Each year on Veteran's Day, amid all the remembrance ceremonies and memorial services, the Seabees in the Pacific Northwest pay special tribute to a fallen Seabee hero at small community cemetery on the Olympic peninsula.
Seabees from Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 303 Detachment Bangor, Public Works, and NAVFAC Northwest gather at the resting place of Construction Mechanic Third Class Marvin Glenn Shields.
Shields is the only Seabee Medal of Honor recipient; he was killed in action June 10, 1965 in Dong Xoai province of Vietnam.
The ceremony is short but emotions are high with the parade of the colors, the national anthem and the invocation.
When the roll is called, and a Seabee replies "CM3 Shields is present but cannot answer", shivers race down spines and tears flow from the eyes of family, friends, and Shipmates. Taps and a 21 Gun Salute ring throughout the cemetery and penetrate the surrounding forest.
Equipment Operator Constructionman Tyrell Green of CBMU 303 Detachment Bangor remarked, "It was really moving. We had heard so much about him (Shields) from Seabee history. Everything he had done. To put everything at risk the way he did is amazing. To visit his resting place is truly an honor."
Shields is survived by his wife, Joan Shields Bennett. Mrs. Bennett always greets the Seabees who come to honor her late husband with hugs, smiles and appreciation for everything they do. Over the years, active duty Seabees and veterans have made small but significant improvements to the cemetery, including building a retaining wall and placing a concrete slab under Shields' headstone to prevent it from sinking. Each person present has made some sacrifice in service to our country, but it is a privilege to be in western Washington in November to pay tribute to a hero who sacrificed his life so that America will always be the land of the free.
Article by Steel Worker 2nd Class (SCW/EXW) Brian Davenport, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 303 Public Affairs