"I would like to thank all of the former soldiers of the Fighting 299th Engineer Combat Battalion for their support and input to this unit history. Without their help many of the details would not have been possible. I would also like to thank Colonel (Ret.) Fred Kohler for providing me with precious memorabilia from World War II which provided renewed impetus in the efforts to complete the history. Last, I would like to thank Mr. Charles Hendricks, Historical Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, for his assistance in securing valuable after action reports, taking the time to review my drafts for accuracy and technical correctness and his professional assistance as an historian."
Lieutenant Colonel Cortez C. Aylor III
8 Feb. 1943.............Constituted in the Army of the United States as the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion.
28 Feb. 1943...........355th Engineer General Services Regiment provides cadre of soldiers to outfit the 299th Engineer Combat Bn.
1 March 1943..........Activated at Camp White, Oregon.
19 April 1944...........Assigned to First Army.
1 May 1944 .............B Co. attached to VII Corps. HHSC, A, C, and Med Det attached to V Corps.
28 Dec. 1944............Attached to XVIII Airborne Corps.
11 Feb. 1945............Relieved from attachment XVIII Airborne Corps and attached to III Corps.
7 July 1945 ..............Last members of 299th Engr Cbt Bn. depart the unit.
18 Oct. 1945.............Inactivated at Camp Shanks, New York.
28 Mar. 1947.............Allotted to the Organized Reserves and assigned to the First Army.
27 May 1947..............Activated with Headquarters at Hempstead New York. (Organized Reserves redesignated in 1948 as the Organized Reserve Corps; redesignated in 1952 as the Army Reserves.)
31 July 1950..............Inactivated at Hempstead, New York.
11 Oct. 1954..............Redesignated as the 299th Engineer Bn. withdrawn from allotment to the Army Reserve, and allotted to the Regular Army.
3 Dec. 1954................Activated at Hoechst, Germany.
17 Nov. 1971..............Inactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington
21 Dec. 1975..............Activated at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
World War II
Normandy (with Arrowhead) Northern France
Counteroffensive, Phase II
Counteroffensive, Phase III
Counteroffensive, Phase IV
Counteroffensive, Phase V
Counteroffensive, Phase VI
Counteroffensive, Phase VII
For their gallantry, bravery, and valor, the 299th Engineer Battalion has been awarded the following decorations.
Presidential unit citation (Army) Streamer Embroidered NORMANDY
Valorous Unit Award, Streamer Embroidered DAK-TO BEN-HET
Vietnamese civil Action Honor Medal, First Class, Streamer Embroidered VIETNAM 1970-71
Company C additionally entitled to:
Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action at ST. VITH
Vietnamese Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class, Streamer Embroidered VIETNAM 1971
26 February 1943................................ A corps of 62 officers and enlisted men of the 355th Engineer General Service Regiment left from a desert maneuver area in Southern California to arrive at Camp White, Oregon.
3 March 1943...................................... General Orders £1 activated the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion at Camp White, Oregon. Basic training at Camp White and Oregon maneuvers followed.
1 November 1943.........Departed Camp White, Oregon for Fort Lewis, Washington (by convoy).
2 November 1943.........Arrived at Fort Lewis, Washington.
7 December 1943..........Departed Fort Lewis, Washington for Fort Pierce, Florida (by train).
14 December 1943........Arrived at Fort Pierce, Florida.
1 March 1944.................Departed Fort Pierce, Florida for Camp Pickett, Virginia (by train).
2 March 1944.................Arrived at Camp Pickett, Virginia.
1 April 1944....................Departed Camp Pickett, Virginia by train for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.
2 April 1944....................Arrived at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.
4 April 1944...................Departed Camp Kilmer, New Jersey by train for New York Port of Embarkation (SS Exchequer).
6 April 1944...................Sailed from New York aboard the SS Exchequer.
16 April 1944.................Arrived in Cardiff, Wales.
18 April 1944.................Debarked the SS Exchequer en route to Ilfracombe. (Braunton Hut Camp, First Army.)
16 May 1944..................Battalion departs Braunton Hut Camp in two echelons - the rear echelon to Painswick Park Camp, the forward echelon to Camp D-6 near Dorchester.
