|Col||William C. Holley|
|John T. Kennedy||9/4/50|
|Plt Sgt||James N. Vandygriff|
|2ndLt||Thomas T. Jones||POW|
The 8th Engineer Battalion enjoys the unusual distinction of having its inception in a foreign country inasmuch as Company "A" was organized originally as Company "A", 1st Battalion, Mounted Engineers at Vado de Fasiles, Chihuahua, Mexico on 1 August 1916. The forty nine men in the initial organization were transferred from Companies "E", "G" and "H" of the "old" Second Battalion of Engineers. On 6 September 1916, the first inspection of the new organization was conducted by General Pershing at Twin Windmills, Mexico.
The use of motor trucks to supply the Mexican Expedition had made the necessity of good roads a vital priority. The new organization devoted its services to the solution of this problem. By October, the pressure of road work had decreased and all men who had any riding experience were removed from road work and assigned to training. On 2 December 1916, the Company was ordered to Dublin, (Mexico) for extensive training.
On 20 March 1917, Company "A" was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division (Provisional) at Camp Stewart, Texas then under the command of General Eben Swift. On 21 May 1917, Companies "B" and "C" organized at Camp Stewart, Texas.
On 29 July 1917, the units were reorganized and redesignated as the 8th Engineer Battalion (Mounted) and on 27 November 1917, was assigned to the 15th Cavalry Division.
On 12 May 1918, the Battalion was relieved from assignment to the 15th Cavalry Division and on 27 July 1921 was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division.
When the 1st Cavalry Division was organized on 13 September 1921, at Fort Bliss, Texas, recognition of the changing ways of combat engagement resulted in the 8th Engineer Battalion (Mounted) being assigned as an integral element of the division. On 11 May 1927, the Battalion left Fort Bliss by rail for Fort McIntosh, Texas for a permanent change of station. In 1930, the Battalion was reorganized from three lettered companies to three lettered troops, one mounted, two motorized and a Headquarters and Service Troop, Motorized and the designation was hanged from Battalion to Eighth Engineer Squadron.
In 1936, the Squadron participated in the maneuvers of the 1st Cavalry Division which was held at Marfa, Texas. It also took part in the Proposed Infantry Division Tests at Camp Bullis, Texas and in 1938, participated again in the 1st cavalry Division Maneuvers at Balmorhea, Texas. With the European war on the horizon, maneuvers accelerated. In 1939 the Squadron maneuvered at Camp Bullis, Texas and with the 1st Cavalry Division at Balmorhea, Texas. In August 1940, the Squadron returned to Fort McIntosh and took part in the Louisiana maneuvers in May and August. On 6 February 1941, the Squadron rejoined the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss, Texas for a permanent change of station.
World War II
The advent of new technology to warfare and the size of the American Army presented the Engineers with unprecedented challenges. While the mobility of the 1st Cavalry Division enables it to operate independently while in battle, it must have combat engineers for any major movement. In division missions, involving reconnaissance, counter-reconnaissance, delaying action or security, barrier tactics and passage of obstacles play a major part. Engineers not only supported the other combat arms -- often fighting as infantry -- but also built the camps, supply facilities, and transportation systems needed to sustain the fighting organization.
In February 1943, the entire 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for an overseas assignment as a dismounted unit. On 15 March 1943, further recognition of the role entrusted to the Engineer Squadron was given when it was reorganized and redesignated as the 8th Engineer Combat Squadron. On May 28 1943, the newly designated unit was deployed for overseas service on the U.S. Army Transport, "Maui" for duty in the South Pacific Theater.
Three weeks later, the Combat Squadron arrived at Brisbane and began a fifteen mile trip to their new temporary home, Camp Strathpine, Queensland, Australia. The division received six months of intense combat jungle warfare training at Camp Strathpine in the wilds of scenic Queensland and amphibious training at nearby Moreton Bay. In January 1944 the division was ordered to leave Australia and sail to Oro Bay, New Guinea. After a period of staging in New Guinea, it was time for the 1st Cavalry Division to receive their first baptism of fire.
On 27 February, Task Force "Brewer", consisting of 1,026 troopers, embarked from Cape Sudest, Oro Bay, New Guinea under the command of Brigadier General William C. Chase. Their destination was a remote, Japanese occupied island of the Admiralties, Los Negros, where they were to make a reconnaissance of force and if feasible, capture Momote Airdrome and secure a beachhead for the reinforcements that would follow.
Just after 0800 hours on 29 February, the 1st Cavalry troopers climbed down the nets of the APD's and into the LCM's and LCPR's, the flat bottomed landing craft of the Navy. The task force, including "A" Troop, 8th Engineer Combat Squadron, landed at Hayane Harbor and took the Japanese by surprise.
