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Submitted by: Norm Hahn, Alumni Group Secretary
From: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
CommentsThis is a email conversation with Norm Hahn and Gina Nichols of the Seabee Historical Foundation at Pt. Hueneme and an email conversation between Norm Hahn and Roman Hnatowski, EAC, Retired, NMCB 62 Plankowner.
+++++++These two emails have been edited.+++++++++
From: Norm Hahn
To: Gina Nichols
Cc: Roman Hnatowski, Raymond Ruiz, Richard Ruiz
Sep 16, 2019 at 10:29 PM
Some of our Seabee brothers have developed health problems which have been fatal to them or will be fatal to then. Others have health problems which will shorten or already have shortened their lives. Agent Orange and Camp Lejeune water to name only a few. We all know this is so and is not a new revelation. The problem seems to be that certain training or certain places that the person has been during the coarse of their duties is not documented or possibly not correctly documented in their service records or NMCB 62 records.
Here are a few emails which speak to the problem. I've condensed the space to make reading easier.
From: Roman Hnatowski
To: Richard Ruiz & Raymond Ruiz Sep 11, 2019.
Chico & Rocky,
Hope this email finds both you and your families in Good Health & Happiness!
Ive spoken to a number of Seabee Veterans who had been to Camp Lejeune with various Seabee Battalions and are facing medical problems that could possibly be covered under the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Program. Unfortunately, each one is hampered with his inability to prove to the VA that he was in Camp Lejeune for 30 days.
As 2 of our dynamic & outstanding PNs, I was hoping that either of you might be able to shed some light on what our Battalions procedure was for documenting our stay at Camp Lejeune and possibly how to otherwise correct the lack of documentation to enable fellow Bees in filing their claims. I have been told by a friend who was a Disability Claims Advisor working for the DAV that without the documentation proof, claims would not even be entertained.
Though not personally affected, I feel I have to investigate any and all options for our brothers. Again, this isnt just an NMCB 62 problem, but a number of Battalions who trained in Camp Lejeune did not document their Bees training which is hindering individual claims submitted. Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. V/r, Roman (Hnatowski, EAC, Retired).
On Sep 11, 2019, at 9:14 PM. From: drock2know
wrote: to Roman Hnatowski:
All training was recorded
In their service record if they can retrieve it. There should be beginning and ending dates.
Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device
From: Roman Hnatowski
To: drock2know Cc: Richard Ruiz. Sep 11, 2019 at 9:30 PM
Beg to differ with you, it probably should have been, but even in my case only 2 weeks of M60 machine gun training was annotated, nothing else from Camp Lejeune was documented. Per my record I only spent 2 weeks there, and thats totally incorrect. If I had a qualifying medical condition I would not be able to prove my training, falling short of the 30 days needed.
Now 1), whose fault is the lack of documentation and 2), how to correct the error. As I stated before it didnt just happen in our battalion, maybe the Admin Chief or Officer didnt issue proper instructions or follow up to insure the work was done. Does this mean that the guys suffering from Bladder Cancer e.g. are screwed, I pray not. Whats your take on the problem/solution?
Roman (Hnatowski, EAC, Retired) Sent from my iPad.
This is Secretary Norm again. You can get an idea of the problem by these emails. This is not a "blame game" thing. What we / they are wanting is to get the right answers and dates so their issues can be resolved. None of us at this time, 2019, can create new documents to solve these problems. The documents must have been produced (typed, written or mimeographed) at that time period. The question seems to be where are the confirming documents now. A few years ago I contacted a fellow in Washington DC to get some info for the NMCB 62 alumni group. He did find some info from the National Records Center in Maryland and more info in the Washington Naval Yard. See the attachments below. Both are records storage facilities. We didn't sign any contracts as our Alumni Group Bank Account is darn small and is used to fund the website. I've also contacted a lady in the St. Louis, MO area whose business it is, for a fee, to get service members personnel records for them. However, I can't tell you if those seabees in need actually have gotten their service records.
