two men were able to knock out the gun on the third shot. While returning to his fighting position, machine gun fire struck Shields in his right leg nearly tearing it off. He made it back to the headquarters building with the help from some fellow troops where he died from his wounds. Both First Lieutenant Williams and Petty Officer Shields received the Medal of Honor for the destruction of the machine gun emplacement. Shields remains the only Medal of Honor recipient for the Seabees and the first Navy member to receive the award in Vietnam. LTJG Frank Peterlin and Equipment Operator Chief Johnny McCully received the Silver Star.
In February 1966, NMCB 11 became the first battalion to be flown into the Vietnam’s combat zone on a C-141 arriving at Camp Adenir, Danang East. After landing, they took over NMCB-9’s expansion and improvement of the Naval Hospital. Other construction included drilling wells to blast and expand the Danang Harbor, keeping it clear for shipping, and completing a POL tank to hold jet fuel for helicopters. While under enemy sniper fire, NMCB 11’s Seabees built a Marine cantonment camp deep in hostile territory for berthing and other support facilities.
From 1967 to 1969, the "Lucky Eleventh" deployed to Vietnam for four consecutive tours. In the summer of 1967, NMCB 11 began construction of Camp Barnes at the Dong Ha Forward Combat Base, Vietnam. In addition to the camp, NMCB 11 constructed permanent facilities for Fleet Logistic Support Unit (FLSU) One at Dong Ha and completed other projects including runway reconstruction and airfield lighting at Khe Sanh, helicopter revetments and parking pads, and more than twenty 50’ observation towers in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). During the deployment, the Battalion received 138 attacks involving rockets, ambushes, snipers, and mines sustaining 64 WIA and 5 KIA.
From May 1968 to January 1969, NMCB 11 deployed to Camp Rhodes, Quang Tri, Vietnam to construct and repair National Routes 1 and 9, completing 7.5 miles of new road and 4 bridges. The largest task was the Minimum Essential Requirements (MER) project to improve living conditions for combat units. NMCB 11 Seabees built over 2,000 structures consisting of tropical huts, shower facilities, and galleys reaching a total cost of $1.7 million (present day cost of $90 million).
NMCB 11’s final deployment to Vietnam was from June to December 1969. Two-thirds of the battalion deployed to Camp Haines, Hue-Phu Bai, Vietnam to compete roadwork and bridgework. In the early morning hours of 07 August 1969, an Army mortar platoon was laying down supporting fire when sparks from a mortar tube ignited a nearby ammunition store. While fighting the fires and explosions, CM1 Milford Tognazzini was killed in action by shrapnel from an exploding vehicle. CM1 Tognazzini was posthumously awarded the Soldier’s Medal and the Purple Heart. At the same time, one third of the battalion deployed to Okinawa and Guam. When Typhoon Cora hit Okinawa in August 1969, Seabees quickly restored utilities and repaired damaged buildings and roads. Shortly after returning from Vietnam, Okinawa and Guam, NMCB 11 was decommissioned in Port Hueneme on 15 December 1969, leaving behind a legacy of contingency construction and support.
NMCB 11 was recommissioned on 14 September, 2007 in order to meet the overwhelming demand for Naval Construction Forces (NCF) throughout the world in support of Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Classified as the first "SMART Battalion," NMCB 11 led the way with many of the new initiatives and changes being implemented to improve NCF operations. NMCB 11 returned from its first deployment in almost 40 years in August of 2009. The ‘Bees of 11 went above and beyond in multiple AOs during their deployment to Africa, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Jamaica, Romania, Ukraine and several other locations in support of OEF and OIF.
In May of 2010, NMCB 11 deployed to the PACOM AOR. With its headquarters on Camp Shields, Okinawa, Japan, NMCB 11 dispersed detachments throughout the PACOM AOR, participating in multiple exercises and constructing schools, warehouses, water wells, a retaining wall, a maternity ward, and numerous other projects. NMCB 11 returned to Gulfport after a 10 ½ month deployment.
In February of 2012, NMCB 11 deployed to the CENTCOM AOR for seven months. With its headquarters on Camp Krutke, FOB Leatherneck, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, NMCB 11 left a lasting mark and delivered excellence throughout the country primarily supporting Marine Corps and Special Operations Forces. In addition to drilling water wells, constructing FOBs and teaching construction management techniques to local contractors and building roads, NMCB 11 partnered with Afghan and coalition forces on various projects.
From August 2013 to February 2014, NMCB 11 deployed to five COCOMS with a headquarters in Rota, Spain. Displaying unmatched operational flexibility in a dynamic environment, NMCB 11 supported Dets in nineteen countries including Djibouti, Ghana, Niger, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Bahrain, Guam and Spain. Lucky Eleven conducted an array of operations including horizontal and vertical construction, force protection improvements, infrastructure and camp maintenance, humanitarian civic action missions, and contingency construction in support of OEF. NMCB 11 returned to homeport in Gulfport in Feburary, 2014.
In January 2015, NMCB 11 will deploy across the globe again, with projects planned in countries including Spain, Romania, Bahrain, Guam, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau and Djibouti.
Lucky ELEVEN has earned the following unit awards: Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (3), Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation – Gallantry (5), Vietnam Service Medal (4), Navy Unit Commendation (3), Meritorious Unit Commendation (3).