Navy Seabee Foundation

Seabees and Marines: There for Each Other

Seabees and Marines: There for Each Other

March 5, 2016

by Frederick W. Smith

Chairman and CEO, FedEx Corp.
Seabee Diamond Anniversary Ambassador

Much of the success of FedEx reflects what I learned in the U.S. Marine Corps. I served two tours in Vietnam where I saw the U.S. military’s logistics systems in action and was intrigued by the speed and efficiency of those operations. My vision for starting a revolutionary delivery service for the computer age was heavily influenced by this experience.

The leadership skills I learned in the Marine Corps helped FedEx grow from a small startup to a global transportation company delivering millions of shipments a day with over 350,000 team members. Despite the size and scope of FedEx today, we still teach those leadership tenets to the thousands of managers who run our company operations.

I first saw the Navy Seabees’ abilities at Marble Mountain, where I was stationed in Vietnam on my second tour. The Seabees built this airfield, bulldozing sand dunes and laying steel runways to accommodate heavy traffic. They also built a 660-tent camp and a huge mess hall, working alongside the Marines under tough conditions, including enemy fire.

From their beginnings in World War II, the Seabees have supported the Marines in many operations. Traditionally, the Marines are first on the ground, spearheading assaults and establishing beachheads. The Seabees are often right beside them building the infrastructure – bridges, bases, roads, airfields, hospitals and more – required to sustain troops ashore.

It’s a unique collaboration that continues to this day. In April 2015, the Seabees and Marines teamed up as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, an anti-terrorist initiative in Iraq and Syria, to build facilities supporting around-the-clock preparations for air combat. Most of the Marines had no construction experience but learned from the Seabees.

As the Seabees prepare to celebrate their 75th Diamond Anniversary in March 2017, it’s a good time to reflect on the many ways they’ve helped the Marines. We now have the opportunity to support the Seabees as they’ve supported us – by helping the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation raise money to fund the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme, CA. The museum includes exhibits that highlight Seabee heritage as well as their future. The Foundation plans to expand these exhibits to tell the story of the Seabees on the front lines and behind the scenes.

I hope my fellow Marines will consider contributing to the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation. There’s no better way to thank the Seabees for all they’ve done for our country and our Corps.

Semper Fidelis!

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  1. thank you for your service and running a great compeny i was on marble mt toas a seabee

  2. I was at Camp Faulkner (next to Marble Mountain) in 66-67 my first tour. Many thanks to our Marine brothers who were beside us all over the world.

    Semper Fi
    JB Hager EO1 Ret.

  3. Mr. Smith, I have this to say about the USMC!
    They are always the 1st to get there! But the SeaBees are there to greet them. LOL
    Thank you for your time.

  4. My daddy was in the Seabees in Vietnam ,He was their building roads. not sure of the year! he is Kenneth Westbrook

  5. As one WW2 Marine once said..A Seabee is a Marine lent to the Navy!

  6. Spent two tours in Vietnam as a Seabee. Attached to the 3rd Marine amphibious force, from Chu lai to Dong Ha. We were brothers then, and will remain brothers forever.

  7. Put on Earth to provide Marines with a group to admire, respect;to give them running hot water, electricity,
    and roads.

    • Negative. Marines have our own to provide hot running water, electricity, bunkers and building via MOS 1142, 1341, 1345 and 1371.