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547th Engineer Battalion
130th Engineer Brigade

Looking for more information from military/civilian personnel assigned to or associated with the U.S. Army in Germany from 1945 to 1989. If you have any stories or thoughts on the subject, please contact me.


Battalion History (1947-1991)

Newspaper articles



Patch worn ...

Patch worn ...


 
Battalion History
1947 - 1991
547th Engineer Bn DUI
(Source: 547th Combat Engineer Battalion, Kelley Barracks, Darmstadt, Germany, 1991)
The 547th Engineer Battalion traces its history back to its predecessor unit, the 1328th Engineer Construction Battalion. The 1328th, an all black unit, was constituted and activated on 1 March, 1944 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, from elements of the 34th Engineer Training Group. The battalion participated in training as a construction unit in the swamps surrounding the camp and in the vicinity of Lake Ballentine, Louisiana. Alerted for shipment overseas, the unit embarked for Europe in December 1944. Landing first in England in January 1945 and then in France 2 months later, the unit moved through France and into Germany during the last phase of the war assisting in the construction and repairing of hospitals, railroads, bridges, and roads. Ordered to deploy to the Pacific in June 1945, the unit moved to Marseille, France, where VJ Day cancelled their Pacific orders. The battalion departed the European theater in August 1945 and was sent back to Camp Claiborne for inactivation. The 1328th finally cased its colors on 20 November 1945.

On 28 July 1947, the 1328th was redesignated as the 547th Engineer Construction Battalion, activated, and assigned to the European Command. The unit returned to Germany in September of 1947 with home station at Coleman Barracks, Gelnhausen. Still a segregated unit, and now assigned to USAREUR, the battalion assisted in rebuilding former allied air targets such as the Hanau Engineer Depot, the Giessen Quartermaster Depot, the Constabulary Kaserne at Fritzlar, and the autobahn bridges at Karlsuhe and Stuttgart.

After long months on the road from one project to another, the battalion was redesignated as the 547th Engineer Combat Battalion on 29 August 1948 and was reorganized and refitted. Assigned as U. S. Constabulary Troops, the battalion performed general engineer missions such as building tank trails and roads at Grafenwoehr, in addition to unfamiliar float bridge training. The unit had its first experience with the M-4 bridge in the fall of 1948, bridging the Rhine River with a 1,000 foot bridge in 16 hours.
ORGANIZATION - Nov 1949

UNIT DESIGNATION

LOCATION COMMENTS
Hq & Svc Co, 547th Engr Cbt Bn (Army) Coleman Bks, Gelnhausen Lt Col Bruce W. Reagan, commanding
A Company Coleman Bks, Gelnhausen  
B Company Coleman Bks, Gelnhausen  
C Company Coleman Bks, Gelnhausen  
552nd Pon Bridge (Rigid Boat) Coleman Bks, Gelnhausen  

Constant training in garrison and on the Rhine River with numerous floating bridge exercises and monthly river crossings earned the battalion the proud title of "Bridge Builders", which was adopted as a motto. Approval was given to incorporate the motto into the battalion crest in May 1950. July of 1950 saw the motto pay dividends when the Rhine River was bridged with the M-4 in eight hours. This was half the time required in the first effort and was considered by experts to be the ultimate in speed for the construction of this type of bridge.

In August 1951, the 547th moved to Kelley Barracks in Darmstadt. Kelley Barracks, built in 1938, was originally named Leibgarde (bodyguard) Kaserne in remembrance of the oldest Darmstadt regiment, founded in 1627. During World War II it was used by the 1st Battalion of the German 115 Infantry Regiment. Taken over by American occupation troops at the conclusion of the war, it was renamed Kelley Barracks in honor of Captain Charles F. Kelley Jr., 1st Eng Bn, 1st Inf Div, who was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action on 8 November 1942, during the North African Campaign in Algeria.

Continued bridge training during 1951-52 improved the battalion's bridging skills and enhanced its reputation as USAREUR's premier bridge builders. During one bridging operation, a visit was paid to the battalion by General Eisenhower, then SHAPE Commander in Chief. Finally, through intensive teamwork and coordination, the unit set a new record with an M-4 closure time of 4 hours and 21 minutes. Maintaining its reputation as the Army's best bridge builders, the 547th was the first unit to span the Rhine River with the new class 60 and M4T6 bridges. In addition, the battalion operated the Nierstein swing bridge site now operated by the German Army Reserve Engineers, and continued construction support at the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas, and the Leeheim bridge site.

