CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74 Detail Horn of Africa (Det. HOA) Seabees and Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa service members celebrated the U.S. Navy Seabees' 69th birthday with a ball held at the 11 Degrees North Recreation Center, March 19.
Rear Adm. Mark Handley, commander, 1st Naval Construction Division (1NCD)was the guest of honor,for the event.
Handley spoke about the Seabees future and legacy, suggesting that the Seabees of the past were historical "giants" who formed the foundation for modern-day Seabees. He illustrated his point with a quote from Sir Isaac Newton
"If I have seen further, it is only because I have stood on the shoulders of giants," said Handley.
Handley said recent years have been busy for Seabees, due in part to the recent troop surge into Afghanistan, which saw more Seabees deploy than had since the Vietnam War. He said the Seabees' mission supporting CJTF-HOA is as important because it helps prevent future conflicts.
As a longstanding Seabee tradition, the Seabee ball includes a cake-cutting ceremony during which the oldest Seabee gives the first piece of cake to the youngest, symbolizing the passing of the Seabee legacy to future generations.
"The Seabees that came before us gave us a legacy and without them we wouldn't be able to do what we do today," said Master Chief Troy Kellerman, NMCB 74 Det. HOA's senior enlisted leader. "It was an honor to participate in that symbol of passing the cake."
Constructionman David Earley, NMCB-74 Det. HOA and member of the Ball Committee, said the planning for the ball began almost two months before the celebration.
"We raised money with fundraisers to buy the decorations and the prizes by delivering breakfast in bed on weekends," said Earley. "We had appetizers, a cake cutting, games, and we also had some cool prizes to give away. Everyone I talked to at the ball said that they were surprised and that it exceeded their expectations."
Among the guests were Commander, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) Rear Adm. Brian Losey; CJTF-HOA Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. William Glasgow; U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti James C. Swan; Japan Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti Jun Shimmi; and Camp Lemonnier's Commanding Officer Capt. Darius Banaji.
During his visit, Handley toured the recently completed Ecole 5 primary school, one of NMCB 74's many regional projects. Handley said the school was a "shining example" of Seabee efforts helping to build African partnerships.
"This story [of the school] is being repeated throughout the entire area of responsibility - not just here in Djibouti, but Kenya, Ethiopia and elsewhere," said Handley. "This really is a tribute to the mission here."
For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb74/.