The 121st Engineer Battalion was part of the 29th Division from 1941 to 1968. When the 29th Division was federalized in 1941, the 121st Engineer Regiment was a District of Columbia unit and became the 121st Engineer Battalion. It was a different, Maryland National Guard unit from 1948 onwards, and was the 29th Division’s engineer unit until the Division deactivation in 1968.
The 121st Engineer Battalion was originally organized as the 5th Infantry Regiment, D.C. National Guard in August 1918. In 1922 the 5th was redesignated as the 121st Engineer Regiment, D.C. National Guard.
The regiment, under command of Colonel Oehman, was inducted into Federal service at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland on 3 February 1941, as the engineer regiment organic to the 29th Infantry Division. From induction date through August 1941 the regiment participated in basic training and received fillers from Selective Service forces. These fillers were, for the most part, from southwest Virginia.
From September 1941 to December 1941 the regiment participated in the Carolina Maneuvers and was enroute to its home station at Fort Meade when war was declared on 8 December 1941. Ordered to various duties from security at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Factory, to training in the swamps of Florida, to New Jersey to go through basic training several times.
Immediately following the return of the regiment to Fort Meade, the 1st Battalion, under the command of Major John T. O’Neill, was ordered to move to the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Factory at Middle River, near Baltimore, Maryland. The mission of the Battalion was to perform engineer work and furnish security for the factory. The main engineer effort during this period was the construction of runways and splinter proof revetments. During the period that the 1st Battalion was at the Glenn L. Martin Plant, the 2nd Battalion continued training at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.
On 10 March 1942, the 1st Battalion was recalled to Fort Meade and on 12 March 1942 was redesignated as the 121st Engineer Combat Battalion, organic to the 29th Infantry Division. This action was the result of the triangularization of the 29th Infantry Division, thus eliminating the engineer regiment previously authorized by Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) and substituting an engineer battalion. The commander of the battalion was Major William B. Eubank, Major O’Neill having been transferred to the 104th Quartermaster Battalion.
The battalion received its fillers by the transfer of one platoon from each of the 2nd Battalion line companies to each of the line companies of the new battalion. Personnel from the Regimental Headquarters and Service Company were transferred to the Headquarters and Service Company of the new battalion.
The remainder of the 2nd Battalion was redesignated as the 135th Engineer Regiment (Combat) and was placed under the command of Colonel Frank T. Leilack, who had previously relieved Colonel Oehman as commander of the 121st Engineer Regiment.
The 121st Engineer Battalion continued its training program at Fort Meade until 10 April 1942. On this date the battalion, less 5 officers and 180 men, was transferred to Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, and redesignated the 117th Engineer Battalion, organic to the 37th Infantry Division.
The detachment left at Fort Meade, less 120 men and 5 officers, plus Selective Service men from Fort Devans, Massachusetts and Fort Hayes, Ohio, was formed into the 5th Battalion of the Provisional Training Detachment of the 29th Infantry Division under command of 1LT Andrew G. Conlyn. The three companies were designated as Companies 17, 18, and 19. The 120 men and 5 officers mentioned previously moved to A.P. Hill Military Reservation, Virginia on 14 April 1942 to form the nucleus for the battalion Headquarters and Headquarters and Service Company.
Major John T. O’Neill was transferred from the 104th Quartermaster Battalion and designated the Battalion Commander on 25 May 1942. During May 1942, 8 2LTs and 4 1LTs were assigned .
On 7 June 1942, the three companies departed Fort Meade on foot for A.P. Hill, Virginia, arriving there on 14 June 1942. Route of march was via Route 301 across the Morgantown Bridge to A.P. Hill, Virginia.
The battalion reformed at A.P. Hill and gradually dissolved its ties with the Training Detachment. At this time Headquarters and Service Company and a medical detachment were formed and Companies 17, 18, and 19 became letter companies A, B, and C of the 121st Engineer Combat Battalion.
The battalion departed A.P. Hill, Virginia by motor on 7 July 1942 for Camp Sutton, North Carolina, arriving there on 8 July 1942. Basic training was participated in for 3 weeks, at which time the division was rejoined for the 4th and final week of the Carolina Maneuvers.
On 17 August 1942, the battalion, as part of a division column, departed Wadesboro, North Carolina by motor for Camp Blanding, Florida, arriving there on 19 August 1942. At Camp Blanding, the battalion continued training and began preparations for overseas shipment.
On 19 September 1942, the battalion, as part of the 29th Infantry Division, moved by rail to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, where preparations for overseas shipment were completed. The battalion departed Camp Kilmer by rail for New York on 4 October 1942 and upon arrival at the port, immediately boarded the Queen Elizabeth bound for Scotland. The crossing, unescorted, was made without incident, the ship arriving on 9 October 1942 at Grennock on the Clyde in Scotland. The battalion immediately disembarked and entrained for Tidworth Barracks, Wiltshire, in Southern England, arriving there on 10 October 1942.