You and I have been talking for years about similar problems and projects that you and the Historical Foundation have undertaken or will be undertaking soon if the funding and personnel are available to do them. All of us understand that there is no magic and that getting this additional documentation from wherever it has been stored is sometimes like a needle in a haystack and dreadfully time consuming and expensive. It is also possible, like I said before, that some / many of our guys have not gotten a copy of their personal service record and are hesitant to admit that.
Can you please give us some insight into some of the projects you've been working on to get this type of info procured and published. As I said earlier this is not a blame game deal. Have you helped other battalions with similar problems in the past? Is there something more we could be doing? Finding this type of info for NMCB 62, recommissioned in 2 July 1966, and procuring it from wherever it is now stored is a huge undertaking. We appreciate your help. And, we also understand that on our end, we must do our darndest to make sure our shipmates do their part and get a copy of their service record.
I'm rambling on a bit, I suppose. I would like to use some of this email and your response and put it together as a story of past, present and future efforts about how seabees can go about getting their info and how you and the Historical Foundation can help them and post that to our website and also to our NMCB 62 facebook page.
As always, thanks for your help and best regards, Norm.
NMCB 62 Alumni Group secretary
+++++++++++++This is her reply+++++++++++++++++++
From: Nichols, Gina L CIV USN USNSM (USA)
To: Norm Hahn
Cc: Roman Hnatowski, Raymond Ruiz, Richard Ruiz
Sep 17, 2019 at 11:35 AM
We received an email from Mr. Hnatowski in August and sent him the information he requested concerning the 1966 FEX at Camp Lejeune. For the last several years we have assisted numerous Seabee vets from various units concerning their time at Lejeune but the pace is increasing lately. Im assuming the word has gotten out as we were inundated this summer with individual requests. As you point out, the government requires 30 days on the ground and most FEX that I have seen at Lejeune run about 3 weeks. They need their DD-214s and entire files if they plan to win their claim. One of the issues is that NARA isnt great on sending the entire file but only a few pages, if that. Make sure they request their entire file and, if possible, go to St. Louis to do the research themselves. The NARA runners are lazy and wont always scan everything or put in much effort into finding the files.
I want you to understand why some projects take a long time and seem to be ignored while they arent. I have 7 linear feet of Monthly ops reports for NMCB62 just for 1966 to 1976. Each is at least 10 to 20 pages plus photographs. Now times that by 21 units in Vietnam " thats 147 linear feet or 264,600 pages that need to be scanned just to scan the monthly reports. I have one archivist who answers the more complex historical requests, processes collections, etc. and one volunteer who is here for 4 hours a week who scans for me. He was working on a project but I moved him to the monthly reports last week. As you can see from the volume, it will take a while but will benefit all the Vietnam vets. I had him start with NMCB62 and will send them to you when hes finished.
The issue is that there wont be any information on FEX at Camp Lejeune in any of the reports as they only write monthly reports for deployments, not homeport. For that, we have to dig deeper into alternate documents and periodicals, etc. We do this as we get requests. Each one is unique and needs to be researched on a case-by-case basis. We keep digital copies of each request to speed up any similar request from the same unit/year but when we get a new one we start from scratch again. We dont have the manpower to focus just on this issue but have to spread the wealth to others who need assistance as well.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Have a great day and Ill send you the link to the reports once my volunteers is done.
v/r, Gina Nichols, MA, CA, MLIS
Head, Collections Department/Supervisory Archivist
U.S. Navy Seabee Museum
Naval History and Heritage Command
Office: (805) 982-6497
The information herein is For Official Use Only (FOUO) which must be protected under the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. Unauthorized disclosure or misuse of this PERSONAL INFORMATION may result in criminal and/or civil penalties.
Submitted by: Norm Hahn, NMCB 62 Alumni Group Secretary
From: Eau Claire, Wis.
CommentsThe following was provided by Roman Hnatowski, EAC, Retired, Life Member of the NMCB 62 Alumni Group.
Long read, but well worth it. Still learning new information about happenings from 51 years ago!
