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*VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff*
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1968… Six enlisted men and two officers on NMCB-7 helped bring new life to Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province. The eight Navymen formed a permanent civic action team in the Dong Ha/Cam Lo area. They worked through the Third Marine Division’s civil affairs arm and the Vietnamese government to determine the people’s needs, and offered their technical assistance in converting wishes to reality. The Vietnamese people themselves provided the necessary elbow grease.
To place the work under local authority, a Vietnamese supervisor was employed and given the power to hire and fire employees.
Craftsmen and artisans who had been out of work around Quang Tri went back to work using their skills at civic action job sites.
The increased work demanded increased construction materials and new furnishings for the newly constructed buildings. To accommodate the demand, two new furniture factories and a brick making industry were established and were staffed by local people.
Before the Seabees’ deployment had ended, the area had a new school at Vinh Dai which would accommodate 240 pupils and another at Dong Ha. Both schools were built with an eye toward the Vietnamese concept of beauty as well as for functional practicality.
Vietnamese working with their Seabee advisors also renovated two buildings at the Dong Ha Hospital complex and completely built others.
Meanwhile, the Battalion’s Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) held sick call on a bi-weekly basis and treated more than 1000 people. In the village of Trung Giang, the visiting doctor worked in a civic action construction dispensary.
During the latter part of the battalion’s deployment, the civic action team was involved in the extensive Cam Vu Resettlement Project which called for technical advice and help to resettle 6000 people.
The job called for the repair of an existing irrigation system consisting of six high-volumn pumps which were no longer operable. When the civic action group had finished, the irrigation project was again ready to support 10,000 farmers forced by the war to leave their homes and fields.
The Seabees’ civic action team also undertook to teach English part-time to 30 children at the Cam Lo Refugee Complex and also started several social welfare programs.
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