During the months of November and December 1942, the battalion participated in physical conditioning to prepare them for combat.
Battalion strength as of 1 January 1943: 28 Officers, 1 Warrant Officer, and 507 Enlisted men.
During the period 1 January 1943 and 6 June 1944 the battalion participated in diversified engineer training and physical conditioning to prepare them for the invasion of the European continent. During the period the battalion was stationed at several installations in England. A brief resume of those stations follows:
STATION ARRIVED DEPARTED
1. Tidworth Barracks 10 Oct 42 25 May 43
2. Paignton, Devonshire, 29 May 43 27 Nov 43
3. a. Wadebridge, Cornwall, 27 Nov 43
England (HQ, 121st)
b. Harlyn Bay, Cornwall 27 Nov 43
England (Company A 121st)
c. Padstow, Cornwall, 28 Nov 43
England (Company B 121st)
d. Trevone Bay, Cornwall, 27 Nov 43
England (Company C 121st)
The first half of 1943, as stated previously, was largely devoted to physical conditioning. Numerous marches, averaging 20 miles, were made during January and February and were terminated by two test marches on 25 and 26 February 1943 of 27 and 26 miles respectively. A five-day march was begun on 5 July 1943 with daily lengths of 17, 15, 14, 14, and 14 miles respectively.
LTC John T. O’Neill was relieved of command on 6 December 1943. Major Robert R. Ploger assumed command on 7 December 1943.
Strength as 31 December 1943 was 35 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 655 Enlisted men.
From January 1944 through May 1944, the entire battalion participated in rigorous amphibious assault training exercises on the Devonshire coast between Dartmouth, Plymouth, and Falmouth, England. Upon completion of each exercise the units returned to their permanent stations. A brief resume of these exercises follows:
UNIT EXERCISE DEPARTURE RETURN
HQ & H&S “Duck” 31 Dec 43 5 Jan 44
HQ & H&S “Fox” 4 Mar 44 13 Mar 44
HQ & H&S “Fabius I” 24 Apr 44 6 May 44
Company A “Duck” 31 Dec 43 5 Jan 44
Company A No Name 3 Feb 44 12 Feb 44
Company A “Fox” 4 Mar 44 13 Mar 44
Company A No Name 15 Mar 44 17 Mar 44
Company B “Duck” 31 Dec 43 3 Jan 44
Company B “Duck II” 12 Feb 44 15 Feb 44
Company B “Fox” 4 Mar 44 13 Mar 44
Company B No Name 18 Mar 44 30 Mar 44
Company B “Fabius I” 24 Apr 44 6 May 44
Company C “Duck” 31 Dec 43 5 Jan 44
Company C “Duck II” 9 Feb 44 18 Feb 44
Company C No Name 29 Feb 44 7 Mar 44
Company C “Fabius I” 24 Apr 44 6 May 44
The following is a brief summary of events leading to and the landing in Northern France:
H&S Company (less residue): Departed England on LST 408 on 5 June 1944; arrived Dog Red Omaha Beach 0740, 6 June 1944.
Company A (less residue): Departed England on LST 498 on morning of 6 June 1944; arrived beach Northern France 2300, 6 June 1944.
Company B (less residue): Departed England on LST 408 on 3 June 1944; arrived Omaha Beach at 0740, 6 June 1944.
Company C (less residue): Departed England 5 June 1944 on APA #4 LCT 703 and LCT 705; arrived beach Northern France 0750, 6 June 1944.
(a) The 121st Engineer Combat Battalion, less Company A, with the 112th Engineer Combat Battalion attached, landed on Omaha Beach with the 116th Infantry Combat Team. The 116th Infantry Combat Team was a part of the 1st Infantry Division Landing Team. Two platoons of Company B, 121st Engineer Battalion, accompanied by the battalion commander, were the first elements to hit the beach. Time of the landing was 0710, 6 June 1944. The remainder of the battalion, less Company A landed 10 to 40 minutes later. The landing was made under heavy mortar, artillery, and machine gun fire as no infantry units preceded the engineer landing on Dog Green and part of Dog White Beaches. Approximately 50% of the initial landing forces were casualties and 75% of the accompanying equipment was lost. The battalion regrouped as quickly as possible and proceeded inland to accomplish its’ mission of clearing routes of communications of obstacles.
