Navy man takesON Memorial Day a year ago, Navy Petty Officer Clint Rainey took his parents to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific for a visit and ended up with a challenge -- to place a memorial stone honoring the exploits of the Seabees.
challenge to build
The force has built roads,
hospitals and airstrips
throughout the Pacific
By Gregg K. Kakesako
Rainey, 31, has been a Seabee for the past 13 years, working on construction projects on the mainland and in Guam, Palau, Spain, Germany and Bosnia.
"My father knew I was proud to be a Seabee," said Rainey of his conversation with his parents -- both of whom served in the Air Force.
Rainey said his father asked him, "If you're so proud of being a Seabee, why isn't there a stone honoring the Seabees here?"
Rainey took that as a challenge and contacted Gene Castagnetti, Punchbowl cemetery director, who gave him the guidelines on establishing a memorial.
Rainey had to submit a scale drawing of his proposed memorial stone and the inscription he wanted placed on it.
Jim Messner, Punchbowl spokesman, said there are now about 30 memorial stones that line the walkway leading to the cemetery's vista point.
Rainey said he has raised about half of the $5,000 he needs to put a two-foot-high, sloping black granite memorial stone that would honor both Seabees -- the enlisted members of the Navy's construction force -- as well as its civil engineer officer corps.
"There are 143 Seabees from all three wars buried at Punchbowl," Rainey said. "And that number doesn't include civil-engineer officers who consider themselves as Seabees."
Rainey said he hopes he can get the Seabee memorial stone placed near one erected in April 1999 to recognize the Submarine Force.
Since he started this drive last year, Rainey has met with active-duty and retired Seabees and civil-engineer officers, members of the Seabee Historical Foundation and groups in Port Hueneme, Calif., where the Pacific Fleet's Seabee headquarters is located.
He hopes to have the money he needs by March 3 -- the date of the local Seabee ball -- so he can officially announce the memorial's dedication then.
"We need one," said Rainey, who is attached to Construction Battalion Unit-413 Self-Help Center at Pearl Harbor.
"Punchbowl is the national cemetery of the Pacific, and the Seabees played an important role beginning with Pearl Harbor. ... Anywhere in the Pacific during the last three wars -- Japan, Korea and Vietnam -- they were there."
Established in 1941, the first naval construction troops were called "the Bobcats." After the Japanese attack, they helped to rebuild Pearl Harbor and constructed new bases, hospitals, highways, airstrips and piers on 300 islands throughout the Pacific during World War II.
During the Gulf War and the Bosnia conflict, the Seabees built camps and airfields. Rainey can be contacted at: OIC Construction Battalion Unit 413; ICO CE1(SCW) C. Rainey; 600 Marshall Road; Bldg. X-10; Pearl Harbor, HI 96860 or by email at Raineycd@hawaii.navy.mil.