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Disney Makes Magic for U.S. Navy Seabees Deployed Far from Home

Cappy Surette

by , Manager, External Communications at Disney Parks Experiences and Products and co-chair of the Veteran Business Employee Resource Group known as “Disney SALUTE”

Disney has a rich history of making memories for millions around the world, including those who serve in our nation’s Armed Forces. We recently had the chance to make some magic for a deployed U.S. Navy Construction Battalion team—otherwise known as “Navy Seabees.”

U.S. Air Force veteran and Disney cast member, Joanna Abinuman, an Accounting Services Manager at Walt Disney World Resort, asked our Disney SALUTE veteran affinity group if we might be able to do something special for her husband and his fellow Seabees while they were away from home serving their country. The Navy unit was deployed to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa, supporting several task forces with rapid in-house engineering support.

Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, Africa

We know what it’s like to endure lengthy separations while a loved one is deployed overseas, often in challenging conditions, and we were glad to help. SALUTE Member, Navy Veteran and Walt Disney World security manager Mike Viola took the lead on this opportunity and we soon sent off Mickey ear hats to Joanna’s husband and his fellow Navy Seabees.

“It meant a lot to me as a military spouse and working mom that my fellow veterans and Disney cast members understand the challenges of military deployments when loved ones are serving far away from home for extended periods of time,” said Joanna. “It makes working at Disney even more special; providing the necessary emotional support during this challenging time for myself and others.”

Joanna and Carl Adrian Abinuman
Joanna and Carl Adrian Abinuman

Joanna’s husband, Navy Petty Officer Carl Adrian Abinuman, is proud of his naval service but shared that living and working in austere conditions while in east Africa was challenging, with the days blending into one. The Disney memorabilia brought a bright spot to their days.

“When my unit received the package from Disney containing Mickey ears, the laughs and excitement were everywhere,” said Petty Officer Abinuman. “To some people it was just a hat, but to us … it was a piece of home.”

The Seabee reported that his unit wore their hats all day and shared them with fellow deployed service members in the compound.

“You could see our Seabees wearing Mickey ears with their broad smiles from a mile away,” said Joanna’s husband, Carl. “It’s safe to say it was a big morale booster for us. Thank you, Disney, for taking the time to send us a small token of comfort as we serve far from home.”

Disney has a special connection with the U.S. Navy Seabees; as a show of support, Disney studio artists designed emblems for several Seabee units during and after World War II as part of a larger program which saw the Company design more than 1,200 insignia for military units around the globe.

Thank you to these brave Seabees and all those currently serving in uniform around the world! We are grateful for your service!

Comments

  • To some, it may be just a Mickey ear hat. But looking at the smiles in those pictures, this meant a lot to the Seabees. Thank you for doing this.

  • I admire what you do and would like to join you. This activity hit close to me since my first duty station in the Navy was with the SeaBees in Davisville RI, the original home of Navy Seabees. I am part time at Creations Store, Epcot. Served 24 years, retiring in 1985 a Master Chief.

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