GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of Gulfport Seabees are headed to the Middle East. Members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 and Naval Construction Regiment 25 will spend months serving in Afghanistan. This deployment is especially significant for both groups.
After their bags are weighed and searched, about 120 Seabees of NMCB-11 rolled up their sleeves for one last immunization shot before heading to Afghanistan.
Lt. Commander Brian Lindoerfer is the executive officer. He says this is the first deployment for the battalion since it was re-commissioned in 2007.
"We have a lot of new faces," said Lt. Cmdr. Lindoerfer. "Approximately 60 percent of the battalion has never done a deployment before, so we're a pretty inexperienced battalion, in that sense. But our folks have trained extremely hard over the last 16 months, and they are definitely ready for this deployment. I expect great things."
The Seabees who've deployed before say they've offered advice to the first timers.
Petty Officer Brian Harrison says his last deployment was in 1999 before his two children were born. He's telling the younger Seabees to "make sure you get your mind focused. You don't want to be worried about what's going on here, and you can't do your job and things of that nature. It's better that you get everything handled in the States like bills and family."
Naval Construction Regiment 25 is also headed to Afghanistan where 80 Seabees will take on a supervisory role. The commodore says this deployment is historic.
Capt. Jeffrey Borowy said, "This is the first deployment of this regiment since they landed at Normandy in World War II on D-Day, so it's historic from that perspective. Where we're going, Afghanistan, with the build up our forces there, we're going to be working a tough mission to get the facilities ready for the forces going over there."
Seabees say no matter if it's their first deployment or their 20th deployment, saying goodbye to loved ones isn't easy.
Rusty Peterson's wife and son agree.
"Oh, it's hard," said Drew and Susan Peterson. "It is emotional."