On 18 May 1944, the Admiralty Islands campaign officially ended. Japanese casualties stood at 3,317 killed. The losses of the 1st Cavalry Division included 290 dead, 977 wounded and 4 missing in action. Training, discipline, determination and ingenuity had won over suicidal attacks. The First Cavalry Troopers were now seasoned veterans.
The next action for the 1st Cavalry Division was on the Philippines Island of Leyte. On Columbus Day, 12 October 1944, the 1st Cavalry Division sailed away from its hard earned base in the Admiralties for the Leyte invasion, Operation King II. On October 20, the invasion force must have appeared awesome to the waiting Japanese as it swept toward the eastern shores of Leyte. The division fought tirelessly against Japanese fortifications. With the last of the strongholds of Leyte eliminated, the division moved on to Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. Leyte had been the biggest campaign of the Pacific war, but the record was about to be shattered by the invasion of Luzon.
On 26 January, conveys were formed and departed for the Lingayan Gulf, Luzon Island, the Philippines. Landing without incident on 27 January, the division assembled in an area near Guimba and prepared for operations in the south and southwest areas. One of the First Team's most noted feats was accomplished during the fighting for Luzon. General MacArthur issued an order "Get to Manila!". The resulting mission, and the participating units, was dubbed a "flying column" by General Mudge. The rescue mission, lead by Brig. General William C. Chase, was divided into three "serials". The first serial included the 8th Engineers. On 3 February 1945, lead elements of the rescue column crossed the city limits of Manila at 1835 hours, covering the 100 miles of rough terrain in approximately 66 hours. The first of many "Firsts" was recorded in history; "First in Manila"
On 13 August 1945, the 1st Cavalry Division was alerted that they were selected to accompany General Douglas MacArthur to Tokyo and would be part of the 8th Army in the occupation of Japan. On 2 September the long convey of ships steered into Yokohama Harbor and past the battleship Missouri where General MacArthur would later receive the Japanese surrender party. The First Team was given the honor of leading the Allied Occupational Army into Tokyo. At noon on 5 September 1945, a reconnaissance team headed by Colonel Charles A. Sheldon, the Chief of Staff of the 1st Cavalry Division, entered Tokyo. This embarkment was the first official movement of American personnel into the capital of the mighty Japanese Empire.
At 0800 hours on 8 September, a history making convoy left Hara-Machida with Tokyo as their destination. Headed by Major General William C. Chase, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, the party included a veteran from each troop of the division. Passing through Hachioji, Fuchu and Chofu, the Cavalry halted briefly at the Tokyo City Limits. General Chase stepped across the line thereby putting the American Occupational Army officially in Tokyo and adding another "First" to its name; "First in Tokyo"
The first mission of the division was to assume control of the city. On 16 September, the 1st Cavalry Division was given responsibility for occupying the entire city of Tokyo and the adjacent parts of Tokyo and Saitama Prefectures. On 25 February, the 8th Engineers were assigned a permanent station at Camp Drake near Tokyo.
1946 was welcomed as a new dawning of peace for the 1st Cavalry Division. The days of privation, hardship, suffering and death were over for the first time since 7 December 1940. The year found the 1st Cavalry Division in control of Tokyo and vicinity, the capital of the war-built Japanese Empire. On 1 March, the 1st Cavalry Division was given the occupational responsibility of seven prefectures of Japan, in addition to the four occupied during the previous months.
The 1st Cavalry Division began 1947 with the continuation of its occupation of the heart and nerve center of the Japanese Empire. Although there was no change in occupational policy, there had been vast changes among the troopers themselves. The combat veterans of the division had been replaced by new arrivals from the states. Their time was spent in receiving advanced training, guard duty, patrolling and specialist assignments over the next two years. In 1950, an increased training was emphasized to improve the ever-increasing combat effectiveness of the division which was soon to be tested.
The Korean War
June 25, 1950
It happened before dawn on 25 June 1950. Less than 5 years after the terrible devastations of World War II, a new war broke out from a distant land whose name means "Morning Calm". On the same day in June, the 8th Engineer Combat Battalion, located at CCamp Drake, Asaka, Japan was performing normal Engineer Functions in support of the 1st Cavalry Division. "D" Company and the 3rd Platoon of "A" Company was located at Camp McGill, Japan were undergoing amphibious assault training. Training and preparations for overseas movement intensified.
