PORT HUENEME, Calif. - "We Build, We Fight" has been the motto of the U. S. Navy's Construction Force, known as the "Seabees", for the past 75 years. North East, Pennsylvania native and Seneca High School graduate, Senior Chief Petty Officer Pamela Leith, builds and fights around the world as a member of a naval construction battalion center located in Port Hueneme, California.
Leith works as an equipment operator and serves as a senior enlisted leader in the Navy.
"As a heavy equipment operator, I pave asphalt and operate backhoes and other heavy equipment," said Leith. "As a senior enlisted leader, I train and mentor sailors. Currently I serve as the homeport liaison for the battalion helping sailors and their family members."
Pictured is “Seabees” member and North East native Pamela Leith.
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, according to Lara Godbille, director of the U. S. Navy Seabee Museum.
"I love the camaraderie," said Leith. "It's a small community within the Navy so no matter where I go I know someone."
For the past 75 years Seabees have served in all American conflicts. They have also supported humanitarian efforts using their construction skills to help communities around the world following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
"I am proud of the hard work that Seabees do every day," said Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg, commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command. "Their support to the Navy and Marine Corps mission is immeasurable, and we look forward to the next seven decades of service."
Seabees around the world will take part in a yearlong celebration in 2017 to commemorate the group's 75-year anniversary. The theme of the celebration is "Built on History, Constructing the Future."
"Seabees deploy around the world providing expert expeditionary construction support on land and under the sea, for the Navy and Marine Corps, in war, humanitarian crisis and peace," said Capt. Mike Saum, commodore, Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1. "Seabee resiliency, skill, and resolution under hostile and rough conditions prove our motto 'We Build, We Fight.' The Seabee patch we wear on our uniform signifies to the warfighter and civilian alike that they're in good hands."
Serving in the U.S. Navy has allowed Leith to continue learning about herself and the legacy she wants to leave to future Seabees.
"I came in when the Seabees were celebrating their 50th anniversary, so it's been an honor of a lifetime to have served for the past 25 years," said Leith. "The best memories I have are those as a Seabee."