'Black Hell Squad' Commemorates Heritage

Story Number: NNS091118-20Release Date: 11/18/2009 5:51:00 PM
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By Utilitiesman 3rd Class Franciscoe Cardona, Builder 2nd Class Marcos Lopez and Ensign James Collins, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 Public Affairs

GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 held a "Black Hell Squad" competition between squads within the battalion to commemorate the proud heritage of NMCB 133 and the Seabees from years past.

Black Hell Squad is an annual competition to those NMCB 133 Seabees who participated in the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. The competition itself showcases Seabee skills and their "Can Do" attitude.

On Feb. 19, 1945, the 133rd NCB joined the Fifth Marine Amphibious Corps and the Fourth Marine Division for the amphibious assault on Iwo Jima. The entire force landed on Iwo Jima on D-Day with the first assault waves of the Fourth Marine Division. The 133rd suffered severe casualties during the bitter fighting for Iwo Jima where it distinguished itself in both front-line combat and construction. The 133rd had 370 casualties, more 40 percent of the 875 men that landed, the highest in Seabee history.

The competition also provides excellent training opportunities for squad leaders and junior troops.

"Black Hell Squad gave squad leaders a chance to show their leadership, management and organizational abilities as small unit leaders in a competitive environment," said Builder 1st Class Phillip Baranowski.

The competitions included events and scenarios designed to test knowledge, team work, and leadership of the squad. The competition was conducted in three phases. Phase one military block training was a classroom refresher course. Medical and first aid, operational risk management, safety, chemical, biological and radiological environments, convoy security operations, communications, defensive operations, fighting positions and patrol maneuvers where a few of the topics that were covered. At the end of phase one, each squad member took a written test. Phase one scores were based on each squads test results.

Phase two offered Seabees hands-on training. Squads focused on physical training, defensive positions construction and patrol planning. Physical training consisted of a mock PRT. Squads constructed two-man M-16 fighting positions and one crew-served weapon fighting position during the defensive portion. Squads were also graded on planning a patrol and briefing the patrol order.

"It was a learning experience, being that I am a prior fleet sailor, it is my first time doing any of this," stated Builder Constructionman Anthony Amicone.

The top five ranked squads from the first two phases moved on to phase three. The third and final phase tested the ability to perform the skills correctly and in a timely manner. The scenarios tested skills in communications, weapons familiarizations, medical actions, land navigations and CBR operations.

The squad with the highest score who was named NMCB 133's 2009's Black Hell Squad was Bravo Company, 1st Platoon, 3rd Squad led by Utilitiesman 1st Class John Meyer. Second place was Alfa Company, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Squad, led by Construction Mechanic Petty Officer 1st Class Brandon Jeffery, and finishing third was Bravo Company, 1st Platoon, 1st Squad led by Construction Electrician 1st Class Manuel Perez.

"I thought Black Hell Squad was a fun learning experience. I was given the opportunity to learn about things that will better prepare me for my first field training exercise and deployment," said Builder Constructionman Bonnie Longoria.

For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb133/.

Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 assemble an M-240B machine gun during the Black Hell Squad
091002-N-9261G-022 GULFPORT, Miss. (Oct. 2, 2009) Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 assemble an M-240B machine gun during the Black Hell Squad competition at Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport, Miss. The annual competition commemorates those Seabees from NMCB-133 who built and fought on Iwo Jima during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Gamez)
October 22, 2009
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