July 2, 1950
By 2 July, "D" Company and the 3rd Platoon, "A" Company had returned to Camp Drake. "B" and "D" Company were dispatched to Camp McGill to be trained as shore party. In final preparations, the 8th Engineers received their assignments to the Regimental Combat teams, "A" Company with the 5th Cavalry Regiment, "B" Company with the 7th Cavalry regiment and C" Company to the 8th Cavalry Regiment.
July 18, 1950
On 18 July, the 1st Cavalry Division was ordered to Korea.
Initially scheduled to make an amphibious landing at Inchon, it was redirected to the southeastern coast of Korea at Pohang-dong a port 80 miles north of Pusan. On 18 July, the 8th Cavalry Regiment, accompanied by "C" Company was the first to land followed by the 5th Cavalry with "B" Company. The North Koreans were 25 miles away when elements of the 1st Cavalry Division swept ashore to successfully carry out the first amphibious landing of the Korean War. Its initial mission was to establish the Pusan Perimeter. The landing of the 7th Cavalry and "B" Company was delayed by typhoon.
July 21, 1950
On 21 July, the Battalion, minus the second and third lifts, moved by motor convey to Paegak-tong.
July 22, 1950
By 22 July, all regiments were deployed in battle positions; in itself a remarkable logistical achievement in the face of Typhoon Helene that pounded the Korean coastline.
The 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, located forward of Yongdong, southwest of fallen Taejon, was the first to have contact with the enemy.
July 23, 1950
In the early morning hours of 23 July, the North Koreans had launched a heavy artillery attack against the 2nd Battalion and concurrently the North Korean Infantry launched an attack against the 1st Battalion. Subsequent analysis of the orders of the 8th Army which established the locations of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 8th Cavalry set the stage for the encirclement of the 2nd. Otherwise known as - military ineptitude! The 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry moved south from Yongdong to assist the encircled 2nd Battalion of the 8th.
The rugged, mountainous terrain of Korea and the lack of developed transportation and communications systems, created significant challenges for the 8th Engineer Battalion. Most of the initial Engineer work involved demolition of bridges and important facilities in an attempt to delay the North Korean advance to the south. In the Pusan Perimeter, the invasion point of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 8th Engineering Battalion not only worked on standard defensive and construction projects, but also manned the front lines when the enemy threatened to penetrate the perimeter.
The 1st Cavalry Division was assigned to defend a 35 mile sector along the Naktong River, extending from three miles north of Waegwan south to the area defended by the 24th Infantry Division.
August 9, 1950
On 9 August, the North Koreans hurled five full divisions and parts of a sixth against the Naktong defenders.
August 14, 1950
On 14 August, a second powerful punch was delivered to the 7th Cavalry Regiment, but timely assistance from the 8th Engineers, 16th Reconnaissance and artillery caused the termination of the attack. To reduce the attack options of the North Koreans around Waegwan, the dominating terrain linking Waegwan and Tabu-dong, just 12 miles north of Taegu, would have to be reduced. Task Force Allen, composed of two provisional infantry battalions, was organized. The 8th Combat Engineer Battalion was pressed into service as infantry. "D" Company was given the mission to secure the "Walled City of Kasan". The Engineers fought their way to their destination and held it.
It was in this battle, repelling counterattacks, that PFC Melvin L. Brown, Company "D" distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. While his platoon was securing Hill 755 (the Walled City), the enemy, using heavy automatic weapons and small arms, counterattacked. Taking a position on a 50-foot-high wall he delivered heavy rifle fire on the enemy. His ammunition was soon expended and although wounded, he remained at his post and threw his few grenades into the attackers causing many casualties. When his supply of grenades was exhausted his comrades from nearby foxholes tossed others to him and he left his position, braving a hail of fire, to retrieve and throw them at the enemy. The attackers continued to assault his position and PFC Brown weaponless, drew his entrenching tool from his pack and calmly waited until they 1 by 1 peered over the wall, delivering each a crushing blow upon the head. Knocking 10 or 12 enemy from the wall, his daring action so inspired his platoon that they repelled the attack and held their position. PFC Brown's extraordinary heroism, gallantry, and intrepidity reflect the highest credit upon himself and was in keeping with the honored traditions of the military service.
September 15, 1950
The turning point in this bloody battle came on 15 September 1950, when MacArthur unleashed his plan, Operation Chromite, an amphibious landing at Inchon, far behind the North Korean lines. In spite of the many negative operational reasons given by critics of the plan, the Inchon landing was an immediate success allowing the 1st Cavalry Division to break out of the perimeter and start fighting north.
October 9, 1950
The 8th Engineers made a substantial contribution to the crossing of the 38th Parallel by sweeping for mines and repairing a bombed out railroad bridge, located on the Yesong River, for troop crossing on 09 October 1950.
