1st Engineer Battalion (United States)

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1st Engineer Battalion
1EngineerBnCOA.png
1st Engineer Battalion coat of arms
Active 1846–present
Country United States
Branch Army
Type Engineer
Part of 1st Infantry Division
Garrison/HQ Fort Riley
Nickname "Diehard"
Motto Always First
Engagements Mexican-American War
American Civil War
Spanish-American War
World War I
World War II
Vietnam War
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Enduring Freedom
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation (3)
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Valorous Unit Citation (3)
Meritorious Unit Commendation (6)
Superior Unit Award
Commanders
Current
commander
LTC Jason C. Taliaferro
Notable
commanders

Gustavus W. Smith
George B. McClellan
George W. Cullum
Ulysses S. Grant III

Thomas P. Bostick
Insignia
Distinctive unit insignia 1 Eng Bn DUI.png

The 1st Engineer Battalion is one of the oldest and most decorated engineer battalions[citation needed] in the United States Army.

Current units[edit]

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Company
  • Forward Support Company
  • 41st Engineer Company (Clearance)
  • 72nd Engineer Company (MAC)
  • 111th Engineer Company (Sapper)

Transformation[edit]

With the Army Structure (ARSTRUC) announcement, 1st Engineer Battalion became the 1st Brigade Engineer Battalion (BEB), aligned under 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. To accomplish this, 72nd MAC deactivated in September 2014 and 41st Clearance Company became an echelons above Brigade asset in October 2014. In addition, the battalion reflagged 111th Sapper Company to their historic roots as A/1st BEB and welcomed three new companies (formerly of the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion):

  • A/1-1 BSTB (MICO) became C/1st BEB
  • B/1-1 BSTB (Signal) became D/1st BEB
  • C/1-1 BSTB (Combat Engineer Mechanized) became B/1st BEB

History[edit]

19th century[edit]

The battalion's history can be traced back to 15 May 1846 when a company of miners, sappers, and pontoniers was formed at West Point, New York. Alpha Company, 1st Engineer Battalion is that company's direct descendant. The battalion has received 67 decorations and campaign streamers and eight foreign awards. Alpha Company served during the Mexican-American War of 1846, participating in the Veracruz campaign and charging up the heights of Chapultepec in Mexico City. During the war, three future Civil War generals, George McClellan and P.G.T. Beauregard served as lieutenants in Alpha Company, and the company worked closely with Captain Robert E. Lee, an engineer aide to General Winfield Scott.

Alpha Company was expanded into the Battalion of Engineer Troops during the American Civil War and was assigned to the Union Army of the Potomac. The battalion earned ten campaign streamers. The battalion fought at Antietam, bridged the Rappahannock River six times at Fredericksburg, breached fortifications at Petersburg and was present at the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox. The battalion's first Sergeant Major, Frederick W. Gerber, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his 25 years of service to the battalion, which included the Mexican-American and American Civil War.

During the Spanish-American War, Charlie and Echo companies of the battalion were sent to Cuba where they fought in the campaign to take the city of Santiago. The remainder of the battalion was sent to the Philippines where they provided engineer support during the battles for Manila and Cavite. Alpha Company remained in the Philippines and conducted pacification operations during the Philippine Insurrection.

World War I[edit]

With the start of World War I, the battalion was expanded to the 1st Engineer Regiment and assigned to the 1st Infantry Division. The regiment fought as part of the "Big Red One" and participated in the Lorraine and Meuse-Argonne campaigns and was awarded the French Fourragère and two awards of the Croix de guerre for valorous service. Sergeant Wilbur E. Colyer of Alpha Company received the Medal of Honor for advancing under fire and destroying a series of enemy machine gun positions near Verdun, France in 1918.

Depression era[edit]

In May 1922, the 1st Engineer Regiment arrived at Fort DuPont in Delaware City, Del., and garrisoned the army post until 1941. In 1931 and 1933 the unit was responsible for floating six sets of officer quarters from Fort Mott in Pennsville, N.J., just across the Delaware River. From 1934 to 1936, the unit was commanded by Col. Ulysses S. Grant III, the grandson of the former general and president. The unit oversaw the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration programs while in Delaware. At Fort DuPont, the First Engineers along with these civilian workers, constructed four identical sets of brick duplexes and a 398-seat movie theatre, all of which still stand today.[1]

World War II[edit]

Prior to the start of World War II, the 1st Engineer Regiment was reorganized as the 1st Engineer Combat Battalion and again assigned to fight as part of the 1st Infantry Division. In 1942, the battalion landed with the initial forces in the North Africa invasion. In 1943, the battalion cleared underwater obstacles and destroyed enemy pillboxes during the landings on Sicily. During the Normandy landings at Omaha Beach in 1944, the battalion led the assault forces, breaching gaps in the extensive enemy mine and wire obstacles and clearing the combat trails leading off the beaches. The battalion received its third Presidential Unit Citation for actions at Omaha Beach and received a Distinguished Unit Citation[citation needed] for combat action at Gafsa, Tunisia, and Normandy. The battalion fought as part of the 1st Infantry Division during the remainder of the war in the European Theater and after 10 years of occupation duty moved to Fort Riley, Kansas.