At 0530, 7 June 1944, the battalion was attacked from the south, but their position held. Relief by tank supported Rangers was effected at 1030, 7 June 1994. Company A landed with the 115th Infantry Combat Team at 2300, 6 June 1944. They supported the 115th until they rejoined the battalion on 7 June 1944. The 112th Engineer Combat Battalion reverted to parent unit control on 7 June 1944.
(b) The advance to and crossing of inundated area, capture of Isigny, and advance to River Elle:
During this period each infantry regiment was supported by a company of engineers. After the fall of Isigny, Company C cleared the road through town. Company A supported the 115th Infantry and built 10 improvised footbridges across inundated areas during this period.
(c) Defense of the River Elle:
The battalion established forward engineer dumps directly behind forward positions on the Elle and on 10 June 1944, Company C prepared bridges over the Elle for demolition. On 11 June 1944, Company A prepared road blocks in the vicinity of Moulin Evegne. On 12 June 1944, Company C carried Company E, 175th Infantry across the Vire River in assault boats.
(d) Drive to the Aire, Villiers Fossard, and Couvaines Line:
Company B supported the attack by the 116th Infantry in the drive on Couvaine and St Clair-Sur-Elle by clearing and repairing roads on the axis of the advance. Company C performed the same mission for the 175th Infantry in their advance south of Moon-Sur-Elle.
(e) Defense of Aire, Villiers Fossard, Couvaines Line:
On 18 June 1944, Division directed the battalion to reduce a strongpoint in the enemy main line of resistance (MLR), although at the time the fact that it was part of the enemy main line of resistance was unknown to the friendly forces. The two platoons from Company C, originally assigned to the task, proved inadequate, so Company A, plus one platoon from Company B, were dispatched as reinforcements. The attack was unsuccessful. On 20 June 1944, the 3d Battalion, 115th Infantry attacked from the left flank, supported by tanks and Company B. This concerted attack did not clear the enemy from the front of our positions. The 121st Engineers were relieved by the 115th Infantry on 23 June 1944, in order that they could take over their proper tasks in supporting the infantry in a defensive situation.
After the 115th Infantry completed the occupation of Villiers Fossard, Company A repaired roads, destroyed mines and demolition’s, and cleared routes of rubble.
Company B began preparations for the attack on St. Lo by training teams to blow gaps in hedgerows. The 121st Engineers developed a method for blowing gaps in hedgerows which proved to be highly effective. Two 4′ prongs 6″ in diameter were welded to the front of a tank. These prongs, after being forced into a hedgerow, left a hole sufficiently large enough to receive 15 to 20 pounds of explosives packed in a 105mm shell container. Two of these charges were sufficient to blow a gap large enough for a medium tank to pass through. Companies A and C also trained in Infantry-Engineer-Tank Team Assault.
In the attack on St. Lo each of the infantry regiments were supported by an engineer company. Company B supported the 116th on the left flank of the division, Company C supported the 175th who continued the advance after the 116th had taken their initial objectives, and Company A supported the 115th on the division right flank.
On 19 July 1944, bulldozers from the battalion entered the city of St. Lo and commenced rubble clearing of the roads. The operators were forced to stop work on several occasions while the infantry pushed back enemy strongpoints. On the night of 19-20 July 1944, the 35th Infantry Division relieved the 29th Infantry Division and for approximately one week, care and cleaning of equipment was the main effort of the battalion.
On 27 July 1944, the battalion was alerted to move to the southwest of St. Lo. In the new area, sectors were assigned companies for operations. LTC Ploger was evacuated to a hospital on 28 July 1944 to permit wounds suffered on “D” Day, to heal. Major Allan F. Olson assumed command. [NOTE: According to MG(Ret) Ploger, he was evacuated to the back of an ambulance and continued to command the Battalion even though MAJ Olson supposedly assumed command].
On 31 July 1944 the new bivouac area was attacked by enemy planes which damaged 7 dump trucks, and caused 11 casualties in the Company C area.
During the period 1 – 16 August 1944, the battalion continued to patrol, clear, and maintain roads as the infantry advanced. To combat dust, roads were oiled continuously. Some booby traps and mines were removed and dead stock was buried by bulldozers. During this period 8 bivouac areas were occupied by the battalion and 9 water points were opened and closed.
The battalion, less detachments assigned to infantry regiments, began its motor movement to a point near Brest, at 1630 hours, 22 August 1944 and arrived at their destination at 1700 hours, 23 August 1944; total distance, 217 miles.
On 24 July 1944 preparations began for the Siege of Brest. Pole charges and scaling ladders were made and training was held in the passage of obstacles and construction of the Bailey Bridge. At the end of August 1944 the battalion continued in close support of infantry units participating in the Siege of Brest. The companies remained under battalion control.
On 7 September 1944, Company A was attached to Task Force Sugar for the attack on the Le Conguest Peninsula. The company cleared mines, blew roadblocks, and reduced antitank ditches. The company reverted to Battalion control on 11 September 1944.
