NAES LAKEHURST, N.J. (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 21 bade farewell to seven of their own in a retirement ceremony before family, friends and fellow Seabees here June 11.
Master Chief Equipment Operator (SCW) Edward V. Frederickson, Chief Construction Mechanic (SCW) Norman L. Hulse, Chief Equipment Operator Christopher J. Smith, Chief Equipment Operator (SCW) George Pearce, Construction Mechanic 1st Class (SCW) Arthur Arredondo, Gunner's Mate 1st Class James C. Curtis, and Utilitiesman 2nd Class (SCW) Charles V. Parkin were "piped over the side" one last time.
Collectively, the seven Blackjacks, as members of NMCB 21 are affectionately known, represented a total of 175 years of combined service in the Armed Forces.
"One of the biggest benefits of being part of our Navy," said keynote speaker Capt. Timothy G. Zakriski, Civil Engineer Corps, USNR, former commanding officer of NMCB 21, "Is the instilling of our core values - Honor, Courage, and Commitment.
"I have a good sense that when we look at our retirees here today, that they are those sorts of people, who, over their careers, have given so much and asked for so little."
During the ceremony, Frederickson, who is retiring after more than 30 years of service - both active and reserve - was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (Gold Star in lieu of third award) for his tour as NMCB 21 Command Master Chief.
"I owe a debt of gratitude to all the men and women of the Seabees who have made this day and every day of the past 31 years possible," said Frederickson.
Hulse, of Neptune City, N.J., completed more than 20 years of service before his retirement. His entire career was spent with NMCB 21.
Smith, of Springfield, N.J., served more than 24 years in the Navy and Naval Reserve. He joined the Navy in 1980. He immediately affiliated with the Navy reserve component upon his separation from the active component in 1986, serving with NMCB 4 and NMCB 21.
Pearce, of Point Pleasant, N.J., also completed more than 24 years of service. He joined the Navy in 1980. He, too, entered the reserve component upon his separation from active duty in 1986, and began his service with NMCB 21.
"This is has been the best ride of my life," said Pearce. "I wish I could keep doing this forever."
Arredondo, of Jackson Heights, N.Y., served for 21 years. He joined the Navy in 1984. He served with NMCB 13 until its decommissioning in 1993, and has served with NMCB 21 ever since, including tours in Kuwait and Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"I wouldn't have traded my Seabee experience for anything in the world," said Arredondo.
Curtis, of Oakhurst, N.J., had more than twenty-four years of service in the Navy and Naval Reserve. He was attached to NMCB 21 for the past 12 years of his career.
Parkin, of Fairfield, N.J., had more than 24 years of service in the active and reserve components of the Navy. He joined the Navy in 1978.
"A Seabee is the most impressive creature I've ever met," commented Parkin. "When times get tough, the Seabee family will come and pick you up."
In his remarks as the officiating officer at the ceremony, NMCB 21 Commanding Officer Capt. (sel.) Joe Albanese commended the retirees on how their collective legacies have influenced the Navy as a whole.
"Through your actions and the improvements that you have made, and most importantly, through the people that you have touched that are left behind, you and your efforts will live long beyond your years."
Calling to mind the current missions of Seabees, presently stationed here and around the globe, Frederickson offered these parting words of advice: "Take care of each other, and always bring each other back home."
NMCB 21 is based at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, N.J., with detachments at Naval Reserve Centers in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Its mission is to train for mobilization readiness and construction operations in support of Commander, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
For related news, visit the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 21 Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/nmcb21.