23 August 1968At 0300, a rocket/mortar attack occurred in the Red Beach area of Da Nang. Camp Haskins South received 5 rounds of 122mm rockets. Two rockets made direct hits on 2 living huts. One hut was completely destroyed by fire ignited by the rocket; the second hut was damaged beyond repair. Both huts were immediately rebuilt. The following NMCB-62 casualties were sustained:
BU3 Arthur Lloyd Adams, Jr. KIA
CN Daniel Joseph Bermingham KIA
CN David Allen Fleskes KIA
BU3 Richard Dale Hodges WIA
BU3 Troy William Frazier, Jr. WIA
BU3 Eilba Lamar Bagus WIA
HN Stephen Albert Hatras WIA
CN Ferrell Damon Johns WIA
Within Camp Haskins, NMCB-62 was assigned responsibility for for the defense of the southern sector of the camp defensive perimeter including its 15 bunkers. The average number of personnel manning the bunkers during the night was 45 (2 per bunker from the Security Force and 1 per bunker from the Companies). Each bunker was equipped with an M-60 machine gun, M-79 grenade launcher, 12 gauge shotgun plus individual M-16 rifles. In addition to the security personnel which manned the bunkers and company personnel which manned intermittent fighting holes on the perimeter during Conditions I and II, a 36 man Reaction Platoon from Headquarters Company was used as a stand by blocking force, ready to be deployed to any portion of the perimeter, if required.
From January until June 1968, The Security Element consisted of 50 men. Personnel served on Security for 6 to 12 weeks. Three of these personnel served as Sergeant of the Guard and 1 Petty Officer in Charge of Security. One officer was assigned the full time duties of Security Officer. In June, the Security Force was reduced to 36 men and augmented each night with 13 men from the duty section. The duty section men were assigned to bunkers, thereby maintaining a total of 3 men per bunker. The duty section personnel stood the first watch, allowing them to sleep the remainder of the night prior to going to work the next day with their companies. This arrangement was considered very successful and provided nine additional direct labor personnel for the Battalion. Each night 2 SOGs were on duty and reported to the OOD via the JOOD.
It was necessary to exercise extremely tight fire control, especially on the western portion of the perimeter, due to the Force Logistics Command complex which paralleled Camp Haskins perimeter 600 meters to the southwest. Friendly villages adjacent to the southern and southwestern perimeter would have been impact areas if rifle and/or machine gun fire had been employed. The same weapons would have been dangerous if employed on the beach section of the perimeter due to the many friendly craft in Da Nang Harbor. The 12 gauge shotgun was therefore found to be very effective against potential pilferers or other indigenous personnel as its range was limited to 50-100 yards. There were very few breaches of this fire control, and fire discipline throughout the deployment was considered outstanding.
The responsibility for manning the Camp Haskins main gate was assigned to the Battalion which occupied Camp Haskins South. Two day gate guards each stood 6 hour watches and checked all vehicles entering or leaving the camp, halting and searching all Foreign National vehicles. At the beginning of the deployment, the Battalion set up the process and commenced securing clearances and ID cards for all Foreign Nationals working on board Camp Haskins. This involved obtaining clearances through the Industrial Relations Office, Da Nang, for approximately 300 Vietnamese Nationals. Temporary passes were not permitted unless they had been properly cleared. These procedures entailed a significant amount of work during the first portion of the deployment, but proved well worth the effort after the security clearance system had been established.
Along with the day time operations of the main gate, 4 men were assigned to the gate at night; 2 stood watches in the bunker adjacent to the main gate, and 2 stood gate watch logging all vehicles entering or leaving camp.
Early in the deployment, there were several instances of men caught sleeping on watch. The only solution to the problem seemed to be for the SOGs, JOODs and OODs to frequently tour the defensive perimeter and check the bunkers and personnel, ensuring they were alert, had sufficient coffee, and knew their responsibilities. The men were constantly reminded of the seriousness of the offense of sleeping on watch. Coffee pots were obtained for each bunker and midnight rations delivered to the line each night.
