Southside native credits success in Navy to lessons learned in Indianapolis

“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. Constructionman Samuel Johnson, a 2018 Greenwood Community High School graduate and native of Indianapolis, builds and fights around the world as a member of the naval construction battalion center located in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Johnson is serving as a Navy steelworker and currently works to provide material for the Seabees to do their jobs. He credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Indianapolis.

“I learned the importance of respecting elders at home, and this carried over into my service in the Navy,” said Johnson.

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.

Samuel Johnson serves as a Navy steelworker. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Bradley Gee.)

Johnson 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, Johnson is most proud of earning steelworker qualifications.

“I learned how to weld, how to read blueprints and construction mathematics,” said Johnson.

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Johnson, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. He said he is honored to carry on that family tradition.

“My father served in the Army,” said Johnson. “When I was young he talked about his service, so it was in my mind to join the service as well.”

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

“I really love the people here,” said Johnson. “Seabees are a small community that’s definitely rich in character. Serving in the Navy is an opportunity to give back and to make my mom and dad proud.”