In the spring of 1953, the battalion participated in flood disaster relief operations in Holland and on 5 June 1953 was redesignated as the 547th Engineer Battalion (Combat). In November of 1953, under the historic integration policy of the Army, the battalion was ordered to retain 19% of its black soldiers in selected grades and MOS's. The remainder, approximately 400 soldiers, were transferred to other engineer units in USAREUR, with replacements coming to the battalion from those same units.

In late 1955 the 547th was alerted for a "gyroscope" move, that is, a temporary relocation of a unit to the United States. In April 1956, the battalion departed Darmstadt and sailed for America, finally closing as a unit on Fort Ord, California in May 1956. Engineer battalion bridge training on the Salinas River, desert training in Arizona, disaster relief in California, and major construction projects at the Hunter Liggett Military Reservation highlighted the battalion's stateside tour. While at Fort Ord, the 547th earned a reputation for quick, dependable accomplishment of its assigned missions. Finally, after 30 months in CONUS, the battalion returned to Germany, closing on Kelley Barracks, Darmstadt an 20 November 1958, where it has remained ever since. This gives the 547th the distinction of being one of the few troop units to have served in the same location for over 30 years. Upon its arrival back in Europe, the 547th was supplemented with two additional companies, Delta and Echo, which came from the inactivating 37th Engineer Battalion. The unit resumed its previous training pace, to include bridging operations, training exercises, and community support projects through the early 1960's. The Bridge Builders played an essential role during the Berlin Air Lift (sic), primarily in preparing bivouac areas for incoming troops during the period 1963-64. During 1964, the 547th continued its excellence in bridging by again setting a new record for a class 60 bridge closure of the Rhine in a record time of 2 hours and 28 minutes, conducted at the nearby Leeheim training area.

In July of 1965, the battalion cross trained with the British Army of the Rhine for a period of two weeks. Later that year a change in the battalion TO&E resulted in the inactivation of Echo Company. The period 1966-67 saw the battalion complete a great deal of construction projects to include a Hawk missile site, a Pershing missile site, and numerous Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels upgrades. On 15 January 1968, the 547th was separated from the 7th Army Command and reassigned to V Corps. The following year, in June of 1969, the battalion was assigned to the newly organized 130th Engineer Brigade.

The battalion continued bridge training in keeping with the NATO concept of defense along the Rhine, but also saw an increase in construction projects through the early 1970's. These projects ranged from upgrading security requirements at NATO ammunition sites, to major training area construction at Wildflecken, to the building of a special range and facilities used to host a NATO gunnery competition at the Grafenwoehr training area. In March of 1972, Alpha Company was selected over all other engineer companies in Europe to represent USAREUR in the annual Itschner award competition. The Itschner Award is an annual award which is presented to the outstanding engineer company in the United States Army. The USAREUR representative competes against representatives from the Far East Command and CONUS. One year later Delta Company was selected as the best engineer company in V Corps during the 1973 Itschner Award competition.

The mid to late 1970's saw a gradual change in the focus of the battalion. This was reflected in several MTO&E changes. Although bridging operations were still practiced, the battalion's mission slowly changed to become more one of reinforcement of terrain in the Fulda Gap through obstacle construction. This was due to the new NATO concept of "Forward Defense". During this period, an increasing amount of time was spent training at the Wildflecken training area. 1975 witnessed a change in the battalion organization, as each line company was reorganized from three combat engineer platoons to a construction platoon and two combat engineer platoons. These platoons were put to the test with major construction projects at Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr training areas.

The battalion's General Defense Plan developed and solidified in the period 1976-78. The unit participated in more combined arms training exercises such as REFORGER '76, V Corps Exercise Certain Fighter, and Division ARTEPs, which enhanced our maneuver support relationships with the 8th Infantry Division. In the spring of 1978, Charlie Company represented USAREUR In the annual Itschner Award competition and was selected as the 1978 recipient of the prestigious award, thus making them the most outstanding engineer company in the United States Army.

