29th Engineer Battalion
The 29th Engineer Battalion, one of two active topographic battalions, is the oldest of all U.S. military mapping units, celebrating 75 years of distinguished service to the nation.
The 29th Engineer Battalion (Topographic) is one of only two active topographic battalions in the Army, and it is the oldest of all U.S. military mapping units.
In the advanced guard of General John Pershing's Allied Expeditionary Force was a small group of mappers destined to become Company H, 29th Engineer Regiment. The 29th Engineer Regiment was officially activated on 20 October 1917, making them the oldest topographic unit in the Army. The regiment performed survey and map reproduction throughout the European Theatre. The headquarters and base plant were located in Langres, while mobile units were sent to various sectors of the American front. Additionally, the regiment took an active part in the defense of the Toul sector and the Meuse-Argonne offensive. For its efforts in WWI, the regiment earned four Battle Stars, a WWI streamer, and was personally cited by General Pershing.
The Battalion's crest and motto, "Praevalemus" (We Succeed), date from this period.
The 29th Engineer Regiment disbanded after WWI, but re-emerged in 1923 as the 29th Engineer Battalion. In 1929 a new voluntary organization named U.S. Army Engineer Battalion in Nicaragua (USEBIN), grew out of the 29th and deployed to survey an internationally proposed canal route through the unmapped areas of Nicaragua. In May1931, President Herbert Hoover awarded the unit with a personal letter of appreciation. In July 1931, the entire unit reformed at Fort Schuyler, New York, where it conducted mapping of Manhattan Island prior to moving to the West Coast in 1934.
While on the West Coast the 29th Engineer Battalion conducted the extensive original mapping of the Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound areas of Washington State. The unit stayed on the West Coast until 1944. During this time they surveyed the route for the ALCAN Highway in Alaska and Canada.
During WWII, the Battalion supported operations in the Aleutians and the Pacific and European Theatres. Their greatest completed wartime mission was the mapping of the Aleutian chain of the islands in Alaska. For its efforts during the war, the Battalion earned the Pacific Campaign Streamer.
After WWII in 1945, the Battalion moved to the Philippines where they began the vast Post- Hostilities Mapping Project and training of the future Philippine Mapping Agency. The mission of the 29th included first, second, and third order geodetic surveys and photogrammetric control surveys; collection of maps produced by foreign mapping agencies; and collection of geodetic data and engineer intelligence data for the Army Map service. Their efforts were so successful that the target date of 1960 was lowered to 1954, and the project was completed on schedule. After nine years of surveying and mapping, the Battalion left the Philippines.
In 1954 the Battalion assumed responsibility for Korea and Okinawa and moved to Tokyo, Japan. There it absorbed elements of the 64th Engineer Battalion and continued its mission of providing topographic support to U.S. and Allied forces in the Pacific Theatre, particularly to combat commands in Southeast Asia.
In 1966 it moved to Ford Island, Hawaii and was the primary map production unit for U.S. Forces in Vietnam. The Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Pacific, awarded the meritorious unit Commendation in 1969. A second Meritorious Unit Commendation was awarded in 1972.
The 29th Engineer Battalion colors were retired in 1972, and its soldiers continued to provide topographic support in the Pacific Theatre as the 652nd Engineer Battalion. In 1977, the 652nd moved to Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
The 29th Engineer Battalion was reactivated at Fort Shafter in 1980, restoring its colors to their rightful place in the Pacific. The Battalion now forms the basis for the Pacific Topographic Center with the unique mission of providing tailored topographic support to all U.S. Forces throughout the Pacific Theatre.
Recently, the Battalion's 70th Engineer Company won the coveted Itschner Award for the best Engineer Company in the U.S. Army on 1990.
The Battalion also played a significant role in providing topographic support to U.S. Forces in combat during Operation Desert Storm.
Posted by James Johnson
Sep 19 2005 01:18:06:000AM