Seabees Honored For Hurricane Recovery Efforts

The "can do" spirit that shined after Hurricane Camille was also evident in Katrina's wake. That's why hundreds of Gulfport Seabees were honored Friday for their hurricane recovery efforts.

"There is no better place to serve our country than right here," said Seabee commander George Eichert, as he addressed the troops.

Seabees lining the parade field did serve after Katrina, just as an earlier group did in 1969 following Camille.

"I do remember stories of how the first citizens from outside that the people of Pass Christian, Mississippi saw were the Seabees when they cut their way, literally, into Pass Christian back in 1969," said Senator Trent Lott, who helped hand out the honors.

Thirty six years later, the "can do" spirit helped rescue the coast again. Post Katrina work included building tent cities and restoring dozens of schools.

"I have long since been convinced that the Seabees can do. Whatever it is. Whatever needs to be done to help people," said Senator Lott.

They delivered that help while facing their own challenges.

"Most Seabees live here. This is their home. Frankly, the first day after the storm we had to almost hold them back because we had to get out own base squared away and make the base safe so we could use it to work from," commander Eichert said.

A representative segment of troops received the honors. Senator Lott presented armed forces service medals and the humanitarian service award.

The humanitarian pins contain a symbol of an outstretched hand with a palm up, which is the international symbol for aid and assistance. Senator Lott told the troops his "heart is with the Seabees."

"And it's not just about being there when the fire fighting goes on. It's about reaching out to people in a humanitarian basis when they need it the most," he said.

The need was and is overwhelming, but the Seabees have and will deliver.

More than 2500 Gulfport Seabees will receive the humanitarian awards for their hurricane recovery work. Many of those troops are currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.