United States Naval Mobile Construction Battalion SEVENTY-FOUR (NMCB 74) was activated April 28, 1943, at the Naval Construction Training Center in Camp Perry, Williamsburg, VA. LCDR Fremont G. Elliot assumed command and led the battalion through most of World War II.
"Fearless 74" served its country well in the dangerous island-hopping campaign to reclaim Japanese-held territory in the South Pacific. Often landing with Marine Corps combat troops and operating under heavy enemy bombardment, the battalion constructed support facilities on Tarawa, Kwajalein and the Berlin Islands. For its outstanding achievements, NMCB 74 received the Navy Unit Commendation Medal before being inactivated October 31, 1945, while in Okinawa.
Two decades later, the U.S. Navy called upon NMCB 74 again. The battalion was recommissioned December 6, 1966, at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, MS, and adopted the motto "Does More." From 1967 to 1970, the battalion made four deployments to Vietnam. NMCB 74 served in various locations, including DaNang, Cam Lo, Dong Hoa, Quang Tri, Quang Nagi, Chau Doc and Bien Hoa. During this time, the battalion was involved in constructing numerous base camps, a 575,000 square foot airfield, a 102 acre heliport, three Army Special Forces camps and a 730 foot bridge. NMCB 74 received a second Navy Unit Commendation Medal following its first Vietnam deployment. On August 17, 1969, just before the battalion was scheduled to return to Vietnam, Hurricane Camille struck the Gulf Coast. The battalion received its third Navy Unit Commendation Medal for recovery actions following the storm.
Following the Vietnam War, NMCB 74 continued to serve her country. The battalion participated in peacetime construction efforts around the globe, including deployments to Diego Garcia; Guam; Okinawa, Japan; Puerto Rico; Rota, Spain; and Sigonella, Sicily. In April 1986, the battalion was awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation Citation for supporting the construction of a new Loran C station in Guam during a nine-month deployment.
On December 3, 1990 NMCB 74 was sent to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The battalion initially deployed to Suman Air Base, Bahrain, then redeployed in mid-December to Ra’s Al Mish’ab in northeastern Saudi Arabia. Detail sites included Al Jubail, Al Kibirt, and Al Khafji in Saudi Arabia and Suman Air Base in Bahrain. Among the battalion’s projects were the construction and maintenance of 30 miles of the 200-mile long main supply route, building one of the largest ammunition facilities in the world, a 1,500 foot stabilized soil runway for C-130 aircraft, two large camps for Marines, and support for NMCB 5 in building a 15,000-man camp known as "Wally World." The battalion’s most notable achievement, however, was Bravo Company’s construction of tank and artillery mock-ups in support of Task Force Troy, Commanding General Norman Schwarzkopf’s successful decoy that was deployed to disguise the main thrust of the allied assault on Iraq.
NMCB 74 has continued to live up to its superb reputation. The battalion received the Battle "E" award as Best of Type among Atlantic Fleet battalions in 1993 following an outstanding Okinawa deployment. In May 1994, while deployed to the Caribbean region, the battalion sent Air Detachments to Grand Turk Island and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to support the construction of migrant processing facilities. Once the mission in Grand Turk was complete, the first Air Det was transferred to Cuba, putting just over 200 of NMCB 74’s finest in support of Joint Task Force 160. The battalion bore the brunt of constructing facilities to house 70,000 Cuban migrants. After returning to homeport in 1995, the battalion was selected to receive the Peltier Award, a highly prestigious honor given each year to the best active duty battalion among the eight mobile construction battalions.
In March 1998 the battalion readopted its original "Fearless" motto. In September 1998 the battalion provided cleanup assistance at the Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport, MS, and throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast due to damage caused by Hurricane Georges. Secretary of Defense William Cohen presented more than 200 members of the battalion the Humanitarian Service Medal.
Deployed to the Caribbean again in 1999, NMCB 74 assisted the Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH) in its relocation from Panama to Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. Buildings were constructed from the ground up and renovations made to already-existing facilities. The battalion also responded to the Kosovo refugee crisis, constructing shelter for 500 displaced civilians in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For its efforts the battalion was again presented the Peltier Award as the best active duty battalion.
