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1st Engineer Battalion (United States)

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The 1st Engineer Battalion is a unit of the United States Army with a record of accomplishment in both peace and war; an organization that provides sustained engineer support across the full spectrum of military operations.[1] The 1st Engineer Battalion is the oldest and most decorated engineer battalion in the US Army, tracing its lineage to the original Company of Sappers and Miners organized at West Point, New York in 1846.[2]

1st Engineer Battalion
Coat of arms
CountryUnited States
Part of1st Infantry Division
Garrison/HQFort Riley
Motto(s)Always First
EngagementsMexican–American War
American Civil War
Spanish–American War
World War I
World War II
Vietnam War
Operation Desert Shield
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Enduring Freedom
DecorationsPresidential Unit Citation (3)
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Valorous Unit Citation (3)
Meritorious Unit Commendation (6)
Superior Unit Award
LTC Eric J. Gilge
Gustavus W. Smith

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

Thomas P. Bostick
Distinctive unit insignia1 Eng Bn DUI.png

The Battalion nickname is "Diehard".[2]


Current unitsEdit

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC)
  • A Company (Engineer)
  • B Company (Engineer)
  • C Company (Signal)
  • D Company (Military Intelligence)
  • E Company (Forward Support Company)

Attached unitsEdit

  • 41st Engineer Company (Route Clearance Company, Parent HQ, 4th Engineer Battalion)


With the Army Structure (ARSTRUC) announcement, 1st Engineer Battalion re-aligned into the Brigade Engineer Battalion formation while retaining its heraldry and name, aligned under the 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. To accomplish this, 72nd MAC inactivated 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 EN and welcomed three new companies (formerly of the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion):

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

Unit HistoryEdit

Origins and the Mexican–American WarEdit

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. Company A 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, among them George McClellan and P.G.T. Beauregard served as lieutenants in Alpha Company, and the company worked closely with then-Captain Robert E. Lee, an engineer aide to General Winfield Scott.

The American Civil WarEdit

With initiation of hostilities, the Company was expanded into the "Battalion of Engineer Troops". On December 31st, 1861, the battalion was officially designated as "The United States Engineer Battalion", and was assigned to the Engineer Brigade of the Union Army of the Potomac through the remainder of the war.[3] 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 first Company C was attritted during the Civil War. In 1865, Company E was redesignated Company C, replacing it.

Following the cessation of hostilities, on July 1st, 1866, The United States Engineer Battalion was redesignated the "1st Battalion of Engineers".

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 War and the American Civil War.

The Spanish–American WarEdit

During the Spanish–American War, Company C and Company E 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 IEdit

On July 1st, 1916, the 1st Battalion of Engineers was redesignated the "1st Engineer Battalion". With America's entry into World War I, the battalion was expanded on May 15th, 1917 to become the 1st Engineer Regiment, composed of six companies, and assigned to the 1st Infantry Division. As part of this expansion, Company C and Company D were reorganized to form the 6th Engineer Battalion the same day. A new Company C (the third company to bear the name), was formed to replace the company reorganized as part of the 6th Engineers.[4]

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 Company A received the Medal of Honor for advancing under fire and destroying a series of enemy machine gun positions near Verdun, France in 1918.[5]

Between the warsEdit

In May 1922, the 1st Engineer Regiment arrived at Fort DuPont in Delaware City, Delaware, 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.[6]

World War IIEdit

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 October 1939, the 1st Engineer Regiment was reorganized, separating into two battalions. Companies A, B and C formed the 1st Engineer Battalion and Companies D, E and F formed the 27th Engineer Battalion.[4]

In 1942, the battalion was redesignated the "1st Engineer Combat Battalion" and 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 the Presidential Unit Citation for actions at Gafsa, at Tunisia, and at Omaha Beach. 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.

In 1953, the 1st Engineer Combat Battalion was redesignated the "1st Engineer Battalion (Combat)", continuing to support the 1st Infantry Division.[4]

Vietnam WarEdit

On 2 May 1965 the battalion, under the command of Lieutenant 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.

Some time following its return to Ft. Riley, the battalion was reorganized as a mechanized engineer battalion, composed of one headquarters company ("HHC"), four line companies (A-D) and an assault float ribbon bridge company (E Company).

