588th Engineer Battalion
The 588th Engineer Battalion was inactivated on 16 December 2004, in support of the Army's transition to modular brigades. As part of the modular transformation, assets previously held at division level, but habitually attached to a division's brigades during operations were made organic to those brigades. Elements of the inactivated Battalion were filtered into the the Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
The 588th Engineer Battalion was first activated on 10 January 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana as the 388th Engineer Battalion (Separate). It was composed of black enlisted personnel. The Battalion moved to Norman Wells, Northwestern Territories, Canada in June 1942, where it participated in the Canol Oil Pipeline Project. The Battalion was expanded on 1 January 1943 into a General Service Regiment and redesignated as the 388th Engineer General Service Regiment.
The Regiment returned to the United States by ship in September 1943 and was stationed at Camp Sutton, North Carolina. It trained there until March 1944 when it sailed from Boston to England arriving on 3 April 1944, then moving on to France on 5 July 1944. In France the Regiment participated in the Normandy and Northern France campaigns and engaged in a variety of construction work. It sailed from Marseilles, France on 16 July 1945, arriving in the Philippine Islands on 31 August 1945. The Regiment served there until it was inactivated on 18 December 1945.
Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, and Companies A, B, and C of the Regiment were redesignated in 1954 as the 588th Engineer Battalion. The Battalion was activated on 30 June 1954 at Ft Belvoir, Virginia, and organized as an Engineer Construction Battalion. It was reorganized in March 1963 as an Engineer Combat Battalion. The Battalion moved in May 1963 to Fort Lee, Virginia, and served there until October 1965. It then sailed aboard the USNS Upshur to Vietnam, where it arrived on 2 November 1965.
The Battalion served in Vietnam until November 1970, participating in 13 campaigns and earned 2 Valorous Unit Awards, 2 Meritorius Unit Commendations and the Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal. Additionally, C Company was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm and an additional Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal because of assistance it provided to the 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. It was assigned to the 79th Engineer Group, 20th Engineer Brigade, and was under the operational control of the 25th Infantry Division. The Battalion served northwest of Saigon, about 11 miles from Cambodia, in the III Corps area of the Republic of Vietnam, operating primarily from the base camp at Tay Ninh and later at Cu Chi.
While located at Tay Ninh, the 362nd Engineer Company (Light Equipment) was attached to the Battalion, and C Company was located in an isolated outpost at Dau Tieng. The Battalion also had personnel stationed at the communications center atop Nui Ba Den, the Black Virgin Mountain. The Battalion returned to the United States on 16 November 1970 and inactivated the same day at Fort Lewis, Washington.
The Battalion was reactivated on 21 June 1976 at Ft Polk, Louisianna. The Battalion deployed to Southwest Asia in December 1990 and accomplished a variety of critical missions in Saudi Arabia and Iraq in support first of Operation Desert Shield and then as part of Operation Desert Storm. It was assigned to the 176th Engineer Group, 7th Engineer Brigade and under the operational control of the 1st Infantry Division during the first days of the ground war. The Battalion earned the Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal for its actions in Southwest Asia.
On 9 March 1993, the Battalion officially became a part of the 2nd Armored Division after converting from Corps Combat to Mechanized Engineers under the Engineer Restructure Initiative. The Battalion completed its move from Fort Polk to Fort Hood, Texas in May 1993. The 588th was reassigned on 15 January 1996 to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.
The 588th was the first Battalion to receive the XM104 Heavy Assault Bridge Vehicle, also known as the Wolverine, which was specifically designed to help friendly forces cross broad obstacles in a very short time.
In 2004, as part of the transformation of the 4th Infantry Division to the US Army's modular force structure, the Engineer Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and its subordinate battalions, including the 588th Engineer Battalion, were inactivated. As part of the modular transformation, assets previously held at division level, but habitually attached to a division's brigades during operations were made organic to those brigades. Elements of the inactivated Battalion were filtered into the the Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
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