1 June 1944...................Forward echelon moved out of Camp D-6 to the Port of Weymouth.
6 June 1944...................D-Day 0633 - Eight assault teams of the 299th Engineer Battalion Omaha Beach (Easy Red, Fox Green and Fox Red) - Company B landed on Utah Beach.
10 June 1944..................Roadmarch from Normandy beach to La Vallee, France.
17 June 1944..................Roadmarch from La Vallee to Carentan, France.
30 June 1944..................The rear echelon moved from Painswick Manor to Camp 12 near Dorchester. The forward echelon moved to Orglandes, France.
2 July 1944......................The rear echelon moved to Portland Harbor and waited on LST.
3 July 1944......................Rear echelon arrived at Normandy and convoyed to the assembly area. The battalion was together again.
16 July 1944 - 17 August 1944............ with the Normandy campaign ended the battalion moved through France, and stopped at St. Martin le Tallevend near Vire, France.
14 September 1944............The 299th Engineer Combat Battalion crossed the Franco-Belgian border and continued northeastward thru Charleroi and Namur, to St. Trond, Belgium.
6 February 1945..................The 299th Engineer Combat Battalion moved under the cover of darkness and secret orders to Lictenbusch, Germany. Lictenbusch was a small village just inside the German border and in the first defense of the Ziegfried line.
11 February 1945 - 14 March 1945..... The battalion moved through Zweifall, Hurtgen Forest, Enskirchen and ended up in the vicinity of the Remagen Bridge.
30 March 1945 - 11 June 1945............ The battalion continued to move through Germany and came to its final stopping place - Nurnberg.
18 October 1945....................The battalion was inactivated at Camp Shanks, New York.
3 December 1954...................The battalion was reactivated in Hoechst, Germany.
July 1958................................The battalion moved to Beirut, Lebanon as part of Task Force 201.
September 1958......................The battalion returned to Germany.
16 July 1963.............................The battalion moved to Fort Gordon, Georgia.
22 October 1965.......................The battalion deployed to Qui Nhon, South Vietnam.
July 1966...................................The battalion moved to Pleiku, South Vietnam.
June 1967..................................The battalion relocated to an area near Dak To, South Vietnam.
September 1969.........................The battalion moved to An Khe, South Vietnam.
17 November 1971......................The battalion was inactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington.
21 December 1975.......................The 299th Engineer Battalion (Corps) (Combat) (HHC, A, B, and C companies) was reactivated at Fort Sill, Oklahoma - where it remains on active duty in support of the III Corps Artillery and Fort sill.
In December 1954, the 299th Combat Engineer Battalion was reactivated in Europe and assigned to the V Corps of the 7th Army Hoechst, FRG.
The Battalion moved to Lebanon in July 1958 as part of Task Force 201. "The countries of the Middle East experienced intermittent crises during the 1950's. Lebanon was no exception, as internal turmoil and outside pressures threatened its existence. President Camille Chamoun of Lebanon made an urgent plea on 14 July 1958 to the governments of France, Great Britain, and the United States to deploy military forces to Lebanon to stabilize the situation. Received in Washington at 0600 on 14 July (1958), this message became the first test of the Eisenhower Doctrine, which had been announced in January 1957.
"The U.S. forces landed unopposed and quickly found themselves in a role limited to showing force instead of using it. During the three months of American involvement, one U.S. battle death occurred, while U.S. armed forces caused no civilian casualties. The American projection of power had worked, as the political situation had at least become stabilized temporarily."
The 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) provided general engineering support to Task Force 201 for three months and returned to Germany in September, 1958.
In October 1963, the 299th was assigned to the Third U.S. Army, Fort Gordon, Georgia. While there, the Battalion conducted unit training and accomplished numerous construction projects for the improvement of facilities at Fort Gordon.
