Military


642nd Engineer Company (Combat Support Equipment)

The mission of the 642nd Combat Support Equipment Company is to maintain a Combat Support Equipment company manned and trained to deploy worldwide by air, sea and land in support of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and the XVIIIth Airborne Corps. On order the unit is tasked with providing the Corps with mobility, countermobility, survivability, and sustainment support.

The 642nd Engineer Company (Combat Support Equipment) was originally constituted in February 1943 as the 642nd Camouflage Company. It was then activated in June 1943 at Fort Ord, California, and inactivated on the Philippine Islands in October, 1945. The unit received the Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation Badge for meritorious service in World War II.

The US Army then redesigned and reactivated the 642nd Engineer Company in May 1968, where it became a resident of Fort Devens, Massachusetts. The unit performed post construction projects in order to upgrade and maintain the facilities at Fort Devens. During this time the unit deployed to Honduras to operate rock quarries and perform rock crushing operations in support of road construction.

It then remained in Fort Devens until October 1989, when the 642nd moved to Fort Drum, New York. Once at Fort Drum, the Company became part of the 548th Supply and Services Battalion. Once they arrived on Fort Drum they continued their post improvement operations by constructing the new division parade field, adjacent to the 10th Mountain Division (LI) headquarters. On January 1991 the Company got the call and deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield and subsequently Desert Storm. Just prior to departing the 642nd was integrated into the 41st Engineer Battalion in an effort to consolidate all Engineer assets in the 10th Mountain Division (LI). During Operation Desert Shield the 642nd was attached to the 7th Engineer Brigade in support of VII Corps. The company constructed more than 500 kilometers of Main Supply Routes and assisted in constructing Log Base Echo. On 15 May 1991 the majority of the Company return to Fort Drum and began redeployment operations.

After Desert Storm, the 642nd began supporting the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum by participating in division training exercises, upgrading training area roads, and performing snow removal operations. In addition to this they participated in several Off Post projects to include a deployment to a National Guard Post in Guilderland, New York. In March 1992, the 642nd constructed an access road and a trench bunker system at that location in support of the National Guard and Reserve Components.

Soon after they returned from Guilderland, New York, they became involved in another more serious Off Post mission. In September 1992 the unit was sent as part of the Hurricane Andrew Relief Operations Package. By sending a composite platoon with dump trucks, See's and bucket loaders to southern Florida they remove hurricane debris and helped to rebuild the surround area. Upon completion of this, they returned to Fort Drum around October 1992.

Right in step with the 642nd's high op-tempo, the Company deployed to Somalia in December 1992 for Operation Restore Hope. The main body arrived in Mogadishu nearly 2 years to the day after the company arrived in Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm. While in Somalia, the company constructed over 200 kilometers of the Restore Hope Road between Bardera and Kismyo, which opened up the interior of Somalia to humanitarian agencies. Shortly following the order to withdraw from the country, the 642nd returned to Fort Drum in March 1993.

In the summer of 1994, the Company began a 3 year long project to build 21 acres of wetlands on the Fort Drum training area, in an effort to rebuild the local ecosystem that had been ravaged by years of training in downrange Fort Drum. This project, although eventually completed, was put on hold as the Company deployed to Haiti on 24 September 1994 for Operation Uphold Democracy. While in country the 642nd was attached to the 30th Engineer Battalion and worked in the Port-Au-Prince Area, building basecamps, fixing airfield roads, and building a landfill. The company redeployed to Fort Drum on 3 December 1994.

During the month of February 1997, the 642nd received the call to deploy to Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of Operation Joint Guard. This mission called for a rapid deployment with only 2 weeks to prepare all their troops and equipment. While in Bosnia, the 642nd was attached to the 82nd Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division and was based out of Camp Bedrock. In addition, a vertical platoon from A Company, 130th Engineer Battalion (Combat Heavy), Maine Army National Guard was attached. During the deployment, the company performed countless horizontal and vertical construction missions that improved the force protection, morale, and mobility of the Stabilization Force (SFOR) Soldiers. Furthermore, many of the missions served to improve the living conditions of the Bosnian nationals and subsequently improve SFOR-Bosnian relations. The Company redeployed on 27 October 1997.

In February 1999, the 642nd conducted platoon FTXs and METL training early in the month. Then as the headquarters element flew to Bosnia for a reconnaissance, the rest of the company began MOUT training and ran through STX lanes. The MLCCC instructors who teach the MOUT warfare course on post taught the series of classes during the three-day exercise. These classes included room clearance, breaching, and movement in a MOUT environment.

In March 1999, the 642nd conducted IRT training, bridge recon and repair, driver training, ATEC Crane training, and SRC Checks throughout the month. In addition, the 642nd participated in Exercises Sapper Peak and Deuce Peak by conducting the following: LMTV Lot Mission, MLCCC Lot Mission, South Tank Trail Repair Mission, and Snow Removal Ops. The LMTV and MLCCC parking lot missions allowed the 642nd to test the new 20-ton Dumps, which they had received in February 1999. Their performance was above the standard as they demonstrated their reliability and their ease of use. 3rd Platoon, 642nd Engineers took the lead on the South Tank Trail. They repaired a 10' deep x 24' wide x 20' long section of roadway, which had washed out.

