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Operation Essayons 2011

Battalion Coat of Arms

Coat of arms

The 92nd 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.

The 92nd Engineer Battalion Headquarters provides training and readiness assistance to six companies and two detachments located on Fort Stewart, Georgia. The battalion formation includes two horizontal construction companies, one vertical construction company, one forward support company, one route clearance company, headquarters and headquarters company, a survey detachment, and a firefighter detachment prepared to deploy in support of contingency operations worldwide.

The 92nd Engineer Battalion is one of the Army’s first modular engineer battalion headquarters. The unit’s history of service begins in 1933 with deployments to Britain, North Africa, Italy during World War II, Vietnam, hurricane relief efforts, Desert Storm/Shield and numerous deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The battalion nickname is "Black Diamonds".


  • 1Unit crest
  • 2Battalion motto
  • 3Essayons
  • 4Unit history
    • 4.1World War II
    • 4.2Vietnam
    • 4.3Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm
    • 4.4Operation Enduring Freedom
    • 4.5Operation Iraqi Freedom
    • 4.6Operation Enduring Freedom
      • 4.6.192nd Engineer Battalion - HHC, FSC, 526, 984, 554, 36th DET
      • 4.6.2530th Route Clearance Company - March 2011 to March 2012
      • 4.6.392nd Engineer Battalion - HHC, FSC, 526, 984, 554, 36th DET - February 2013 to November 2013
  • 5Company lineage
  • 6Detachments
  • 7See also
  • 8References
  • 9External links

Unit crest[edit]

The distinctive unit insignia (DUI) is directly related to the Battalion’s history. The four points of the diamond represent the four campaigns in which the Battalion participated during World War II. The cross is symbolic of the royal arms of Italy, the country in which the four campaigns took place. The colors of the crest, scarlet and white, are the colors of the Army Corps of Engineers. GLORIA AD CAPUT VENIRE is the battalion motto and translated means GLORY IN ACHIEVEMENT.[1]

Approved on 19 January 1956, the Coat of Arms consists of two crossed bamboo poles, an upright sword as well as a green disk with gold star in the center, placed above the scarlet and white shield with the black diamond symbol in the center. This represents the unit’s war service in Vietnam. According to The Institute of Heraldry, "The crossed bamboo poles symbolize the general support, rebuilding and construction projects of the 92d Engineer Battalion. The green disc alludes to the tropical region and the five-pointed star represents the four Meritorious Unit Commendations and the Vietnamese Civil Action Medal awarded the unit."[2]

Battalion motto[edit]

Glory in Achievement - LTC Harry W. Lombard, Commander of the 92D Engineer Battalion, in 1967, recorded this definition in the Battalion records, of the meaning associated with the motto. "A word is shallow, a promise unfullfilled, a battle never won until the object we have sought is ours. Then there is success, and glory in achievement. This is our goal: Our words, commands; each promise is kept; the battle won. In peace and war it is not the task at hand that matters but the manner in which it is undertaken. When any group puts forth their all in a combined effort, and by so doing accomplishes its mission, it has attained the highest honor - Glory in Achievement."[3]


Let us Try - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is rich in history; built the earth works at Bunker Hill, the bridges at the Imjin River in Korea, and the port at Cam Ranh in Vietnam. "Engineer Soldiers have been shelled, bombed, starved and frozen, but, no matter how hopeless the situation seemed, the officers and Soldiers never forgot, ESSAYONS".[3]

The Corps' mission is to "Deliver vital public and military engineering services; partnering in peace and war to strengthen our Nation’s security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters".[4]

Unit history[edit]

The 92nd Engineer General Service Regiment was constituted an inactive unit of the Regular Army, effective 1 October 1933, as the 51st Engineer Battalion (Separate). The unit was redesignated on 1 January 1938, as the 92nd Engineer Battalion and activated on 1 May 1941 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The enlisted cadre for the 92nd Engineer Battalion was furnished by the 41st Engineer Regiment and numbered 49 men. The officers were drawn from the Regular Army and members of the Officers Reserve Corps on active duty.[5]

The unit was reorganized and redesignated, effective 22 May 1942, as the 92nd Engineer Regiment (General Service).[6] On 1 July 1942, the organization sailed aboard the USAT Thomas H. Barry from the New York Port of Embarkation. Landing in Scotland on 13 July, the regiment was assigned to Southern Base Section of SOS, ETOUSA, with station near Taunton, Somerset, in southwestern England. The regiment was the first American unit in that part of Britain. On 1 August 1942, the unit designation was changed to 92nd Engineer General Service Regiment.[5]

The Regiment sailed from Scotland arriving at Oran, Algeria, in French North Africa on 16 February 1943, and was assigned to the Mediterranean Base Section. In April the unit was attached to the Fifth Army Invasion Training Center in preparation for the Sicily and Salerno operations.[5]

World War II[edit]

