Army Aviation Engineers

Combat Engineer poster

Combat Engineer poster

 

Aviation engineers committed to the Japanese war had a more varied experience than did their colleagues in the ETO.  Climatic conditions ranged from the Arctic storms of Alaska to the tropical heat of the South Pacific.  The engineers also had to make adjustments to varying patterns of command.  In the SW Pacific, the Army’s aviation engineers played their largest role in the PTO.

U.S. Engineers build an airfield in northern Australia

U.S. Engineers build an airfield in northern Australia

The rout of Allied forces from the Philippines and East Indies in early 1942 made Australia the inevitable base, unless it too should succumb.  Airfields around Darwin were the most urgent construction requirement when the 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion, first in that theater, arrived.  For more than 3 months, they cleared sites, then grated and graveled them for use by fighters and transports.  Seven airfields were completed when the 808th left for Port Moresby in July.

CBI Engineers

CBI Engineers

In New Guinea the problems were far worse than the planners had anticipated: the distances, the lack of docks and roads, the jungles and mountains, health and morale in one of the most primitive parts of the world – the 200 runways built between Australia and Okinawa, roads, camps sites, docks, hospitals, depots, storage facilities and whatever else was needed; sometimes with the assistance of the SeaBees.

US Army 1st Engineers

US Army 1st Engineers

When the situation became desperate by Japanese movement, the AAF required extensive facilities developed during and under enemy action.  The Jackson Drome near Port Moresby was improved amid bombings, ships unloading, aircraft repairs and the saturation of the rainy season.

127th A/B Engineers

127th A/B Engineers

On 12 November 1942, the 127th Airborne Engineer Battalion was instituted.  It was activated as an element of the 11th Airborne Division on 25 February 1943 at Camp MacKall, NC, the birthplace of many an airborne unit.  The battalion consisted of 3 letter companies, A, B, C, plus a Headquarters and Service Company.

C Company/127th

C Company/127th

From the date of activation until June 1945, the battalion was commanded by Lt.Col. Douglas C. Davis.  In the decade that followed, units of this type became permanent Airborne Engineer Battalions and they were the only ones remaining in the US Army after WWII.  Being assigned and reassigned, these men formed closely knit friendships.

unis3

The initial phase of organization and unit training for the 127th A/B Engineers was conducted at Camp MacKall.  It was there that the kinks were worked out of this novel type of organization.  Experienced engineer officers and non-commissioned officers tackled the new problems that airborne capability imposed.

The time at Camp MacKall spent in training men to fill the ranks of this unique battalion was a two-fold job.  First, engineer soldiers had to be produced and then soldier engineers trained in the revolutionary vertical deployment.  This herculean task of training and organization was accomplished in a relatively short period before the entire 11th Airborne moved on to jungle warfare training and advanced unit operations at Camp Polk, Louisiana.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Route_225e64_1267680

Sad Sack engineer leads the way.

Sad Sack engineer leads the way.

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Angels – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Korea & Vietnam, Lt.Col. (Ret.)

Bruce Badcock – AUS; RA Air Force # 31835, WWII, PTO & CBIMediumPic634249020853470000

Madeline Bartley – Brooklyn, NY; Salvation Army, WWII, Pilot, flew planes between bases

Francis Buckholz – Hartford, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 733rd Field Artillery Batt./3rd Army

Robert Dubreuil – Clarksville, TN; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (ret.)

Redman J. Engle – Pitman, NJ; US Army, Korea, !87th RCT

Roberta Freeman – Katikati, NZ; WAAC # 811163, WWII, Signal Corps

William Meuser – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Chester Sourthworth – Kunkirk, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, A Co/472 Artillery/11th A/B

Mary Witt – WPalm Beach, FL & MD; WWII, Civilian parachute packer

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on July 16, 2015, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. Thank you for the farewell salute to my dear Grandad: Bruce Badcock – AUS; RA Air Force # 31835, WWII, PTO & CBI

    Much appreciated 🙂 He loved his time in the airforce and would have been happy to get a mention here.

    Looking around on here I think he would have loved this site.

    How did you get the information that he had passed away, given that you are US based? This is probably a naive question…

    Like

    • I have a number of newspapers I visit into from time to time, The Examiner being one of them, also the Legacy [too many sources to list]. I have tried to show the entire Pacific War situation here at this site which I whole-heartedly wish your Granddad had seen. Your father was the representative for your area today. I am very sorry for your loss. Mr. Badcock fought in some of the roughest places on Earth and he survived – you must be very proud.

