Seabees Dedicate Flag Mast in Afghanistan as Tribute to Pearl Harbor Attack

Story Number: NNS101208-03Release Date: 12/8/2010 5:12:00 AM
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By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Leif HerrGesell, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18 Public Affairs

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 18 attended a ceremony at Kandahar Air Field Dec. 7 in recognition of the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

During the ceremony, Machinery Repairman 1st Class Benjamin Cerneus and Gunners Mate 1st Class Kelly Carson raised the American flag to the top of a new 57-foot flag mast.

Capt. John W. DeBerard, the commanding officer of NMCB 18, rendered a salute for all of his Seabees as the colors were reverently hoisted to the peak and solemnly lowered back to half mast.

The ceremony, held at 7:48 a.m., also remembered all of the Sailors and Seabees who gave their lives in World War II.

The main spar of the new mast measures 50 feet above ground and is set in concrete surrounded by a cement pad bearing command coins from NMCB 18 and NMCB 40.

The mast project was tasked to Chief Builder Paul Chacon's shop.

"It was nothing more than an honor to stand such a great structure here at KAF (Kandahar Air Field). Finishing it on time and erecting it before Dec. 7 was our goal; I'm really proud of my guys. The workmanship is excellent. I know the Navy vets would be proud," said Chacon.

The three steel spar sections of the main mast and the two sections of yard arm were welded together by Steel Worker First Class John Overy, a native of Idaho.

"I weld stuff together everyday to keep it working. This was a pretty cool project since it gives us one of the tallest Navy masts or staffs that's flying the American colors in Afghanistan," said Overy.

NMCB 18 and 40's Air Detachment have been pressing forward with construction on numerous combat outposts and forward operating bases projects for months. Only recently did the tempo of work allow the battalions the opportunity to take a breath and erect a new mast replacing the old staff, which measured in at approximately 30 feet.

NMCB 18 Executive Officer Lt. Cmdr. Charles Nash, who attended the ceremony and served as an enlisted Marine in the mid 1970s, smiled and shook his head after the 10 minute ceremony concluded.

"Its not everyday that you get a chance to say thank you to the guys who fought in World War II. It's just darned moving to see those colors up there, and I know it reminds me why I'm here- I just hope it brings an ounce of the same feeling of pride to our junior troops," said Nash.

For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18, visit

Troops assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 18 assemble to dedicate a new flag mast.
101207-N-6383T-576 KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Dec. 7, 2010) Troops assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 18 assemble to dedicate a new flag mast. The dedication, on the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, is in remembrance of the Sailors and Seabees who gave their lives during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Utilitiesman 2nd Class Vuong Ta)
December 7, 2010
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