ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Four Natives are among 32 people who left April 4 for deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Construction Mechanic Third Class Raymond Notah, Mess Specialist Second Class Everette Jole, Steel Worker First Class James Santistevan and Equipment Operator Third Class Merlin Yazzie left for further training in California, with deployment to an undisclosed destination to follow.
They are members of Naval Construction Battalion Twenty-two (NMCB-22, also known as Seabees) and part of the Air Detachment, a specialized, highly selective group of personnel, first-wave responders, ready to travel anywhere in the world.
Seabees are the civil engineering corps of the United States Navy, formally organized in March 1942, during Word War II. At that time, civilian construction workers, doing the bulk of the Navy's overseas building, were caught in combat zones. According to international law, these workers could not be armed, had no way to defend themselves and had to rely on the Navy for protection.
On Wake Island, the civilian construction workers were killed or taken prisoner and many were executed as spies by the Japanese. In light of these events, the Navy formed a military unit composed of construction specialists able to build as well as defend their construction sites.
NMCB-22 Air Detachment personnel have been honing survival and tactical skills in hostile environments, including defense against chemical and biological agents. Last year members trained with the 3rd Platoon, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marines during a Combined Arms Exercise (CAX) at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
The CAX program focuses on techniques and procedures of employing direct, indirect and air-delivered fire in consonance with ground maneuvers. CAX gives fighting units an opportunity to sharpen fighting skills and is the most realistic live-fire training exercise in the Marine Corps.