52nd Engineer Battalion (Construction)
52nd Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Heavy) (Tri-Component)
"We Serve Together"
The mission of the 52nd Engineer Battalion (Construction) is to provide construction engineer support to units at Fort Carson and prepare to support Full Spectrum operations throughout the world.
The 52nd Engineer Battalion (Construction) was first constituted on 15 August 1917 in the National Army as the 39th Engineers. The unit was organized on 18 February 1918 at Camp Upton, New York. The 39th Engineers was converted and redesignated on 7 September 1918 as the 39th Regiment, Transportation Corps, a railway construction unit. The 39th Regiment, Transportation Corps saw service in France in World War I, where they had the difficult mission of constructing and repairing the railroads that were the logistics life for the American Expeditionary Forces.
Following the Armistice, the Regiment was broken up between 12 November 1918 and 12 December 1918 and its elements were redesignated. Companies A, B, and C were redesignated on 12 December 1918 as the 26th, 27th, and 28th Companies, Transportation Corps, respectively. The Regiment's Headquarters and Headquarters Company had been disbanded on 12 November 1918. The 26th Company, Transportation Corps was demobilized on 11 July 1919 at Camp Jackson, South Carolina. The 27th and 28th Companies, Transportation Corps were demobilized on 12 July 1919 at Camp Dodge, Iowa.
The Regiment was reconstituted 1 October 1933 in the Regular Army as the 39th Engineers. It was activated on 1 June 1940 at Camp Ord, California. It was reorganized and redesignated on 1 July 1940 as the 19th Engineers.
After the US entry into World War II, the Regiment was redesignated on 1 August 1942 as the 19th Engineer Combat Regiment. The unit traced its lineage to the 1st Battalion, 19th Engineer Combat Regiment. During World War II, the 1st Battalion, 19th Engineer Combat Regiment participated in the North African, Sicilian, and Italian Campaigns. In November 1942, the Battalion was part of the assault echelon in landings in North Africa. Over the next several months, the unit maintained main supply routes, repaired airfields, conducted recons, built bridges, cleared mines, dodged air attacks, prepared obstacle systems and fought as infantry. On 19 February 1943, the Battalion reorganized as infantry and dug in as part of the 1st Infantry Division's defense at Kasserine Pass. On the night of 20 February 1943, the Battalion came under intense fire. The unit suffered 117 casualties at Kasserine. For the remainder of the Tunisian Campaign, the 52nd Engineer Battalion provided construction and combat engineer support to the 1st and 34th Infantry Divisions and the 1st Ranger Battalion. A major part of the support was keeping over 360 miles of roads open.
The Battalion was again in the assault echelon during the invasion of Sicily. The engineers hastily cleared sections of beaches, reconnoitered for exit routes, provided dozer support and knocked out pillboxes. When the unit moved inland, they repaired the Comiso Airfield. During the march across Sicily, the engineers spent most of their time probing for mines, bypassing blown bridges or occupying positions alongside the infantry.
During the fighting in Italy, the Battalion was given one of the toughest missions assigned to any engineer unit in World War II, support for the 36th Infantry Division's disastrous crossing of the Rapido River. In the bitter battle, the engineers built bridges in open terrain under heavy enemy fire. The 36th Infantry Division was destroyed in the fighting. The Battalion spent the rest of the war supporting operations in Italy.
The Regiment was broken up on 1 March 1945 and its elements reorganized and redesignated. 1st Battalion, 19th Engineer Combat Regiment was reorganized and redesignated as the 401st Engineer Combat Battalion. Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, 19th Engineer Combat Regiment became the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 19th Engineer Combat Group and 2nd Battalion, 19th Engineer Combat Group became the 402nd Engineer Combat Battalion, both thereafter having separate lineages. The 401st Engineer Combat Battalion was inactivated on 6 December 1945 at Camp Polk, Louisiana.