October 19, 1950
The troopers of the 1st Cavalry crashed into Pyongyang, capturing the capital city of North Korea on 19 October 1950. This event marked the third "First" for the division – First in Pyongyang.
In late October 1950, orders came from I Corps to saddle up the rest of the division and move north. The Korean War seemed to be nearing a conclusion. The North Korean forces were being squeezed into a shrinking perimeter along the Yalu and the borders of Red China and Manchuria. Company "A" was kept busy constructing POW stockades at Pyongyang. By now, more than 135,000 Red troops had been captured and the North Korean Army was nearly destroyed.
October 25, 1950
On 25 October 1950, the Korean War took a grim new turn. The sudden intervention of Communist Chinese forces dashed hopes of a quick end to the war.
November 1, 1950
In the morning of 1 November, patrols from the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 8th Cavalry along with "C" Company, 8th Engineers, clashed with soldiers clearly identified as Red Chinese. The battle at Unsan left a deadly toll on the 8th Cavalry Regiment and members of "C" Company. The blackest month of the campaign ended bitterly for the 8th Engineer Combat Battalion, as it was withdrawing rapidly for the second time in November. By late December, the true extent of the enemy buildup had become clear. There were at least 20 Red Chinese divisions poised for a drive on Seoul. Now there was almost a million and a half Chinese and North Korean troops on the Korean peninsula.
January 1, 1951
The year ended unexpectedly quiet. The First Team defenders readied their weapons, shored up their defenses and waited in the bitter cold. This time there was no surprise when the Chinese artillery began pounding the UN lines in the first few minutes of 1951. The units forward of the 38th Parallel were hit by the Chinese crossing the frozen Imjin River. Ignoring heavy losses, the Chinese crawled through mine fields and barbed wire. The United Nations Forces abandoned Seoul and fell back to the Han River. With several breakthroughs reported along the front, "A" Company received orders to destroy the rail and highway bridges previously primed for demolition. The Chinese drive lost its momentum when it crossed the Han and a lull fell over the front.
January 23, 1951
By 23 January, the period of withdrawing to previously prepared positions appeared to be at an end, as "A", "B" and "C" Companies reattached to their Regimental Combat Teams, began to move north to gain contact with the enemy.
January 25, 1951
On 25 January 1951, the First Team, joined by the revitalized 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry rebounding from its tragedy at Unsan, moved back into action. The movement began as a reconnaissance in force to locate and assess the size of the Red Army, believed to be at least 174,000. The Eight Army moved slowly and methodically, ridge by ridge, phase line by phase line, wiping out each pocket of resistance before moving farther North. The advance covered 2 miles a day, despite heavy blinding snowstorms and subzero temperatures.
February 14, 1951
On 14 February, heavy fighting erupted around an objective known as Hill 578, which was finally was taken by the 7th Cavalry after overcoming stiff Chinese resistance. During this action General MacArthur paid a welcome visit to the 1st Team. The 1st Cavalry slowly advanced though snow and later, when it became warm, through torrential rains. The Red Army was slowly; but firmly, being pushed back.
March 14, 1951
On 14 March, the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry had crossed the Hangchon River and on the 15th, Seoul was recaptured by elements of the 8th Army. New objectives were established to keep the Chinese from rebuilding and resupplying their forces and to advance to the "Kansas Line", which roughly followed the 38th Parallel and the winding Imjin River.
April 4, 1951
On 4 April, the 1st Cavalry Division crossed the 38th Parallel for the second time of the war. "A" Company moved forward to establish a bivouac area in Chunchon. Resisting stubbornly, the enemy fell back before the push of the 8th Army. Enemy resistance increased, particularly in the vital Chorwon-Kumwha area.
April 22, 1951
On 22 April, 21 Chinese and 9 North Korean divisions slammed into Line Kansas. Their main objective was to recapture Seoul. The 1st Cavalry joined in the defense line and the bitter battle to keep the Reds out of the South Korean Capital.
May 15, 1951
Stopped at Seoul, on 15 May, the Chinese attempted a go around maneuver in the dark. The 8th Army pushed them back to the Kansas Line and later the First Team moved deeper into North Korea, reaching the base of the "Iron Triangle", a major enemy supply area encompassing three small towns.
June 9, 1951
From 9 June to 27 November, the 1st Cavalry took on various rolls in the summer-fall campaign of the United Nations.
July 18, 1951
On 18 July, a year after it had entered the war, the 1st Cavalry Division was assigned to a reserve status. This type of duty did not last for long.