In April 1999, the 642nd continued ATEC Crane training begun in January, and in the latter half of April they received a Laser Leveling Class for new Survey Equipment and began fielding the Laser Leveling Equipment. The following month, the 642nd moved into the full preparation for the Bosnia deployment by conducting a Mission Readiness Exercise (MRE). While deployed to Fort Polk the 642nd helped to rebuild the Self FLS located on the mock Camp Commanche, as well as to construct a road up Hill 115, which exited the back of the airfield and connected to one of the Main Supply Routes. For these endeavors the 642nd received a Letter of Commendation from the Commanding General of Fort Polk. While away the 642nd Motorpool received an upgrade and the remainder of the company not at the MRE worked on the Officer Loop Parking Area. This project severed two purposes. It gave 2nd Platoon training opportunities and laid the base for a Reserve Unit to come in and pave the lot. This sort of combined training was becoming more and more common at Fort Drum between the 642nd Engineer Company and the 411th Engineer Brigade. It allowed the 642nd to utilize assets not often available to a CSE company, to include paving and quarry operations, as well as extensive dump truck operations.

In June 1999, the 642nd performed maintenance on the Belvedere FLS in early June. This project had become a standard for the 642nd Engineer Company over the preceeding years, as they either overhaul or simply upgrade the airfield every year. That year they simply upgraded the drainage plan for the FLS and shaped the runway itself to a 3% slope, along its 3500 foot length. The Company project took about 10 days of work, and upgraded it enough to allow for the C-130 landings that took place later that year. The 642nd then conducted a dig support mission for 3-62nd Air Defense Artillery. In the middle of the month, the Rail Load for Bosnia moved out and the month ended with the finishing of the Officer's Loop Project and a Company AT-4 range.

In July 1999, the 642nd CMS Cell departed for Bosnia at mid month while the rest of the company trained on the SEEs. Shortly thereafter, the Swift Road construction mission began. By the end of the month, Milvans were loaded and another Rail Load moved out. In August, the 642nd started the month with a Hand Grenade Range followed by the NBC Chamber. The end of the month concentrated on the Swift Road construction project.

Another deployment of the 642nd began in September 1999, when the 642nd deployed as part of SFOR-6 to Bosnia, under the command of the 10th Mountain Division (LI). While deployed to Bosnia, the 642nd was involved in the reconstruction of the Commanche Base airfield, the construction of several off base roadways, and the improvement of several base camps in both the US and foreign sectors. They improved foreign relations with the Russian, Bosnian, and NATO forces in Bosnia, as well as the quality of life of both military personnel and local civilians alike. They redeployed to Fort Drum on March 5th, 2000. 2nd Platoon remained at Fort Drum and conducted a Demo Range in the middle of the month. Then the Construction Project on the Access Road North at the FLS began. At the end of the month, a new construction project began at the Sackets Harbor Graveyard. When that was finished 2nd Platoon began construction on Access Road South at the FLS.

In November 1999, the 642nd trained for DPW Snow Removal at the beginning of the month. Then they supported Warrior Peak with dig support. On the 5 November 1999 they conducted an FLS recon with the 82nd Airborne. The latter half of the month included recovery from Warrior Peak and an M16 and M249 range. In December 1999, the 642nd conducted more snow removal training in the early half of the month and then just before block leave, 12 personnel from Bosnia were redeployed early as part of a drawdown. In Bosnia, the 642nd was busy with several projects including the construction of the Commanche Airfield, the design of the Commanche Base Waste Water Treatment Plant and Culvert, the Airfield Drainage Project, repairing Route Carolina, the MCAP Road Construction on Eagle Base, and Checkpoint 45 Construction on Route Carolina in the Russian Sector.

The Commanche Airfield Construction consisted of building 52 helipads, an aircraft departure pad, a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) Facility, and a Temporary Ammunition Holding Area. The Airfield Drainage Design included an extensive drainage plan which linked the existing drainage of the Commanche Base FLS, to their new drainage system. The Route Carolina Repair reconstructed Route Carolina for the SFOR forces. The roadway had been washed out in a mudslide, leaving a vertical drop of about 20 feet where the roadway used to be. The plan to temporarily fix this involved pulling down the side of the hill to help fill in the hole, which was created, and then grade out and compact the area. Finally a concrete headwall had to be emplaced to ensure this would not happen again. The MCAP Road Construction on Eagle Base accomplished clearing over 143,000 cubic meters of possibly mined area using the Mine Clearing Armor Protected (MCAP) Dozer. The Checkpoint 45 Construction on Route Carolina in Russian Sector upgraded the existing Russian checkpoint by laying down a gravel base within the checkpoint itself, and then to surround it with Hesco Bastions for better survivability. This was one of the many joint ventures that the 642nd worked on during their Bosnian deployment. They along with the Austrian's, helped the Russians upgrade their checkpoint so as to prevent flooding and improve the quality of life.

Elements of the 642nd deployed with other elements of the 10th Mountain Division in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the CENTCOM AO, and to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

A part of the US Army's modular force structure transformation included the creation of Brigade Special Troops Battalions. These units were designed to provide organic signals, engineering, military intelligence, military police, and other support which had historically been achieved by the habitual attachment of companies and platoons from units assigned to parent divisions. As a result of this transformation in the 10th Mountain Division, the 41st Engineer Battalion was inactivated, its Companies and other subordinate units reflagged and/or reassigned either Brigade Special Troops Battalions within the Division or to the 10th Sustainment Brigade. 642nd Engineer Company (Combat Support Equipment) was inactivated and reactivated assigned to the 7th Engineer Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade.




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