On 14 November 1943, the unit sailed from North Africa and landed at Naples on 17 November.[5] The 92nd Engineers deployed to Italy earning four campaign streamers during World War II:

Naples-Foggia - For reconditioning the port as well as repairing and maintaining bridges. On one occasion, the night of 12 Feb 1944, the river rose to flood height and the rising water and floating debris seriously endangered the bridge at Capua. During the night, while the fate of the bridge hung in the balance, the aggressive action of members of Company B, under 1st Lieutenant Lester M. Kostenski, cleared wreckage from the understructure, enabling the bridge to be saved and kept the Army’s main supply line intact. Two enlisted men were awarded the Soldiers Medal for their actions during that operation. During the winter when all units were fighting rain and mud, the Regiment operated five quarries and gravel pits to supply rock, for roads to hospitals, water points, dumps and other Army installations, as well as material for the main roads;[5]
Rome-Arno - In the rapid advance after the Hitler line was broken the Regiment operated in the rear of the Army area. In general, its duties were to keep the supply roads open for high speed traffic, dismantle tactical bridges, and build fixed bridges. For its work during this phase of operations, the Regiment was awarded the Fifth Army Plaque and Clasp for August 1944;[5]
North Apennine - Working 24 hours a day, dump trucks poured crushed rock onto the main supply route and Soldiers stood knee deep in mud and snow digging out drains so the water would flow off the surface. Highway 67 provided a sizeable job with a "dip" in the road 400 feet long and 7’6" deep in the center where German demolitions had cut the roadway;[5]
Po Valley - For maintaining a railhead for supply routes to the Po River. Observed artillery fire exploded in the vicinity and two men received wounds and Purple Hearts as a result, PVTs Parky Durham and Cleavon Lark. The surrender of first the German armies in Italy and then the entire German army on 8 May 1945, made little difference to the operation of the Regiment; work continued without interruption.[5]

The four points of the black diamond on the unit crest represent these four campaigns. During this time the Regiment became known as the "Can Do Regiment."

Due to the reduction in military strength following World War II, the Regiment was deactivated in Italy 20 April 1946;[6] the unit remained inactive for eight years. While still in an inactive status - Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, and Companies Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie were redesignated as the 92nd Engineer Battalion on 25 February 1954. The remainder of the Regiment was disbanded.[3]

Reactivated on 9 February 1955, as the 92nd Engineer Battalion (Construction) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the unit was attached to 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps. Reorganization added Company Delta and redesignated Company A as an Equipment and Maintenance Company.[3]

Hurricane Connie and Hurricane Dianne (1955) left the beaches of South Carolina scarred and bruised, Company C was sent with its personnel and equipment to restore the beaches in the stricken areas. After 90 days of operation the unit returned to Fort Bragg.[3]

On 7 June 1965, Company C reinforced plus a Battalion Headquarters Planning Section deployed to the Dominican Republic to support the Inter American Peace Force during the Dominican Republic Crisis. Within the combat area the Construction Force built a logistical complex to support all the forces in Theater. The unit returned 8 February 1966, after having been designated the most outstanding engineer unit within the Continental United States.[3]

On 15 June 1965, Company D moved to Fort Rucker, Alabama to support the United States Army Aviation Center. This company deployed separately from Fort Rucker to Southeast Asia on 30 January 1967.[3]


On 27 May 1967, the rest of the battalion was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam. During the Vietnam Conflict the "Can Do Regiment" became known as the "Black Diamonds" for their distinctive unit crest. Once in country, the battalion quickly demonstrated the high levels of enthusiasm and professionalism which had characterized their actions in previous times of crisis.[6] The battalion constructed warehouses, motor pool sheds, chapels, airfields, pipeline systems, barracks and a 1000-foot MLC 50 bridge. Additionally, the 92nd, maintained supply routes and operated a rock quarry. It was stationed at Long Binh under the 159th Engineer Group throughout its service in Vietnam.[7] From 2 May 1967 through 27 July 1972, the Battalion distinguished itself in 14 campaigns:[6]

1. Counteroffensive Phase II
2. Counteroffensive Phase III
3. Tet Counteroffensive
4. Counteroffensive Phase IV
5. Counteroffensive Phase V
6. Counteroffensive Phase VI
7. Tet 69/Counteroffensive
8. Summer-Fall 1969
9. Winter-Spring 1970
10. Sanctuary Counteroffensive
11. Counteroffensive Phase VII
12. Consolidation I
13. Consolidation II
14. Cease Fire

The Battalion received four Meritorious Unit Commendations for the periods 1967, 1968–69, 1969–70, and 1970-71. The unit also received the Vietnamese Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class for the period 1967-70. On 26 July 1972, the 92nd left Vietnam and returned stateside to Fort Stewart, Georgia. Delta Company was reformed at Fort Gordon, Georgia.[6]

