Fort Devens (1956-1965)

On 23 April 1956, the Battalion departed Fort Bragg, NC at 0555 hrs and arrived at Fort Lee, VA.  On 24 April, the Battalion departed Fort Lee at 0535 and arrived at Aberdeen Proving Grounds.  On 25 April the Battalion departed Aberdeen at 0630 and arrived at West Point, NY.  On 26 April the Battalion departed West Point at 0530 and arrived at Fort Devens, Massachusetts at 1720.  The Battalion traveled a total of 833 miles with all personnel and equipment and was ready for duty just four days after receiving the order to move.

Throughout 1956, the Battalion conducted Mine Field Testing for the Continental Army Command, and National Guard and United States Army Reserve support training at Camp Drum, NY.  The support at Camp Drum included construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of a heavy equipment pool in conjunction with other post units, the operation and maintenance of all ranges and training facilities, and the operation of the bridge section.  The Battalion also supported the Hungarian Refugee Program at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

The Battalion now began a cycle of working during the winter months at Fort Devens, MA and during the summer months at Camp Drum, NY.  Each April, the Battalion moved from Devens to Drum for a period of 160 days to support National Guard and Army Reserve training programs there.

It was at Camp Drum during the summer months that the 20th Engineers Prayer was written.  

Our Father who art in Washington, immersed in service records, requisitions, T. S. cards, red tape and other impediments which surroundeth the Army both in time of peace and in time of war, hallowed be thy name.  Give us this day our partial pay, and forgive us our Company Bills.  Guide us on the path of Righteousness by the all knowing articles of war and rules and regulations.  Approve our passes and furloughs for thou knowest ours is not an easy lot to ear without leisure time.  Relieve us from all duties so that our calluses may heal.  Deliver us from the hands of nonworking Military Police for thou knowest our burdens are heavy.  Yea, even though by diverse devices art these yellow-livered sons of Satan, these gutless washouts from Engineer School, after having been thrice beaten about the head with a shovel, allowed to don the hated white cap and belt of the Ersatz Gestapo, they falsely cry that they are the chosen children.  Guide our pleasure bent footsteps from the lower regions of sin and iniquity known locally as Watertown lest we should go astray and contact certain social uncleanlinesses which thou so forcefully describeth in th6y sex hygiene training films.  Take not away our working tools nor destroy our castle, but strike with relentless, swift and horrible death our company clerk, who redlineth our payroll, the Mess Sergeant who robbeth our empty bellies.  By the ghosts of those who preceded us into the American Siberia, Camp Drum, we pray thee.


On 1 October 1961, the Battalion was alerted for deployment to West Germany during the Berlin Crisis.  The Battalion, minus Companies B and C, was attached to the 11th Engineer Group in Germany.  Headquarters and Headquarters Company was located at Giessen, while Company A was attached to the Berlin Brigade.  The mission of the 20th was to provide combat engineering in the defense of Europe.  While in Germany, the 20th participated in a Battalion ATT and two Seventh Army FTXs (Exercise Grand Slam and Exercise Fallex).  

On 15 March 1963, by General Order Number 13 from Seventh Army, the following provisional redesignations took effect:  Company D, 547th Engineer Battalion became Company D, 20th Engineer Battalion;  Company E, 547th Engineer Battalion became Company E, 20th Engineer Battalion; and Company D, 299th Engineer Battalion became Company F, 20th Engineer Battalion.  Companies D and F and HHC were headquartered at River Barracks, Giessen, Germany, and Company E was stationed at Taylor Barracks, Mannheim, Germany.

Headquarters and Headquarters Company returned to Fort Devens in September 1963.  Company A was reconstituted at Fort Devens and Headquarters assumed control of the line companies, including B and C, in September 1963.  Again, the 20th assumed their dual mission of general engineering support for Fort Devens and supporting Camp Drum during the summer months.  The Battalion also constructed the Fort Devens Golf Course in 1964 from 80 acres of previously unused training area.

--End of Chapter 4, Fort Devens