By Alvin Plexico, Navy Office of Community Outreach
GULFPORT, Miss. – Since 1942, sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Construction Force have been building and fighting around the world. Petty Officer 3rd Class Alejandro Calderon, a Hialeah Gardens, Florida native, is one of those sailors.
Eighty years ago, members of Navy Construction Battalions were fittingly nicknamed, “Seabees,” a play on the C and B initials. They are responsible for building military bases and airfields, supporting humanitarian efforts and conducting underwater construction projects.
Calderon, a 2019 Hialeah Gardens Senior High School graduate, currently serves with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One at the headquarters for naval construction forces in Gulfport, Mississippi.
“I want to thank Luis Perez,” said Calderon. “He was my television production teacher in high school. Because of what he taught me, I’m able to fill in for the command Public Affairs Officer while he’s on leave. It’s helped me meet new people and apply new skills.”
The values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Hialeah Gardens.
“I learned the importance of making connections,” said Calderon. “Meeting as many people as you can and learning from them will help you go far.”
Serving in the Navy means Calderon is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on strengthening alliances, modernizing capabilities, increasing capacities and maintaining military readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“The Navy keeps people safe, gives people hope and inspires them to help others,” said Calderon.
With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize the importance of accelerating America’s advantage at sea.
“Maintaining the world’s best Navy is an investment in the security and prosperity of the United States, as well as the stability of our world,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “The U.S. Navy—forward deployed and integrated with all elements of national power—deters conflict, strengthens our alliances and partnerships, and guarantees free and open access to the world’s oceans. As the United States responds to the security environment through integrated deterrence, our Navy must continue to deploy forward and campaign with a ready, capable, combat-credible fleet.”
Calderon has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.
“I was able to help with Operation Allied Refuge in Sigonella,” said Calderon. “It was rewarding to help other countries to see how they can seek hope. Being able to see the young kids smile, opens your eyes and gives you a deeper sense of happiness.”
Calderon can take pride in continuing an 80-year legacy of service in the United States Navy. “Serving in the Navy means standing up for what you believe in and helping those who may not be able to provide for themselves,” added Calderon. “It’s an honor giving hope to others who need to know that there are people watching out for them.”