All of the engineer support for the security forces sent to Florida for the National Political Nominating Conventions was supplied by "Chargin’ Charlie Company" (C Company) at Homestead Air Force Base. In March and June, 1972, the unit received the "Bloodhound Award" in recognition of its exemplary participation in the quarterly Bloodmobile visit to the Hunter/Stewart Complex. This was the first time a unit had won three consecutive "Bloodhounds" (C Company won its first in December, 1971).[8] In June 1976, the unit was redesignated as the 92nd Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Heavy).[6]

During the period 1 August 1987 to 31 July 1988, the Battalion supported a series of worldwide deployments both in support of Joint Service exercises and to provide humanitarian assistance. The missions were to numerous locations, including Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Bahamas, the jungles of South America and the deserts of East Africa. For this effort, the Battalion was awarded the Army Superior Unit Award. The Battalion was recognized again in the fall of 1988, with the National Humanitarian Award for hurricane relief provided during Hurricanes Connie, Dianne, Hugo, and Andrew.[6]

Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm[edit]

92nd Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy) A, B, C and D Companies - October 1990 to April 1991[edit]

On 15 October 1990, the 92nd deployed to Damman, Saudi Arabia, where it subsequently went on to successfully complete 40 missions during Operation Desert Shield and 68 missions during Operation Desert Storm. Of the seven top priority construction engineer projects, as designated by both XVIII Airborne Corps and VII Corps, the Black Diamonds were assigned and completed five in a little over six months. This included completion of 566 kilometers of road construction (Main Supply Routes) for both corps, constructing a major VII Corps logistics base (Log Base Echo), and a 4300’ asphalted airstrip for theater casualty evacuation. The Battalion relocated five times into, and out of, three countries – Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait. Throughout, the unit successfully completed all assigned missions and gained the reputation of being a proactive, responsive engineer battalion. The Battalion was awarded campaign streamers for the defense of Saudi Arabia and the Liberation and Defense of Kuwait, and received its fifth Meritorious Unit Commendation. The individuals of the battalion were awarded 48 Bronze Star Medals and 297 Army Commendation Medals from 3rd Armored Division and the 926th Engineer Group.[6]

Operation Enduring Freedom[edit]

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, under command of Lieutenant Colonel (later Colonel) Curtis Thalken, an element of Headquarters Company together with A and B Companies and a platoon from the 306th Engineer Company of the US Army Reserves, were deployed in support of 10th Mountain Division and the 101st Airborne Division. The immediate mission was to provide rapid runway repair, clear multiple aircraft wrecks, build a detainee holding cell, construct base camps and administrative facilities, construct seven kilometers of roads, construct sewerage and a water treatment facility, construct thousands of feet of survivability ditches and conduct mine clearing operations.[9]

The battalion deployed in two phases. Initially, the battalion commander with a headquarters element and Company B, initially deployed by air via Rhein-Main Air Force Base to the former Soviet airfield at Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan. Company B later moved to Bagram, Afghanistan in direct support of 10th Mountain Division. The remainder of the battalion, under the command of battalion executive officer Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Stephen C. Larsen, organized for deployment directly into Afghanistan two months later.[9]

During the second phase, the deployed headquarters element relocated to the largely destroyed international airport at Kandahar, Afghanistan in direct support of the 3rd Brigade "Task Force Rakkasans", 101st Airborne Division, receiving additional Headquarters Company assets and the deploying Company A under the command of Captain Stephanie Ahearn. Captain Ahearn is likely the first female US Army officer to command an engineer company in combat. Company A deployed by air via a Pacific Ocean route with trans-loading from US Air Force C-5 aircraft to C-17 aircraft at the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.[9]

This complex, two-phase operation constituted the largest aerial deployment of heavy combat construction equipment (including D7 bulldozers, road graders, 20-ton dump trucks, and hydraulic excavators) and personnel at that time.[9]

These elements of the 92nd, the only deployed engineer battalion in the Army at that time, built what was to be the U.S. and coalition forces’ initial base camp, staging area and port for debarkation of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Prior to the Battalion's arrival, the camps were essentially open fields with few buildings, no electricity, no running water or adequate drainage. At Kandahar, unexploded ordnance and nightly rocket attacks on the base from enemy forces were common. The runways were cratered from aerial attacks and littered with destroyed aircraft, significantly degrading air operations and presenting a significant threat from unexploded ordnance. There was no waste incineration or sanitary waste-water treatment. All of these issues were corrected. Additionally, the battalion organized and conducted quarry operations near the airport providing material for rapid runway repair and road building.[9]

Occasionally, A and B companies were effectively reorganized as infantry providing perimeter security at the camps while the infantry units were on mission, one of which was Operation Anaconda 1–18 March 2002. Mines were also troublesome to the engineers’ day-to-day operations, many of which remained from the Soviet Union's previous occupation of the country. Between Bagram and Kandahar, the mine-clearing D7 bulldozers detonated 125 mines without casualty.

Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount III, 3rd Infantry Division commanding general, presented 38 Soldiers with Bronze Star Medals. More than 230 Soldiers in the Battalion were awarded the Army Commendation Medal.

Operation Iraqi Freedom[edit]

In April 2003, the 92nd deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom I. The Battalion worked from Tallil Airbase just outside An Nasiriyah to develop living and logistics sustainment facilities along the main supply route.[10] In January 2005, the Battalion deployed to Baghdad in support of OIF 04-06 to provide general construction engineering and chemical force protection support. 92nd completed 276 construction missions, including the construction of an Iraqi tank gunnery range, a headquarters and airfield complex for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, numerous battalion and brigade headquarters SEA Huts and the repair of over 100 IED craters.[10]

From October 2006 to October 2007, the Battalion was deployed to Balad Air Base, Cp Striker, Cp Delta, and Talil Air Base, Iraq in support of OIF 06-08. During the deployment, the Black Diamonds completed over 700 combat and construction missions worth over $50 million, earning its eighth Meritorious Unit Commendation. The Battalion consisted of over 1200 Soldiers, sailors and Airmen who executed the full spectrum of engineering operations in support of Multinational Corps-Iraq. During the surge the battalion constructed the base camp facilities for the 3/3 BCT at FOB Hammer, 4/2 BCT at Camp Taji, 4 Joint Security Stations in support of the 25th Infantry Division, 3 Combat Outposts in support of 2/3 BCT and renovated an existing building to serve as the 3d Infantry Division Headquarters. 92nd along with 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron, completed an impressive list of individual construction projects at Besmaya, including erecting 223 tents in three Life Support Areas; 14 kilometers of 10-foot high, triple-strand, concertina wire topped berm; two million gallons of black and grey water lagoon capacity; an 850,000 gallon bulk fuel farm; a 6 million gallon raw water processing plant; six motor pools and two helicopter pads. As a part of the MNC-I's counter IED mission the battalion completed repair of over 700 IED craters, sanitized over 100 kilometers of Main Supply Routes, completed 8 major road repairs and installed 12 fixed bridges, enhancing mobility throughout the Corps.[10]

Operation Enduring Freedom[edit]

92nd Engineer Battalion - HHC, FSC, 526, 984, 554, 36th DET[edit]

In May 2010, the Black Diamonds deployed to Afghanistan as part of the surge of 30,000 additional American Soldiers. The battalion constructed new, and upgraded existing, combat outposts and forward operating bases in support of Coalition and Afghan units. Their efforts directly resulted in the increased combat effectiveness of 15 battalion- and brigade-level task forces across Regional Command-East at a critical period of the campaign.[10]

530th Route Clearance Company - March 2011 to March 2012[edit]

On 12 March 2011, the 530th Bloodhounds deployed to Forward Operating Base Sarkari Karez, Afghanistan in the Helmand province to conduct route clearance. In May 2011, the company moved to the Kandahar province and split into two elements. First and second platoon conducted clearance operations in and around FOB Walton, while third and fourth platoon moved to FOB Spin Boldak in southern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. The Bloodhound efforts reduced 147 IEDs in southern Afghanistan; 80,000 kilometers of improved and unimproved roads were cleared. Effectively employed multiple Mine Clearing Linear Charges and eight Antipersonnel Obstacle Breaching Systems during route and area clearance operations; cross-trained maneuver counterparts on both devices. Executed a responsible Relief In Place – Transfer Of Authority with two Mobility Augmentation Companies at two FOBs separated by over 100 km in RC-South. Awarded 19 Purple Hearts and 65 Combat Action Badges during deployment; redeployed every Bloodhound from Afghanistan. The company returned to Fort Stewart on 12 March 2012.[11]

92nd Engineer Battalion - HHC, FSC, 526, 984, 554, 36th DET - February 2013 to November 2013[edit]

Most recently, the Black Diamonds deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 13, to conduct retrograde operations and reduce the Army’s footprint in Afghanistan. As the second engineer battalion to be part of the CENTCOM Materiel Retrograde Element (CMRE) mission, the 92nd Engineer Battalion completed over fifteen engineer work requests and contributed to the closure or transfer of two Tactical Infrastructures, nine Tactical Bases, and one Operational Base with focus in Regional Command’s South, Southwest and West. Forward Support Company completed over twenty-eight Combat Logistic Patrols covering over 4,000 miles in RC South, served more than 25,000 meals to fellow Black Diamonds and mechanical support at six different locations. 526th Horizontal Construction Engineers, 554th Vertical Construction Engineers, and 984th Horizontal Construction Engineers deconstruction efforts directly contributed to the CMRE mission to retrograde with a focus to consolidate troops and equipment in Afghanistan. 526 Gladiators completed projects at five bases stretching across RC’s South and Southwest. 554 Assassins completed projects at seven bases stretching across RC’s South, Southwest and West. 984 Warriors completed projects at seven bases stretching across RC’s South and Southwest.[12]