After the fall of the Le Conquest Peninsula, the companies were in support of the infantry in the reduction of the numerous forts surrounding Brest. Company B, supporting the 116th Infantry in the attack on Fort Mont Barey, was required to clear two lanes through a minefield surrounding the fort which consisted of 300 pound artillery shells with a new type igniters. This operation was completed during the hours of darkness. Company B also placed a 1200 pound charge of TNT in a tunnel leading into the fort; the resulting blast forced the enemy to surrender.
On 25 September 1944, the battalion moved with the division to the vicinity of Maastricht, Holland, a distance of 600 miles. Four days were required to complete the movement.
On 28 September 1944, the battalion became part of XIX Corps, First United States Army. Companies began preparing scaling ladders and pack and pole charges for their respective regiments, in preparation for an attack on the Siegfried Line.
At this time the 29th Division was assigned a defensive mission in an area generally northwest of Aachen and southwest of the Meuse River. During the entire month of October 1944, the battalion supported the 29th Division regiments as required, clearing minefields and repairing roads. Company B constructed a 22 foot timber trestle bridge, and all companies ran tests for the attack and pursuit (A&P) platoons of the infantry regiments.
The line companies, during October 1944, also participated in several raids on enemy held towns. On 7 October 1944, Company A supported the 115th Infantry Regiment in a raid on the town of Schierwaldenrath and destroyed 80% of the town with explosives. (See Tab K for more on the raid.)
On 31 October 1944, the Battalion moved to a new command post near Schaesberg. From 1 November to 11 November 1944 the division was in reserve. During this period the Battalion was used mostly on road work due to inclement weather. Also, classes were taught in engineer subjects to the infantry regiments. On 12 November 1944, the division was assigned an area generally northwest of Aachen and southwest of Linmich. The division jumped off from this position in the main attack on the Siegfried Line on 16 November 1944. During this offensive, the battalions main effort was in road maintenance and mine clearance. This offensive ended when the division reached the Roer River.
On the nights of 29 and 30 November 1944, all companies of the battalion furnished patrols to gather information about the area on the near bank of the Roer River. This patrol action was in preparation for the assault crossing and bridging of the Roer. All patrols were forced to fight during this reconnaissance.
During the Roer offensive the battalion was supported by the 1104th Engineer Combat Group.
From 1 – 18 December 1944, the battalions’ main effort was in preparation for the crossing of the Roer. In preparation for this task, extensive planning was conducted to determine characteristics of possible crossing sites and equipment required. During this period, the battalion held day and night training in assault river crossing tactics with infantry elements.
(BATTLE OF THE BULGE)
On 20 December 1944, the 29th Division took over what had been the entire XIX Corps front (12,000yards) and on 26 December 1944 this frontage was increased by that frontage held by the 104th Division. This situation was brought about due to the reassignment of the 2d Armored Division, 30th Infantry Division, and 104th Infantry Division to the area in the south, commonly known as the Bulge.
During this defensive period the main effort of the battalion was directed toward the erection of barriers relative to an all around defense of the front assigned the 29th Division.
On 25 December 1944, the 29th Division was assigned to XIII Corps and on 27 December 1944, the 1104th Engineer Combat Group was replaced by the 1149th Engineer Combat Group. The 251st Engineer Combat Battalion was placed in direct support of the battalion.
At the end of December 1944, a total of 23,363 mine, both anti-tank and anti-personnel, had been laid and 24,000 yards of barbed wire had been erected in the preparation of these defensive positions.
From 1 January 1945 to 23 February 1945 the battalion continued to support the division in the defense of the Roer River Line. During this period, the battalion continued to construct defensive positions as required by the regiments. It is noted here that the defense of the Roer was based on the defense of strategically located strongpoints rather than a line defense. The main strongpoints in the Roer defense area were around the towns of Inden, Englesdorf, Aldenhoven, Pattern, Neidermerz, Fronhoven, Schleiden, Siersdorf, Pien, Schephoven, and other towns in the division area
Other major tasks assigned the battalion during this period were snow removal of the Main Supply Routes, digging artillery and tank destroyer positions, and repair of roads damaged by thawing action. Most of the road maintenance was required to be done at night due to daylight enemy observation which brought harassing fire.
On 8 January 1945, a detail of 4 men and 1 sergeant from Company B supported the 3d Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment in a 60 man raid across the Roer River. A similar raid was participated in by Company C on the night of 13 January 1945 in support of the 175th Infantry Regiment.
On nights 11 – 14 February 1945, Company A erected a camouflage wire screening to prevent enemy observation of a critical road junction in the vicinity of Koalov. As a result of this, enemy observed fire was reduced to simple interdictory fire.
