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Chicago native continues Navy’s “We Build, We Fight” Seabee tradition

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David R. Finley Jr.

Navy Office of Community Outreach

“We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for more than seven decades. The Navy Seabees are an elite group of personnel trained in both combat and the craft skills of the construction industry.

Construction man Rene Nunez, a native of Chicago, builds and fights around the world as a member of naval construction battalion center located in Port Hueneme, California.

Nunez is serving as a Navy utilities man, responsible for plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

“I provide basic plumbing and building support for the Navy,” Nunez said.

Building in austere environments can be a challenge. Fighting in harsh conditions can also be a challenge. Building in austere environments while fighting in harsh conditions takes a special kind of person with a great deal of perseverance and determination, according to officials with the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command.

These are the kinds of people being trained at Port Hueneme, to provide crucial support to Seabee units deployed around the world. 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, said Lara Godbille, director of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum.

“I enjoy building projects and getting to see the immediate impact I have in the communities we serve,” Nunez said.

Seabees have served in all American conflicts for nearly 80 years. They have also supported humanitarian efforts using their construction skills to help communities around the world following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Nunez is a 2016 graduate of the Pritzker College Prep High School in Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood on West Cortland Street. According to Nunez, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Chicago.

“In high school, I was in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and there I learned discipline,” said Nunez. “This has really helped in the Navy so far.”

Port Hueneme is the West Coast homeport of the Navy’s Seabees. It is one of five learning sites in the Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering domain.

They train and develop sailors, soldiers, airmen, and Marines in construction trades and military skills for Department of Defense operating forces to accomplish contingency and peacetime construction, chemical, biological, and radiological operations, and humanitarian assistance missions worldwide.

Port Hueneme and the men and women who serve there play a key role in the Navy’s broader mission of protecting American interests on the world’s oceans.

According to Navy officials, maintaining maritime superiority is a vital part of a Navy that is present today and prepared for tomorrow. The impact affects Americans and their interests around the world, as more than 70 percent of the Earth is covered by water and 90 percent of all trade travels by sea.

The foundation of the Navy the nation needs includes a focus on warfighting, warfighters and the future of the fighting force.

“I am confident that we will maximize the Navy we have today while delivering the Navy that our nation will rely upon tomorrow,” said Admiral Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations.

“We will do so with urgency. Our fleet will be a potent, formidable force that competes around the world every day, deterring those who would challenge us while reassuring our allies and partners.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Nunez is most proud of completing job training in Wichita Falls, Texas.

“I am most proud of this because it was the start of my naval career,” said Nunez. “I was able to get the training that I need to support the fleet.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Nunez, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance.

Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

“Serving in the Navy means I get to continue to build on the ‘we build, we fight’ motto,” said Nunez. “I am proud to be part of the Seabee legacy.”

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