Company lineage[edit]

HHC - Headhunters, FSC - Coldsteel, 526th - Gladiators, 554th - Assassins, 530th - Bloodhounds

526th Engineer Company[edit]

19447 FebruaryConstituted in the Army of the United States as the 526th Engineer Light Ponton Company
194420 AprilActivated at Camp Shelby, Mississippi
194516 NovemberReorganized and redesignated as the 526th Engineer Panel Bridge Transport Company
194927 MayReorganized and redesignated as the 526th Engineer Panel Bridge Company; concurrently allotted to the Regular Army
19541 AprilReorganized and redesignated as the 526th Engineer Company
197131 MarchInactivated in Korea
200816 OctoberActivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia

Campaign participation credit[edit]

World War II[edit]
Korean War[edit]
  • UN Offensive
  • CCF Intervention
  • First UN Counteroffensive
  • CCF Spring Offensive
  • UN Summer-Fall Offensive
  • Second Korean Winter
  • Korea, Summer-Fall 1952
  • Third Korean Winter
  • Korea, Summer 1953
  • 526th Horizontal Construction Engineer Company Icon

984th Engineer Company[edit]

194326 NovemberConstituted in the Army of the United States as the 984th Engineer Maintenance Company.
194330 DecemberActivated at Camp Swift, Texas.
19511 DecemberReorganized and redesignated as the 984th Engineer Field Maintenance Company; concurrently allotted to the Regular Army.
19541 AprilReorganized and redesignated as the 984th Engineer Company.
196512 AugustInactivated in Germany.
19691 JanuaryActivated in Vietnam.
197126 DecemberInactivated in Vietnam.
197521 JanuaryActivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
197521 SeptemberInactivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
200816 OctoberActivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia.[13]
20145 SeptemberInactivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Campaign participation credit[edit]

World War II[edit]
Korean War[edit]
  • First UN Counteroffensive
  • CCF Spring Offensive
  • UN Summer-Fall Offensive
  • Second Korean Winter
  • Korea, Summer-Fall 1952
  • Third Korean Winter
  • Korea, Summer 1953
  • Counteroffensive Phase VI
  • Tet 69/Counteroffensive
  • Summer-Fall 1969
  • Winter-Spring 1970
  • Sanctuary Counteroffensive
  • Counteroffensive Phase VII
  • Consolidation I
  • Consolidation II
  • 984th Horizontal Construction Engineer Company Icon

  • 984th Engineer Company Photo

554th Engineer Company[edit]

194219 DecemberConstituted in the Army of the United States as the 554th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion.
194325 JanuaryActivated at Camp Swift, Texas.
19455 NovemberRedesignated as the 554th Engineer Ponton Bridge Company.
194930 AprilInactivated at Fort Monroe, Virginia.
195117 DecemberRedesignated as the 554th Engineer Panel Bridge Company.
195119 DecemberAllotted to the Regular Army.
195216 JanuaryActivated at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.
195215 AugustInactivated at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.
195411 OctoberRedesignated as the 554th Engineer Company.
19543 DecemberActivated at Fort Lewis, Washington.
19678 DecemberInctivated in Vietnam.
200816 OctoberActivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia.[14]

Campaign participation credit[edit]

World War II[edit]
Northern France
Central Europe
Counteroffensive, Phase II
Counteroffensive, Phase III
  • 554th Vertical Construction Engineer Company Icon

  • 554th Engineer Company Photo

530th Engineer Company[edit]

194224 MarchConstituted in Regular Army as 437th Engineer Company (Dump Truck)
194220 MayActivated at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana
194325 June530th Engineer Light Pontoon Company was formed at Camp Beale, California
194616 DecemberInactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington
194730 JanuaryRedesignated as 530th Engineer Dump Truck Company
194720 JuneActivated in Europe
19471 SeptemberInactivated at Bad Nauheim, Germany
195429 SeptemberRedesignated as 530th Engineer Company (Panel Bridge)
195415 NovemberActivated in Europe
201016 February530th Route Clearance Company activated at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Campaign participation credit[edit]

World War II[edit]
North Apennines
  • 530th Route Clearance Company Icon

  • 4th Platoon blows-in-place a found IED during a clearance mission to the dangerous Ganjitsu Kalay village, near the AF-Pak border

  • 530th Soldiers negotiate a 400-meter buddy team poncho raft swim as part of the Expert Sapper Competition


36th Engineer Detachment[edit]


194526 JuneConstituted in Army of the United States as the 3336th Engineer Refrigeration Maintenance Detachment
194526 JulyActivated in France
194512 NovemberInactivated in France
19535 FebruaryRedesignated as the 36th Engineer Water Tank Detachment and allotted to the Regular Army
195310 AprilActivated in Korea
19541 AprilReorganized and redesignated as the 36th Engineer Detachment
195520 JanuaryInactivated in Korea
195715 OctoberActivated in Japan
195925 MarchInactivated in Korea
196326 MarchActivated at Fort Benning, Georgia
196917 FebruaryInactivated in Vietnam
197030 OctoberActivated at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana
198715 AugustInactivated at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana
200816 OctoberActivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia

Campaign participation credit[edit]

Korean War[edit]
  • Third Korean Winter
  • Korea, Summer 1953
  • Defense
  • Counteroffensive
  • Counteroffensive Phase II
  • Counteroffensive Phase III
  • Tet 69/Counteroffensive
  • Counteroffensive Phase IV
  • Counteroffensive Phase V
  • Counteroffensive Phase VI
War on Terrorism[edit]

514th Firefighter Detachment[edit]

194312 AugustConstituted in Army of the United States as the 1098th Engineer Utilities Detachment
194314 AugustActivated at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana
194613 MarchInactivated in France
194610 DecemberActivated in Korea
194730 JuneRedesignated as the 514th Engineer Utilities Detachment
194925 JanuaryInactivated in Korea
195225 AugustRedesignated as the 514th Engineer Carbon Dioxide Generating Detachment and allotted to the Regular Army
195218 SeptemberActivated at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
19532 OctoberReorganized and redesignated as the 514th Engineer Detachment
197115 AprilInactivated in Vietnam
19801 SeptemberActivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia
198815 JulyInactivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia
200516 OctoberActivated at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia

Campaign participation credit[edit]

World War II[edit]
  • Counteroffensive Phase II
  • Counteroffensive Phase III
  • Tet Counteroffensive
  • Counteroffensive Phase IV
  • Counteroffensive Phase V
  • Counteroffensive Phase VI
  • Tet 69/Counteroffensive
  • Summer-Fall 1969
  • Winter-Spring 1970
  • Sanctuary Counteroffensive
  • Counteroffensive Phase VII
War on Terrorism[edit]
  • 514th Firefighter Detachment ran in the Ft Stewart, Red Cross 5K on 1 March. SGT Rodriguez, SPC Carnes, and SPC Hardy all completed the run in turn-out gear

  • 514th Firefighters at Red Cross Run

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

United States Army Corps of Engineers Logo

Officers of 1st BN 92d EN GS REGT WWII - Front Row: Lt. Schellberg (Neb), Lt. Welker (Ala), Lt. Swanson (Mich), Capt. Douglas (Mo), Back Row: Capt. Green (Minn), Major Small (Ill), Capt. Wrey (Texas), Lt. McDonald (Mass), Lt. Geary (Penn), Lt. Lahaye (Texas), Lt. Cordone (Mich)

Khobar towers. After the ground war. Preparing to return to Ft. Stewart March 1991. Bottom left to right. Sgt. Obe, Sgt. Gartin, SSG Van Zandt, SSG Licea, Pvt Martin. Top, left to right. Spc Porter, Pvt Peltier, Pvt Mott, Spc Kirby, Sgt. Kirk, Sgt. Gibson, Spc Bartholomew.
92nd EN BN - Desert Shield/Storm

Soldiers from the 92nd Engineer Battalion complete guard towers along Forward Operating Base Hammer's 14-kilometer, 10-foot-high perimeter berm in Iraq. 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Airmen and Soldiers from the 92nd Engineer Battalion's "Black Diamonds" were tasked to bed down the Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Stewart, Ga., in support of the Baghdad Security Plan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Reflexive Fire Stress Shoot - July 2012

  1. ^{The Battalion Insignia, Headquarters, History of 92D Engineer Battalion (Construction) Fort Bragg, NC - March 1967}
  2. ^{The Institute of Heraldry. United States Army / U.S. Army Heraldry / Unit Insignia / Distinctive Unit Insignia, Shoulder Sleeve Insignia, Coat of Arms / Engineer / 92 Engineer Battalion / Coat of Arms}
  3. ^ abcdefg{Harry W. Lombard, LTC, CE, Commanding 92D Engineer Battalion (Construction)- March 1967}
  4. ^USACE Mission and Vision webpage
  5. ^ abcdefgh{George W. Bennett, LTC, 92nd Engineer Regiment, Commanding, Headquarters, History of 92D Engineer General Service Regiment - December 1944 to May 1945}
  6. ^ abcdefgh{CPT Scott Schutzmeister, 92nd Engineer Battalion Unit History - August 1990-April 1991}
  7. ^{Shelby L. Stanton,Vietnam Order of Battle U.S. News Books. Washington, D.C. - 1981}
  8. ^{Unit Achievements - 1972}
  9. ^ abcdeInterview with Lieutenant Colonel Stephen C. Larsen, former 92nd Engineer Battalion executive officer, serving as Facilities Engineer, US Military Academy, West Point, June, 2003
  10. ^ abcd{Team Stewart, 92nd Engineer Battalion History, Third Infantry Division, http://www.stewart.army.mil/}
  11. ^{530th Engineer Company History, 92nd Engineer Battalion, Fort Stewart - 2014}
  12. ^{Unit Historian, 92nd Engineer Battalion, Fort Stewart - 2014}
  13. ^{Department of the Army. 984th Engineer Company Lineage, U.S. Army Center of Military History. Fort Lesley J. McNair, DC}
  14. ^{Department of the Army. 554th Engineer Company Lineage, U.S. Army Center of Military History. Fort Lesley J. McNair, DC}