Security control of Red Beach, Da Nang was the responsibility of the Commanding General, Force Logistics Command (FLC) at Camp Books. The Red Beach area was designated as Sub Sector Alpha of the Northern Sector Defense Command (NSDC). If increased security conditions were necessary, NSDC sent this information by radio to all their subordinate units. Early deployment problems in passing the word to all subordinate units were remedied when a hot line radio alert system was established between all subordinate units under NSDC.
A 45 foot water tower converted to a mortar spotting tower was manned every night from 1745 until 0630 by E-5s from the duty section. The mortar siren had a switch located in the mortar tower, which was tripped if any incoming rounds were spotted anywhere in the Red Beach area. A second switch was located in the Main CP and was used to sound the siren if advance word concerning an attack was received over the radio net. Upon sounding of the siren all personnel proceeded to their nearest mortar hole and remained there until an all clear was passed. A warbling wail of the siren indicated Condition I (infantry attack), during which the perimeter was augmented by Battalion personnel at intermittent fighting holes between bunkers. The mortar tower watch proved invaluable in providing early warning of incoming rounds. As with other Battalions, the biggest problem was impressing upon the men the necessity to remain inside their mortar holes until an all clear was passed. These holes were small, covered, but adequate. After a period of time the inside of these holes became hot, cramped, or stuffy and all too frequently soon after the sound of incoming rounds ceased, personnel began raising their heads out of their mortar holes before an all clear was passed. For a long time, Camp Haskins South never received any incoming rounds within its perimeter.This had a strong influence upon the men, giving them a false sense of security and causing them to become somewhat complacent. Frequent drills, constant reminding, and SOG patrols during mortar/rocket attack alerts were required to keep men in their holes. In the early morning of 23 August, when the Camp came under a rocket attack, the mortar alert had been sounded 5-10 minutes previously, directing the men to their holes during an attack on nearby First Air Cavalry. The incoming lulled, and men had started emerging from their holes when Camp Haskins South suddenly and without warning received 5 122mm rockets, killing 3 and wounding 5. No one would have been injured had they remained in their mortar holes. The importance of remaining in mortar holes could not be overemphasized to the men.
Headquarters Company provided the Battalions mortar crews. Four crews, consisting principally of Engineering Aids, rotated duty on the 2 mortar positions. One crew was the alert crew, the second a standby crew. These crews were very well trained, practiced frequently, and were called upon quite often to provide illumination for Marine patrols.
Soon after arrival in-country, 5 of the existing bunkers were rebuilt and a new bunker was added at the main gate. The bunkers were left in excellent condition with little protective fortification required.
The defensive perimeter was also strengthened by the addition of new fighting holes. Fighting holes were very difficult to construct and maintain in the loose, sandy soil of Red Beach. This problem was overcome by using scrap pieces of M8A1 matting (leftover from the construction of Project Beaver, the First Air Cavalrys Red Beach helicopter maintenance facility) to construct 3 by 6 foot boxes 4 feet high which were sunk into the berms, sand bagged around the top, and fitted with fighting steps consisting of sand bags inside.
A collateral duty of the Security Officer was the collection and dissemination of intelligence to the Battalion, Third NCB/30th NCR, and Camp Haskins North. The Security Officer was assisted in this task by a petty officer who spent each day collecting information from various Da Nang units. This information was then compiled and plotted on the intelligence maps in the Battalion Command Post. A Security briefing was given at 1745 daily in the Battalion Command Post.
The Security Officer was also the Camp Fire Marshall. He was assisted in this task by a Third Class Petty Officer who served as Fire Chief and conducted fire safety inspections and monthly inspections of all camp fire fighting equipment/extinguishers; and the Master at Arms Force who manned the fire truck. The fire truck was a modified 5 ton 6 by 6 foot tank truck with a gasoline booster pump using 1 inch hose. It was unsatisfactory for any major fires due to its limited tankage and pump capacity but could control the spread of fire to adjacent structures. After holding a number of drills, the fire crew learned their jobs well, responded rapidly and personnel in the various spaces knew their respective responsibilities. With the exception of a burned out motor and the berthing hut which burned during the 23 August rocket attack, Camp Haskins South had no fires during the 1968 deployment. One lesson learned during the fire caused by the rocket attack was that the normal amount of individual ammunition stored in the berthing spaces made fighting fires impossible once it started cooking off and the best that could be hoped for was the spread of fire by wetting down adjacent structures.
