By Kevin Leland
So you wanna be a Sea Bee? So did I! Ever since I was a kid. It never materialized, so I’m left a perpetual Sea Bee Wanna be. Don’t make the same mistake, kids!
From the time I was prepubescent this statue was one of my favorite works of art. Even today, when I look at this picture of it, I instantly flash back to being nine years old. I was into building forts, and playing “war.” This statue was better than Mighty Mouse in my eyes, and ranked right up there with Popeye the Sailor Man.
A little about this work of art:
The “Fighting Seabee” insignia was designed by artist Frank J. Lafrate, a civilian plan file clerk at Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island. The “Fighting ‘Bee” was coceptualized in early 1942. The logo has remained in use, unchanged. In late 1942, after designing the logo, Frank enlisted in the Seabees.
I guess his art even made him, like me, a Seabee Wanna Be!
The statues were designed and built in the sixties. The Seabee Museum and Memorial Park, in Davisville, Rhode Island, was opened in the late 1990s by a group of former Seabees. The Fighting Seabee Statue is located here. North Kingston, RI is the location that I came to know and love the statue, because Rhode Island is my home state, and I worked in Quonset, RI, at Electric Boat, later in life.
There is another statue in better shape, located in Mississippi. The Fighting Seabee Statue at the Naval Construction Battalion Center was designed by Seabee Architect L. J. Atkison in 1965. Originally designed for a Mardi Gras parade, it was retired to a statue in 1966.
It’s amazing the effect art can have on the human psyche. It can embody an entire idea and characterize a human personality –even one that is just beginning to develop. It was only eight years later that I sat down across from a recruiter’s desk, and told him I wanted to be a SeaBee.
If that conversation had gone my way, all those years ago, there would be tattooed somewhere on my body, a SEABEE. Maybe it would be as cool as this tattoo:
Isn’t that tattoo excellent?! Look at the yellow highlight on top, with the light blue shadow underneath, with the drawing in black and white. I wanted to credit the artist, but the link is broke. If I can credit this artist, please let me know. In the meantime, the picture is linked to our Seabee Group on Facebook.