The Battalion was redesignated on 30 January 1947 as the 52nd Engineer Combat Battalion. It was reorganized and redesignated on 8 November 1951 as the 52nd Armored Engineer Battalion and activated on 27 November 1951 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The Battalion was inactivated on 16 March 1956 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. While inactive, the unit was redesignated on 21 November 1967 as the 52nd Engineer Battalion. It was activated on 21 February 1968 at Fort Carson, Colorado.
From October 1990 through April 1991, the 52nd Engineer Battalion deployed to Saudi Arabia, where the Battalion performed many missions during the defensive and offensive phases of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
From September 1994 through December 1994, the 52nd Engineer Battalion deployed to Haiti in support of the US and international forces that reestablished democracy in that country. The diverse challenges of Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti required the largest OCONUS deployment of engineer forces since the Southwest Asian War. The 20th Engineer Brigade from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, served as the headquarters for Task Force Castle, which was a joint engineer task force of more than 2,500 personnel. Decisive engineer operations began when the first piece of 27th Engineer Battalion equipment began leveling the field at the future home of Base Camp Tiger and ended when the 52nd Engineer Battalion completed its last construction directive with the JTF Engineer. In the intervening 7 weeks, Task Force Castle performed a remarkable variety and amount of work.
Rock from a quarry operated by the 52nd Engineer Battalion was used to build roads and improve drainage. One of the 20th Engineer Brigade's earliest concerns was to find sources for crushed rock for horizontal construction. Scouting north up MSR 100, the Brigade's construction cell discovered a quarry with a sizeable limestone deposit. They negotiated with the landowner/quarry operator and agreed to a flat rate of one US dollar per ton of rock removed. The 52nd Engineer Battalion operated the quarry around the clock while all 3 battalions in the Port-au-Prince area drew from it. After 200,000 tons of rock were removed, the landowner was a very wealthy man in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. This was the largest military quarry operation in a tactical environment since the Korean Conflict. Together with 2 small quarries that produced nearly 35,000 tons of gravel for the 37th Engineer Battalion in the Cap Haitien area, they formed one of the most intensive quarrying operations ever conducted in the Caribbean area.
On 16 October 1999 the 52d Engineer Battalion became one of the first multi-component engineer battalions in the Army, consisting of Active Duty, Army Reserve, and National Guard companies. The mission of the 52nd Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Heavy) (Tri-Component), was to, on order, deploy to any theater of operations and conduct general engineering/bulk fuel missions in support of US/joint/combined forces, and provide counter mobility and survivability engineer support as required. The unit consisted of a Headquarters Support Company, 3 line companies (A through C), and had the 59th Quartermaster Company attached for logistics support. Concurrently with the reorganization of the Battalion, Company B was allotted to the Oregon Army National Guard and Company C allotted to the Army Reserve.
The Headquarters Support Company was the most diverse unit within the Battalion. The Company was home to over 200 soldiers with over 40 military occupational specialties. The Battalion headquarters was part of the organization, consisting of the staff sections, communications, cooks and a medical aid facility. The Headquarters Support Company also housed its own organization maintenance support and all direct support maintenance for all companies within the Battalion. The Company was responsible for external construction support as well. Its Equipment Platoon, with over 50 soldiers and a wide range of construction and hauling equipment, was vital to the Battalion's troop construction support on Fort Carson. The Equipment Platoon's haul assets had been used extensively on Fort Carson and through out the Midwest to remove several thousand tons material.
A Company was home to some 163 soldiers who have the honor of providing Fort Carson and the surrounding area with all of its troop construction efforts. There were 2 Vertical Construction Platoons and one Horizontal Construction Platoon (Earthmoving) within the company. The platoons had approximately 40-45 soldiers each. In addition, A Company provided its own unit level maintenance and daily operation support. All 3 platoons provided support for Fort Carson by participating in troop construction projects. A Company had completed numerous projects for Range Control, the Department of Public Works, the Fitness Trail and the Post Commander.