High summer temperatures and winds caused rapid evaporation of water in water barrels and water pump extinguishers. These were checked weekly on zone inspections and kept filled by building occupants.
V/ r, Roman (Hnatowski, EAC, Retired.
Submitted by: Roman Hnatowski, the Leader of the EA Nation
From: New Jersey
CommentsRoman Hnatowski has asked me, Secretary Norm to post this on our "Guest Book Page" in case others also want to do this. The following is his email:
Hope this email finds all Good Health and Happiness!
I'm sure most, if not all, have received information on CBC Gulfport Navy Seabee Historical Society Memorial Brick Campaign and the "EA" initiative spearheaded by Frank Pirrello.
Just wanted to bring everyone up to date and let you know if anyone's changed their mind and would still like to participate, just contact Frank and he'll provide the proper guidance.
SITREP as of June 14th (Flag Day and the Army's 244th Birthday):
20 "EA"s from the 1st two deployments to Nam have either purchased, or committed to purchasing their own Memorial Brick, and in addition, also sponsored 10 additional bricks of our "EA" team that had passed since returning home. We have also sponsored 1 Memorial Brick for one of our troops that is on Home Hospice and, I'm sure you'll all agree, he and his family shouldn't be asked for a donation during this tough time in their lives. In addition we have also sponsored 7 Memorial Bricks for the 7 KIAs our battalion suffered during the 1st two deployments
to Nam. There are also 2 Memorial "EA" Bricks that will start the "EA" brick section which will be placed all together. Our individual "EA" bricks will be listed by the 1st Nam deployment we were on.
In addition 2 dynamic "PN" Brothers, Richard and Raymond Ruiz, AKA Chico and Rocky, have also chosen to be listed in our group while sponsoring a KIA. We welcome them with open arms!
Frank won't bring this to anyone's attention, but he and his family have donated somewhere in the vicinity of 6 or 7 Memorial Bricks. Pete Medeguari is also sponsoring 2 bricks for 2 of his brothers.
Pete's Brother, Marine Private Rene Medeguari was killed on May 2, 1969 while a member of Marine Force Recon in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam.
A copy of this letter is being sent to Norm Hahn, the HMFIC of the NMCB 62 Alumni Association. I hope Norm sees fit to post/email our accomplishment to to the rest of our battalion, and challenge them to follow. There were 15 of our Brothers who didn't make it back from Nam. When asked why there were no bricks planned for them in Gulfport, we were told that their names were listed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ocean Springs. MS. That is very nice, but Ocean Springs isn't where they helped open the base at Gulfport in 1966, deploy from Gulfport with NMCB 62 to Vietnam, nor the last stateside Military Base at Gulfport that they were attached to before they went to Vietnam and made the ultimate sacrifice. Our "EA"s covered the 1st 7 KIAs from the 1st two Nam deployments, I'd like to see the last 8 from the 3rd and 4th deployments listed with their Brothers for all to see in the decades to come. Norm, make it happen. As usual, the "EA"s lead the way, now send in the "EO"s and so on!
Submitted by: Norm Hahn, Secretary
From: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
CommentsHERE IS THE GULFPORT SEABEE REUNION COMMITTEE "OFFICIAL" REUNION PAGE. THEY WILL PUT ALL THEIR INFORMATION ABOUT THE NEXT REUNION IN APRIL 2020 ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE FIRST.
DON'T BE LEFT OUT AND GET THE INFO TO LATE. JOIN NOW.