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      • You are very thorough in looking through your sources. Thank you so much for your lovely words about Grandad, and about his airforce service. It made me and my sons very proud and happy to read it. I will be a regular visitor to your site, as will other family members. Thank you for your work on this great site, which is so inclusive and has so many interesting facts about the war in the Pacific. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • I appreciate your interest. These troops did so much for us, they set standards that we should all try to live up to today. I’m glad I could be of some help to you and your family, that makes MY day!

          Like

  2. It’s humbling to know what they all had to contend with. Interesting to see a female WWII pilot in the Farewell Salutes today. Great post, much enjoyed.

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    • Most people only think of the men who fought on the front lines, but neglect to consider just how they got there. Glad you found the post interesting. We had females pilots here at home as instructors and moving planes from base to base; they were one more cog in that giant wheel of organization.

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  3. I had the good fortune to work for a gentleman who was a former Army Aviation Engineer. Never a finer man, he taught me the value of precise planning, execution and follow-through. I valued him as a supervisor but even more so now as a valued friend.

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    • That really is great to hear. Not only did he carry his training into the civilian world, but used his knowledge to teach others. Thank you for that comment.

      Like

  4. Great post on another great arm of the Military, Engineers were a very resourceful team, and were called on to perform some great Herculean tasks.
    I believe but am not sure, that a lot of Engineering tasks these days are carried out by civilian contractors.
    Cheers.

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  5. Sad Sack~!

    I imagine that millions of ex-grunts identify with the Sack … didn’t he have a brother (cousin?) in the navy, Gabby Gob? 🙂

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    • Yes, Gabby Gob was designed to be cuter than Sad Sack, and he was also much younger, having been created in 1964 after it being discovered that the Navy was buying up Sad Sack comic books. 🙄 I should put him in once in a while – thanks for the kick in the ol’ memory box!!

      Like

  6. You always seem to find the most fascinating stuff. I was a Seabee for 6 years and then Crossed over into the Army Corps of Engineers – it was an interesting transition both are extremely different

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  7. What a great post! The engineers were the base where all things started. My father in law was a CB

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  8. What a interesting article and they sure did a wide range of duties in difficult circumstances!

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  9. My brother-in-law was with an Army Engineer unit in Vietnam, and an uncle of mine was with an Army Aviation Engineer unity in World War II. My sense has always been that there were significant differences in the roles of the two types of engineer units. I don’t know, though, if that was the case. Do you know anything about this?

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    • Some combat engineers were trained in demolition, some construction. There are those who already graduated college with engineering, surveying and architectural degrees, etc – quite an assortment and the organization is incredible as I read into this. That is why I limited the article to only 2 units of the aviation engineers in the Pacific. I can understand why you have such an interest in the military’s history, Alan, and I thank you for being so loyal here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had forgotten about that. My brother-in-law was a lieutenant in a combat engineer battalion. My sense is that the role of Army aviation engineer units in World War II was analogous to that of the Navy’s CB units, who seem to have been the most active of the two in the Pacific. Any thoughts on that?

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  10. My Thursday night pool buddy served in Thailand during Vietnam War as an Army engineer . These guys are a special breed .

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  11. Nice to read of the brave soldiers doing a difficult job, often under attack. They not only had to fight, they had to complete construction work whilst being bombed and shot at!
    Good tribute GP. They deserve it.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pete. I’ve always known what a good job they did, but after knowing an engineer who served in Nam, it brought it closer to home so to speak.

      Like

  12. GP-I came back later to enlarge the pictures. As you know my father’s battalion followed the CBI engineers. Great article and pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A really interesting article, with a fabulous poster at the beginning! Thanks very much.

    Like

  14. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to build bridges, airstrips and other such things while the enemy is strafing and bombing you. I wonder what the casualty rate was among military engineers.

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  15. The varied roles played and skills aquired, like engineers – went on to help build countries in peacetime too. Isn’t the second cartoon (sad sack engineer leads the way) actually a sapper (land mines) rather than engineer?

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    • It appears so, but it was included in an engineer website – so I figured if they could claim him – why not me? The military humor is all in fun anyway, whatever lifts your spirits. Thanks for coming, Carol.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Infantry engineers important part of any traveling Roman army.

    Like

  17. Thank you for the listing.

    Like

  1. Pingback: My Article Read (7-17-2015) | My Daily Musing

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