Vietnam[edit]

On 2 May 1965 the battalion, under the command of Lt. Colonel Howard L. Sargent, Jr., deployed to South Vietnam as part of the 1st Infantry Division. For five years the battalion cleared obstacles, built roads, airfields, basecamps and bridges in support of numerous combat operations including Junction City I and II and the Tet Offensive of 1968. The battalion's DieHard Tunnel Rat section cleared the extensive Vietcong tunnel systems with little more than small arms and demolitions. The battalion received four Meritorious Unit Commendations for actions during the Vietnam War.

Desert Shield/Storm[edit]

During the next 20 years at Fort Riley, the battalion took part in numerous training exercises, NTC rotations, and REFORGER deployments. In December 1990, the battalion deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The battalion breached and cleared lanes through Iraqi obstacle belts that allowed the passage of two divisions. Elements of the battalion destroyed 58 Iraqi tanks, 41 anti-aircraft artillery pieces, and other large quantities of ammunition and war material. The battalion returned to Fort Riley in 1991 and received the Valorous Unit Citation for actions in Southwest Asia.

Since 1991, the battalion participated in many NTC and JRTC rotations, fought fires in the Northwestern United States, and supported anti-drug operations as part of JTF-6. In 1995, the 1st Engineer Battalion was awarded the Superior Unit Award for performance during the Engineer Restructuring Initiative on Fort Riley.

Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

On 30 August 1999 the battalion deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina in support of SFOR. Units redeploying on 12 December 1999, the battalion helped provide a stable and secure environment in the area. To this end, the battalion conducted reconnaissance of over 1,230 kilometers of routes and 298 bridges; destroyed 116,000 anti-personnel land mines; constructed 30 kilometers of roads and 5 bridges; supervised Entity Armed Forces' clearance of more than 43,000 square miles (110,000 km2) of minefields; and distributed toys, clothing, and humanitarian aid to Bosnian children and homeless families.

Iraq[edit]

On 8 September 2003, the 1st Engineer Battalion deployed to Iraq as part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In one year the battalion exploited over 370 enemy caches consisting of 28 tons of munitions and weapons, found and destroyed over 150 improvised devices, fortified 21 government buildings and coalition camps in the Al Anbar Province, cleared several hundred kilometers of roads, supported six battalions in the Ar Ramadi and Habbaniyah areas with combat engineer operations for six other camps in the Ar Ramadi area. The battalion returned to Fort Riley in October 2004.

The battalion restructured its companies in 2006 as part of the Corps of Engineers restructuring plan for engineer forces Army-wide. The battalion deployed to Iraq again in the fall of 2006 for a 15 month deployment.

Afghanistan[edit]

In July 2009 the 41st Clearance Company deployed to the RC-East Area of Operations in Afghanistan. The company headquarters was located at FOB Fenty, with the four clearance platoons separated, relocating numerous times, to provide route clearance assets for three separate brigade combat teams and the Polish Battle Group. The 41st CC redeployed on July 2010.

In November 2009 the 1st Engineer Battalion deployed in support of OIF IX-X. The 1st Engineer Battalion(-), composed of HHC, FSC, 111th Sapper Company, and 72nd Mobility Augmentation Company, conducted engineer operations in United States Division - North (USD-N) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 573rd Clearance Company out of White Sands Missile Range, NM was modularly deployed and assigned to the 1st Engineer Battalion(-) to round out the battalion's clearance capabilities. The battalion conducted route clearance along assigned division routes while concurrently partnering with the 4th and 12th Iraqi Army Field Engineer Regiments in a modified advise and assist role in order to help these FERs become mission capable. HHC, FSC, and 111th redeployed in July 2010. The 72nd MAC remained in Iraq until their redeployment in November 2010. For actions in Iraq, the battalion was awarded its fifth Meritorious Unit Citation.

