Nanuet native continues 75 years of Navy Seabee tradition

By Tim Miller
Photo by Theodore Quintana

SAN DIEGO – “We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for the past 75 years. A 2010 Spring Valley High School graduate and Nanuet, New York, native builds and fights around the world as a member of an amphibious construction battalion center located in San Diego, California.

Petty Officer Second Class Shelly Caballero works as a personnel specialist in the Navy assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion One (ACB 1). ACB 1 provides ship-to-shore transportation of combat cargo, bulk fuel and water, and tactical camp operations supporting Navy and Marine Corps amphibious force operations.

As a personnel specialist, Caballero is responsible for managing records of sailors’ personnel files and makes sure they get paid correctly and on time. Caballero has carried lessons learned from her hometown into to her military service.

“I grew up in an area where the population was hardworking and humble,” she said. “I took that with me and I’ve seen the results of hard work.”

The jobs of some of the Seabees today have remained unchanged since World War II, when the Seabees paved the 10,000-mile road to victory for the allies in the Pacific and in Europe, according to Lara Godbille, director of the U. S. Navy Seabee Museum.

Caballero is a first generation servicemember and is proud to represent her family in the Navy. “I’m the first one in my family to join the military. I’m very proud of that fact. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction,” she said.

For the past 75 years Seabees have served in all American conflicts. They have also supported humanitarian efforts using their construction skills to help communities around the world following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

“I am proud of the hard work that Seabees do every day,” said Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg, commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command. “Their support to the Navy and Marine Corps mission is immeasurable, and we look forward to the next seven decades of service.”

Seabees around the world are taking part in a year-long celebration in 2017 to commemorate the group’s 75-year anniversary. The theme of the celebration is “Built on History, Constructing the Future.”

“”The Seabees have built a legacy over these past 74 years. I am proud of that tradition and of what our Seabees are doing everyday around the globe. I am privileged to serve with them again here at Amphibious Construction Battalion One; seeing their talents, teamwork, and dedication, I am proud and confident of their future and the heritage that Seabees continue to build today,” said Capt. Scott O. Cloyd, commanding officer, ACB 1.

Caballero proudest accomplishment is getting the opportunity to lead.

“For the first time I’m actually mentoring junior Sailors,” she added. “It makes me feel good that I’m making a difference in their lives. I will always remember the impact that’s had on me.”

Serving in the U.S. Navy, has allowed Caballero to continue learning about the legacy for future Seabees.

“I’m a part of something not a lot of people get to experience,” said Caballero. “This Seabee community is small. I’m happy i get to learn about the Seabee traditions and influence others in the community.”

Tim Miller is a specialist with the Navy Office of Community Outreach