Amsterdam, Missouri Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa Desalvo Navy Seabees

Request to share on our local media by Alvin Plexico, Navy Office of Community Outreach

GULFPORT, Ms. – “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 Melissa Desalvo, a native of Amsterdam, Missouri, builds and fights around the world as a member of naval construction battalion center located in Gulfport, Mississippi. 


Desalvo is serving as a Navy builder, who is responsible for construction, including wood, concrete, masonry and roofing. 

“I’m a builder for the Navy by trade, and right now I serve as an instructor for new Seabees,” said Desalvo. 

Desalvo credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Amsterdam. 

“Growing up in Amsterdam, I learned about the importance of hard work, because it can take you just about anywhere to accomplish anything,” said Desalvo. 

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. 

Desalvo 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, Desalvo is most proud of earning her Navy Military Training Instructor qualifications in 2018. 

“I shadowed my coworkers and completed all the required qualifications to ensure I had the knowledge needed to pass the board,” said Desalvo. “My instructor, when I went through Seabee school, made such a great impact on me and influenced who I have become. I’m proud to come back and hopefully impact future Seabees in the same positive way.” 

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

“Both my mom and dad served in the Marine Corps,” said Desalvo. “They had a lot of influence on my decision to join the military. They always talked about the opportunities and the difference I could make by joining. It makes me feel very proud to carry on their traditions.” 

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Desalvo 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 means doing something bigger than yourself and improving the lives of so many people,” added Desalvo. “I like the difference we make to the people and countries overseas.”