Constructionman Amanda Smith, a 2011 Byron High School graduate and native of Byron, Ill., builds and fights around the world as a member of naval construction battalion center located in Gulfport, Miss.

Byron native exemplifies ‘We Build, We Fight’ legacy of U.S. Navy Seabees
By Alvin Plexico
“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 Amanda Smith, a 2011 Byron High School graduate and native of Byron, Illinois, builds and fights around the world as a member of naval construction battalion center located in Gulfport, Miss.
Smith is serving as a Navy equipment operator, who is responsible for driving the construction equipment and delivering the supplies for construction projects in support of Navy operations.
Smith credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Byron. 
“You don’t always have to force yourself to fit in,” said Smith. “You can find your own niche. So, be true to yourself.”
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.
Smith 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, Smith is most proud of humanitarian efforts on the Northern Mariana Islands following a typhoon in 2018. “The mission required a lot of determination to excel,” said Smith. “It was rewarding to give back their roadways. We offered them respect so the families could get back into their homes.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Smith, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Smith is honored to carry on that family tradition.
“My uncle Tom served in the Army, and my grandfather served in the Army during Vietnam,” said Smith. “My aunt also served in the Air Force.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Smith and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy offers structure, support and security, and gives me the chance to provide safety for my family,” added Smith. “I’m honored to protect my family and the world they live in.”

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