Archive for December, 2010

December’s Engineer Moment in History

German movements are denoted by the red arrows, and American defensive positions are in blue.

The “Damned Engineers” of the 291st Engineer Battalion

On 15 December 1944 during a blizzard, the German Army launched a surprise attack against a thinly defended American sector in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium.  History knows this month-long engagement as the Battle of the Bulge.  The Germans ran roughshod over the American forces for the next ten days.  Nevertheless, the spirited American defense of Bastogne helped stall the German advance.  Less well known but no less significant were the countermobility roles played by Engineers in laying mines, erecting abatis, defending roadblocks, and blowing bridges.  One of the key examples of these efforts occurred on 18 December.  A German SS unit commanded by LTC Joachim Peiper tried to cross a bridge over Lienne Creek near Habiemont, Belgium (lower left edge of map).   However, elements of the 291st Engineer Battalion blew the bridge just as the German tanks rolled up.  As one source relates what happened next, a chagrined LTC Peiper “could only sit helplessly, pound his knee and swear, ‘The damned engineers! The damned engineers!’”  This episode on Engineers in the Battle of the Bulge and others like it can be found in the classic book, The Damned Engineers, by Janice Giles.

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Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Queen Soldiers of the 2nd Engineer Battalion, take up a defensive fighting positions as the battalion reenacts the Nov. 30, 1950, Korean War battle of Kunu-Ri during "Burning of the Colors" ceremony at Camp Dehdadi II in Northern Afghanistan. During the historic battle 60 years ago, more than 5,000 American soldiers were killed, wounded or captured by Chinese forces. When the battle was over, all but one officer of the battalion had been captured or killed. To prevent the colors from becoming a war trophy for the enemy, the command set it ablaze.

“CAMP DEHDADI II, Afghanistan – Soldiers of the United States Army’s 2nd Engineer Battalion, currently deployed to Camp Dehdadi II near Mazar-e-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan, conducted their unique, annual commemoration of the Korean War battle of Kunu-Ri Nov. 30.

Like most ceremonies that recognize a unit’s accomplishments, this one also pays tribute to an event that became a low point in the Battalion’s history – the burning of its Battalion Colors.

“We do it to honor the courage and sacrifice of our veterans – to commemorate their actions and acknowledge their place in history and the role they played in shaping the history of the 2nd Infantry Division and that of Korea,” said Lt. Col. Christopher M. Benson, commander of the 2nd Engineer Battalion. “We must never forget our history, nor the legacy our veterans left to us to maintain.”

As part of the ceremony, a scene is staged with Soldiers and equipment set to resemble the final moments leading up to the order to burn the flag.”

For complete story:
Story by SFC John Queen

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Missouri S&T to award first master degrees in explosives –

ROLLA, Mo. | The nation’s first master’s degrees in explosives engineering will be handed out this month at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla.

The university said the program was approved last year and is part of Missouri S&T’s mining and nuclear engineering department. Fifteen graduate students are enrolled in Missouri S&T’s explosives engineering program.

The degrees will be handed out to three students on Dec. 18.

Missouri S&T started offering a minor in explosives engineering at the undergraduate level in 2005

Read more:

Missouri S&T to award first master’s degrees in explosives –

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