2020 All Seabee Reunion-Gulfport, MS <<<< this is their official Facebook reunion page. Go to Facebook, type in the address and ask to join. This will keep you up to date on all the 2020 reunion info. Very Important !!
Submitted by: David Yohe
From: Evansville In
CommentsI found a Metal Zippo Seebee lighter with the initials
D. H. L. Engraved on the back Guam Jan. Sep 83 a long time ago. I was wondering if anyone there knew the person who dropped it to mail it to them or if anyone there would like me to mail it to someone there? I have had it a while and am clearing out things and would like to get it back to where it belongs if they had any desire to have it. Thanks. David Yohe Evansville IN.
Submitted by: Norm Hahn on behalf of Roman Hnatowski
From: Roman is from New Jersey
CommentsRoman Hnatowski, EAC, Retired sends Secretary Norm this update from the EA Nation, a group of guys and their wives who have been meeting together since the first three deployments.
Hope this finds all in Good Health & Happiness!
Latest update with a bit more than 3 weeks until the (April 2019) reunion.
Update as of 03/31/19, the following EAs & close friends have expressed an interest in attending:
Art "Army" & Lynn Collins - OH
Donato 'Danny' & Joanne DeSantis - NY
Frank & Mary Pirrello - MA
Gary Mangan - OH
Hugh McIlroy - PA
James 'Jimbo' Millar - CA
Jerry & Barbara Hilbert - OH
Larry Surber - GA
Pat "Pussy" Barnett
Rawlins "Ron" & Rocio Riley - SC
Raymond 'Rocky' & Cynthia Ruiz - TX
Richard 'Chico' Ruiz - TX
Roman Hnatowski - NJ
Sam "The Man" Roth - OH
Unable to Attend:
Dave LaPoint - NJ
Jim & Betty Catron - MD
Jack Fichter - VA
Larry Siebold - OK (Very Ill)
Pete & Shelby Medeguari - TX
Pete Scolaro - NY
Rich Hochrein - PA
Vern & Betty Abbott - VA
Bobby Jones - FL
Donald Dwight Thompson III - NY
Earle (Still Kickin) Walke - NY
James Alley - OR
Jerry Crotts - NC
John Hood - GA
Robert Van Winkle - IN
Willard Howe - NY
David Stelly - LA (2nd Deployment)
E.D. Taylor - ? (1st Deployment)
Bruce Clay - FL
Conrado Cajulis - CA
Dennis Fink - PA
James Layton - NY
Michael Brown - CA
Ralphord Hight - OK
Ray Lade - PA
Richard Weber - OH
Tom Schell - GA
William Kinney - CA
Looking forward to seeing those that are going and missing those that can not make the reunion.
Not sure how many other reunions are in our future!
Submitted by: Calvin R Beal "Randy
From: Amherst, CO
CommentsEspecially looking forward to reconnecting with the teams from Dong Ha '69 and Da Nang '70.
Happy Trails, Randy Beal
Submitted by: Maynard Hyland Jr
From: Poplarville MS
Commentsserved in 62 from 84 to 87 BU2 Charlie company
Submitted by: Robert Sieveking
From: Rockford, Illinois
CommentsI operated the MARS station on Guam from 1973-74, as an ET-1. Black-Shoe Navy to be sure, but treasure my time with USNMCB-62. Retired in 1989.
Submitted by: Robert Ament
From: Lake St. Louis, MO.
Comments(Robert Ament emails Norm Hahn, 5 Jan 2019: I am planning to go to the (2019 April) Gulfport reunion. I don't know how to post that, can you post it? Norm says "yes".)
I want to inform everyone that made the initial cruise to Vietnam. We spent 8 weeks in Camp Lejeune. This qualifies us for "service related" status in the water contamination "presumptive diseases"
Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
The proof is in our cruise books. Cruise book 1 page 14 and cruise book 2 page 15 talks about the four weeks we spent in Camp Lejeune prior to each deployment. You must file with the VA.
(If anyone has questions, Bob's email address is in the header above.)
Thanks Bob for this very important information.