During its 2000 deployment to Okinawa, NMCB 74 sent a DFT to the Philippines and the Kingdom of Thailand as part of Cooperation and Readiness Afloat (CARAT) exercise 2000. The battalion also participated in recovery efforts after Typhoons Jelawat and Saomai on Okinawa, and set records for rock blasting as part of a joint construction operation on Annette Island, Alaska. In recognition of its superb construction efforts throughout the Pacific Rim, NMCB 74 was once again selected to receive the Battle "E" award, its fourth in eight years.
In 2001, NMCB 74 became the final battalion to deploy a mainbody to Camp Moscrip in Puerto Rico, with detail sites at Andros Island, Bahamas; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Jacksonville, Florida; New London, Connecticut; Norfolk, Virginia; and Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. The battalion also sent DFTs to Great Inagua Island, Bahamas; conception, Paraguay; and Salta, Argentina. The battalion completed substantial construction tasking throughout the Atlantic region and provided security support at Camp Garcia on Vieques in response to anti-Navy protests during several Composite Unit Training Exercises. On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked by terrorists. Security measures were increased, and NMCB 74 was challenged with dispatching crew served weapons teams, constructing force protection barriers and establishing a Command Operations Center. While maintaining these measures, the battalion was simultaneously assigned to realign and consolidate Camp Moscrip facilities and equipment in preparation for a new six-month deployed/ten-month homeport rotation cycle. By deployment’s end all facilities were either reassigned to Naval Station Roosevelt Roads or reconfigured for Detachment spaces.
For the Fearless Seabees of NMCB 74 the 2002/2003 deployment was one of the most dynamic in the history of the battalion. The battalion deployed to Camp Covington, Guam in October 2002 initially deploying five details from the Caribbean to the Pacific as well as a Civic Actions Team to Palau. Shortly after deploying, the battalion’s Air Det Heavy redeployed to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in central Kuwait to construct an enormous 22-acre Parking Apron and Taxiway for the 3rd Marine Air Wing. After the re-deployment of the Mainbody, Super Typhoon Pongsona struck Guam providing the Seabees of the new Detail Guam a critical mission to assist local commands and personnel with disaster recovery operations. Just after Guam was back into shape the Battalion received the call once more to re-deploy to Kuwait in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. NMCB 74 made significant and critical contributions to FIRST Marine Expeditionary Force’s (I MEF) successful campaign to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime and liberate the people of Iraq. On May 30, 2003 the battalion returned to a hero’s welcome at homeport Gulfport Mississippi.
NMCB 74’s 2004 deployment started in February with project sites across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Details and DFT’s, composed of 329 personnel, were located in Rota, Spain; Sigonella, Italy; Souda Bay, Greece; Slunj, Croatia; and Accra, Ghana. 335 personnel deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II (OIF II), including the remaining personnel left from Rota. Detachment SWA then became the “main body” site and Rota a Detail site. NMCB 74 convoyed into Iraq, sending Details to Ar Ramadi, Al Asad, and Fallujah. NMCB 74 built and fought alongside the Marine Corps, constructing bunkers, berms, and bypasses, then shifted focus to clean-up operations. The Fearless Seabees completed several traditional contingency projects including the construction of a Thousand-Man Tent Camp for the Fallujah Brigade and a frontier outpost for the Iraqi Border Patrol. NMCB 74 returned to Gulfport in August 2004.
NMCB 74 deployed to Camp Shields, Okinawa, Japan in June 2005 and returned to homeport in December 2005. The battalion initially deployed to nine locations in the Pacific theater and CONUS. In August 2005, the battalion was tasked with the deployment of an additional detail to Camp Pendleton, CA and a Deployment for Training (DFT) to the Seychelles Islands, Africa. Three months into the deployment, the Battalion was directly impacted by the affects of Hurricane Katrina. Numerous Battalion personnel experienced moderate to severe levels of property damage and loss. In response to this situation, the Battalion immediately re-deployed a small team of personnel back to Gulfport to assist Command family members with disaster relief. Invaluable services were provided in the form of property damage assessments, benefits and entitlements coordination and disbursement. The presence of this team greatly facilitated the Command’s ability to rapidly account for all personnel including service members and dependents.