In pursuing my Master of Environmental Science degree at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, I conducted research on the Army Corps of Engineers to examine whether and how the institutional culture of the agency has been changing in response to increased societal pressure to concentrate on environmental management and protection.  The unique perspective this research gave me on the culture and history of the Corps inspired this analysis on the agency’s current challenges.

This is the first in a series of posts about the Army Corps.  This first post contains background on the Army Corps, its history of flood control management, and some of the factors behind the strength of this year’s flooding.

The Army Corps of Engineers usually lies pretty low.  Engineers speaking earnestly while wearing hard hats and castle logos do not make for very tempting paparazzi bait, so the last time we heard this much about them was five years ago, when the levees failed in New Orleans during Katrina.  Five years before that they were also in the news, when journalist and author Mike Grunwald wrote a series for The Washington Post detailing pork-barrel spending, economic boondoggles, environmental destruction, and other ills that he considers the hallmarks of the agency.

2011 Spring Flooding in Minot, ND. From ND Dept. of Emergency Services

We’re beginning to hear from the Corps again as the divisions on the shores of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries are forced to make tremendous decisions day after day in order to deal with the record-smashing flooding in that region. These rivers, along with the Ohio river, cover over 1 million square miles of the United States.   More small communities and tracts of cropland fall victim daily to inundation as levees either fail due to the incoming cascades of water or are deliberately destroyed in order to spare an urban or industrial center downstream.

Interesting–it turns out that when the Army Corps makes the news, it’s usually for something terrible.  It almost makes you feel sorry for them.

However, the Corps is made up of duty-bound professionals, and they do their best to speak in the language of probabilities, cost-benefit analyses, risk tradeoffs, and so on.  So we don’t feel that sorry for them–we end up feeling sorry for the people the Corps’ decisions end up hurting, the ones whose crops and homes are flooded and who don’t have enough flood insurance to rebuild or replant.  Some of those farmers and citizens of the heartland are preparing lawsuits against the Corps:

Ed Marshall is a farmer here who now has about 8,000 acres underwater. He recognizes the Corps’ need for action, and like many farmers here in Charleston, he’s resigned to the fact that the Corps will continue to operate the floodway for generations to come. But Marshall and others fault the Corps’ procedures: detonating explosives over a two-mile stretch of levee, allowing for a crush of water to pound onto the spillway…

[These farmers] know that there are big risks involved to farming in a place like this. Many of their deeds contain flowage easements, allowing the Corps to release water at will, and folks seem to recognize that it’s for the greater good to flood this big, 130,000-acre chunk of their county.

But [25] farmers here have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers.

Hang on.

There are a few significant questions we should unpack here.  Why is the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of flood control in the US?  Why do we have all these big strong levees everywhere, holding in the fourth-largest river in the world, if they are sometimes going to be burst by design and flood people they were presumably designed to protect?  Why are the floods this year so bad?

The Army Corps and Flood Control

The Army Corps is the oldest federal agency in America, created during the Revolutionary War to help the Continental Army build their own forts, bridges, and harbors and sabotage those of the British.  This entwining of military and infrastructure missions has continued and grown; the Corps eventually took charge of ensuring safe navigation on the nation’s waterways as a matter of national security (for ensuring the protection of supply lines) and, later, to protect commerce.  In 1899 Congress, concerned about the proliferation of private dams that obstructed navigation, expanded the role of the Corps with the Rivers and Harbors Act.  The agency now had the power to permit or deny construction of any structures, excavation from or fill into navigable waters, and the discharge of refuse material.

Damaging Mississippi floods in 1912, 1913, and 1916 built momentum for a federal takeover of flood control, but the real trigger was the great flood of 1927:

Great Flood of 1927, unknown region. Image from National Geographic photo gallery "Flood Pictures: Mississippi River at its Worst". Click image for full gallery.

And the rains came. They came in amounts never seen by any white man, before or since. They fell throughout the entire Mississippi River Valley, from the Appalachians to the Rockies. They caused widespread flooding that made 1927 the worst year ever in the Valley. More water, more damage, more fear, more panic, more misery, more death by drowning that any American had seen before, or would again.

The Corps itself drew up a plan for an immense, integrated levee system, Congress considered it, and in 1928 the plan was authorized and put under the jurisdiction of the Corps.  Following more devastating flooding in the 1930s, Congress passed the 1936 Flood Control Act, officially putting the Corps in charge of flood control for the nation’s waters.

