Fort Bragg (1950-1956)

On 18 September, 1950 the battalion was reactivated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina under the command of LTC Howard W. Penney.  The battalion was a Third Army unit attached to V Corps.  The state of the 20th Engineer Battalion upon reactivation was desperate.  LTC Penney, in a letter to LTC Joseph O. Killian, wrote:

 "The situation in this battalion is probably the same as in other engineer units: short two-thirds of our officers, short one-third of our cadre, short of most of our equipment, in a word - tough.  But the 20th likes it tough."  

The companies of the 20th were not activated immediately.  Headquarters and Service Company was activated 18 September with the Battalion, but the companies were not activated until 1 October 1950 per General Orders 3, 4, and 5 of Headquarters V Corps.  The medical detachment was activated on 20 November 1950 per General Order 6.  Other sections included a maintenance section and an aviation section.  The companies were filled with soldiers moved from Fort Devens, Massachusetts and Fort Benning, Georgia.  Many of the company-grade officers were reserve officers called up for extended active duty.  Some of these officers were World War II veterans, and one, CPT Sten Johnson Jr., became the Assistant S-3, the same position he held in the 20th Engineer Battalion during World War II.

The battalion got on with training its soldiers, noncommissioned officers, warrant officers, and officers on the latest techniques of combat engineering.  A capstone exercise was conducted from 13 August to 27 August 1951 called Exercise Southern Pine.  Exercise Southern Pine included all elements of the 20th and according to the Motor Pool's Historical Report of 6 September 1951, the vehicles of the 20th Engineer Battalion logged 95,806 miles during the exercise with no accidents.  The companies, including HSC, conducted realistic combat training and smashed road blocks established by the airborne aggressor forces.  

Over the next three years the Battalion conducted numerous construction projects on Fort Bragg and participated in Exercise Flash Burn in 1954.  Though no copy of the unit's MTOE from 1954 is available, an organization day program dated 18 September 1954 details the size of the Battalion.  Within HSC was an Equipment Platoon headed by a warrant officer.  It contained 4 Master Sergeants, 15 Sergeants First Class, 10 Sergeants, 22 Corporals, and 40 enlisted members.  Company A had a Captain as commander, two Second Lieutenants as platoon leaders, four Master Sergeants, seven Sergeants First Class, 16 Sergeants, 19 Corporals, and 93 enlisted members.  Companies B and C were much the same except they were both commanded by First Lieutenants.

1954 also brought many construction projects and hurricane relief.  The Battalion constructed combat range number 5, DTA range number 10, BAR transition range number 2, road repair at Johnson Rifle Road, M-1 transition range number 3, hand grenade range number 1, squad in defense range, platoon in night defense, and hand grenade range number 2.  The battalion also worked on the following road projects on Fort Bragg:  Washington Road, BAR transition Road, Colonel's Creek Road, and conducted clay pit operations.

The destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Hazel at the beaches of North Carolina resulted in the Battalion being alerted on the night of 17 October 1954 for hurricane relief efforts along the coast.  The Battalion was assigned the mission of clearing sand and debris from the streets of Carolina and Wrightsville beaches and effecting temporary repairs of utilities where necessary.  Attached to the Battalion were the 66th Signal Battalion, 981st Engineer Battalion Construction, 618th Engineer Light Equipment Company, 64th Engineer FL Main Company, 322nd Engineer Topographic Company, and the 37th Trans Truck Company.  Equipment used for the relief effort included:  2 D8 12 yard pans, D7 dozers, MRS with blade, D5 bucket loaders, D4 bucket loaders, mobile crane, grader motorized, 8 5-ton dump trucks, 11 2 1/2 ton cargo trucks, 12 2 1/2 ton dump trucks, 2 5-ton cargo trucks, 1 1200 gallon gasoline tanker, 14 3/4 ton trucks, 15 1/4 ton trucks, 2 air compressors, 1 5-ton wrecker, and 2 flood lighting sets.  From the Carolina Beach, the Battalion removed 89,000 cubic yards of sand and debris, and from the Wrightsville Beach the Battalion removed 32,000 cubic yards of the same.  Mayor Michael C. Brown of Wrightsville, NC wrote, "without the help of the 20th Combat Engineers, we would probably at this writing be far from having any semblance of order in our community."

For the rest of 1954 and 1955, the Battalion was involved in construction and post beautification projects of Fort Bragg, NC and Fort Jackson, SC.  The battalion constructed the Fort Bragg Post Hospital parking lot and combat range number 4, close combat range number 3, M-1 transition range number 4 and confidence courses for the 506th and 502nd Divarty at Fort Jackson.

On 22 April 1956, the Battalion was relieved from assignment to the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, NC, and assigned to 1st Army with new duty station at Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

--End of Chapter 3, Fort Bragg