Navy Seabee Foundation

From Seabee to State Senator


by Senator Mike Rush
Senator, Massachusetts, Norfolk and Suffolk District

Seabee Ambassador

Some of my earliest memories involve the military, and hearing firsthand stories of service, sacrifice and the Seabees. Growing up in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood, I had not one, not two, but three neighbors who were Seabees who served in Vietnam. And right under my own roof were more remarkable people. My father was a Navy veteran who was in the Korean War. My father’s two older brothers, his two older sisters’ husbands, and his older sister all served in World War II.

I remember talking with my father about his time on a ship, and about the Seabees. He said what’s incredible about the Seabees isn’t just their proud tradition and many contributions, but that as a young sailor you get to learn a trade as well. The first words that come to mind when I think of these men and women — people like my father, uncles, aunt and neighbors — are history and honor. And it’s my great privilege to be able to share in that tradition.

For more than 20 years, I’ve served in the US Navy Reserves, and am currently an Intelligence Officer assigned to the Office of Naval Intelligence. My Navy career began in 1994, when I went through active duty boot camp. When I completed boot camp, I was given an option to either be assigned to the USS John F. Kennedy or to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 27. Without hesitation, I chose the Seabees.

I don’t believe I would still be in the Navy today if not for the Seabees. At my home port, South Weymouth Naval Air Station, where we drilled, I had the opportunity to meet many folks whose civilian life involved the construction trades and, often, owning their own construction companies. They were so dedicated to the mission of being a Seabee and getting the job done. To me they were larger than life. They could build anything. Sometimes, some of them didn’t have what you might call a perfect “military bearing,” but there was something impressive about that, as well.

Senator Rush, proud Navyman.

I stayed in the Seabees for eight years, and enjoyed every minute of it. I enjoyed the people I worked with. I enjoyed the projects and the places I went, including Puerto Rico and Jamaica, where we rebuilt a schoolhouse and constructed a new building for the Jamaican Defense Force. That spirit of camaraderie continues to this day, and each and every Seabee I worked with lived up to the ‘Can Do’ motto. When they were given a task or a mission, it was completed with pride, honor, commitment and courage — the Navy core values. I was always in awe, because the Seabees set out to exceed expectations, and did just that.

When my enlistment came to an end, and I was working as a teacher on the civilian side, I had a friend in the intelligence field who said they were looking for people to join. So I took the foundations that the Seabees had given me, and got a commission as an officer in the intelligence community. I’m proud to say I am an Iraq War veteran, and was deployed in support of Operation New Dawn. While in Iraq, I served with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Arabian Peninsula (CJSOTF-AP) and was assigned to a US Army Special Forces Military Transition Team, working with Iraq Counter-Terrorism Services, the Headquarters Command for Iraq Special Operations Forces (ISOF). The Seabees laid the groundwork that made this all possible.

Senator Rush with fellow members of the military.

My experience as a Seabee is also key to my work now as a State Senator in Massachusetts, where I make veterans and their service a priority. I have the privilege of being Chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs, which works to make sure veterans in my state continue to get the very best services possible, which they so richly deserve. My colleagues on the committee and I know that a lot of our veterans struggle with serious issues including substance abuse, and mental and physical health problems. I am proud to say that Massachusetts is number one in the nation in the services and benefits we provide to veterans, and we will continue to support them, advocate for them, and educate the public. I see evidence all the time of just how important that education component is.

We live in a country where currently less than one percent of our entire population is serving in the military. Often, when I’m speaking with students, I’ll ask if they know anyone serving in the military. Most times, very few — if any — hands are raised. And, while there are 40 Massachusetts State Senators, I am currently the only veteran among them. That makes it all the more important that we keep the incredible stories of the Seabees and their contributions alive, and the 75th anniversary is the perfect time to do just that.

Senator Rush with students from local New England schools.

Going forward, as long as we have young people who are willing to bear the burden, wear the uniform, raise their right hand and take the oath, we can all take great pride. And we can, and should, always express our enduring gratitude to all who’ve served.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation and click here to make a donation to help keep the stories and memories alive forever.

Celebrating the Seabee Diamond Anniversary with Seabee veterans at a CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation event in Boston.

  1. It’s good to know that a Veteran, especially a fellow Seabee, is looking out for the interest of our country and our veterans. This knowledge makes me feel more comfortable about Congress. Thank you Senator Rush for serving our country both as a veteran and in the Senate.

  2. Senator Rush, Thank you for your service. I spent 30 years, 6 months and 18 days wearing the Seabee uniform. I too was in the reserves with one year in Vietnam All of 1971. Best of luck. Ted Durante CWO4 (Ret)

  3. Just wanted to say hey to a fellow Seabee, I did 20 yrs with the Bee’s, retired SW1 and I grew up in Holyoke, Ma. I am currently living in Pensacola, Fl

  4. I was a Bee during Vietnam 67 to 69 Sea Bee team 12802 learned to love the vietnamese I will always be a Bee

  5. A Senator that knows how to work, with common sense and the courage to always do the right thing ! Maybe there is some hope for this country. God Bless Senator Rush !!

  6. I was assigned to MCB 58 in Rhode Island during the Vietnam war. As things were coming together, the battalion was split and a new battalion also – MCB 53 was formed – and so I moved there. I was in Vietnam 1967 (advanced party) 1968 and 1969 from Danang and north. I was assigned the rate of a mechanic but spent time in the tire shop and loved it. I also had a sewing machine and learned a lot of that job too, and – I cut hair for those who had a fear of the barber. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything, as it is the most important time in my life (so far), being able to serve while others headed for Canada, or protested. I think that every high school graduate should spend some time in the military and learn a trade, and what better place than the Seabees. So many things I learned there I have been able to apply; plumbing, electrical, carpentry, mechanic and even moving heavy equipment around too. I have used all those trades. I took a surveying class when I used the GI Bill and used that. I learned to climb a pole in Camp Lejune NC and even that experience landed me a job with cable television for 23 years. I’m grateful for what Uncle Sam has bestowed upon me. The Seabees are more Marine than Navy – and I think there should be a shift. Thanks for the encouraging article.

  7. I was also a Seabee, 2001-2014. EO2(SCW) I also served in Iraq 2005 and Afghanistan 2010-2011. With NMCB3. The Seabee Community is so small compared to the other sections of the military but we have the best all around construction force in the military. I wouldn’t have stayed in as long as I did if it wasn’t for the brothers and sisters I served with. Im gonna have Life long memories. Always gonna miss it!!