Planning for the crossing of the Roer commenced in the latter portion of January 1945 but due to flooding of the river and an early thaw, several revisions of plans were required. During this period, all companies participated in day and night training in assault boat tactics, ferrying operations, and footbridge construction. Also, enemy minefields in the vicinity of the bridge sites were removed. All mine clearance was done at night due to close proximity of the enemy.
At 0350, 23 February 1945, the first wave of infantry commenced crossing the Roer; this crossing continued for 8 hours.
The mission assigned the engineer battalion was to assemble river crossing materials and to support assault crossings of the 115th, 116th, and 175th Infantry Regiments. An advanced battalion command post was set up in the catacombs near the river line at 2030 hours, 22 February 1945. It was necessary to move the command post to the rear the following morning due to heavy enemy artillery fire. Company missions and actions were as follows:
Company A was directed to furnish guides for “Alligators”, but when crossing commenced it was discovered that guides were not required. Company A then resumed normal engineer support of the 115th Infantry, which consisted primarily of clearing mines from the Julich – Broich Highway.
Company Bs’ original mission was to operate two motor ferries, which it carried out successfully, at times under intense enemy fire. When ferries were no longer required Company B assumed their normal engineer duties with the 116th Infantry.
Company C was assigned the mission of crossing a security force, in assault boats, prior to H-Hour. This crossing commenced at 0300 hours, 23 February 1945 and was successfully completed. Upon completion of this task, Company C moved into the town of Julich and proceeded to clear mines and rubble.
All bridges were constructed by the 1104th Engineer Combat Group as soon as observed enemy artillery fire was eliminated on 24 February 1945.
Initially, the enemy opposition in the Julich area was strong,, but after breaking through this area, the allied advance was rapid. The battalion, in its’ normal infantry support role, cleared mines, repaired bomb damage to roads, cleared rubble from streets, and filled craters caused by enemy demolition’s.
The Munchen – Gladbach area was seized on the 1st of March 1945 at which time the division went in reserve for rest and rehabilitation. During the month of March the battalion participated in extensive training in engineer subjects, performed some road maintenance in the division area and provided instructions to the A&P Platoons of the infantry regiments in engineer subjects. The battalion moved to the vicinity of Vorde on 31 March 1945.
On 1 April 1945 the 29th Division assumed the role of Corps Reserve. On 3 April 1945 the 116th Infantry was attached to the 75th Infantry Division for operations in the Ruhr. This necessitated attaching Company B on 4 April 1945 to the 116th to perform engineer tasks as required by the operation. Company B was assigned the mission of reducing the Dortmund Canal walls and to construct a causeway. These tasks completed on 4 April 1945, Company B reverted to battalion control on 7 April 1945.
During the period that Company B was detached, the rest of the Battalion was concerned primarily with salvage removal operations and road maintenance.
On 5 April 1945, the division was placed in Ninth Army Reserve and on 11 April 1945 was placed in XVI Corps Reserve. During these periods the battalion performed engineer tasks as required by division and also caught up on care and cleaning of equipment.
It is to be noted that during its periods of reserve, the division assumed the Military Governorship of the area it occupied. This involved the establishment of Displaced Persons and refugee camps for the civilians in the area. From time to time the battalion was given the mission of operating one of these camps.
On 17 April 1945, the division moved into an assembly area northeast of Hanover in the vicinity of Celle and became a part of the XIII Corps, Ninth United States Army. From this assembly area the division moved into position behind the 5th Armored Division and commenced clearing enemy resistance west of the Elbe River. The end of April found the division on the west bank of the Elbe River from Hitzacker south to Schnackenberg. During this period the 121st Engineer Battalion was concerned primarily with supporting the division in its’ movement forward by clearing roads of mines and performing road maintenance and reconnaissance. From 17 April to 31 April 1945, 850 miles of road were swept for mines and posted; also, many bridges were constructed or repaired by units supporting the infantry elements.
On 24 April 1945, the battalion commander, LTC Powell and his driver, PFC Charles Elliot, were killed by an enemy anti-tank mine in the vicinity of Wastrow, Germany.
1 May 1945 found the 29th Division on the Elbe River line waiting for the arrival of the Russians and exercising military control over the civilians in the division area.
The battalion placed continuing emphasis on mine clearance. On 2 May 1945, Companies A and C were assigned the task of ferrying operations on the Elbe River, when an entire German V-2 Launching Division surrendered to the 29th Division. Ferrying operations ceased on 3 May 1945 when contact was made with Russian forces by the 29th Division.
On 4 May 1945 the entire division moved to an assembly area near Munster and began preparation for taking over control of the United States Enclave Military District.
