Tag Archives: NMCB 133

Behind the scenes of being a ‘Bee stuck in the mud of Camp Shelby

Spending most of my life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, interacting with friends and co-workers who had spent time as one of the Navy’s most unsung sailors– Seabees– has been common as about half of the Bees in the country are based in Gulfport. Lots of great guys who always seem to have a sense of humor, and for good reason.

You often see those sad, tan and green convoys heading from Gulfport up Highway 49 to Camp Shelby, a Guard base that always felt stuck in 1943 to me, so they could get their annual field combat training in.

Which, knowing Gulf Mississippi, is always wet and miserable. 

180820-N-ZI635-258 CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (Aug. 20, 2018) Seabees stand inside their fighting position during Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133’s field training exercise (FTX) at Camp Shelby. FTX provides a robust training environment where Seabee forces plan and execute multiple mission essential tasks including convoy security, force protection, and camp buildup prior to deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class George M. Bell/Released)

You know what they say, “If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training.”

Speaking of which, the Navy just posted a great 13-minute doc following the Bees of historic Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 (NMCB 133) on a recent three-week FTX at Shelby, which sounds better than it is.

We build, we fight,

This is why Seabees hate Camp Shelby:

Remember, at Shelby, you can always use your E-tool as a paddle. (U.S. Navy photo 180820-N-ZI635-258 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class George M. Bell/Released)

Offical caption: “CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (Aug. 20, 2018) Seabees stand inside their fighting position during Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133’s field training exercise (FTX) at Camp Shelby. FTX provides a robust training environment where Seabee forces plan and execute multiple mission essential tasks including convoy security, force protection, and camp buildup prior to deployment.”

Spread out across 130,000 acres of Mississippi pine forest, gumbo mud swamp and Afrika Korps POW camp carved out of even more rugged DeSoto National Forest, Shelby is the largest state-owned training center in the country and I have spent much time there. Established during the Great War, the famous 38th Infantry “Cyclone” Division formed there before deploying to the Western Front. During WWII the even more famous 442nd RCT and 100th “One Puka Puka” Bn trained there before heading to eternal glory in Europe at places like Hill 140, Castellina and Vosges Mountains.

Since then, Guard units from around the Southeast trained there for the Sandbox– as well as the Gulfport-based Seabees, who attend regular FTXs there among the WWII Q-huts and hummingbird-sized mosquitos.

However, the base does have a great museum on site, open to the public, and you don’t even have to get your feet dirty to check it out.