An electric saw sliced a plywood board. The work was part of NMCB Seven's new job assignment. The unit's new order was to help the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee finish its Ocean Springs project.
For veterans like Mike Teter, the Seabees assignment was anything but a job. "Most definitely," the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee member said. "We've been waiting since 1997 to really start on this."
Teter is the Vietnam memorial's construction coordinator. He's been working with Gulfport Seabees to stake out and dig a 13' by 13' hole. The hole will form the base for the mast of the U.S.S. Mississippi. "This is just something that we can show in appreciation and remembrance, that we're not going to forget them," Teter said.
The mast of the Mississippi arrived here five years ago. Since then, it's been sand blasted and painted, so it wouldn't show the wear and tear of 18 years at sea. In about a month, the 62 foot monument will become the final piece of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee's $3.5 million dream.
Teter said when people visit Ocean Springs, "I want them to think, when they walk into that memorial and see those faces, that this is a price that we paid for freedom."
Beyond the faces will be a military helicopter and the U.S.S. Mississippi mast. It will complete a park that veterans first dreamed up more than a decade ago. "This signifies the effects of our fighting personnel throughout the world to defend this great nation of ours," said Teter.
Ingalls, the Roy Anderson Corporation and the RSC Corporation all helped the the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee restore the U.S.S. Mississippi's mast.