Combined arms training, construction projects, both military and civilian, and internal field exercises characterized the next few years of the battalion. Numerous German/American projects and community involvement resulted in the 547th being chosen in 1982 by the Commanding General of V Corps to receive the Hessen State Minister President's Non-Battle Streamer Award. The award is to recognize units which have shown meritorious accomplishments in the area of community support and German/American relations. On 2 August 1982, Hessen's Minister President, Herr Holger Boerner, presented the award to the battalion in a ceremony on Kelley Barracks. The 547th was the first, and is one of only two U. S. units ever to receive the award.

In September of that same year, Charlie Company was alerted and deployed to Ras Banas, Egypt, a remote desert area located near the Red Sea, on a mine clearing mission in conjunction with Egyption engineers. They accomplished the task of defusing, removing, and destroying over 10,000 landmines which were no longer required in the area surrounding a desert airfield. Charlie Company returned to Darmstadt having successfully accomplished its mission in March 1983.

Beginning in April 1983 and ending in November, the battalion completed the first computerized target range for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Range 45 at Grafenwoehr. As a result of its outstanding work, the unit received the 1983 "Engineer Award" for engineer excellence from the Society of American Military Engineers. In 1985, the 547th was nominated for the Army Superior Unit Award for its participation as part of the 18th Engineer Brigade Task Force that completed the mammoth USAREUR range upgrade program at Grafenwoehr training area designed and built to support the newly fielded M1 Abrams tank, and M2 Bradley fighting vehicle.

Several MTO&E changes over the next few years paved the way for the 547th's transition to a combat mechanized engineer battalion, which occurred in the latter half of 1987. The M113A2 Armored Personnel Carrier replaced the 5 ton dump truck as the battalion's squad carrier. Along with the APC came the .50 caliber machine gun, which substantially increased the firepower of an engineer squad. The change in equipment ensured that the battalion was able to better accomplish its mission of providng engineer support to the 1st Brigade of the 8th Infantry Division.

The years 1988 and 1989 were busy ones for the 547th Engineer Battalion. The usual intense training pace continued, but paid off in the achievement of several noteworthy accomplishments. In August of 1988 the 1st squad of 2nd platoon, Delta Company competed in and won the 1988 Sapper Stakes competition.

The squad placed first among 27 squads to be named the best Sapper Squad in USAREUR. In September of 1989, Alpha company won the USAREUR Maintenance of Excellence Award for the best maintained company in the "Heavy TO&E category." This award was followed up the following spring when the Alpha Company motor pool section won the V Corps Distinguished Small Unit Award.

The year 1990 was a year of transition for the battalion. In the summer months it was rumored the battalion would inactivate in line with the impending drawdown in Europe. The battalion became critically short of personnel, with no replacements arriving. Finally, in September of 1990, the inactivation announcement became official. With the advent of operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm the battalion began deploying 156 soldiers, and a great deal of equipment to South West Asia in support of our sister units.

The battalion's inactivation was put on hold in December and during the war the 547th was tasked with the all important missions of training Individual Ready Reservists for possible deployment to South West Asia and of guarding the Darmstadt and Mannheim military communities. After the war the inactivation process began again, and the last few months have been spent preparing the battalion's personnel and equipment to inactivate officially on 1 October 1991. And today, as the battalion prepares to leave Germany once again, we close another chapter on the long and proud history of the 547th Combat Engineer Battalion, knowing that our contributions have played a significant role in the victories in the cold war and in the Persian Gulf.

CORRECTIONS
(Source: Email from Jon Bacon)
"preparing bivouac areas for incoming troops during the period 1963-64" -- more like 1961 or 1962. We were doing that in the winter of 1961-62.

"Berlin Air Lift (sic)"
 I noticed that the Berlin Blockade and 1948-49 Berlin Airlift references are rarely confused with the Berlin Crisis and moving re-enforcement troops to Berlin and to Germany by air. Berlin Airlift almost always excludes references to the 1958 - 1964 events.

I noticed that the term "Berlin Crisis" will often contain a wider view including the blockade and airlift of the 1950s and the events of the 1960s.

