GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI — A West Lafayette native who gave his life for his country recently had a fitness center named for him at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Builder Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border was killed by an improvised explosive device on Oct. 19, 2011, in Patika Province, Afghanistan, while serving during Operating Enduring Freedom.
More than 400 people attended a ceremony, where the building’s name and a plaque were unveiled at the entrance of the Raymond J. Border Fitness Center. More than 1,000 people viewed the ceremony as it streamed live on the NCBC Facebook’s page.
This was the first building on base named after a Seabee who died in action while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. The Seabees, which celebrate their 80th anniversary this year, were formed during the outset of the United States entry into World War II and serve as the construction arm of the U.S. Navy.
Border served 12 years before his death and had volunteered for an individual augmentee tour back to Afghanistan after deploying with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74 the year before. He was the recipient of the Bronze Star with combat V, Purple Heart and the Combat Action Ribbon among others throughout his military career.
Border was remembered for his honor and dedication and those who served with him noted how helpful he was with others, especially in regards to helping promote physical fitness. This is one of the main reasons the base fitness center was named in his memory.
The guest speaker for the dedication ceremony, U.S. Navy Capt. Richard Hayes, Force Maritime Headquarters Director, Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), had served as the commanding officer of NMCB 74 at the time of Border’s death. Hayes noted Border’s dedication not only to physical fitness, but to his duty as a Navy Seabee.
“Ray took tremendous pride in being in great physical shape, which brings me to why we are here today – to pay tribute to this great Seabee. And I can’t think of a better way than by naming this fitness center after him,” said Hayes.
Local Mississippi government officials, such as Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes and Long Beach Mayor George L. Bass, were in attendance, as were representatives from U.S. Congressman Steven Palazzo’s office. One of Palazzo’s representatives, Sawyer Walter, presented copies of the congressional record regarding Border, which had been read on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, to members of the Border family, and Mayor Hewes also presented the family with a mayoral proclamation. The proclamation also declared Feb. 11, 2022, as “BUC Raymond J. Border Day” in Gulfport.
At a reception after the ceremony, several organizations on base presented the Border family with mementoes to commemorate the occasion. The family expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the recognition bestowed upon their fallen loved one.
“(Raymond) was here for the whole 12 years (of his Seabee career) and he loved this base. He was in this gym all the time and really into physical fitness, so for them to name this after him, it’s just really hard to sum it up with any other words other than ‘amazing.’ We really appreciate what they’re doing here,” said Craig Border, Raymond Border’s father.
One of the hopes for naming the NCBC Gulfport fitness center after Border was for it to serve as a permanent reminder not only of the sacrifice made by one of the Navy’s fallen Seabees, but for the sacrifices all Seabees made while serving their country.
The 1999 graduate of Ridgewood High School has had several other honors since his passing, including a section of U.S. 36 being named for him between Ohio 83 and Ohio 93 in 2015.