This past week the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum opened a new exhibit titled The Hall of Fallen Heroes. This exhibit commemorates the courageous fallen men of the Civil Engineer Corps and Naval Mobile Construction Battalions.
One of the most notable fallen Seabees and the only Seabee to earn the Medal of Honor was Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin Glenn Shields. Born in 1939 in Port Townsend, Washington, he joined the Navy in 1962. In 1963, he was assigned to Mobile Construction Battalion 11 (MCB 11) and deployed to Okinawa.
In 1965 Shields deployed to Vietnam as part of MCB 11’s Seabee Team 1104 to build and improve the military headquarters and compound in Ððng Xoài, near Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). On June 9, 1965, Viet Cong insurgents breached the camp defenses, surrounding the Americans and their Allies. For nearly three hours, Shields supplied fellow Americans with ammunition, returned enemy fire, assisted in carrying critically wounded men to safety despite being wounded himself, and then resumed his gun post for another four hours. Shields sustained fatal injuries and died on June 10, 1965, during a helicopter evacuation. Although Ððng Xoài was left in charred ruins, the American position held in part to Shield’s heroism.
The Vietnamese government awarded Marvin Shields the Vietnamese Order of Gallantry with Palm and the Military Merit Medal posthumously. President Lyndon B. Johnson posthumously presented Shields’ Medal of Honor to his wife, Joan, and their young daughter, Barbara, in a White House ceremony held on September 13, 1966.
The newest addition to our museum collection is the Marvin Shields Memorial donated by Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11. This memorial was presented along with the Medal of Honor to Marvin G. Shields “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty…His heroic initiative and great personal valor in the face of intense enemy fire sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”
Visit the new Hall of Fallen Heroes at the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum to learn more about Marvin Shields and the other valorous fallen Seabees.
Meet the Curator: Robyn King Robyn King earned her Bachelors in History and Anthropology from the State University of New York at Oneonta. She has experience working at State Museums, Historic Sites, the National Parks Service, and most recently the Navy. She’s an expert in collection management, and has worked closely with both natural and cultural collections. Robyn loves all museums and sharing her love of history. When’s she not working, she’s volunteering her time with the National Peace Corps Association, as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from West Africa.