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Paul LeFoe Gentner


Upon my graduation from Annapolis High in June 1962, I followed in my dad's footsteps as a stone setter / mason, working in Washington, DC. During my 3 year apprenticeship with the Stone & Marble Masons Union, Local #2, Washington, DC, I discovered the Navy Reserve (Aug 1963). A Reserve CWO4, a mason friend who worked with my dad, asked me to join the Jones Point, Alexandria, VA, Navy Seabee Unit 5-15, part of RNMCB 23 (Reserve Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Twenty Three).
My years with the Seabees took me on active duty with NMCB 10 at CB Base, Port Hueneme, CA in late 1965. There I was advanced to EON3 within ALFA Company. With Ten, the battalion was deployed to Camp Hoover, Danang, Vietnam, where I operated a Northwest 25 crane with clamshell to load aggregate into hoppers for concrete mixing. My efforts there in 1966 were recognized by the command and I was awarded a certificate of commendation signed by General Westmoreland. Following Ten's return to CONUS, I accepted a field promotion to EON2 with an active duty extension. Ten's next 1967 deployment would land us just north of Quangtri and south of the DMZin Vietnam. The 3rd Marine Division in the I Corps, needed a new airfield, which was labeled as Site X. Our mission was to complete the landing strip in 32 days. It was done in 27 and ready for C130 aircraft!  Shortly after the Tet Offensive, my active duty ended in April 1968. I returned home to rejoin RNMCB 23 and advanced to EON1. In 1972, I was promoted to Chief, EOC.
​​​​​​​With my civilian employer, Morrison-Knudsen International, I took leave from the Reserves to work in Saudi Arabia and Colombia, SA. The time away from the Seabees, I realized that I had 17 good years, and in the spring of 1990 rejoined RNMCB 23 as Chief. By August of '90, the battalion was on a standby call to active duty, which obligated its operations to become an active Seabee Battalion for Operation Desert Shield / Storm. NMCB 23 was deployed to the Pacific in November 1990, which included a detachment in Okinawa, Japan, Seabee Camp Shields (formerly Camp Kinser). The detachment there was responsible for maintaining operational construction equipment to and from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and several projects on the island. NMCB 23 returned to CONUS by July 1991. I would remain with Twenty Three until May 1999 and retired as EOCS{SCW} for 24 good years.
My grandfather, George Edward Gentner, served in the Navy Reserves prior to WWI. He was a journeyman machinist at the Washington Navy Yard Gun Factory. My dad, Edward George Gentner, enlisted with the Marine Corps prior to WWII and followed in his father's footsteps as a Navy Yard machinist in addition to completing apprenticeships as bricklayer and stone mason.
Between my years with the Seabees, I earned an Associates Degree in Architectural Technology, 1970, and later a BS Degree in Engineering - Construction Management, 1984. With the degrees, I applied for Architecture Registration in Maryland, and passed the exam in 1992. By 2011, I became an AIA Emeritus member while maintaining my registration in Maryland and Virginia.

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