B Company represented the Army National Guard portion of the tri-component battalion. The Company was part of the Oregon Army National Guard and was headquartered in Albany, Oregon. Detachment 1, B Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion was located in Warrenton, Oregon. C Company was the Army Reserve component. It had its Company with headquarters and 2 vertical construction platoons located at Fort Carson, Colorado. Detatchment 1, C Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion consisted of a horizontal platoon (Earthmoving), and was located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The 59th Quartermaster Company was an active duty bulk petroleum fuel company consisting of 2 bulk fuel platoons and organic maintenance and administrative sections. The Company had the capability of storing, transporting, and distributing over 2 million gallons of petroleum fuel products to various customers on the battlefield.
At the Fort Carson, Colorado post and its Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS), soldiers of the 52nd Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy) and specialists from Fort Carson's Directorate of Environmental Compliance and Management (DECAM) routinely teamed up on earth-moving projects to control and repair erosion on the range watershed. The help of the combat engineers was a boon to DECAM because building and maintaining erosion-control dams was part of the environmental division's multi-pronged land management mission.
Over time, the areas behind the dams would fill with dirt and sediment that had to be removed. That made these areas prime locations for the 52nd Engineers to dig defensive tank positions as part of their training. The engineers had to practice digging hull defilades, which were large, ramped holes big enough to conceal an M1A1 Abrams tank from ground forces. DECAM seized the opportunity to work with the engineers to find a mission-related alternative to the past practice of digging hull defilades, which created scars on the landscape. Other DECAM erosion abatement projects contracted to the 52nd Engineers included construction of terraces to capture water, road grading, banking sloped areas, and repair of culverts. The engineers would get valuable combat training, and the Army benefited from projects that save a lot of money and help to preserve vast areas for military training.
By 2003, the 59th Quartermaster Company had been detached from the Battalion and the Battalion Headquarters Service Company had been reorganized as a Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Company C, 52nd Engineer Battalion was ordered into active military service on 10 February 2003 at Santa Fe, New Mexico. Company B was ordered into active Federal service on 11 February 2003 at Albany, Oregon. This was in preparation for a deployment of the Battalion to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In July 2003, the 52nd Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Heavy), part of the 43rd Area Support Group based at Fort Carson, was operating out of Mosul, Iraq, with the 101 st Airborne Division. The Battalion had battled a flow of molten sulfur and had been working on some high-profile construction projects. During late July 2003, the 52nd Engineer Battalion completed putting out a sulfur fire near Qayarra, about 25 miles south of Mosul. This fire threatened the Tigris River with large amounts of molten sulfur. Mounds of sulfur in a processing plant turned into a liquid in the heat and flowed out of a processing plant. The effort to put out the fire and contain the sulfur took four weeks for the soldiers and local Iraqi and Kurdish firefighters. C Company led the sulfur fire mission.
During July 2003, B Company was running a home building project in Mosul. This project, known as House of Hope, required soldiers to build a typical Iraqi home of block, mortar and concrete. The soldiers were being trained in Iraqi construction methods so that they could train Iraqi construction crews. Arab and Kurd work crews were on the project.
A Company was devoted to building Camp Diamondback, a 500-soldier base camp similar to what US forces occupy in the Balkans. By late July 2003, the soldiers were completing the site preparation and getting ready to start placing concrete foundations for tropical huts. This project could last several months. The soldiers were anxiously anticipating completion because they might be the first to occupy the new and vastly improved housing.
The Associated Press reported on 7 March 2004, that roughly 40 reservists from the 52nd Engineer Battalion had returned to the United States. The unit had deployed to Iraq in Spring 2003 and was operating with the 101st Airborne Division to assist with reconstruction efforts. The unit left Iraq in early February 2004 and trasited to Kuwait. Upon return from Iraq B and C Companies were released from active Federal service on 17 June 2004 and reverted to state control.
The Battalion was inactivated on 15 February 2005 at Fort Carson, Colorado. Company B was concurrently reorganized and redesignated as the 224th Engineer Company, which thereafter had a separate lineage.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion was reactivated on 16 April 2010 at Fort Carson, Colorado. An organic Forward Support Company was concurrently constituted in the Regular Army and activated. The 52nd Engineer Battalion (Construction), a US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) asset at Fort Carson, Colorado, was subsequently placed under the administrative control of the 555th Engineer Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
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