2nd Engineer Battalion
The history of the 2nd Engineer Battalion had its beginning on 3 August 1861 when it was organized from one existing company and 3 new companies of Engineer soldiers. It was designated the "Battalion of Engineers, Army of the United States." During the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, the Battalion fought with the Army of the Potomac and earned campaign streamers for Peninsula, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Virginia 1963, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Appomattox.
Again in 1898 the Battalion went to war in the Spanish-American War and distinguished itself in Cuba with V Corps and was awarded a campaign streamer for Santiago. The Battalion then accompanied the US Forces to the Philippines where it earned another campaign streamer for subduing the Moors in the Philippine Insurrection. The Battalion of Engineers was reorganized into 3 battalions of 4 companies each on 14 March 1901, one of which was designated the 2nd Battalion of Engineers.
Years of peacetime service were halted in 1916 when members of Pancho Villa's Mexican revolutionaries attacked Columbus, New Mexico. In retaliation, the United States sent armed forces into Mexico under the command of General Pershing. It was during this campaign that the 2nd Battalion of Engineers was reorganized as the 2nd Regiment of Engineers on 1 August 1916 at Columbus, New Mexico. A campaign streamer was awarded for this punitive expedition.
The 2nd Regiment of Engineers was redesignated 29 August 1917 as 1st Battalion, 2nd Engineer Regiment and known as the 2nd Engineers. In September of 1917 the Regiment was assigned to the 2nd Division and was one of the first to sail for France where it began fighting as Infantry in the Battle of Chateau Thierry. This was followed by the Soissons Battle where the work of the Engineers earned them the Croix de Guerre from the French Government. The motto "Ardeur et Tenacite" was taken verbatim from the citation of the French Army for the extraordinary effort of the Engineers on 18 July 1918 at the Battle of Soissons. They earned campaign streamers for Aisne, Ile de France 1918, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihlel, and Meuse-Argonne. The Regiment received a higher percentage of battle casualties than any other engineer unit in France. In 1940 the Belgian Government awarded the 2nd Engineers the Belgian Fourragere for their work during World War I. All members of the 2nd Engineers wear the Fourragere in the colors of the French Croix de Guerre.
After World War I the Regiment returned to the United States in August 1919 and settled in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, which became its permanent station until June 1927 when it moved to Fort Logan, Colorado. In 1939 the 1st Battalion, 2nd Engineer Regiment was reorganized and redesignated the 2nd Engineer Battalion (Combat). The Battalion became a part of the new streamlined 2nd Infantry Division. They then returned to Fort Sam Houston to begin intensive training for war. The Battalion was redesignated the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion on 1 August 1942. They finished their training at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin and sailed for Great Britain in October 1943.
On D-Day, 6 June 1944, one officer and 69 enlisted men came ashore on Omaha Beach at H-Hour to blow obstacles in the path of assault boats and landing craft carrying the Infantry. For this action, those 70 were awarded the Bronze Arrowhead and the Distinguished Unit Citation. On 16 June 1944, the Battalion was committed as Infantry in support of the 38th Infantry on Hill 192, St. Lo, France. On 4 July 1944 the Engineers reverted to engineer work, but many times were called upon to fight with Infantry troops.
As part of the First United States Army, the 2nd Division swung south and raced towards the Brest Peninsula, first to contain, and later force into surrender the proud German 2nd Parachute Division. which seemed willing to hold the important seaport of Brest to the last man. The war took on the aspect of a personal contest because of the coincidence that pitted the men of the 2nd Engineer Battalion against their counterparts of the German 2nd Engineer Battalion.
In September 1944 they trucked 670 miles to build roads for the spearhead units of the First Army in Belgium. The Battalion was awarded its first distinguished Unit Citation for action as Infantry near Wirtzfeld-Bullingen. It was during this period that technician 4th Grade Truman Kimbro, Company C, placed mines directly under advancing enemy armor and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Following the Battle of the Bulge, Allied units drove across the Rhine and on through to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. Here word reached them that the German Armies had surrendered.