I found an odd reference to Kennedy and his "Ich bin ein Berliner" statement. They left out the fact that he pronounced "Ich" as "Ik" the way Berliners say it. Then he makes reference to a Berliner being a doughnut. And so he says it translates to Kennedy saying "I am a doughnut". The person who wrote that article must be a real whack job. Being there and seeing it as it happens and seeing the hack jobs people do to it later, bugs me.

I left Germany in Sept 1962. The winter before I left we were just north of Mannheim building a tent city for 4000 men from 2nd Battle Group, 47th Infantry from 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Lewis, Washington. Three months earlier, 2/47th had flown, non-stop, from Ft. Lewis to West Germany.

The Coleman Barracks Army Airfield was the base of the Colonel who challenged the Soviets at Checkpoint Bravo to go to Berlin.

The 1st Battle Group, 18th Infantry commanded by Colonel Glover S. Johns, was the first unit moved to reinforce the Berlin Garrison during
the Berlin crisis of 1961.

The Colonel's driver was my Chief Radio Operator's brother. He drove the colonel over to our Communications Van for a surprise visit. It was so cold we had to use pneumatic jackhammers to punch holes and drive stakes for the tents.

It is my understanding that our winter adventure was preparation for more Long Thrust troop rotations.


547th Engr Bn
Tent City, Sandhofen, 1961

 

1. Tent City, Coleman Bks, 1961 (340 KB)

2. Tent City (136 KB)



 
If you have more information on the history or organization of the 547th Engr Bn, please contact me.

 
547th Engineer Bn pocket patch (variation?)
 

 
1948 - 1954
(Source: Email from Bill Bishop)
Is there anyway I can get a list of men of the 547th Engineer Bn that were with me in Germany, 1948 to 1954.
William Bishop

 
(Source: Stars & Stripes, European edition, August 14, 1951)
Supreme Allied Commander, Europe's visit to the 547th Engineer Battalion

S&S Photos

follow link to view photos and read the article from the Stars & Stripes archives
 

 
1962
(Source: Email from Sid ...)
The 547th Engineer Battalion located at Kelly Barracks in Darmstadt was part of the 11th Engineer Group from 1962 thru 1965 at a minimum as I was a part of the Battalion then assigned to the S4 section.  In fact I came from France in 1962 assigned to Hq Co 11th Engr Gp in Schwetzingen at Tompkins Barracks.  After arriving there on assignment to their S4 section, I requested during inprocessing futher assignment to the 547th instead of remaining in Hq Co, 11th.
 
I was in the 547th when both the 299th and the 20th went back to the States; the 20th to Ft Devens and the 299th to Ft Gordon.  You have the transfer information incorrect.  The 547th took a company from each battalion that became our D & E companies.  Both the 20th and the 299 rotated personnel around within their battalion and put their newest people in the company that was transfered with equipment to the 547th.  I personally had to inventory all of the equipment of each new company and prepare the hand receipts to the platoon officers and/or sergeants.
 
I had another occasion to be involved with the 299th when I left Darmstadt headed to Ft Gordon.  I left in May 1965 with a German wife, daughter born in Sep 1963 and son born in Aug 1965.  I left the 547th with orders reading 11th Signal Battalion, Ft Gordon Ga.  When I signed in to Ft Gordon, I found additional orders awaiting me, reassigning me to the 299th Engineer Bn.  I immediately requested to see the Post Personnel Officer, when in his office, I asked why and was informed that the 299th was PORing to Viet Nam (which I knew and in fact they were 27 days away from POR), that they were a priority unit needing a Supply Sergeant, and that I was it.  I came unglued and informed the Personnel that my wife was German, first time to the US, spoke very little English, could not drive, that my daughter was only a year and 9 months and that my son was only 10 months old and that there was no way in hell that I was leaving them in 27 days and that something had to be done.  I was informed that the only thing on post with a higher priority was Basic Training Companies and I then said Sir, what basic training company do I belong to?  He said will you sign a 1049 requesting assignment to a basic training company as cadre and I said where is the paperwork, he then had the document prepared, I signed it and was assigned to D-1-1.  So I escaped the 299th and in fact I never was assigned to an engineer unit again during my remaining years of my 20.
 