On 16 July 1965, the 299th was alerted for movement overseas to Vietnam. The main body arrived at Qui Nhon on 22 October 1965, and was assigned to the 937th Engineer Group (Combat). The battalion performed Combat Engineer and construction missions for more than six years in a hostile environment. Shortly after its arrival in the Republic of Vietnam, the 299th undertook many construction projects. The Battalion operated in the highlands where it completed base camp development projects; built and maintained roads, bridges, and airfields; and provided combat support to units in the area.
Company A went to work right away to complete the Ky Son Mountain Road which led into the center of the rice-producing area of Binh Dinh Province. They worked on the road from November 1965 till completion in April 1966. In March 1966, Company C moved to Cheo Reo and upgraded the airfield there. The battalion (minus Company A) remained in the Phu Tai Valley area, less than 10 miles southwest of Qui Nhon, until 29 July 1966. Elements of the battalion provided engineer support to the 101st Airborne Division at Dak To and to the 1st Cavalry Division in the Pleiku area through July 1966. The battalion headquarters and HHC moved to Pleiku near the end of July 1966. Company B remained in Phu Tai to continue construction of the ammunition supply point.
The displacement of the battalion from Qui Nhon to Pleiku, RVN was completed on 22 August 1966 when B Company closed from Phu Tai. An operation support mission to upgrade route 14 from Pleiku north to Dak To and repair the Dak To airfield began on 17 October 1966. Company C was involved in operational support at Duc Co, in Western Pleiku Province, from 23 September to 7 November 1966. The work involved partial reconstruction of an existing CIDG camp to enlarge it in order to accommodate a US Artillery Battery; the scope of work was significant.
The battalion suffered its first casualties from battle action on 13 October 1966 when a quarry site was attacked by an estimated enemy platoon. The attack started at the end of the day as the security and work force prepared to depart. The attack was well planned and timed. It resulted in 2 US KIA and 1 WIA. Enemy losses were unknown. Base development continued for the 4th Infantry Division, the Pleiku Sub-area Cantonment, the 52nd Artillery Group and the 25th Infantry Division.
Company C completed work at Duc Co Special Forces Camp on 7 November 1966 and returned to Base Camp in Pleiku. Brigadier General Ploger awarded Lieutenant Lehea, Commanding Officer, Company C, 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) the Bronze Star Medal, for Meritorious Achievement for the engineering effort. On 24 December 1967 an inquiry was received by the battalion as to the classification of bridges on Highway 19E, to determine whether or not a class 100 vehicle could make it from Pleiku to Qui Nhon. The Battalion said no, that bridge 30 would not take the load. On 25 December a VTR and tank collapsed bridge 30!
On 1 February 1967, in support of 4th Infantry Division elements, Company C was tasked to replace a timber bridge on route 14. First Platoon completely replaced all bridge members, and made significant repairs to the concrete abutments, by 7 February 1967. There was also a requirement to reconfigure an important Bailey Bridge crossing on Route 19 east of Pleiku to class 78. It was necessary to change from triple-single to a double-double configuration. Company B was tasked to accomplish this mission on 17 February 1967 with the 509th Engineer Company (FB) in support. The bridge was opened to Class 80 traffic by 20 February 1967. As a result of a mortar attack against Polei Kleng Special Forces Camp in Kontum Province, four holes and many peripheral tears were created in the membrane surface of the Ploei Kleng Airfield. Company A dispatched four men with adhesive to make repairs on 16 and 19 April 1967.
