SAN DIEGO - “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. A 2009 McCluer North High School graduate and Florissant native builds and fights around the world as a member of an amphibious construction battalion center located in San Diego, California.
Lt. j.g. Kelvin Edmonds works as a civil engineer in the U.S. Navy assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion One (ACB 1). ACB 1 provides ship-to-shore transportation of combat cargo, bulk fuel and water, and tactical camp operations supporting U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps amphibious force operations.
As a civil engineer, Edmonds is responsible for platoon’s administrative operations. He also works with the senior enlisted to ensure sailors are ready to deploy. His proudest accomplishment was being selected for the Pacific Partnership Officer in Charge position.
“The command has entrusted me to be in charge of over 30 sailors,” he said. "It makes me feel proud."
Edmonds has carried lessons learned from his hometown into to his military service.
“I'm the oldest of three, and I learned how to lead by example,” he said. "Being from the Ferguson area and witnessing the human interaction of different people, with different income and education, gives me a great sense of empathy and helps me be a better leader for the Navy."
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.
Edmonds has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“Seeing the structure and guidance from my dad who got it from being in the Marines influenced me to be the man I am, which helps and guides me today,” he said.
“It's pretty cool to carry on the family tradition. It’s great to have discussions with my dad about military experiences and get advice from him. I believe we relate to each other better now. It's also great to know that by my serving, I had an impact on my sister’s decision to join.”
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 are taking part in a year-long celebration in 2017 to commemorate the group’s 75-year anniversary. The theme of the celebration is “Built on History, Constructing the Future.”