September 21, 1951
On the nights of 21 and 23 September, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 7th Cavalry repulsed waves of Red Chinese with hand to hand fighting. But harder work followed when Operation "Commando", a mission to push the Chinese out of their winter defense positions south of the Yokkok River, was launched. As the operation progressed, the 8th Engineers cleared or destroyed all of the many mine fields which were laid by the enemy in their retreat.
October 3, 1951
On 3 October, the 1st Team moved out from Line Wyoming and immediately into Chinese fire. For the next two days; hills were taken, lost and retaken. On the third day, the Chinese lines began to break in front of the 7th Cavalry.
October 5, 1951
On 5 October, the 8th Cavalry recaptured Hill 418, a flanking hill on which the northern end of Line Jamestown was anchored.
October 10, 1951
On 10 - 11 October, the Chinese counterattacked; twice, unsuccessfully against the 7th Cavalry. Two days later, the 8th Cavalry took the central pivot of the line, Hill 272. The southern end of Line Jamestown, along with a hill called "Old Baldy", eventually fell to the determined troopers. The troopers did not know it, but Line Jamestown would be their last major combat of the Korean War.
November 4, 1951
On 24 November 1951, in preparation for movement to Japan, members of the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion arrived at the 8th Engineer Battalion Headquarters to receive all T/O & E property of the 8th Engineers.
By December 1951, the division, after 549 days of continuous fighting, began rotation back to Hokkaido, Japan. The First Team had performed tough duties with honor, pride and valor with distinction.
December 5, 1951
On 5 December, "A" Company departed Korea with the 5th Cavalry Regiment and arrived at Camp Chitose, Area I on the 11th.
December 23, 1951
By 23 December, all units had arrived in Hokkadio and were assigned the following stations: "B" Company - Camp Crawford, "H/S", "C" and "D" - Camp Chitose, Area II. The division controlled a huge training area of 155,000 acres. The mission of the division was to defend the Island of Hokkaido and to maintain maximum combat readiness. Essentially, the war for the 1st Cavalry was ended, however it would be more than a year before other units could leave Korea.
1952 & 1953
The 8th Engineer Battalion would return to Korea in 1952 and 1953 to engage in engineering construction tasks.
In September 1954, the Japanese assumed responsibility for defending Hokkaido and the First Team returned to the main Island of Honshu. For the next three years the division guarded the northern sections of Honshu until a treaty was signed by the governments of Japan and the United States in 1957. This accord signaled the removal of all U.S. ground forces from Japan's main islands.
August 20, 1957
On 20 August 1957, the First Cavalry Division, guarding the northern sections of Honshu, Japan was reduced to zero strength and transferred to Korea (minus equipment).
September 23, 1957
On 23 September 1957, General Order 89 announced the redesignation of the 24th Infantry Division as the 1st Cavalry Division and ordered a reorganization of the Division under the "pentomic" concept.
October 15, 1957
In ceremonies held on 15 October, the colors of the 24th Division were retired and the colors of the 1st Cavalry Division were passed to the Commanding General of the old 24th Division, Major General Ralph W. Zwicker. "The First Team" had returned, standing ready to defend Korea against Communist aggression.
The 1st Cavalry Division took over the facilities of the former 24th Infantry Division who were stationed at a Headquarters Compound located in the western defense corridor located at Bong il Chong in the Paju City area. Previous tenants, the 1st Marine Division, had relocated the summer villa and converted the rice patties, at the entrance to the valley, into an attractive lake. By the time the 1st Cavalry Division arrived, they were able to be billeted in permanent Quonset huts which had been constructed during a major program to improve the troops living conditions.
The redesignated and reorganized 1st Cavalry was assigned the mission of patrolling the "Freedom's Frontier" (DMZ). In addition to their assigned duties of patrol along the southern border of the DMZ, training remained a number one priority for the troopers and unit commanders.
In January 1958, the largest training exercise in Korea since the end of hostilities, Operation Snowflake, was conducted. This exercise was followed by Operation Saber in May and Operation Horsefly in August.
In 1959, the 8th Engineer Battalion made several modifications to their Headquarters installation and filled in the lake, at the entrance, to create a parade ground. It was named "Brown Field" in honor of PFC Melvin L. Brown, Company "D", 8th Engineer Battalion, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic actions on 4 September 1950.
March 25, 1960
After being designated a Headquarters compound for many years, the installation was redesignated "Camp Howze" on 25 March, 1960 in honor of Major General Robert L. Howze, Medal of Honor recipient and the 1st commander of the 1st Cavalry Division from 1921-25.
Lineage And Honors Informationdiv>
Lineage and Honors Information as of 25 June 2012
CAMPAIGN PARTICIPATION CREDIT
Company A additionally entitled to:
BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY:
ROBERT J. DALESSANDRO
Director, Center of Military History