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29th Engineer Battalion (Topographic)

In late 2007, the 29th Engineer Battalion (Topographic) was inactivated and its personnel reflagged as the 65th Engineer Battalion. This inactivation was part of the modular transformation in the US Army and the realignment of US forces in the Pacific region.

Prior to its 2007 inactivation, the 29th Engineer Battalion, one of 2 then active topographic battalions, was the oldest of all US military mapping units, celebrating more than 75 years of distinguished service to the nation.

The 29th Engineer Battalion (Topographic) was first constituted on 18 May 1917 in the National Army as the 29th Engineer Regiment The regiment was organized between September 1917 and November 1918 at various stations as the 29th Engineers. In the advanced guard of General John Pershing's Allied Expeditionary Force was a small group of mappers destined to become Company H, 29th Engineer Regiment, effectively making the unit the oldest topographic unit in the Army.

The Regiment performed survey and map reproduction throughout the European Theatre during the First World War. The headquarters and base plant were located in Langres, France, while mobile units were sent to various sectors of the American front. Additionally, the Regiment took an active part in the defense of the Toul sector and the Meuse-Argonne offensive. For its efforts in World War I, the Regiment earned 4 Battle Stars, a World War I streamer, and was personally cited by General Pershing. The Battalion's crest and motto, "Praevalemus" (We Succeed), dated from this period.

After the armistice in November 1918, 2nd Battalion, 29th Engineer Regiment was redesignated on 1 December 1918 as the 1st Battalion, 74th Engineers and thereafter had separate lineage. The Regiment was demobilized entirely between 13 July and 2 September 1919 at Camp Upton, New York, and Camp Humphreys, Virginia.

The unit was reconstituted on 14 July 1923 in the Regular Army as the 29th Engineer Battalion. It was activated on 18 July 1923 at Fort Humphreys, Virginia. In 1929 a new voluntary organization named US Army Engineer Battalion in Nicaragua (USEBIN), grew out of the 29th Engineer Battalion and deployed to survey an internationally proposed canal route through the unmapped areas of Nicaragua. In May 1931, President Herbert Hoover awarded the unit with a personal letter of appreciation. In July 1931, the entire unit reformed at Fort Schuyler, New York, where it conducted mapping of Manhattan Island prior to moving to the West Coast in 1934.

While on the West Coast, the 29th Engineer Battalion conducted the extensive original mapping of the Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound areas of Washington State. The unit was redesignated on 7 November 1941 as the 29th Engineer Topographic Battalion. The unit stayed on the West Coast until 1944. During this time they surveyed the route for the ALCAN Highway in Alaska and Canada. Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, 29th Engineer Topographic Battalion was reorganized and redesignated on 20 June 1944 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 29th Engineer Base Topographic Battalion. The remainder of battalion thereafter had a separate lineage.

During World War II, the Battalion supported operations in the Aleutians and the Pacific and European Theatres. Their greatest completed wartime mission was the mapping of the Aleutian island chain in Alaska. For its efforts during the war, the Battalion earned the Pacific Campaign Streamer.

After World War II in 1945, the Battalion moved to the Philippines where they began the vast Post-Hostilities Mapping Project and training of the future Philippine Mapping Agency. The mission of the 29th Engineer Battalion included first, second, and third order geodetic surveys and photogrammetric control surveys; collection of maps produced by foreign mapping agencies; and collection of geodetic data and engineer intelligence data for the Army Map service. Their efforts were so successful that the target date of 1960 was lowered to 1954, and the project was completed on schedule. After 9 years of surveying and mapping, the Battalion left the Philippines. While in the Philippines, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 29th Engineer Base Topographic Battalion had been redesignated on 15 January 1953 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 29th Engineer Battalion.

In 1954 the Battalion assumed responsibility for Korea and Okinawa and moved to Tokyo, Japan. The unit was redesignated on 22 March 1954 as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 29th Engineer Battalion. In Japan it absorbed elements of the 64th Engineer Battalion and continued its mission of providing topographic support to US and Allied forces in the Pacific Theatre, particularly to combat commands in Southeast Asia. In 1966, it moved to Ford Island, Hawaii and was the primary map production unit for US Forces in Vietnam. The Commander in Chief, US Army Pacific, awarded the meritorious unit Commendation in 1969. A second Meritorious Unit Commendation was awarded in 1972.

The 29th Engineer Battalion was inactivated on 15 September 1972 on Ford Island, Hawaii, but its soldiers continued to provide topographic support in the Pacific Theatre with the 652nd Engineer Battalion. In 1977, the 652nd Engineer Battalion moved to Fort Shafter, Hawaii and on 15 August 1980 it was reflagged as the 29th Engineer Battalion. Concurrently, the unit was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 29th Engineer Battalion, and activated at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. The Battalion formed the basis for the Pacific Topographic Center with the unique mission of providing tailored topographic support to all US Forces throughout the Pacific Theatre.

The Battalion's 70th Engineer Company won the coveted Itschner Award for the best Engineer Company in the US Army on 1990. The Battalion also played a significant role in providing topographic support to US Forces in combat during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.




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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:25:01 ZULU