A Seabee follows in uncle's footsteps, honors fellow vets

My wife, Patti, and I met at the Navy Seabee base in Port Hueneme, Calif., in 1968. We met in between my two tours to Vietnam. I served in Mobile Construction Battalion 10. My first tour was at Quang Tri, RVN and my second tour with Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 301 at Dong Ha, RVN. We married upon my discharge from the Navy Seabees.

John O’Brien, my dad, served in the Civilian Conservation Corps. After Pearl Harbor, he joined the Navy. He was discharged after 16 months for a collapsed lung. He turned around and joined the Merchant Marines, where he served out the remainder of the war in the Pacific theatre.

Joseph O’Brien was my dad’s youngest brother, and served in the Navy in the Pacific theatre.

Marty O’Brien was my dad’s middle brother. Marty served in the Naval Air Force aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific theatre. After the war he went to work for a helicopter company in Philadelphia.

Uncle Paul was my mom’s brother-in-law (her sister’s husband). He served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and retired a chief petty officer. He served on the USS Honolulu, USS Worcester, USS Long Beach. Paul went to work for Bechtel Corporation and worked on the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Phoenix, Arizona.

Seeing Uncle Paul's retirement party in 1964, I was amazed at the number of people that showed up to honor him, and how magnificent he looked in his dress uniform. He was the person who inspired me to be a Seabee. I wanted to be just like him.