70th Engineer Battalion
The mission of the 70th Engineer Battalion while assigned to the 1st Armored Division, was to deploy, with or without equipment, prepare for, and conduct engineer operations in support of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team or other headquarters, while caring for soldiers and families, and returns safely.
The 70th Engineer Battalion traced its lineage back to 1 October 1933 when it was first constituted in the Regular Army of the United States as the 2nd Battalion, 35th Engineer Regiment. The Battalion was brought into active service on 15 July 1941 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. It was moved shortly thereafter for initial training at Camp Robinson, Arkansas. While undergoing extensive training in Arkansas, the Battalion deployed briefly to Jonesboro, Louisiana to participate in the Louisiana Maneuvers. Late in 1941, the Battalion relocated their base of training from Camp Robinson to the West Coast. The Battalion's trip westward took them through the State of Kansas for a Christmas Day arrival at Fort Ord, California.
Following a brief and busy stay in California, the Battalion deployed northward for, in words from the Battalion daily logs, a gigantic road building project. The Battalion built 250 miles of the Alaska-Canada, or ALCAN, Highway including 15 major bridges with a combined length of over 4,000 feet.
Resulting from the reorganization of engineer forces in 1943, the 2nd Battalion, 35th Engineer Regiment was reorganized and redesignated the 145th Engineer Combat Battalion. Following this reorganization, the Battalion remained in the Yukon, concentrating their efforts on improving and maintaining their assigned sector of the ALCAN Highway. For this the unit recieved a Meritorious Unit Commendation.
During World War II, as part of the preparations for Operation Overlord, the cross-channel invasion of Europe, the Battalion sailed from Boston to Gurock, Scotland in April 1944. The Battalion immediately moved further south to Cheshire, England to undergo training and preparations for combat. The 145th Engineers entered the fray at Normandy on 7 July 1944 via the Utah beachhead. The Battalion went on to participate in the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe campaigns.
After the war, the Battalion was returned to the United States to be inactivated at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia on 8 January 1946. While in this inactive status, the 145th Engineer Combat Battalion was redesignated the 550th Engineer Combat Battalion and then, on 15 March 1949, the 70th Engineer Combat Battalion.
On 1 April 1949, the 70th Engineers were recalled to active service, this time in Salzburg, Austria. Upon the signing of the Austrian Peace Treaty in 1955, the Battalion was given the mission of closing out the US Army presence in Austria. In August 1955, the Battalion made its final crossing of the mountain-topped Austro-German border to make its new home near Stuttgart, Germany. The Battalion was on the move again less than 2 years later when it redeployed to the United States, as part of the Army's gyroscope program. It settled, for a while, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky as part of the 937th Engineer Group.
With the increase of US forces in Vietnam, the 70th Engineers were alerted for another deployment. In August 1965, the Battalion arrived at the port of Qui Nhon to become the first US combat Engineer unit in Vietnam. The 70th Engineers' mission upon arrival was to prepare for Operation Highland, the deployment of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) to positions around An Khe. Following 2 years of carrying out combat engineering tasks around An Khe, the Battalion was moved to Pleiku. Here it continued to perform combat engineering tasks under the 937th Engineer Group. The following year, the Battalion moved once more, this time to the Ban Me Thuot area where it was primarily concerned with main supply route maintenance and bridge repair, in addition to the construction of 6 forward fire support bases. During their time in Vietnam the 70th Engineer Battalion recieved a Presidential Unit Citation for operations in the Pleiku Province and 3 Meritorious Unit Commendations.
In October 1969, the Battalion was alerted for redeployment to the United States as part of the drawdown in Vietnam. The 70th engineers moved to Fort Lewis, Washington, and were inactivated on 30 November 1969.
Under the Engineer Restructuring Initiative, the increase of combat engineering support with the US Army heavy divisions, the 70th Engineer Battalion was once again called to active service. The Battalion stood up on 1 June 1993 at Fort Riley, Kansas as a proud member of the 1st Infantry Division.
The deployment of the 1st Infantry Division to Europe, and the activation of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, at Fort Riley, Kansas made the 70th Engineer Battalion a vital member of the "Bulldog Brigade" in America's oldest tank division.
Deploying to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in 2003, the Battalion relieved the 3rd Infantry Division in place and began the task of rebuilding the infrastructure of the shattered nation. During OIF I, thousands of pounds of unexploded ordnance, munitions and explosives were disposed of by Sapper platoons, while simultaneously rebuilding schools, bridges, power stations and sewer systems throughout Northern Baghdad. The 70th's performance during OIF I earned the unit the Valorous Unit Award.
In 2005, the Battalion deployed again to Iraq, attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. Operating as a Maneuver Task Force, the Battalion fought as infantry, securing routes and conducting combat operations resulting in the capture of almost 3 hundred insurgents and the discovery and destruction of caches totaling nearly 100 tons of munitions. The Battalion also provided security for Iraq's constitutional referendum and the historic national elections in December 2005. The 70th Engineer Battalion was nominated to receive the Meritorious Unit Citation for their performance during OIF III.
In March 2008, the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) cased its colors in Germany in preparation to move to Fort Riley, Kansas. Concurrently, the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division was inactivated, to be reflagged as the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized). While some of 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division's units were also reflagged, the 70th Engineer Battalion brought their lineage to the reorganized and redesiganted modular 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), which was activated in April 2008.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|