On 8 May 1945 the entire battalion was attached to the 115th Infantry Regiment in Bremen. This attachment ended on 14 May 1945 when the entire division moved into an area just south of Bremen and assumed command of the area.
The 121st became the engineers in charge of the area and assumed the tasks of bridge construction, road maintenance, mine clearance, and opening of priority roads to class 40 traffic. Area assignments were made to each company.
The 121st Engineer Combat Battalion, of the 29th Infantry Division, was assembled on 9 May 1945 to commemorate those of its members who gave their lives for the cause of freedom, and to offer thanksgiving for the final victory of the Allied Nations over Nazism in Europe. The following memoriam was delivered at the formal gathering of the battalion. (The battalion was gathered in an open field on the outskirts of Bremen, Germany.) Following is the text delivered by the Battalion Executive Officer, CPT H. E. Lewis:
“On October 5th 1942, this Battalion debarked from New York for overseas service. October 11th we arrived Gourock, Scotland, where we disembarked and entrained for Tidworth, England. Tidworth, Paignton, Cornwall, Braughton Sands were training areas for the Battalion’s missions, which began on that memorable 6th day of June 1944, when, on Omaha Beach, in the vicinity of Vierville, Normandy, France, this Battalion with the 116th and 115th Combat Teams assaulted the Hun-infested Europe. From Omaha Beach to Les Foulons where, after blowing hedgerows, clearing mines, performing night and day, every engineer task possible to assist the doughboy in the attack – you, yourselves went into the line as infantry against the main line of resistance of the enemy – through all of Jerry’s machine gun fire, burpguns, mortars and 88’s, plus rain, cold, and mud, you held this line until relieved. Relieved – relieved only to make intensive preparation for the assault on St. Lo, in which you played one of the most important parts. St. Lo fell to the division 18 July 1944. 44 days of combat without rest, from there on to Vire, Brest, a 600-mile move to Mindergangelt, Germany, which you entered on 8 October 1944. On to and across the Rohr to Judlich, Munchen-Gladbach, across the Rhine and the Elbe, the 121st Engineer Combat Battalion performed every engineer task in the book and many not covered by the book in a superior manner and with marked dispatch! V-E Day, 9 May 1945, finds us on the outskirts of Bremen, Germany. On this Memorial Day we are assembled here first, to give thanks to God in Heaven for the victory, for the blessings and divine guidance given the Allied Nations; secondly, to pay solemn tribute in honor of those men of the Battalion who paid the supreme sacrifice in breaking the bonds of the enslaved nations in order for all peoples to have the inalienable rights of liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.
May you and I always remember that only by the Grace of God and the sacrifice of such men, are we present here today. May we and those at home ever be worthy of the cause for which these 96 men gave their very lives. This service is dedicated to the following Officers and Men of the 121st Engineer Combat Battalion, 29th Infantry Division.”
HOLMSTRUP, SVEND A. CPT Company C 6 JUNE 1944
MC NICHOLAS, CARLETON 2LT Company B 6 JUNE 1944
KLEMAN, STEVE S/SGT Company B 6 JUNE 1944
BEKELESKY, LAWRENCE A. CPL Company B 6 JUNE 1944
CHRISTIAN, CHARLES E. CPL Company B 6 JUNE 1944
MAKARCZYK, VINCENT J. CPL Company C 6 JUNE 1944
WRIGHT, TOMMIE B. T/5 Company B 6 JUNE 1944
MANFREDI, JOHN PFC Company B 6 JUNE 1944
MINTON, ROBERT L. PFC Company B 6 JUNE 1944
RULEY, FRANK D. PFC Company B 6 JUNE 1944
CARROL, ERNEST H. JR. PVT Company B 6 JUNE 1944
COYNER, LLOYD B. PVT Company B 6 JUNE 1944
ERICKSON, WALTER E. PVT Company B 6 JUNE 1944
MARTINEZ, DANIEL G. PVT Company B 6 JUNE 1944
TIMMERMAN, GEORGE H. PVT Company B 6 JUNE 1944
WILDEBOER, GARY SGT Company B 7 JUNE 1944
LAKE, BERNARD C. T/5 Company B 7 JUNE 1944
