Military News

Friday, May 08, 2015

Engineer units furl guidons, inactivate

by David Bedard
JBER Public Affairs

5/8/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 23d Engineer Company (Airborne), alongside Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 532nd Engineer Battalion, inactivated during a May 1, 2015 ceremony at the Alaska Army National Guard Armory on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Commanders and first sergeants cased guidons, capping storied histories for both units. The guidons will be shipped to the Institute of Heraldry at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where they will be archived and ready should the units activate in the future.

"This casing ceremony brings with it a flurry of emotions we have all experienced over the past several months," said Lt. Col. Kirt Boston, 532nd Engineer Battalion commander and presiding officer for the ceremony. "The overwhelming emotion that I would like to share with you today is one of thanks - thanks to the numerous Soldiers who have served honorably and professionally in the 532nd Engineer Battalion, the HHC, the 84th [Engineer Support Company], the [23rd] Sapper Company and others."

The 23d Engineer Company was constituted April 3, 1944 as the 1488th Engineer Maintenance Company and was activated May 12, 1944 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. The company served in Japan and France before reactivation at then-Fort Richardson June 30, 1972.

The company was inactivated Sept. 16, 1997 and then reactivated Oct. 16, 2008 at Fort Richardson.

The 23rd Engineer Company served three tours in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2014. During their last deployment, the company was stationed out of Operational Base Fenty in Nangarhar Province, carrying out more than 90 combined-arms route-clearance operations and clearing more than 8,500 kilometers of routes throughout four provinces.

"No one was ambushed or hit by an IED following a 23rd Sapper Company sweep," Boston said. "Impressive, considering that part of the world."

The 532nd Engineer Battalion was constituted as the 532nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment June 20, 1942 at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The unit participated in the Pacific Theater during World War II, culminating in the occupation of Japan. The unit served in the Korean War, transporting the 1st Marine Division during the Inchon Landing.

The battalion inactivated in June 1955 while in Japan.

Due to the scheduled inactivation of 2d Engineer Brigade Headquarters and several of its subordinate units, coupled with the deployment of the brigade headquarters and 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Headquarters, U.S. Army Pacific saw fit to stand up the 532nd Engineer Battalion.

Reactivated as a provisional battalion Jan. 5, 2014, the 532nd Engineer Battalion was quickly organized to undertake inactivation operations.

After a year-and-a-half long effort that will end in July, the unit will have turned in and transferred more than 1,800 pieces of equipment worth in excess of $143 million as well as relocated more than 1,000 Soldiers to other units in support of Army restructuring.

HHC also provided the headquarters for 17th CSSB during that battalion headquarters' deployment.

"All of these tasks were conducted with little fanfare - executed simultaneously, split-based and in some cases under some harsh weather conditions," Boston said. "[It's] an amazing accomplishment for a small battalion HHC that had every single staff primary position rotate out at least once - and in some cases multiple times during a short window."

Soldiers from both units will either transfer to another installation or join another unit at JBER.

Boston placed the companies' accomplishments in context.

"You are now part of a legacy and should be justifiably proud knowing that you served honorably and professionally," he said. "Take the lessons of unit pride, professionalism, your strong work ethic and patriotism with you as you continue your Army careers.

"You are these units' legacy."

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