In the land of the Chamorros, Kent Native Serves Half a World Away with the U.S. Navy “Seabees” in Guam

Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Wheeler. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Heidi Cheek

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda Rae Moreno, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A 2016 Kentwood High School graduate and Kent, Washington, native builds and fights around the world as a member of a naval construction battalion center located on the island of Guam.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Wheeler is a builder with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11, based out of Gulfport, Mississippi.

A Navy builder is responsible for building, constructing, and up keeping the facilities the Navy utilizes at home and abroad.

Wheeler credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Kent.

“My hometown taught me the value of diversity and how anybody, from any background, can accomplish something with enough hard work and dedication,” said Wheeler.

The jobs of some of the Seabees today have remained unchanged since World War II, when the Seabees paved the 10,000-mile road to victory for the allies in the Pacific and in Europe.

Since 1942 Seabees have served in all American conflicts. They have also supported humanitarian efforts using their construction skills to help communities around the world. They aid following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

According to officials at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet headquarters in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the ships, submarines, aircraft and Navy personnel forward-deployed to Guam are part of the world’s largest fleet command and serve in a region critical to U.S. national security. The U.S. Pacific Fleet encompasses 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. All told, there are more than 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 uniformed and civilian personnel serving in the Pacific.

“The friends you meet in the Navy will be friends you have for a lifetime,” Wheeler said. “The friendships you make while serving are unburdened by time and distance. You may make a friend as a new seaman recruit and not see them again until you’re a first class, but it will be like nothing ever changed.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Wheeler is most proud of earning the Seabee Combat Warfare Device, Global War on Terror and Sea Service Ribbon.

“Obtaining these qualifications took months of hard work, dedication and a lot of studying,” Wheeler said.

Serving in the Navy means Wheeler is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Wheeler and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.

“I may be serving in the Navy, but really I am serving for the people,” Wheeler said. “I may not always agree with the politics of our country, but I do believe that when our people come together, we are the greatest nation on earth.”