PACELLA, HUMBERT O. T/5 H&S 7 JUNE 1944
STEINER, EMANUEL F. T/5 H&S 7 JUNE 1944
CRIPE, RAYMOND F. PFC Company C 7 JUNE 1944
MEGILL, WARREN L. PFC Company B 7 JUNE 1944
SURIANI, LUIGI PFC Company B 7 JUNE 1944
VOYTEN, STANLEY M. PFC Company B 7 JUNE 1944
KENDALL, JAMES E. PVT Company B 7 JUNE 1944
ZARLENGO, JOHN D. PVT Company B 7 JUNE 1944
PETERS, JOSEPH D. SGT Company B 8 JUNE 1944
KEMPTON, ALFRED L. T/5 Company B 8 JUNE 1944
KOZEL, THOMAS F. PFC Company B 8 JUNE 1944
TEFTELLER, LEONARD R. PFC Company B 8 JUNE 1944
AHLES, WALTER R. PVT Company B 8 JUNE 1944
AIKEN, NEIL C. PVT Company B 8 JUNE 1944
DELL, CHARLES L. PVT Company B 8 JUNE 1944
LATTA, HAROLD PVT Company B 8 JUNE 1944
SAN MIGUEL, JOSE F. PVT Company C 8 JUNE 1944
SHERMAN, WILLIAM W. PVT Company B 8 JUNE 1944
VIERA, MANUEL F. PVT Company B 8 JUNE 1944
NEFF, ROBERT J. PVT Company B 9 JUNE 1944
O’BRIAN, GEORGE E. S/SGT Company B 10 JUNE 1944
BROADDUS, EUGENE H. PVT Company C 11 JUNE 1944
BROY, HOWARD N. PVT Company B 11 JUNE 1944
ELDER, LEA R. JR. 2LT Company B 12 JUNE 1944
AUTREY, CARL A. PVT Company C 18 JUNE 1944
CAMERON, JOHN B. PVT Company C 18 JUNE 1944
LANZETTA, JERRY R. PVT Company C 19 JUNE 1944
KUC, EUGENE P. PFC Company C 20 JUNE 1944
VIVENTI, ANTON PFC Company C 22 JUNE 1944
BLETZ, FRED R. PVT Company C 27 JUNE 1944
BURGESS, LARRY L. PVT Company B 11 JULY 1944
TALEN, JACK G. 2LT Company B 12 JULY 1944
TEMPLE, WILBUR SGT Company C 12 JULY 1944
ZACHMAN, HENRY A. PVT Company C 12 JULY 1944
MILLER, RAY M. PFC Company C 13 JULY 1944
DALTON, AMEL D. PVT Company C 13 JULY 1944
STANTI, ANTHONY R. PVT Company C 13 JULY 1944
EGERT, FRANCIS J. PVT Company A 15 JULY 1944
JOHNSON, WALTER J. C. PVT Company C 15 JULY 1944
CRIDER, BARNITT F. JR. PFC Company B 21 JULY 1944
BENNETT, JAMES B. T/5 Company B 28 JULY 1944
CIECHON, JOHN S. PFC Company C 29 JULY 1944
TURNIPSEED, CHARLIE W. SGT Company C 31 JULY 1944
SCLAFANI, SAL CPL Company B 3 AUGUST 1944
BAGGER, MARVIN F. PVT Company B 4 AUGUST 1944
MCDANIEL, JAMES C. PVT Company A 12 SEPTEMBER 1944
BERKOWITZ, WILLIAM A. PVT Company B 14 SEPTEMBER 1944
FOGELSANGER, JOHN M. PVT Company C 14 SEPTEMBER 1944
HUMPHREY, EDWARD C. SGT Company B 3 OCTOBER 1944
CARDIEL, EMILIO PFC Company B 3 OCTOBER 1944
O’BRIEN, JOHN S. PFC Company B 3 OCTOBER 1944
JANOSI, JOSEPH W. PFC Company A 23 OCTOBER 1944
PISCO, NICK PFC Company A 23 OCTOBER 1944
TRASK, CLARENCE H. PVT Company A 23 OCTOBER 1944
HART, ALBERT J. PVT Company C 29 OCTOBER 1944
LEVEILLE, CLYDE W. PVT Company C 29 OCTOBER 1944
MIARS, ROBERT L. PVT Company B 10 NOVEMBER 1944
GROSSKLAGS, RALPH A. PVT Company B 23 NOVEMBER 1944
HILTY, JOHN A. PFC Company B 6 DECEMBER 1944
BRANTLEY, JAMES W. CPL Company A 14 DECEMBER 1944
HERSHBERGER, EMANUEL T/5 Company A 14 DECEMBER 1944
PAGACS, FRANK M. JR. S/SGT Company A 23 DECEMBER 1944
LEMIRE, GEORGE E. PFC Company B 25 DECEMBER 1944
PAVLAK, FRANK PVT Company A 25 DECEMBER 1944
GAYDON, HERRING L. PVT Company B 27 DECEMBER 1944
COUCH, LEROY JR. T/5 Company B 6 JANUARY 1945
MACLENNAN, WALTER E. SGT Company C 23 JANUARY 1945
NUGIER, CHARLES A. PFC Company C 23 FEBRUARY 1945
NEMIROFSKY, MARTIN PVT Company C 23 FEBRUARY 1945
ZIEGMAN, MYRON J. CPL Company B 28 FEBRUARY 1945
EMANUELE, ROBERT R. S/SGT Company C 4 MARCH 1945
RUFO, ROBERT C. PFC H&S 5 APRIL 1945
POWELL, RALEIGH C. JR. LTC BN HQ 24 APRIL 1945
ELLIOT, CHARLES M. PFC H&S 24 APRIL 1945
BARNES, JAMES E. PFC MED DET 6 MAY 1945
FARRELL, BERNARD P. SGT Company A 28 MAY 1945
HOCKMAN, ROY E. PFC Company A 28 MAY 1945
KLOSS, JOSEPH F. PFC Company A 28 MAY 1945
MAGEE, EDWARD J. PFC Company A 28 MAY 1945
The battalion continued to perform engineer tasks in the Bremen enclave from 8 May 1945 through 1 December 1945. On this date engineer work in the area was stopped and the unit commenced processing for shipment to the states. On 22 May 1945, the 121st Engineer Battalion less Companies A, B, and C moved to a new command post in the vicinity of Bremerhaven to be more centrally located to the three line companies.
