Masters of Hitting the Beach Reunite
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West
SAN DIEGO - Sailors of Beachmaster Unit (BMU) 1 welcomed and spent time in the company of BMU 1 veterans as they reunited at the unit's headquarters at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Aug. 24.

The Vietnam veterans held a reunion ceremony at BMU 1's headquarters to interact and observe their modern day counterparts operating Humvees and lighter, amphibious resupply, cargo vehicles.

The Sailors gave tours of the vehicles and explained the variety of new technology to the veterans. Cmdr. Chris Nelson, commanding officer of BMU 1, said their generations were not so different.

"It is interesting for our Sailors because they hear it wasn't that different back in the 1970s when the veterans were Beachmasters in Vietnam vice the current 2012 Beachmasters," said Nelson. "It was also a nice chance for us to hear stories of how it was for them."

Within the era many of the visiting veterans served, from 1965 to 1973, Beachmasters participated in more than 70 combat beach landings during the Vietnam conflict.

"We were close enough to where we saw a lot of firefights and many explosions, both day and night," said John Barnes, former member of BMU 1 from 1969-1973.

The mission of BMU 1 is to support the landing movement over the beaches of troops, equipment and supplies, and to facilitate the evacuation of casualties and prisoners of war.

"The Beachmaster is a Sailor at sea, and also on land as a Seabee," said Nelson.

Barnes shared experiences and stories with Sailors and explained how much heritage and pride former and current Beachmasters have.

"All of us talk about how lucky we were to be a Beachmaster because it separates you from a lot of Naval components," said Barnes. "No matter where our lives took us after the Navy, one common denominator we have is the fact we were all Beachmasters. It's great to be able to get together again, and when we do, we laugh and joke just like we were 18 again."

Every two years the group plans a reunion to share time with each other and visit their former unit to meet the current Beachmasters.

"My hope is to build a Beachmaster veterans organization," said Barnes. "Also to meet other Beachmasters in reunions like this and learn their stories because there are not many of us."

BMU 1 plans to continue retracing their roots and meeting with former members and veterans of their unit. On this upcoming Veterans Day, Sailors of BMU 1 will travel to Seattle and to the USS Intrepid Museum in New York City to present former BMU 1 veterans with Bronze Stars and U.S. Army Combat Medical Badges to those who have earned them.

"We want to keep our history strong and remember and honor those who have served before us," said Nelson.
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