The battalion continued with operational support. Companies B, C, and D, plus the 15th Engineer Company (LE), provided general engineer support to the 4th Infantry Division in Operation Greely and its successor, Operation MacArthur. The battalion concentrated on restoring roads running north, east, and west of Kontum and even opened a section of road running west from Dak To toward the frontier with Laos and Cambodia. A company was sent back to Polei Kleng SF Camp to patch their runway on 3 August 1967. They were extracted on 22 October 1967 by Chinook helicopters after an expansion in the scope of work. The dispersion of the battalion for the next several months was as follows: A, C, D and 15th Engineer Company (LE) minus were located in the vicinity of Dak To. B Company was located in Kontum. For this reason a forward CP was established at Dak To which contained elements of all the battalion staff sections. (19)
Company A was assigned the mission to support the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Sep) upon its arrival at Dak To on 7 November 1967. They also assisted in the construction of the Brigade tactical operations center and protective revetments for operations tents. It was also during this period that one of the battles of Dak To took place. During the battle the 299th provided constant equipment support to and hauled ammunition for the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Sep). The 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) was in the forefront of much heavy fighting in the II Corps Tactical Zone. The battalion participat4 valorously in the Battles of Dak To and Kontum, and despite many casualties, including the loss of a fine Battalion Commander, LTC Domingo Aguilar, in an aircraft accident, it rendered continuous combat support in the Kontum - Dak To area. Meanwhile the battalion continued improvement lines of communication, perimeter defense and airfield maintenance at the Dak To base camp. Work also continued at Tan Canh, Pleiku and the Dak Pek Special Forces Camp. The TET offensive conducted during late January and early February inflicted considerable damage on the village of Tanh Canh and in the Dak To base camp. Enemy activity continued to increase in the Dak To area all through 1968. The battalion encountered mines almost daily during road construction, and mortars fell frequently inside the fire base.
By October 1968 the battalion headquarters had completed its move to the Dak To-Tanh Canh area from Pleiku. Only a few soldiers, comprising a rear processing detachment and supply and maintenance liaison teams, remained in Pleiku on a permanent basis. During August 1968 through October 1968 a total of 81 mines were found in the battalion's area of operations; vehicles struck 19, the Voluntary Informant Program located another 19 and 43 were discovered by battalion minesweeps. Enemy action damaged 8 engineer vehicles and wounded 13 engineers. This represented almost a one hundred percent increase in enemy activity over the previous three months. (20)
Near the end of January 1969, major shifts in unit locations occurred. The moves were precipitated by the departure of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division from Dak To Firebase. The 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat), as the only major US troop unit maintaining a base camp of any size in northern Kontum Province, was given the mission of general defense of Dak To Firebase. This was basically an infantry mission. To accomplish this mission, and also to redistribute assets to better complete the construction backlog in Kontum, it was necessary to move several elements of the battalion. Battalion headquarters, Company A and Company D were located at Dak To Fire base; Companies Band C were located at Kontum.
The departure of 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division from Dak To created problems for completion of the engineer mission. Manpower resources, already committed on road projects stretching from Kontum through Dak To to Ben Het Special Forces Camp, were further thinned by security requirements. Enemy activity increased sharply again, with 82 separate incidents of mines, small arms, mortar or rocket attacks and infiltrations of base camps in the sector between November 1968 and January 1969. Vietnamese civilians informed the battalion about some of the mines, and most of them were detonated without injury. Casualties in the battalion remained light(21). The 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) continued to provide direct combat support to American and ARVN units in the Dak To-Ben Het area into July 1969, countering heavy enemy activity. For its part in the battle of Dak To-Ben Het, the battalion received the Valorous Unit Award with the following citation:
"Elements of the 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) and its attached unit distinguished themselves by extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations during the period 9 May1969 to 1 July 1969. Assigned the tasks of securing the Dak To airstrip and fire base and of keeping vital roadways open to convoy traffic, unit personnel conducted daily mine sweep operations and ensured the movement of much needed water and ammunition to the isolated outpost of Ben Het. In the course of completing their primary mission, the men of the 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) were continually subjected to attacks and ambushes by a numerically superior enemy force operating in the area. On the morning of 7 June 1969, a Company D mine sweep party was ambushed by a well-equipped and determined foe using automatic weapons. Courageously returning the fire, the engineers held the enemy at bay as they awaited assistance. A reaction force quickly joined their gallant and besieged comrades, and through their combined efforts they successfully battled their way to the location of their dead and wounded. This spirited counterattack inflicted heavy casualties upon the enemy, causing him to break contact and flee. Demonstrating exemplary bravery and fortitude, battalion members repeatedly prevented and overcame similar enemy efforts. The men of the 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) displayed extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty which are in 'keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect distinct credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States."(22)
The battalion redeployed on 20 July 1969. It moved back to Binh Dinh Province with HHC and B companies at Phu Tai near the port of Qui Nhon, companies A and D in upland An Khe and Company C at LZ North English some 50 miles north of Qui Nhon. The Battalion continued to consolidate within Binh Dinh Province and provided combat and operational engineer support for the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 4th Infantry Division.