During the next 20 years at Fort Riley, the battalion took part in numerous training exercises, National Training Center (NTC) rotations in the Mojave Desert, and REFORGER deployments to and from West Germany. During this period, Company D, 1st Engineers, was detached and stationed in northern Germany as part of a forward-deployed combat brigade of the 1st Infantry Division known as 1st Infantry Division (Forward), or "1st IDF".

Desert Shield and Desert StormEdit

Following the invasion of Kuwait by the military forces of Iraq, the battalion deployed with the 1st Infantry Division to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in December 1990, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Steven R. Hawkins (later Brigadier General). The battalion supported the destruction of the Republican Guard Division "Hammurabi".

Equipped with M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, Mine Clearing Line Charges and M728 Combat Engineer Vehicles, the battalion breached and cleared lanes through Iraqi obstacle belts that allowed the passage of two divisions including the British "1st Armoured Division".[7] Elements of the battalion destroyed 58 Iraqi tanks, 41 anti-aircraft artillery pieces, and other large quantities of ammunition and war material. The battalion was one of the first operators of the new M9 Armored Combat Earthmover, a critical obstacle breaching asset.

The battalion returned to Fort Riley in 1991, receiving the Valorous Unit Citation for actions in Southwest Asia.[2]

Post-Desert Storm ReorganizationEdit

In 1992, engineer battalions across the Army were significantly reorganized. Known as the Engineer Restructure Initiative ("ERI"), under this new organization, the 1st Engineer Battalion, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier General) Joseph Schroedel, was separated into three distinct organizations.

The first organization, composed of Company A, Company B, and a portion of the 1st Engineers' headquarters remained as the 1st Engineer Battalion.

The second organization, composed of Company C, Company E, and a second portion of the battalion headquarters formed the nucleus of the reactivated 70th Engineer Battalion (Mechanized), whose nickname is "Kodiaks". Company C, 1st Engineers "Charlie Rock", under the command of Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel) Joseph Gandara, became Company C, 70th Engineer Battalion. Company E, an assault float ribbon bridge company at the time equipped with powerful bridge erection boats, float bridge bays and trucks, was reorganized and re-equipped as a mechanized engineer company becoming Company A, 70th Engineer Battalion, under the command of Captain (later Colonel) Vance F. Stewart. A new Company B, 70th Engineers was formed from new personnel and equipment.

To replace the Company C that moved to the 70th Engineers, a new Company C, 1st Engineers was organized, the fourth company to hold the name. A platoon each from Company A, 1st Engineers and Company B, 1st Engineers, were combined to form the new Company C under the command of Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel) Stephen C. Larsen with First Sergeant Mark D. Burrell. Since the new Company C, adopting the nickname "Cold Steel", was composed of elements of the original Companies A and B, it carries forth the old lineage of the battalion and is therefore, like Companies A and B, a direct descendant of the oldest combat engineer organization of the US Army. Six months and two month-long National Training Center rotations after its organization, Company C was awarded the prestigious 1st Infantry Division Company of the Quarter Award.[4]

Company D, 1st Engineers, detached from the Battalion and serving as part of a combat brigade of the 1st Infantry Division in northern Germany (the 1st Infantry Division (Forward)), was inactivated.

The third organization was composed of the remainder of the battalion headquarters and became the newly activated Division Engineer Brigade headquarters under the command of Colonel Henry "Chip" Leonard.

The 1st Engineer Battalion was assigned in direct support of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division while the 70th Engineer Battalion was assigned in direct support of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

From 1994-1996, the battalion was commanded by then-Lieutenant Colonel Thomas P. Bostick, later to achieve the rank of Lieutenant General (LTG) and serve as the Chief of Engineers, the commanding general of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The Battalion Operations Officer during ERI was then-Major Todd T. Semonite, later to achieve the rank of Lieutenant General, succeeding LTG Bostick as the Chief of Engineers.

Since 1992, the battalion participated in many National Training Center and Joint Readiness Training Center 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 Army Superior Unit Award for performance during the Engineer Restructuring Initiative on Fort Riley.

Bosnia and HerzegovinaEdit

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. Upon completing their task the unit received the NATO Ribbon as well as the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

Global War on TerrorEdit

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. For actions in Al Anbar, the battalion earned a second Valorous Unit Award.

