An Introduction to SEABEE71 IN CHU LAI

    This website is the companion to my memoir, Seabee71 In Chu Lai, published by McFarland Publishing in 2019.

     The book, and this website, are an unofficial, un-authorized and at times irrelevant and irreverent look inside MCB-71, the Seabee Battalion I served with for 14 months, from August 1966 to early November 1967. Fifty years after returning from Vietnam, I wrote a memoir of that experience.

     This website includes short excerpts from the book, along with more photographs that I could fit into the book. I’ve added new material and stories from my fellow Seabees. The CO and XO’s son and daughter have each contributed a remembrance of their fathers.  A few of the Seabees I served with have also added a few recollections.

     The book begins in 1963, when I joined the Naval Reserve to avoid the draft, and stay out of a fox hole in Vietnam. A few years later, 1967, that's exactly where I was, in Chu Lai, Vietnam—with a Seabee battalion.

         But, before we get to Vietnam, the book follows Seventy-One through several months of training as the men bonded into teams. The Battalion arriving Vietnam in early April, followed by seven months of hot, grueling work in the summer of 1967.  

A Memoir by former Navy Journalist

David H. Lyman, JO3, USNR

Building a  War in Vietnam

A memoir of 14 months with A Seabee Outfit

A crew from steel workers from Seabee71's Charley Company lay down steel planks, building a runway for the Marine Air Groupm 13 in  Chu Lai.

The book and website includes stories of the many projects our Seabees build, as well as what life was like in our camp on a beach at the edge of the South China Sea, with a war going on around us.

     Many of the stories are from articles I wrote for The Transit, the monthly newspaper I edited for the Battalion. I have re-written these stories from a more personal perspective. This is, after-all, a memoir. I’ve added stories and photographs, observations and antidotes in this website that did not make it into the book, or were inappropriate for an official military publication. I look forward to including more stories from my former shipmates as they come in. A few are included within.

     If you recognize someone in a photo, see something that needs correcting, our have a story to share—please let me know and I’ll incorporate it in this website.

     The menu bar at the top of each page will help you navigate through the many pages of this online magazine. You'll find  additional links to more stories a specific pages.

     Good reading, and stay in touch.

     The menue bar at the top of each page will help you navigate through the many pages of this online magazine. There are additional links to more stories within specific pages.

Here is a small sample of photographs from the negatives I brought back with me. There are a lot more photos in the following pages.

Playing War Games with the Marines in Camp LeJune

The kids of Hon Tra are the fishing village's water department

Repairs the SATS Runway

Basic combat training at Sun Valley

A scraper gets a boost from a dozer

A Helo flies in concrete for a tower

Life on the Beach at Camp Shields. Chu Lai, Vietnam

The Quarry Men of Seventy-One

John Murphy EO1, Civic Action

Seventy-One's bees building a heliport for the US Army in Chu Lai