In November 1969 Company B was reduced to zero strength as a result of a 142-man reduction in Battalion strength. When Company D returned to An Khe in December 1969, a Battalion Headquarters (Forward) was also established there to coordinate the extensive construction effort required for the Camp Radcliff Upgraded Defense System (CRUDS). In addition to the CRUDS project, the battalion continued construction efforts on QL-19 maintenance between An Khe and Mang Giang Pass (33 miles); did maintenance work on QL-19 from An Khe Pass down to Qui Nhon and on QL-1 from Qui Nhon north to Tam 'Quan: and support of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Pacification Program with construction of MACV facilities in the vicinity of Bong Son. On 26 February 1970, Company B was reorganized at Phu Tai when the first squad of first platoon was mustered. The remainder of the first platoon was operational by mid-March, and the Headquarters platoon was refilled in May.
The Battalion's mission to provide combat and operational support within Binh Dinh Province to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, under Operation Lee, and the 4th Infantry Division, under Operation Hines, continued through April of 1971. In August 1971 began a rapid and extensive reduction of engineer units within Military Region II. The Battalion mission changed to provide combat engineer support to the entire Military Region II. Additionally, the battalion was tasked to complete construction projects other engineer units were unable to finish due to standing down. This resulted in the fragmentation and wide dispersion-of subordinate elements. The battalion was assigned various emergency road repair missions on QL-1 from the MR II border in the north to that in the south, on QL-19 from Qui Nhon to Mang Giang Pass on QL-21 from Ninh Hoa to Ben Me Thout, and on QL-II from Phan Rang to Goodman Pass. Platoon sized elements were stationed at LZ English, Qui Nhon, Pleiku, An Khe, Tuy Hoa, Ben Me Thout, Cam Ranh Bay, Phan Rang, Don Doung, Vinh Hoa and Phan Thiet at various times during October 1971.(23)
After an illustrious and heroic six years of combat in the Republic of Vietnam, reminiscent of the famous "Fighting 299th th Combat Engineer Battalion" of WWII, the 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) was deactivated on 17 November 1971 at Fort Lewis Washington.
The Battalion was not to be inactivated for long. On 21 December 1975 the 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) was reactivated at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, at zero strength. On 24 February 1976 the Battalion was formally activated with Headquarters Company and one line company, A Company, with subsequent activation of Band C Companies on 8 March and 19 April 1976 respectively. Since reactivation the battalion has trained to perform its mission of providing mobility, countermobility, survivability and general engineering support to the Combined Arms Team. Additionally, the battalion has provided general engineering support to Fort Sill since 1976. But this is not all the battalion has done. The battalion constantly trains to be prepared for war. Since 1985 the 299th Engineer Battalion has participated in several rotations at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, both in support of friendly forces and in support of the Opposing Forces. In the summer of 1987, Companies A and C were reorganized as infantry to test the operational scenarios for the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas as part of Task Force Polar Bear. The battalion is also in the Sapper Leader Course program, rotating companies through that course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, about twice a year.
The 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) earned its motto
"Proven Pioneers" through heroic, valorous and distinctly meritorious action during war and peace. It remains on the cutting edge of progress and stands prepared to meet worldwide contingencies and to support III Corps Artillery and the Field Artillery Center and School.