459th Engineer Company (MRBC)
On order the 459th Engineer Company mobilizes and deploys to a designated area of operation and provides bridging support for maneuver units. Additionally the unit will conduct hauling operations with reconfigured bridge trucks. Equipment in the 459th inventory can span up to 750 feet of water, or bridge sections can be used to tow vehicles across wider water bodies. To the U.S. Army Reservists of Clarksburg's 459th Engineer Company (Float Bridge), bridge building is, by nature, temporary. They build a bridge in one day, and after the bridge is used in conjunction with an assigned mission -- they take the bridge down and move it to another location to re-build it. When at home station in Clarksburg, the 459th periodically conducts river bridging missions on the Monongahela River at Fairmont, WV.
The 459th Engineer Company from the U.S. Army Reserve Center in Bridgeport, West Virginia is part of the 38th Ordnance Group headquartered in Charleston, WV, a major subordinate command assigned to the 99th Regional Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve. The company's mission is providing bridging and/or rafting operations to move troops, vehicles, equipment, and supplies across lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water in a developing or secure theater of operations.
The 459th traces its roots to the 723rd Engineer Depot Company, which was constituted in the Organized Reserves on April 1, 1927, and organized in Baltimore, Maryland in December 1929. After twice being redesignated, the company was ordered into active military service on June 25, 1943 and reorganized at Camp Beale, California. Like many units at the start of World War II, the 723rd completed training in several states in preparation for an overseas combat assignment. When that opportunity came the soldiers of the 723rd quickly proved themselves. Arriving in the Pacific, the 723rd was assigned to New Guinea where the company earned two Meritorious Unit Commendations with streamers embroidered "Pacific Theater 1944-1945" and "Pacific Theater 1945-1946". The 723rd was inactivated after World War II at Finschhafen, New Guinea, on March 21, 1946.
This Clarksburg, WV Army Reserve engineer company conducted assault bridging operations with Headquarters and Service Company, 528th Special Operations Support Battalion (Airborne) at McArthur Lake 03 June 1992. The 459th Engineer Company (Assault Float Bridge - Ribbon) set up a floating bridge section on the west side of the lake. Then HSC soldiers drove their vehicles, including 2.5 ton trucks and commercial utility cargo vehicles, onto the floating section and the engineers ferried them to the lake's east side. Fort Bragg is the annual training site for the engineer company's soldiers, most of whom are crew members. Capt. Richard Forren, 459th commander and a civilian commercial architect, said he welcomed the chance to train here. "We have just 48 days a year to do all our required training, and get most of that on the water. Even so, we love showing the active component that we can do the job when called upon," Forren said.
The 459th Engineer Co.'s claim to fame is a commercial which starts out asking, "How do you get this equipment to these soldiers when there is a river between them?" The commercial, which began airing the spring of 1997, shows a bay dropping into the water and the Clarksburg, W. Va., Army Reserve unit moving soldiers and equipment across the Black River in Fort Drum, NY. The voice in the commercial answers, "You build a bridge."
In 1999 the 459th was still helping soldiers and equipment get where they need to be. In Puerto Barrios the 459th, along with the 299th Engineer Co. from Fort Belvoir, Va., has been tasked to move equipment and soldiers across the Motagua River for New Horizons, a joint-combined field training exercise. The exercise had 3,060 Army Reserve soldiers from 33 states rotating into Guatemala between April and August. The soldiers are constructing schools, restoring roads, building levees and providing medical treatment to the Guatemalan people. New Horizons II provides an excellent opportunity for the U.S. Army Reservists to refine their military skills while helping to improve the quality of life for the people in the region hit hard during the 1998 hurricane season. The 459th and the 299th played a huge part in the exercise. The units are transporting soldiers to areas hit hardest last year by the wrecking ball of Hurricane Mitch. The two units were crucial to the success of the overall mission. The primary mission is to make repairs from the hurricane damage. The road and levee constructions that need to be done are on the other side of the river. There is no other way to cross the river.
The 459th and 299th are the first units in the Army to receive the Common Bridge Transporter, which carries boats, bay (pieces of a bridge) and rafts. It says something that two reserve units were fielded first with the Common Bridge Transporter. The 459th and the 299th don't just transport soldiers and equipment. Both units are multi-role bridge companies. They build several types of bridges, such as the Medium Girder Bridge, which normal use expands a dry gap of about 40 to 50 feet; a Ribbon Bridge, which is a floating bridge; and a Bailey Bridge, which has been in use since World War II and is named after a British engineer. The Bailey Bridge is a huge "tinker toy set" because of its many pieces.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|