Alpena and Lincoln natives serving as U.S. Navy Seabees out of Gulfport

Ethan Ruddy

GULFPORT, Miss. — “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. Petty Officer 2nd Class Ethan Ruddy, a 2016 Alpena High School graduate and native of Alpena, and Constructionman Kent Stoinski, a 2016 Alcona High School graduate and native of Lincoln, build and fight around the world as members of naval construction battalion center located in Gulfport, Miss.

Ruddy is serving as a Navy builder, who is responsible for building and repairing wood, concrete and masonry structures, installing structures for various types of projects, and performing tasks required in disaster preparedness or recovery operations.

Ruddy credits his success in the Navy to many of the lessons he learned growing up in Alpena.

“My dad taught me a lot about construction before I joined the Navy, so that helped me a lot,” said Ruddy.

Stoinski is serving as a Navy construction mechanic, who is responsible for maintaining construction equipment.

Kent Stoinski

In the Navy, Stoinski has applied many lessons learned growing up in Lincoln.

“My hometown taught me if you want something you have to work for it and keep moving forward no matter what gets in your way,” said Stoinski.

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 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 remain 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.

Ruddy and Stoinski are 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, Ruddy is most proud of building a maritime operations center in Gabon.

“We worked with the Gabonese military for five months to complete this mission which helped strengthen our relationship with that nation,” said Ruddy.

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

“Most of the males in my family served in the military and I grew up doing construction, so the Seabees were a natural fit for me,” said Ruddy.

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

“I like going out to different parts of the world and helping people in need,” said Ruddy. “I am proud to carry on the tradition and do what I love.”

Stoinski is most proud of earning the Seabee Combat Warfare qualification.

“I dedicated countless hours of studying and appreciate everyone who helped me get this far,” said Stoinski.

“I try to live our Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment,” added Stoinski.