GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Seabee veterans from World War II up to Iraqi Freedom, gathered on the coast this week to commemorate the time they spent serving their country. Friends and servicemen swapped sea stories Friday night as they each re-lived their time in the Seabees.
"Can do. We build, we fight and the difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little bit longer. We have a lot of mottos," Jerry Schmuck said with a smile.
With a gun in one hand and a hammer in the other, brave Seabees fought their way through each day with one goal.
"You're going to do your mission first, which was to build the facility or whatever you're putting up and then you're going to stand by it and defend it until you leave," Daniel Huffman said.
Living in tents, building roads and bridges. Master Chief Daniel Huffman remembered what it was like helping the Marines.
"It was life saving, let me put it that way. Without the ammunition all the fuel and everything to keep them moving, they couldn't do their job. So it was critical that we do our jobs," said Huffman.
Schmuck said, "Vietnam, Cuba, Taiwan, Guam, Korea."
And the list goes on. Those are just some of the places Seabee Veteran Master Chief Jerry Schmuck spent years fighting for his country.
"We did a fleet hospital in Guam. We did a project in Okinawa. We've done armories in Spain. You name it, we've done it," Schmuck said.
Seeing old friends brought back many vivid memories for Command Master Chief Richard Wade. He said during his 45 years of service, the bad times came with the good.
"Oh, everything. I enjoyed the Seabees. Just the work they did, the camaraderie. Unless you were there, you can't understand it," Wade said.
Wade reminisces about his time serving in Korea.
"I didn't live in Korea. I lived in fox holes. Let's put in this way, during Korea, probably the coldest I was in my life. During the war time it was bitter. We lost a lot of men from frostbite. A lot of them were captured; a lot of them were killed. We lost a lot of good people, a lot of good people," said Wade.
As Huffman saw many men he lived and worked with, he remembered one man in particular from when he first became a Seabee.
"I was a real young guy and Richard was retiring. Richard was a legend in our minds," said Huffman.
Wade said, "The thing is it's hard to remember bad times. You remember the good times because you meet friends."
Friday's event was the conclusion of a week long reunion for these Seabees. It's an annual event that's been going on for more than 18 years.