WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 25 was awarded the Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB) Fellows Society's 2014 Citizen Patriot Unit Award during a luncheon at the Army-Navy Club in Arlington, Virginia, Sept. 10.
The Citizen Patriot Unit Award recognizes units and individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the security of the U.S. and have demonstrated a quantifiable and recognizable pattern of excellence. It is the highest award given by the RFPB Fellows Society and was established in 2002 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the RFPB.
Since 2002, only one other naval unit has earned the award.
"In June, a message was put out by Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command regarding nominations for the award," said Cmdr. Jennifer Donahue, NMCB 25's commanding officer. "We researched its history and significance [and] realized that given our multiple deployments and contributions to the security and defensive posture of the nation, NMCB 25 would be a contender for the award."
Known by its moniker "Spades and Clubs," NMCB 25 is deployed as the Naval Construction Force in support of the International Security Assistance Force NATO Coalition and Special Operations Forces for Operation Enduring Freedom within U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility. Partnered with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, they are tasked to execute the Train, Advise and Assist (TAA) mentoring mission for the Afghan National Engineer Brigade (NEB) and its two supporting battalions, the Special Engineer Kandak and Construction Engineer Kandak, in addition to limited construction and deconstruction support to U.S. Forces Afghanistan.
"NMCB 25's performance during 2014 has been outstanding as demonstrated through the challenges of mobilizing 428 reservists, then organizing and integrating the mosaic of citizen Sailors from across the nation to become a single battalion in support of Operation Enduring Freedom," said Donahue. "As we transition toward the end of a successful deployment and demobilization, the Seabee 'can do' spirit of the Spades and Clubs continues to be strong."
Donahue explained the unique nature of the TAA mission which encompasses all aspects of unit management from administration, intelligence, operations, logistics, communication, safety and command leadership. The intent is to make them more capable and self-sufficient upon the departure of the coalition forces.
"Retired Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Bouldin, president of the RFPB Fellows, presented the award which was given for the entire history of NMCB 25, going back to its commissioning in 1942," said NMCB 25 Prospective Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Kaber, who accepted the award on behalf of the unit. "They read through the history of the battalion...emphasizing its deployments for the global war on terror. It was an honor to be there and receive such a distinguished award."
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Bergson spoke about the caliber of the competitors for the award.
"We had 15 or 16 unit nominees this year and they've all performed magnificently. The awards committee was looking for a unit that had a long history of service to the country, that's what NMCB 25 had," said Bergson.
According to the award summary, the 25th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) was commissioned in Sept. 1942, at Camp Bradford, Virginia, and underwent its first training at Camp Allen, Virginia. Shortly after commissioning, the battalion received orders attaching it to the Marine Corps. The battalion transferred to Camp Elliot in San Diego, becoming the 3rd Battalion, 19th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Forces. The battalion detached from the Marine Corps in August 1945, and was once again the 25th NCB. The battalion's operations on Bougainville Island in the South Pacific were under the control of U.S. Army Gen. Douglas Macarthur, giving the 25th the distinction of serving under the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
The 25th NCB built a hospital on American Samoa, an airfield on Guadalcanal and roads and bridges on Bougainville Island. During operations on Guam, the 25th NCB worked long hours and stood night duty to form a secondary line of defense as the Japanese threatened a break through. One enlisted man was awarded the Silver Star for actions against the Japanese. Nineteen officers and enlisted were awarded the Bronze Star for their actions. Upon returning to the U.S. in June 1945, the 25th was officially deactivated in November.
The reserve NMCB 25 was commissioned in October 1961 as a member of the Seabee Ready Reserve. The newly formed battalion mustered for the first time at Davisville, Rhode Island.
Today, NMCB 25 is headquartered at Ft. McCoy, a Reserve Army base located in Wisconsin. Upon redeployment, the unit will relocate to Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, California.
"Many of the men and women of NMCB 25 have answered the call to country many times before; and this award is a testament to the sacrifices they make for their family and civilian careers to become a citizen soldier once again," said Donahue.
More than half of the deployed personnel are from other battalions and non-NCF (NCF) units who volunteered to mobilize with NMCB 25 and serve in the last battalion in Afghanistan, according to Donahue.
"It is our honor to receive this award on behalf of not only NMCB 25, but for the Naval Construction Force as well," said Donahue. "For 13 years, the NCF has continually mobilized reserve battalions and regiments to fight the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. To be recognized and selected over all other Navy Reserve components (air, sea, logistics), then compete against all of our sister services, shows the strength and endurance of the Seabees in this long battle with terrorism."
Chief of the Navy Reserve, Vice Adm. Robin Braun lauded the unit in an email to Donahue. "Please accept my sincere congratulations for your outstanding efforts. This award is an acknowledgement of your team's dedication, selflessness and service. We're especially proud that your command was selected as the Navy Reserve's nominee and competed with National Guard and other Service nominees for the award. Your selection is well deserved."
"We look forward to congratulating you in person when you return home," said Braun. "Well done."
For more news from Naval Construction Group 1, visit www.navy.mil/local/ncg1/.