Archive for November, 2010

November’s Engineer Moment in History Part II


2009 commemoration of burning of the 2nd Engineer Battalion’s colors

Photo: 1LT Kathryn Jensen (2009),, accessed 17 November 2010

60th Anniversary – 2nd Engineer Battalion burning the unit’s colors at Kunu-Ri

Every year, the 2nd Infantry Division and the 2nd Engineer Battalion reenact the events of 30 November 1950.   On that night near the village of Kunu-Ri in North Korea, Soldiers in the 2nd Engineer Battalion found themselves under heavy attack by wave after wave of the Chinese enemy.  The Engineers fought a desperate rear guard action so that the 2nd Division could retreat southward and escape pursuit by five Chinese divisions totaling 60,000 troops.  The outnumbered Engineers stood their ground as long as they could against overwhelming enemy forces, but the Chinese eventually overran the 2nd Engineer’s positions.  LTC Alarich Zacherle then gave orders to destroy all equipment and to burn unit’s colors to deny them to the Chinese.  All the battalion’s officers were killed or captured, except for just one captain.  The 2nd Engineer Battalion ceased to exist as an effective combat unit.  By early December, only 266 men remained of the battalion’s original 977 men.  Many Engineers not killed at Kunu-Ri were captured by the Chinese and suffered as prisoners of war.

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November’s Engineer Moment in History

ALCAN Highway completed in November 1942

ALCAN HighwayIn February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the construction of the Alaska Canadian Military Highway.   Work began the next month under direction of Brigadier General William H. Hoge.  The project was completed in November 1942 by more than 10,500 Engineers from  the 18th and 35th Engineer Combat Regiments, the 341st and 342nd Engineer General Service Regiments, and  African Americans in the 93rd, 95th, and 97th Engineer General Service Regiments (Colored).   Working round the clock, these Engineers bridged countless rivers and streams, and they constructed the road through rugged wilderness using everything from axes and saws to CAT D-7s and D-8s.  The ALCAN Highway became a major supply route linking Dawson’s Creek in British Columbia to Delta Junction near Fairbanks, Alaska.  It ran some 1,500 miles and transported equipment to American troops stationed in the Alaska.  Supplies were also sent from Alaskan ports to Soviet forces fighting the Germans. The ALCAN Highway ranked among the greatest engineering feats in the 20th century.

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