The battalion restructured its companies in 2006 as part of the Corps of Engineers restructuring plan for engineer forces Army-wide. A part of this restructuring made the battalion a separate, echelon above brigade unit and assigned training and readiness authority to the 555th Engineer Brigade and briefly to the 36th Engineer Brigade.

The battalion deployed to Iraq again in the fall of 2006 for a 15-month deployment, conducting route clearance operations in Multinational Division-North. Working as Task Force Trailblazer, the battalion earned a third Valorous Unit Award for combat action.[8]

In July 2009 the 41st Clearance Company deployed to the RC-East Area of Operations in Afghanistan as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. 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 in 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 awarded a sixth Meritorious Unit Citation.

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

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


In October 2016, America’s Oldest and Most Decorated Engineer Battalion marked its first visit to the Korean Peninsula with a deployment to Camp Hovey, South Korea with the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. The deployment was part of an HQDA initiated Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) rotation of forces to the Republic of Korea (ROK) in support of national level and theater specific requirements. The mission of the Diehard Battalion was to enable 1ABCT to deter North Korean aggression and maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula; and, if deterrence failed, enable the Devil Brigade to “Fight Tonight” in support of the US-ROK Alliance. For nine months, the Diehard Battalion supported national interests in the Korean Theater of Operations by preparing for non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO), counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) operations, relocating elements of the battalion from Area I into Area III, and integrating enablers in support of the brigade. The battalion redeployed to Ft Riley, Kansas in June 2017.

Awards and decorationsEdit

Campaign creditEdit

Conflict Streamer Year(s)
Mexican War - A Company
Vera Cruz 1847 9–29 March 1847
Cerro Gordo 1847 17 April 1847
Contreras 1847 18–20 August 1847
Churubusco 1847 20 August 1847
Molino del Rey 1847 8 September 1847
Chapultepec 1847 13 September 1847
Civil War
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
Manila 1898 1898
Philippine Insurrection
Manila 1899 1899
Cavite 1899-1900 1899-1900
Tarlac 1899 1899
World War I
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
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
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
Defense of Saudi Arabia 1990-1991
Liberation and Defense of Kuwait 1991
Ceasefire 1991
Global War On Terrorism
Global War on Terrorism 2001-Current
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Iraqi Governance 2004
National Resolution 2005
Iraqi Surge 2007
Iraqi Sovereignty 2009
New Dawn 2010
Operation Enduring Freedom
Transition I 2011–2012

Unit decorationsEdit

Ribbon Award Year Notes
  Presidential Unit Citation (Army)
  Presidential Unit Citation (Army) TUNISIA
  Presidential Unit Citation (Army) NORMANDY
  Valorous Unit Award IRAQ-KUWAIT 1991
  Valorous Unit Award AL-ANBAR PROVINCE
  Valorous Unit Award IRAQ 2006-2007
  Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) VIETNAM 1966
  Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) VIETNAM 1966-1967
  Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) VIETNAM 1967-1968
  Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) VIETNAM 1968-1969
  Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) IRAQ 2009-2010
  Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) AFGHANISTAN 2012-2013
  Army Superior Unit Award (Army) 1992-1993
  French Croix de Guerre, with Palm LORRAINE-PICARDY
  French Croix de Guerre, with Palm AISNE-MARNE and MEUSE-ARGONNE
  French Croix de Guerre, with Palm KASSERINE
  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
  Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, with Palm 1965-1968 For service in Vietnam
  Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Unit Citation 1965–1970 For service in Vietnam

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hueser, Terry. "First Engineer Battalion". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Program, Change of Command Ceremony, 1st Engineer Combat Battalion (Mechanized), LTC Steven R. Hawkins to LTC Joseph Schroedel, May 1992.
  3. ^ 1st Battalion Engineers at
  4. ^ a b c d Program, Change of Command Ceremony, Company C, 1st Engineer Combat Battalion (Mechanized), Captain Stephen C. Larsen to Captain Michael Van Putte, May, 1994
  5. ^ "Valor awards for Wilbur E. Colyer". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Fort Delaware Society". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  7. ^ VUA Citation
  8. ^ Hueser, Terry. "trailblazer". Retrieved 26 January 2017.


External linksEdit