GULFPORT, Ms. – “We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for more than 75 years. Commander Michael Meno, a 1991 Carl Sandburg High School graduate and native of Orland Park, Illinois, builds and fights around the world as a member of naval construction battalion center located in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Meno is serving as the commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One and is responsible for leadership of the Seabess who do engineering and construction missions.
Meno credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Orland Park.
“I played football back home, so the hard work and dedication I was taught by teachers and coaches, as well as family, carried forward into the military,” said Meno.
Building in austere environments can be a challenge. Fighting in harsh conditions can also be a challenge. Building in austere environments while fighting in harsh conditions takes a special kind of person with a great deal of perseverance and determination. These are the kinds of people serving here at Gulfport, the home of the Atlantic Fleet Seabees. These are the people who provide crucial support to Seabee units deployed around the world.
The jobs of many of today’s Seabees 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, according to Lara Godbille, director of the U. S. Navy Seabee Museum.
For more than 75 years 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.
Meno is playing an important part 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, according to Navy officials, 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.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Meno is most proud of earning the opportunity to command.
“It’s a privilege and honor to be in command,” said Meno. “I wouldn’t be here without the support of my family as well as the other officers and enlisted who helped me throughout my career.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Meno, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Meno is honored to carry on that family tradition.
“Both my grandfathers served during World War II,” said Meno. “One was in the Navy, and one was in the Army.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Meno and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“I like the people I serve with,” said Meno. “Every day I’m reminded of the great Americans who have answered the call to serve. Serving in the Navy is a great opportunity to serve our country guided by our core values of honor, courage and commitment.”