In September 2012, the battalion deployed to Regional Command-East, Afghanistan. Once deployed, the 72d MAC and the 111th Sapper Companies were task organized to the 178th En Bn (SCANG) to provide route clearance in Paktiya and Paktika Provinces, while the 41st CC remained in the north with the battalion as Task Force Diehard. As Task Force Diehard, headquartered at FOB Shank, the battalion assumed control of all mobility, counter-mobility, survivability, general engineering, and engineer partnerships in the Logar, Wardak, Nangahar, Kunar, Laghman and Kapisa Provinces. Over the nine month deployment, the battalion assumed responsibility for all engineer operations in RC-East; thus adding Kabul, Paktika, Paktiya, and Ghazni Provinces. By April 2013, the task force had 1,100 soldiers with six combat engineer and two construction companies. The battalion returned to Fort Riley in June 2013. For actions in Afghanistan, the battalion was again awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation.

In November 2013, after 2162 days, the battalion was again reassigned back to the 1st Infantry Division.

The battalion will reorganize in October 2014 as a brigade engineer battalion under Devil Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

Awards and decorations[edit]

Campaign credit[edit]

Conflict Streamer Year(s)
Civil War
Streamer CW.PNG
Peninsula 1862 1862
Antietam 1862 1862
Fredericksburg 1862 1862
Chancellorsville 1863 1863
Wilderness 1864 1864
Spotsylvania 1864 1864
Cold Harbor 1864 1864
Petersburg 1864-1865 1864-1865
Appomattox 1865 1865
War With Spain
Streamer SC.PNG
Manila 1898 1898
Philippine Insurrection
Streamer PC.PNG
Manila 1899 1899
Cavite 1899-1900 1899-1900
Tarlac 1899 1899
World War I
Streamer WWI V.PNG
Montdidier-Noyon 1918 1918
Aisne-Marne 1918 1918
St. Mihiel 1918 1918
Meuse-Argonne 1918 1918
Lorraine 1918 1918
Picardy 1918 1918
World War II
Streamer EAMEC.PNG
Streamer WWII V.PNG
Algeria-French Morocco 1942 (with arrowhead) 1942
Tunisia 1942 1942
Sicily 1943 (with arrowhead) 1943
Normandy 1944 (with arrowhead) 1944
Northern France 1944 1944
Rhineland 1944-1945 1944-1945
Ardennes-Alsace 1944-1945 1944-1945
Central Europe 1945 1945
Vietnam War
Streamer VS.PNG
Defense 1965
Counteroffensive 1965–1966
Counteroffensive, Phase II 1966–1967
Counteroffensive, Phase III 1967–1968
Tet Counteroffensive 1968
Counteroffensive, Phase IV 1968
Counteroffensive, Phase V 1968
Counteroffensive, Phase VI 1968–1969
Tet 69/Counteroffensive 1969
Summer-Fall 1969 1969
Winter-Spring 1970 1969–1970
Gulf War
Streamer SAS.PNG
Defense of Saudi Arabia 1990-1991
Liberation and Defense of Kuwait 1991
Ceasefire 1991
Global War On Terrorism
Streamer gwotS.PNG
Streamer gwotE.PNG
Global War on Terrorism 2001-Current
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Streamer IQCS.PNG
Iraqi Governance 2004
National Resolution 2005
Iraqi Surge 2007
Iraqi Sovereignty 2009
New Dawn 2010
Operation Enduring Freedom
Streamer AFGCS.PNG
Transition I 2011–2012


Unit decorations[edit]

Ribbon Award Year Notes
Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg Presidential Unit Citation (Army) GAFSA
Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg Presidential Unit Citation (Army) TUNISIA
Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg Presidential Unit Citation (Army) NORMANDY
Valorous Unit Award ribbon.svg Valorous Unit Award IRAQ-KUWAIT 1991
Valorous Unit Award ribbon.svg Valorous Unit Award AL-ANBAR PROVINCE
Valorous Unit Award ribbon.svg Valorous Unit Award IRAQ 2006-2007
Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) VIETNAM 1966
Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) VIETNAM 1966-1967
Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) VIETNAM 1967-1968
Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) VIETNAM 1968-1969
Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) IRAQ 2009-2010
Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) AFGHANISTAN 2012-2013
Army Superior Unit Award ribbon.svg Army Superior Unit Award (Army) 1992-1993
Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 ribbon.svg French Croix de Guerre, with Palm LORRAINE-PICARDY
Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 ribbon.svg French Croix de Guerre, with Palm AISNE-MARNE and MEUSE-ARGONNE
Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg French Croix de Guerre, with Palm KASSERINE
Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg French Croix de Guerre, with Palm NORMANDY
French Croix de guerre, World War II, Fourragere
Belgian Fourragere 1940
Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army For action at MONS
Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army For action at EUPEN-MALMEDY
Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, with Palm 1965-1968 For service in Vietnam
Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation.png Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Unit Citation 1965–1970 For service in Vietnam


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.fortdelaware.org/Fort%20DuPont.htm

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Army Center of Military History document "1st Engineer Battalion".
 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "http://www.riley.army.mil/view/article.asp?id=984-2005-01-28-50628-64".