168th Engineer Battalion (Combat)
The 168th Engineer battalion was inactivated on 15 September 2000. This was part of the reorganization of the 3rd Brigade as 3rd IBCT (Initial Brigade Combat Team), a transformation from a heavy brigade to a "medium" brigade, under what became known as the US Army's modular force structure. A Company and other elements of the 168th Engineer Battalion were reflagged as 18th Engineer Company, part of the new 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
The 168th Engineer Battalion (Combat) was first constituted on 25 February 1943 and activated at Camp Carson (later known as Fort Carson), Colorado on 5 May 1943. The new unit trained and conducted maneuvers at Camp Carson and in Tennesee, prior to deploying to Europe in 1944.
The 168th Engineer Battalion landed on Utah Beach, Normandy, France with General George S. Patton's Third Army in mid-July 1944. Between August 1944 and March 1945, the 168th Engineers fought in France, Belgium, and Germany, transferring between the Third, Ninth, and First Armies. They fought alongside the 7th and 11th Armored Divisions, and the 29th, 106th, 4th, 89th, and 2nd Infantry Divisions.
Prior to the Battle of Bulge, between 17 and 23 December 1944, the 168th Engineers reorganized as infantry and were charged with the defense of St. Vith, Belgium (Sahn-Vee). During the crucial period of the German offensive in the Ardennes in 1944, the 7th Armored Division, of which the 168th Engineers were then an element, was attacked by enemy forces estimated at 8 divisions, among them 3 SS Panzer and 2 Panzer divisions. The Allied forces were subjected to repeated tank and infantry attacks, which grew in intensity as the German forces attempted to destroy the stubborn forces that were denying them the use of the key communication center of St. Vith. The attacking forces were repeatedly thrown back by the gallant troops who rose from their foxholes and fought in fierce hand-to-hand combat to stop the penetrations and inflict heavy losses on the numerically superior foe. The 168th Engineer Battalion, and the 7th Armored Division, inflicted crippling losses and imposed great delay upon the enemy by a masterful and grimly determined defense in keeping with the highest traditions of the Army of the United States. Their performance in the battle earned them the Presidential Unit Citation, the Army's highest unit award.
The 168th Engineers brought their expertise to bear on numerous occasions, such as the crossing of the Rhine River at Oberwessel with the 89th Infantry Division. After participating in 5 major campaigns, they met up with the Russians just prior to 8 May 1945, the official ending date of World War II. The 168th Engineer Battalion was subsequently inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 22 November 1945.
The 168th Engineer Battalion was reactivated on 17 January 1955 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The unit deployed to Germany on 8 March 1957, and redeployed to Fort Polk, Louisiana in August of 1963.
The Battalion deployed overseas again in November 1965, to the Republic of Vietnam, operating out of Di An with the 1st Infantry Division. Their actions in the Iron Triangle while participating in 11 campaigns throughout Vietnam earned the Battalion the Valorous Unit award and 3 Meritorious Unit Commendations. The 168th Engineer Battalion was again inactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington on 10 April 1970.
The Battalion's colors were once again uncased at Fort Lewis on 26 April 1995, this time assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. 3rd Brigade was the 2nd Infantry Division's home brigade at the time, with the rest of the Division forward deployed to the Republic of Korea.
In 2000, the 3rd Brigade was chosen to be one of 2 brigades converted to a new force structure, later known as the US Army's modular force structure. These new modular brigade combat teams would incorporate various elements previously held at Division level and attached only during operations. In addition, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team would utilize a then new family of light armored vehicles, later known as the Stryker. As part of this reorganization, the 168th Engineer Battalion (Combat) was subsequently inactivated again in September 2000.
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