Change Of Command At Seabee Base

Captain William McKerall gave up his position as base commander Friday morning during a formal change of command ceremony on the parade field at the Naval Construction Battalion Center.

This two-year command has possibly been one of his toughest.

He headed a military base during a time of war, and in the process, he lost two Seabees and others were injured.

He believes because of these tragedies, the public is more aware of what they actually do.

"We've got a pretty strong tradition of being actively involved with the Marines, typically when we're pushing forward in engagements. The Marines are once more involved and engaged and so the Seabees are there. And we don't tend to highlight that. We really like to be about building and constructing things, but when it's necessary, in this case, the enemy kind of brings it to you a little more forcefully, a little more direct, that when it's necessary, we also know we're going to be absolutely ready," said McKerall.

Captain McKerall says it was and is important for all soldiers to stay focused on the mission, and not only the mission on the warfront.

"You really want to make sure families back home have the resources, that they have the ability to connect in touch with their loved ones who are forward...that's a really important thing. If you can do that, you do a lot to dissuade the fears," said McKerall.

And as Captain McKerall leaves to take on a new task, he says he is extremely proud of what was accomplished under his leadership.

"I've looked at what the people at the base have done in a way of modernizing our mobilization capacities, increasing our ability to package and containerize equipment and to move it fast. Through this war effort that we've been involved in, we have greatly streamlined out ability to get stuff from here over into another place on the earth," said McKerall.

Captain McKerall is headed for Naples, Italy, where he'll command an engineering field group.

The new commander, Captain George Eichert, comes to the coast from Norfolk, Virginia, where he was commander of the Naval Public Works Center.