In October 2005, NMCB 74 deployed a Heavy Air Detachment in support of Operation Lifeline; earthquake relief efforts in Pakistan. Various types of humanitarian relief and disaster recovery related projects were completed between October and December. The Detachment was primarily tasked with the removal of earthquake related structural and geological debris at numerous school sites within the Muzzaffarabad area. Additional support was provided in the form of tent camp latrine construction and installation, camp maintenance support for the Disaster Assistance Center Pakistan (DAC PAK) staff, the 212th M.A.S.H. and the 267th Quartermaster (Aircraft Refueling) Detachment, and shelter construction in the “Adopt-a-Village” initiative. Advanced Based Functional Component (ABFC) projects included sea huts, shaving tables, heads, urine tubes, and tent decks.
By the end of deployment, NMCB 74 was assigned to 13 different sites stretching from the west coast of the United States to Africa. Throughout the deployment, the men and women of NMCB 74 provided high quality, cost effective, and at times strategic construction and contingency support to both U.S. Pacific and Central Commands, and demonstrated unparalleled levels of professionalism through every challenge they faced.
In October 2006, NMCB 74 deployed to Southwest Asia and Guam. The battalion deployed to two primary sites in Iraq and Guam and six detail sites including Whidbey Island, San Nicholas Island and four sites in Southwest Asia. While deployed to Iraq, NMCB 74 repaired a runway in Al Taqqadumm, helped train multi-national forces and provided multiple combat out-posts with electricity, lights and running water, along with boosting the security of the facilities. In Guam, NMCB 74 took on a very strenuous laundry facility project along with the rock quarry. NMCB 74 returned home in April 2007 and was 100% mission complete by the end of deployment.
In February 2008, NMCB 74 deployed to detail sites in Kuwait, Spain, Cuba, Afghanistan, Peru, Romania and the Horn of Africa. NMCB 74 safely returned from the deployment and into the homeport training schedule in August 2008.
After a successful training cycle in homeport, NMCB 74 deployed for another CENTCOM deployment. The battalion spread throughout Afghanistan in August of 2009 for an eight month extended deployment. NMCB 74 drilled numerous water wells, including the first known artesian well in Afghanistan, provided site work and vertical buildings at Camp Leatherneck, and small Combat Outposts throughout Helmand Province providing winterization construction and Initial Operating Capability for multiple Marine Battalions. NMCB 74 deployed two Dets to support Joint Special Operations Forces throughout the country with numerous construction projects and camp support. The battalion’s Convoy Security Element was employed to provide 24 hour a day protection on a hostile stretch of road as Det Gypsum conducted a 45 day operation to improve a Major Supply Route in the Helmand Province. This project directly affected the ability of Coalition Forces to maintain Freedom of Movement within its Area of Responsibility. NMCB 74 completed their fourth CENTCOM deployment in April 2010.
In December 2010, NMCB 74 deployed in support of EUCOM/AFRICOM to Rota, Spain, Djibouti, Horn of Africa, Romania, Croatia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Macedonia, Morocco, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal and Sigonella. NMCB 74 wrapped up this successful deployment in August 2011.
NMCB 74 deployed in June 2012 to the PACOM AOR for its final Pacific deployment prior to decommissioning in 2014 . NMCB 74 conducted Theater Security Cooperation Operations in Cambodia, Philippines, Timor Leste, Federated States of Micronesia (YAP), Tinian and Bangladesh as well as Construction Readiness Operations in Okinawa, Atsugi, Chinhae, Diego Garcia, Guam, Sasebo and Yokosuka. NMCB 74 completed operations and returned to Gulfport in January 2013.