4th Engineer Battalion

In its 140-plus year history, thousands of soldiers have proudly worn the insignia of the 4th Engineers and staunchly upheld the battalion’s motto, Volens et Potens (Willing and Able).  The origins of the 4th Engineer Battalion date back to 31 December 1861 when the Army organized several new and existing engineer companies into a provisional engineer battalion in Washington, DC.  The battalion focused primarily on the tasks of road and bridge building and took part in several Civil War campaigns, including the Peninsula, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Appomattox.  After the war, the provisional battalion was constituted in the Regular Army on 28 July 1866 as the Battalion of Engineers.

During the Spanish-American War, the battalion saw action in Cuba, taking part in the Santiago campaign.  It later served briefly in the Philippine Insurrection.

Upon the United States’ entry into World War I, the battalion, now known as the 2d Regiment of Engineers, was expanded to form three engineer regiments (2d, 4th, and 5th).  The 4th, redesignated as the 4th Engineers on 29 August 1917, was assigned to the 4th Division on 1 January 1918.  During the war, the 4th took part in five campaigns:  Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, Champagne 1918, and Lorraine 1918.  In 1921, the 4th Engineers was inactivated at Camp Lewis, Washington.

The re-birth of the 4th Engineers took place on 1 October 1933 at Fort Benning, Georgia, with the regiment’s activation and assignment to the 4th Division.  Six years later, on 19 October 1939, the unit was redsignated the 4th Engineer Battalion (Combat).  After a brief period as the 4th Engineer Motorized Battalion, the unit was once again reorganized and redesignated the 4th Engineer Combat Battalion to reflect its expanded role as an engineer and combat unit.

Elements of the 4th Engineer Combat Battalion were in the first wave of assault troops to hit the beaches of Normandy in the early hours of  D-Day, 6 June 1944.  The combat engineers of the 4th cleared Utah Beach of mines and opened a road for elements of the 8th and 22d Infantry Regiments.  By nightfall, the rest of the 4th Engineer Battalion had landed and were soon busy clearing Utah Beach in support of the growing mass of men and equipment crowding the beachhead.  Within days the engineers found out why they were called “combat engineers” when they were used as infantry during the assault on Montebourg.

During the ensuing days and weeks, the 4th Engineer Combat Battalion worked closely with 8th Infantry.  The battalion provided reconnaissance for the main units of the 4th Infantry Division.  During the drive to Paris, the engineers became pontierres again (harkening back to their origins) when the Seine, Aisne, and Meuse Rivers all needed bridges for the advancing troops.  The 4th took part in the bloody fighting in the Huertgen Forest and earned a Presidential Unit Citation.  The battalion also participated in the Battle of the Bulge and the Rhine River crossing.  In all, the 4th took part in five World War II campaigns:  Normandy  (with arrowhead), Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe.

After a period of inactivation following the war, the 4th was reactivated in 1948 and deployed to West Germany in 1950 with the rest of the 4th Infantry Division.  While in Germany, the 4th occupied former Wehrmacht facilities at Hanau am Main.  On 5 June 1953, the battalion was redesignated the 4th Engineer Battalion.

In July 1966, elements of the 4th Engineer Battalion, under the command of LTC Gerhard Schulz, arrived at Pleiku, Republic of Vietnam and established the battalion headquarters at Camp Enari.  Assignments for the 4th included providing base security (including the construction of a seven band barbed wire fence around the perimeter), building and maintaining the base airfield, and providing facilities for the 4th Infantry Division’s headquarters.  Engineers of the 4th were also committed as infantry on several occasions, defending Pleiku against enemy attack.  In all, the 4th took part in eleven campaigns during the Vietnam War.  Company A, 4th Engineer Battalion, earned two Presidential Unit Citations, while Company C earned a Valorous Unit Award.  The entire battalion earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation along with several citations from the Republic of Vietnam.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 4th Engineer Battalion was deployed to Kuwait, with B Company first crossing the border into Iraq on 14 April 2003 with Task Force 1-8 Infantry.  In June 2003, the battalion moved  to Ad Dujayl, about sixty miles north of Baghdad, where the engineers conducted a number of rebuilding projects, destroyed tons of munitions, and patrolled the local area.  In February 2004, the 4th redeployed back to its home at Fort Carson, Colorado, where it presently continues training and awaits notice of major changes planned for Army units.

In October 2004, the 4th Engineer Battalion will reflag as the 4th Special Troops Battalion as part of the 3d Brigade Combat Team’s transition to “Unit of Action.”  The line companies will become part of their maneuver battalions permanently.  B Company will become E Company, 1-8 Infantry, and C Company will become E Company, 1-68 Armor.  A Company will be deactivated.