The Fighting Bee

The Fighting Bee (HM2684)

Location: North Kingstown, RI 02852 Washington County
Country: United States of America

N 41° 36.388', W 71° 26.991'

  • 0 likes
  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites
  • 19 views
Inscription

A Rhode Island Creation

In 1942 Rhode Islander Frank J. lafrate was a 22 year old civilian file clerk at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station. In his spare time he drew cartoons. A Navy lieutenant with the newly established 'Construction Battalions' asked if he could produce a 'Disney-type' insignia for the new force. He agreed. Here is the story in his own words:

"First I thought of a beaver, the builder. But some research told me that a beaver in trouble would turn tail and run. So the beaver was out.

"Then I thought of a bee... the busy worker, who doesn't bother you unless you bother him, at which point he comes back with a sharp sting.

"After the idea was established, the rest was easy. I animated the bee... gave him a white hat to make him 'Navy,' tools to show his construction talents and a Tommy gun to show his fighting ability. I made him a 3rd class petty officer with the appropriate insignia on each arm. On each wrist, the CEC insignia showed that he was part of the Navy Civil Engineer Corps. The insignia drawing took about three hours on a Sunday.

"Now what would this group be called? I already had the 'bee' for these men who worked together at sea. Putting the two ideas together, the name Seabee was born.

"The next morning I showed it to the officer in charge, who showed it to the captain,



who sent it to Washington. Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, CEC, Bureau of Yards and Docks, saw in my sketch recruiting appeal."

Frank lafrate enlisted in the Seabees in 1942 and served as a Chief Carpentersmate during the war. For creating the Fighting Bee logo he was awarded the Distinguished Public Service Award in 1949.

Frank lalrate's 1942 design has become one of the military's most enduring insignia.

In 1967, for the Seabee's 25th anniversary, the Navy asked lafrate, by then a busy graphic designer, to "modernize" his design. He turned them down. Another artist made the changes including a contemporary machine gun, "dress blues," and 1st, 2nd and 3rd class rate insignia. The "improvements" never entirely caught on and the original version is still used.

The Fighting Bee Statue

Admiral Ben Moreell, the "King Bee," was scheduled to attend the 29th Seabee Ball on March 5, 1971, at Davisville.
Seabees from the 21st Naval Construction Regiment worked 10 to 12 hours a day for three weeks to complete a huge Bee out of 1/4-inch, 1/8-inch and 16-gauge steel.
Frank lafrate was asked to supervise the painting. Busy with his Providence advertising agency, he made a drawing to show the placement of color but left the details to workers from the Public Works Division. He wasn't satisfied with the final painting design. The Bee was



mounted on a mobile platform and moved to the entrance of the ballroom to greet the Admiral. After the Ball it was moved to Gate 1, across today's Gate Road near Post Road, and placed atop a WW-II vintage pontoon.
From there it greeted visitors to the base for over 25 years and became a famous and beloved Rhode Island landmark.

When the Seabee Museum and Memorial Park acquired the statue it needed to be repainted. In 1999 lafrate was retired and had time to personally supervise the repainting. He insisted on showing all the details in his 1942 design, in order, in his words, "to get it right."

Mr. lafrate died on March 30, 2000, after a two month battle with cancer.
Details
HM NumberHM2684
Tags
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, March 24th, 2018 at 7:03pm PDT -07:00
Pictures
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)19T E 295856 N 4608983
Decimal Degrees41.60646667, -71.44985000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 41° 36.388', W 71° 26.991'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds41° 36' 23.28" N, 71° 26' 59.46" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)401
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Iafrate Way, North Kingstown RI 02852, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. What year was the marker erected?
  9. Who or what organization placed the marker?
  10. This marker needs at least one picture.
  11. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  12. Is the marker in the median?