The Levee System

The current Mississippi River flood control system was developed following the 1927 Great Flood.  This year’s flooding, while within the design capacity of the system, is second only to that massive event.  The system was deliberately designed with designated spillways where farming was allowed, since the probability of breaking levees to flood the spillways was considered an acceptable risk to weigh against the economic benefits of farming that fertile cropland.

Ancient Courses: Mississippi River Meander Belt. Cape Girardeau, MO - Donaldsonville, LA. Prepared by Harold N. Fisk. PhD., for the USACE in 1944.

These spillways reflected a concession to “natural” flood control: the Mississippi River has never held still for long.  The Big Muddy has changed course thousands of times over geologic history, and its historic natural floodplain may have been over a hundred miles wide at its widest point.  Chanelling the river into one set course, defined by levees, locks, and dams, facilitated the transformation of a river that lifted and resettled the top soil of a continent into one that produced a sustained economic boom in the center of America.  By changing the natural river to a commercial one, the Corps sought to tame it, and has largely succeeded: agriculture and shipping alone produce up to $12.8 billion in revenue each year on the lower Mississippi, and $6 billion on the upper.

It’s not unnatural to have a big flood.  What’s unnatural is that the river has been forced to stick to one course for so long, hemmed in by levees. The most natural kind of flood control would be similar to that famously practiced by ancient Egyptians along the Nile: families had homes on stilts or in villages outside of the floodplain to live in when the Nile was in spring flood, and when the water receded they planted, grew, and harvested crops in the newly replenished soil.

Such a flood control policy might be called “soft,” while the traditional Corps practice of building structures is a “hard” form of flood control.  Soft flood control would be cheaper, both in infrastructure costs and insurance losses, but it would be less predictable in our hard world.  The nation demands predictability for growth, investment, and commerce, and the Corps of Engineers, trained in construction and building, is happy to oblige.  It’s hard to get an agency of engineers to endorse a policy of not-engineering.

This Year’s Flooding

Excerpt of a Corps map showing estimated maximum flooding in 1927 flood (blue) vs 2011 flood (green). Note that while the crest height of the river is just about as high in both floods, the levee system is largely doing its job. Click the image for the full map.

The 2011 Floods are historically bad for three reasons: one is the psychological outcome of the “hard” flood control we have chosen for the country.   Citizens get used to solid walls that last for decades or generations and are unprepared when they fall spectacularly.  In the meantime, entire families live and die in the shadow of the levees and become used to the protection they imply.  Over time they make additions to their houses, plant more intensive crop rotations, and otherwise discount the idea that the river would flood the banks.  They grow complacent, perhaps.   The disconnect is most jarring when we consider families living and working in the spillways on land that will be flooded first in the event that high water threatens a downstream urban center.

The second reason is physical, and also linked to the levees: preventing the rivers from returning to their floodplains has accelerated the destruction of wetlands, both via conversion to cropland and because of simply disconnecting them from the river.  Without lots of wetlands in places like Minnesota, any rain that hits the ground does not get absorbed and then released slowly into the river but instead rolls along the farm field’s surface, into the subsurface tile drains, into the irrigation ditches, and then into the river, quickly.  We get higher peaks in water levels that occur more quickly, and are generally harder to control.  The same “flashiness” is contributed to by the levees themselves.  Since flood water can’t reach the floodplain, spread out horizontally and soak into the soil gradually, it just stays in the river channel, getting higher and higher and thundering downstream.

Finally, there’s just more water in the system this year.  A lot more water.  The Corps increased its release levels on Big Bend Dam, on a Missouri River tributary in South Dakota, to 165,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) this week.  The previous record was 74,000 cfs in 1997.  If they don’t release these high-pressure water levels, or the dams would breach, leading to even more sudden and out-of-control flooding.  Record-breaking snowpack and record-breaking spring rains have swollen tributaries across the Midwest, prompting Bill McKibben of 350.org to caution us not to wonder whether extreme weather events might be related to climate change:

If you did wonder, you see, you would also have to wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest — resulting in record flooding along the Mississippi — could somehow be related. And then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming, and to the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold air.

After years of bounding their conclusions with careful assessments of uncertainty and qualifications, scientists are finally ready to begin attributing the rising pattern of extreme weather events to human-caused climate change.  Even without a known contribution from climate change, however, our increasing use of “hard” technology to protect ourselves from nature blurs the line between a natural and a man-made disaster.  With climate change, however, the frequency and intensity of weather events are predicted to continue rising, but it’s hard to say by how much.  This may negate the major advantage of a hard flood control system, predictability.  In a time of change, we should be prepared to expect the unexpected.

In the next post, I’ll get into an analysis of some of the nuances around risk perception and the uneasy relationship the Corps has with the communities it protects (and, occasionally, allows to flood).

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