864th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Heavy)
The 864th Engineer Battalion was first constituted as the 864th Engineer Aviation Battalion on 14 December 1942. The Battalion was activated 1 January 1943 at Geiger Field, Washington at Camp Geiger, Washington near Spokane. The Battalion served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, earning 3 campaign streamers and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. The unit was inactivated in Japan on 30 June 1946.
The Battalion was allotted on 18 February 1949 to the Organized Reserve Corps. It was activated on 14 March 1949 at Morristown, New Jersey and inactivated there on 22 September 1949.
The Battalion was activated on 1 March 1951 at Tulsa, Oklahoma for the purpose of highway construction in that state. While the unit was active, the Organized Reserve Corps was redesignated on 9 July 1952 as the Army Reserve, to which the Battalion remained assigned. The Battalion was inactivated on 11 July 1952 at Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Battalion was withdrawn on 8 July 1955 from the Army Reserve and allotted to the Regular Army and activated on 25 September 1955 at Wolters Air Force Base, Texas. The unit was designated as a Special Category Activity Reassigned With Air Force unit, performing airfield construction and maintenance for the fledgling US Air Force. The Battalion was reorganized and redesignated on 15 May 1956 as the 864th Engineer Battalion (Construction), returning to US Army control, but remaining at Camp Wolters.
In May 1965, the Battalion was shipped to Cam Rahn Bay, Republic of Vietnam. The Battalion was the first battalion-size US engineer unit in Vietnam and responsible for port transportation and support facilities construction. As more engineer battalions were assigned to Vietnam, the unit was assigned missions of base camp construction and line of communication construction and maintenance. For its outstanding efforts, the Battalion was awarded the distinctive designation "Pacemakers" by the Secretary of the Army in September 1968. The Battalion returned to CONUS in August 1971, after earning 13 campaign streamers, the Vietnamese Civic Action Honor Medal, First Class, and 2 Meritorious Unit Commendations.
Back in the United States, the Battalion was assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington. The Battalion was reorganized in June 1976 as an Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Heavy). D Company, 864th Engineer Battalion was detached from the rest of the Battalion and stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco. During the period from 1986-1990, the Battalion deployed vertical platoons to Honduras in support of the US Southern Command. In 1987, the Battalion was reorganized with a Headquarters Support Company and 3 line companies. Company D was inactivated and reflagged as Company C, which remained at the Presidio of San Francisco.
In January 1991, the Battalion deployed to Saudi Arabia for 8 months in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. During this period, the 864th Engineer Battalion was responsible for construction of 290 miles of petroleum pipeline, the repair and maintenance of main supply routes, enemy prisoner of war camp construction, and provided emergency services restoration to Kuwait City.
In 1992, the Battalion deployed a platoon to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, providing humanitarian relief to Haitian refugees. In February 1992, A Company deployed its 1st Plattoon to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to construct a holding camp for Haitian Refugees. This included construction of showers, fences, pipe lines, a washrack, a playground, tent cities, a school, and a church. Firts Platoon soldiers were awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for their efforts.
In March 1993, 10 A Company soldiers returned from Operation Restore Hope. This operation sent theses soldiers to Somalia, East Africa, under the 43rd Engineer Battalion out of Fort Benning Georgia. A Company's soldiers aided in the construction of numerous medic tables, guard shacks, basecamps, and upgraded roads allowing relief supplies to reach needy Somalian people expeditiously.
In the winter of 1993, the Battalion deployed to Arizona in support of JTF-6, providing a multitude of construction missions in support of the Border Patrol and various law enforcement agencies. In July 1993, C Company, 864th Engineer Battalion was inactivated and colors retired.
B Company, 864th Engineer Battalion and support elements from the Battalion HSC deployed to Honduras to build schools from June 1994 to September 1994. The Battalion deployed elements from HSC, A and B Companies to McCall, Idaho in support of Task Force "Rugged-Pacemaker" to fight forest fires in the summer of 1994. In the spring of 1995, elements of HSC and B Company deployed to Texas, again to support JTF-6 missions, while A Company deployed to Thailand to build structures during the annual Exercise Cobra Gold.
From April 1995 to June 1995, A Company's assets were spread between 2 continents. The Earthmoving Platoon (horizontal construction) and Maintenance Platoon deployed to McGregor Range Complex at Fort Bliss, Texas, in support of JTF-6 and the US Border Patrol. The Platoons constructed a special purpose range that provided various federal agencies a specialized firearms training facility. During the same time frame, 1st and 2nd Platoons deployed to Thailand in support of Exericse Cobra Gold 1995. The 2 platoons were spread over 4 construction sites constructing two multipurpose buildings, a library, and a water basin within 21 days. In August 1995, 2nd Platoon deployed to Yakima Training Center to construct the 2nd Ranger Battalion a Rotary Wing Bilat Target.