When peace came, the 2nd Engineers had been awarded battle streamers for Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe. Men in the Battalion were awarded the Medal of Honor, one Distinguished Service Cross, twenty-seven Silver Stars, eighty-five Bronze Stars, and 4 of the Croix de Guerre. The Battalion was cited twice by the Belgian Army for the action at Ardennes and at Elsenborn Crest.
During the Korean Conflict the Battalion sailed with the 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Washington. The Division was committed soon after landing at Pusan and spearheaded a drive north to the Yalu River where the Communist Chinese Intervention began. The emmensity of the Chinese attack soon forced the Division to withdraw down the peninsula. During this action the 2nd Engineers were ordered to fight a delaying action while the rest of the Division fell back to regroup. From 25 November until 30 November the Battalion fought off the advancing Chinese before it was overwhelmed at Kunu-Ri. After burning and destroying all usable equipment, the few men still alive were captured by the Communist Forces.
The 2nd Engineers were built back to full strength and were still supporting the Division when the final cease-fire was given. During Korea, the Battalion had been awarded 10 more battle streamers: UN Defensive, UN Offensive, CCF Intervention, First UN Counteroffensive, CCF Spring offensive, UN Summer-Fall Offensive, Second Korean Winter, Korea Summer Fall 1952, Third Korean Winter, and Korea Summer 1953. The Battalion also received its second Distinguished Unit Citation for the action at Hongchon and 2 Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations: Naktong River Line and Korea. Company B received a third Distinguished Unit Citation for Chipyong-Ni.
The 2nd Engineers then moved with the Division to Ft. Lewis, Washington for 2 years until called to Alaska. On 1 March 1954 they were redesignated the 2nd Engineer Battalion (Combat) and following their tour in the 49th State were transferred, less personnel and equipment, to Department of the Army control on 16 December 1957.
On 14 June 1958 the 2nd Engineers were reborn at Fort Benning, Georgia with the reactivation of the 2nd Infantry Division where they assumed the mission of training Engineer soldiers. 11 September 1961 saw the unit enter into an Intensified Combat Training Program. Upon termination of the training and upon being designated a STRAC unit in March 1962, the 2nd Engineer Battalion entered into specialized training in order to acquire a highly trained readiness posture commensurate with the unit's STRAC Mission. The Battalion was reorganized under the ROAD concept, gaining a bridge company and 4 additional line platoons. This reorganization was completed in November 1963.
On 1 July 1965 the 2nd Engineer Battalion was transferred to Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division, less personnel and equipment. In the tradition of their predecessors, the 2nd Engineer Battalion soldiers had been arduously tested, and had met the challenge. On 16 October 1991, they became a mechanized engineer unit, and on 16 February 1992, officially became part of the 1st Engineer Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Company E was redesignated the 50th Engineer Company (Assault Float Bridge) and was also reattached to the Battalion, to continue its long association with the unit. The mission of the 2nd Engineer Battalion was as the most forward deployed engineers in the US Army, a vital part of the commitment to peace and freedom on the Korean peninsula.
On 15 June 2005, as part of the reduction of US Forces in Korea and the transformation of the 2nd Infantry Division to the US Army's new modular force structure, the 2nd Engineer Battalion was inactivated. Its facilities at Camp Castle were prepared to be turned over to the Republic of Korea. Its were personnel reflagged as the Special Troops Battalion, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. This was part of the transformation of the 2nd Infantry Division to the US Army's new modular force stucture, under which various division level support assets were made organic to new modular maneuver brigades.
The 2nd Engineer Battalion was reactivated in October 2008 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The 70th Engineer Battalion was reflagged as the 2nd Engineer Battalion, which became part of the 36th Engineer Brigade headquartered at Fort Hood, Texas.
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