ABOVE PHOTO: Cmdr. Sonovia Johnson
By Dusty Good
Navy Office of Community Outreach
GULFPORT, Miss.- “We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees”, for the past 74 years. Today, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native and a 1993 Simons Gratz High School graduate Cmdr. Sonovia Johnson builds and fights with the Navy on the Gulf Coast and around the world as a member of the Navy serving at Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport.
Gulfport is the command headquarters that oversees all naval construction forces based in the eastern half of the U.S. Land for the Naval Construction Battalion Center at Gulfport was acquired in April 1942, the same year the “Seabee” name was adopted for members of the Construction Battalions, a clever play on the CB initials.
Johnson is responsible for medical treatment of the command.
“I like having ownership of my patients,” said Johnson. “They aren’t just my patients, they are my guys.”
“Seabees are some the hardest working Sailors in the Navy,” said Captain Cheryl M. Hansen, NCBC commanding officer. “They are tough, bold, and ready, and they get the job done. They build and fight in some of the harshest and most hostile environments in the world.”
For the past 74 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.
“The junior sailors in this command are so talented,” said Johnson. “The teamwork is outstanding, the motivation is remarkable. I have never seen so many people in leadership positions that want to mentor and care about their people.”
Seabees around the world will take part in a year-long celebration in 2017 to commemorate the group’s 75-year anniversary. The theme of the celebration is “Built on History, Constructing the Future.”
Today, Seabees continue their innovative traditions ensuring they always meet fast-paced challenges, according to Hansen.
Working with the Seabees and serving in the U.S. Navy has allowed Johnson to continue learning about the legacy she wants to leave to future sailors.
“There is something about the way that the Navy funtions that creates successful, driven people and leaders,” said Johnson. “My sailors can do anything, anywhere at anytime.”
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