In June 1996, the A Company deployed to Haiti, for a 6-month rotation, to construct schools and renovate a hospital for the locals. Meanwhile, the HSC and elements of B Company deployed to Hanford, Washington, with one day notice, to combat fires in that area. In April 1997, B Company deployed to Thailand in support of Exercise Cobra Gold, to provide humanitarian and civic assistance, in the form of new construction and facilities upgrade.
In January 1998, 1st, 2nd, and Equipment Maintenance Platoons of A Company deployed to Loredo Sands, Texas in support of JTF-6 and the US Border Patrol's (USBP) anti-drug effort. In just 75 days, the A Company built a 165 by 60 foot barracks to house 80 people; constructed and upgraded almost 20 miles of roads; constructed 11 drainage structures; established the ground work and drainage for a 10 aircraft heliport; and constructed the 300 soldier base camp necessary to allow the CEA, USBP, and JTF-6 to conduct sustained operations in an area that has been a traditianal "highway" for drugs into the United States.
In February 1998, the Battalion deployed to Laredo, Texas in support of JTF-6 to conduct general engineering construction missions. From June to September 1998, the Earth Moving Platoon, A Company constructed a box culvert for Pincus Road on Fort Lewis. In June, 1st Platoon, A COmpany deployed to Priarie Washington where they converted a 120 year old railroad bridge into a foot bridge to help complete a 26 mile hiking and biking trail for the Rails to Trails Coalition. B Company deployed to Alaska in September of 1998 through October 1998 to conduct base camp and road construction in support of JTF Alaskan Road.
The HSC and the Earth Moving Platoons from A and B company deployed to White Sands, New Mexico to conduct horizontal construction missions to include road and airfield construction, and 2 new golf course fairways and a driving range from February 1999 to April 1999. Meanwhile in April 1999, B company deployed a vertical platoon to Abilene, Texas in support of JTF-6 and the Abilene Police Department to construct a shoot house for their training facility. Shortly thereafter in May of 1999, A company deployed to Thailand in support of Exercise Cobra Gold to again provide humanitarian and civic assistance, in the form of new construction and facilities upgrade.
A Company and elements from HSC and B company deployed to Kosovo to conduct base camp construction and facilities upgrade along with constructing and improving existing road networks for Camp Bondsteel and the NATO forces assigned there from August 1999 through February 2000. Meanwhile B Company and the HSC were busy taking part in constructions missions that were vital to the Army's new Medium Brigade Transformation Project being conducted at Fort Lewis, Washington.
By 2000, the mission of the 864th Engineer Battalion was to, on order, deploy and conduct general engineering operations in support of Army operations. The 864th Engineer Battalion was made up of the Battalion Headquarters, Headquarters Support Company, A Company, and B Company, plus C Company stationed in Alaska.
In March 2003, the 864th Engineer Battalion deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Battalion supported V Corps in the attack to liberate Iraq and during post-hostilities conducted extensive airfield construction and general engineering in support of CJTF-7 Operations earning the Meritorious Unit Citation. The Battalion redeployed on 20 February 2004 to Fort Lewis, Washington.
In March 2005, the 864th Engineer Battalion deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VI and worked on road projects around the Kandahar region in support of CJTF-76. The Battalion earned the Valorious Unit Award for its contributions to Coalition forces specifically on road projects in the Kandahar and Paktika Provinces, as well as many FOB improvements. The 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy) returned to Fort Lewis, Washington on 26 March 2006 and swiftly began preparing for Operation Enduring Freedom 2006-2008.
In November 2006, the Battalion deployed to Afghanistan and served an 18-month deployment and successfully completed many missions that included: road construction, FOB expansions, low water crossings and culvert improvement, built K-spans, repaired bridges, built combat out posts along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and conducted many humanitarian missions that helped villages throughout Eastern Afghanistan.
In May 2008, the Battalion redeployed to Fort Lewis and immediately began their transformation into the new modular Army. The Battalion formally completed their transformation in 16 October 2008. As part of this transformation, the Battalion inactivated its organic A, B, and C Companies, reorganized its Headquarters Support Company as a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and activated an organic Forward Support Company. The 577th, 585th, and 617th Engineer Companies were subsequently assigned to the Battalion. The Battalion remained assigned to the reorganized and redesignated 555th Engineer Brigade.
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