There is a 547th Engineer Battalion Association.  The 547th is listed on www.military.com and in addition so is the association.  The 547th Engineer Battalion also has a group in Yahoo.com with documents and pictures.  The association is meeting in Pensacola Fl on 30 & 31 Jul 2004, see the Yahoo group for information.  See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/the547thengineerbattalion/

 
(Source: Email from Alan Bloom, 814th Engr Co (FB) and 547th Engr Bn, 1962-64)

547th Engr Bn
Kelly Bks, Darmstadt

 

1. Kelly Bks (KB)

2. Vehicle Park (KB)

3. Vehicle Park (KB)


4. Vehicle Park (KB)

5. Vehicle Park (KB)

6. Vehicle Park (KB)
 

7. Vehicle Park (KB)

8. Co C barracks (KB)

9. (KB)
 

10. (KB)

11. (KB)

12. (KB)
 

13. (KB)

14. (KB)

15. Frankfurt Main PX (KB)
 

16. (KB)

   

 
1963-64
(Source: USAREUR STATION LIST, 30 Sept 1963)
ORGANIZATION - Sept 1963

UNIT DESIGNATION

LOCATION COMMENTS
HHC, 547th Engr Cbt Bn (Army) Kelly Bks, Darmstadt TOE 05-036D58
A Company Kelly Bks, Darmstadt TOE 05-037D58
B Company Kelly Bks, Darmstadt TOE 05-037D58
C Company Kelly Bks, Darmstadt TOE 05-037D58
D Company Rivers Bks, Giessen TOE 05-037D58
E Company Taylor Bks, Mannheim TOE 05-037D58

 
1967
(Source: USAREUR STATION LIST, 30 June 1967)
ORGANIZATION - Sept 1963

UNIT DESIGNATION

LOCATION COMMENTS
HHC, 547th Engr Cbt Bn (Army) Kelly Bks, Darmstadt TOE 05-035E65
A Company Kelly Bks, Darmstadt TOE 05-035E65
B Company Kelly Bks, Darmstadt TOE 05-035E65
C Company Kelly Bks, Darmstadt TOE 05-035E65
D Company Kelly Bks, Darmstadt TOE 05-035E65

 
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, March 4, Oct 16 & Nov 18, 1967)
All four line companies of the battalion (A, B, C and D Cos) spent a week at a training area near Grossauheim and took turns assembling a Class 60 floating bridge (probably the M4T6 Float) across the Main River (600 feet).

Later in the year, the battalion went to the Leeheim Training Area (on the Altrhein River) where several types of bridges were constructed: a 1,000-foot M4T6 Class 60 float bridge and a 200-foot aluminum foot bridge. In addition, an assault across the river in boats was staged; light tactical rafts were constructed.

Units that supported the 547th during this training were: 8591st LS Co; 552nd Engr Co; 541st Engr Co. The 6900th Smoke Generator Bn added realism by providing dense smoke during the river crossing.

In October Men of the 547th performed swing-bridge training at two bridge sites:

Companies A and C trained at the Gernsheim Bridge Site.

Companies B and D trained at the Nierstein Bridge Site.

 
1978 - 1981
(Source: Email from Christopher Crowley, Specialist 4th Class B. Co. 2 squad, 1978-1981.)
In 1979 in a training exercise with England's Royal Engineers of Chatham England, B Company, 547th Engineer Battalion became the first unit ever to cross the English Channel in an 8 HELICOPTER NIGHT FORMATION.

Flown at less than 100 feet the entire trip, which disembarked from General Haigs airfield in Belgium across the Channel and over the White Cliffs of Dover we landed in a sheep field somewhere near Chatham.This was all done under the cover of darkness and was headlined in the local English papers with "Yanks invade England".

B Co also built the largest tent city for a NATO Exercise - we constructed a 1500 man tent city in just 2 days sometime in early 1980.

B CO was the first engineer unit from the US Army to attend the #7 French Commando School in Trier in 1980.

Christopher Crowley
"Le-ho Heave"

 
Newspaper Articles
 
 
 
 

 
Related Links:
547th Engineer Battalion Yahoo Group - A Yahoo Group (you have to register) hosted by veterans of the 547th Engineer Battalion (Combat) for former members, including dependents of former members. Several photo albums with great pics of Cambrai-Fritsch Kaserne, bridging exercises, etc.