Honoring 'Can Do' Service. Building Community for the Future.

How the Seabees Set the Stage for A Hollywood Ending

How the Seabees Set the Stage for a Hollywood Ending

46 years is a long time, and it was 46 years ago that I left the Seabees. But my time in the service helped set the stage for everything I’ve done since. As a film and television stuntman, stunt coordinator and action director, the risks I’ve taken are calculated and controlled. But all those years ago, the action and the risks were in Vietnam.

I joined the Navy in 1968, and I wanted to be in the Seabees right out of boot camp. Instead, I got put on a ship, and after one tour over to Vietnam, I got back and finagled a transfer into the Seabees. It was off to Port Hueneme, where I went to equipment operator school, then back to Vietnam . . . this time with MCB 10.

Before the Navy, my background included ranching, working with farm equipment, and driving tractors and trucks, so being a Seabee appealed to me. I was thinking of my future and gaining a useable skill, which my service experience as a heavy equipment operator certainly gave me.

In Vietnam, one of my jobs was to go in and clear back jungle for landing zones. I ran a bulldozer, and we built pipelines and naval bases for the South Vietnamese. Pretty much anything you can think of that’s related to heavy equipment, I wound up running it at one time or another. It added up to a great background for the profession I pursued when I left the service after almost four years, most of that time with the Seabees.

When I think back on those years, my memories center on the camaraderie–the bonds you form and the friendships that develop. We all came from different walks of life, but we had something in common by being part of the Seabees. We were a special group of people, creative and with a sense of adventure. I saw that ‘Can Do’ attitude in action at every turn.

I’ve never been big on staying in touch, and the truth is I lost track of most of the guys. But in just the past couple of years, I’ve started to reconnect. I live just a few miles from the Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme, and I’ve recently been attending Seabee galas and events.

Today, I’m a proud supporter of the Seabee Historical Foundation, and glad to be giving back a little to something that gave me so much in my life. I didn’t know it at the time, back in the late 1960s and early 70s, but my experiences then prepared me for what I’ve done for the last 40-plus years, and I’m grateful for it all.

Jim Wilkey’s hundreds of Hollywood credits include feature film stunts, television stunts, stunt coordinating, directing and acting. He’s also been involved with rodeos, athletics, auto racing, boats, the trucking industry and heavy equipment. You can find out more about him and his work as one of the entertainment industry’s leading stunt professionals at his company’s website: wagontrainproductions.com

Jim Wilkey’s notorious truck flip stunt performed for the Batman film, “The Dark Knight”.

1 Comment
  1. I have had the pleasure of knowing Jim Wilkey
    Jim is a Seabee thru and thru. I am proud to
    Call him a friend

    Steve Thomas
    Mcb 4
    EO

    67-68
    Vietnam

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