Capt. Kurgan Legacy of Service > Seabee Magazine > News

Capt. Christopher M. Kurgan, former Commandant, Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering (CSFE) and Naval Civil Engineer Corps Officers School (CECOS) retired in a ceremony held at Seabee Chapel aboard Naval Base County de Ventura (NBVC), Port Hueneme, 27 August 2021.

Kurgan, a Chicago native, retired after 30 years of service.

“Kurgan’s service journey comes to a halt,” said Rear Admiral John W. Korka, Commander, Naval Installations Engineering Command (NAFAC) and Chief of Civil Engineers. “Throughout his 30 years of service, Chris Kurgan has demonstrated exceptional skill, unwavering compassion, unwavering adaptability and an extremely wide range of operational, staff and and command.”

Kurgan served in many expeditionary units in many commands. This includes Camp David Public Works Officer, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 Operations Officer, Commanding Officer NMCB 133, Deputy Commanding Officer NAFAC Pacific, Commanding Officer NAFAC Northwest, Commander CSFE and CECOS, Commodore Naval Construction. Group (NCG) 1. Kurgan led troops in the combat theater on multiple deployments while serving as a commander or commodore, four times during his career.

“As you can see, he’s a man who never took the easy way out and his serve tells the story,” Korka said. “He’s an officer with sea water in his blood. One who was born to lead.

Kurgan established his leadership reputation during his deployment from U.S. Central Command to Iraq in 2004 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, with NMCB 4. During this tour, his leadership contributed to the command’s success and to recognition of service members who have received the Battle-E, Peltier Award, Moreell Medal, Marvin Shields Award, Steelworker Second Class Robert D. Stethem Award, and Rear Adm. Lewis B. Combs Award.

“NMCB 4 suffered casualties while supporting the Marines in the Second Battle of Fallujah,” Korka said. “It was a difficult time, but Chris rallied command to accomplish the mission and established a bond of unity, trust and confidence. It propelled Chris’ career for years to come and explains why he has so much follow-up command tours; leaders want Chris Kurgan.

Kurgan took the stage to address the audience with his final remarks in uniform. He thanked people by name, his family and his fellow soldiers; many who traveled across the country to bid him farewell.

“When I look back on my 30 years of service to this country, all that matters is the absence of two sets of fingerprints,” Kurgan said. “It’s because I was carried a lot. I was carried by my faith and by the military community, its leadership, its friendship, its heart and its love. I appreciate all who carried me and with whom I served, especially my wife who was responsible for much of the heavy lifting.

Kurgan graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1990. He earned a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2001 and completed the Leadership Training Program, Kellogg School of Northwestern University in 2012.

“There’s a good reason I only remember one college professor,” Kurgan said. “I learned more from the Chief Mess than anything I learned in college. I learned what is real and what is important in life and I am forever grateful for those lessons.

His awards include Bronze Stars, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Meritorious Service Medals, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Medals of Excellence for Joint Service and the Presidential Service Insignia.

“I believe in the constitution,” Kurgan said. “I believe that a small number can make a big difference, I believe that 56 great souls can change the world, that one great soul can change the landscape. No matter how bad things are in the world, l America will be safe because of the few who sacrifice themselves to protect the many, and I have been eternally grateful to serve and lead this small group.

Kurgan is coming for the last time in the age of great power competition, Korka lamented.

NBVC is a multi-dominant mission facility operating the largest maritime instrumented range in the world. NBVC is home to Point Mugu, Port Hueneme, San Nicolas Island, Laguna Peak, Pacific Coast Seabees, Westcoast Hawkeyes, 3 War Centers and 80 tenants. It is Ventura County’s largest employer and actively protects California’s largest coastal wetlands through its award-winning environmental programs.