Navy commodore is son of Dunkirk woman

Michael Saum

PORT HUENEME, Calif. — “We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for the past 75 years. Pawling, New York native and Trinity Pawling High School graduate, Captain Michael Saum, builds and fights around the world as a member of a naval construction battalion center located in Port Hueneme, California.

Saum is the son of Patricia Dougherty, who lives in Dunkirk, and graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York.

Currently, Saum serves as the commodore of Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1.

“I’m an engineer in the Navy, and as the commodore I’m responsible for the training and well being of the Seabees in the Pacific,” said Saum.

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, according to Lara Godbille, director of the U. S. Navy Seabee Museum.

“What I like about being a Seabee is the people,” said Saum. “There’s no task too great for these sailors.”

For the past 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 following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

“I am proud of the hard work that Seabees do every day,” said Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg, commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command. “Their support to the Navy and Marine Corps mission is immeasurable, and we look forward to the next seven decades of service.”

Seabees around the world will take part in a yearlong celebration in 2017 to commemorate the group’s 75-year anniversary.  The theme of the celebration is “Built on History, Constructing the Future.”

“Seabees deploy around the world providing expert expeditionary construction support on land and under the sea, for the Navy and Marine Corps, in war, humanitarian crisis and peace,” said Saum. “Seabee resiliency, skill, and resolution under hostile and rough conditions prove our motto ‘We Build, We Fight.’ The Seabee patch we wear on our uniform signifies to the warfighter and civilian alike that they’re in good hands.”

Serving in command of a naval construction group has allowed Saum to reflect on the legacy he wants to leave to future Seabees.

“To be in the position I’m in at this time to celebrate the legacy of our Seabee heritage is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Saum.


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