Face of Defense: Seabee Enjoys Independence His Job Provides
By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Kegan E. Kay
Naval Air Facility Atsugi
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan , March 22, 2013 After graduating from high school in his hometown of East Rockaway, N.J., Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Skoblicki worked in construction. Now, he’s a builder in the Seabees.
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Skoblicki shows an ornamental Tori gate he made to Navy Capt. Steven Wieman, commanding officer of Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, and Navy Command Master Chief Petty Officer Carlton Duncan, March 19, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kegan E. Kay
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“I joined because of a lot of reasons,” Skoblicki said. “The biggest thing I wanted was a stable job.”
A builder is one of seven construction specialty rates that make up the Seabees. Skoblicki said his experience so far differs from those of sailors who have been in the Navy longer than his two years of service, as they tend to work on larger projects. His work here consists primarily of carpentry, sanding, painting, staining and small building projects, he said.
“What a [builder] does in the Seabees is rough carpentry -- throwing up buildings and doing concrete pads,” he explained. “My favorite part of my job is probably that I’m in my own little world back there. I have a lot of independence. I can kind of do what I want to do, and I guess that is what motivates me.”
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Sherwood, the public works officer here, said Skoblicki is a solid performer.
“He assists tenant base commands with various technical knowledge and hands-on guidance in multiple aspects of carpentry,” he said, adding that Skoblicki is customer-focused and heads the base’s self-help program, in which base personnel improve their work spaces.
Skoblicki’s recent self-help projects have included the design and assembly of two computer desks, traditional Japanese Tori gates, picture frames, shadow boxes and 12 ornamental Tori gates for the 2013 Seabee Ball, Sherwood said.
“[He] is a motivated Seabee who gives his best in all endeavors,” he added. “[He is] perpetually optimistic and energetic, and cheerfully attacks and completes all tasks.”
Skoblicki recently was named Sailor of the Week, an honor that includes being guest host of the base’s weekly show, "Captain’s Call," and showing Navy Capt. Steven Wieman, the naval air facility’s commanding officer, and Command Master Chief Petty Officer Carlton Duncan around his work center on the program.
It’s not the final product that he enjoys the most about his work, Skoblicki said, but rather, it’s the process of creating the product.
“For me, it is relaxing,” he said. “If you know going into it that you are going to mess it up a little bit, and that your end product is probably going be at least a little bit different from what you originally planned one way or another, it is no big deal. Patience is probably the biggest thing, the most important thing, when you are doing finish work like that.”
For Skoblicki, wood working has become a hobby, and he stays late at work teaching himself how to create different products with the machines and tools.
“Everything is a learning experience, whether you learn the right way or the wrong way,” he said. “You learn what to do or what not to do. Just observe and try to pick up on the right things and try to learn from the wrong things, others’ mistakes and your own mistakes.”
Skoblicki’s work here has extended past the base’s borders. He and other Seabees assisted in rebuilding houses destroyed by the March 2011 tsunami in the Fukushima prefecture, and he served a five-week stint in Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean.
“The ocean every day, the weather, fishing -- I like being outside, so Diego Garcia was awesome,” he said.
Skoblicki said he hopes that his next duty assignment will be to a construction battalion in California or a command in Europe. “I want to travel,” he added. “I never traveled before the Navy.”