Killed In Action or Died of Wounds…………………………………………………………………………………………..96
Wounded In Action ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………234
Oak Leaf Clusters to Silver Star………………………………………………………………………………………………….5
Oak Leaf Clusters to Bronze Star………………………………………………………………………………………………16
25 May 1942 to 6 December 1943 LTC John T. O’Neill
7 December 1943 to 27 July 1944 LTC Robert R. Ploger
28 July 1944 to 16 August 1944 MAJ Allan F. Olson
17 August 1944 to 24 January 1945 LTC Robert R. Ploger
25 January 1945 to 24 April 1945 LTC Raleigh C. Powell, Jr
25 April 1945 to 30 April 1945 MAJ Robert W. Stewart
1 May 1945 to Deactivation LTC Marvin L. Jacobs
V – Under the provisions of Section IV, Circular No. 3, War Department, 1943, and as approved by 2nd Endorsement, Headquarters, First United States Army, 14 July 1944, file 200.6(A) to letter, Headquarters, 29th Infantry Division, subject: “Recommendation for Unit Citation”, dated 25 June 1944, a citation is awarded to the following named unit. The citation reads as follows:
“The 121st Engineer Combat Battalion is cited for gallantry and outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy on 6 June 1944. On that date, this battalion participated, with assaulting infantry, in the attack of a fortified beach of northern France under most hazardous and difficult conditions. Beginning its landing with the leading elements of assaulting infantry, in the face of withering enemy fire, all companies of the battalion were landed early in the day while the beach was still under heavy observed fire of artillery and small arms. With determination and fortitude, in spite of heavy losses in personnel, the 121st Engineer Combat Battalion accomplished its assigned mission of opening and preparing beach lanes and a beach exit with dispatch and cool efficiency. The outstanding performance of duty by this battalion was a substantial contribution to the success of the assault operation. The courage, teamwork, aggressiveness and high esprit displayed by all of its personnel, and the excellent results accomplished, reflect the highest credit on the military forces of the United States.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The 121st Engineers were reorganized as a Maryland Army National Guard unit in 1948 and federally recognized on 08 March 1948. Until 1968, it served as the 29th Infantry Division’s engineer battalion. When the 29th Division was deactivated in 1968, the 121st merged with the Maryland Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 115th Armor. The consolidated unit retained the engineer mission and the 121st Engineer Battalion designation.
From 22 June through 1 July 1972 the Battalion was called to State Active Duty to assist with clean-up after Tropical Storm Agnes. Members of the Battalion assisted the communities of Havre de Grace, Ellicott City, Elkridge, Marriottsville, Henryton and Daniels, Maryland.
Missions performed included evacuating people, clearing debris, opening roads, filling washouts, restoring areas for public usage, cleanup of private residences, and pumping water from basements.
In 1992, members of the 121st Engineer Battalion built an access road to the Maryland side of Jennings Randolph Lake in Garrett County.
The 121st Engineer Battalion (Combat)(Corps) was reorganized and redesignated as the 121st Engineer Battalion (Corps)(Mechanized) on 1 September A 1995 with Company C redesignated as Detachment 1, Company B and Company D inactivated and redesignated as Company C.
From 7 January – 14 January 1996 selected members of the Battalion were called to State Active Duty in support of “Operation White Blanket” as the Blizzard of 1996 was called. Members of the Battalion assisted state and local police departments by transporting police officers on patrol in HMMWV’s. Members of the Battalion also assisted local governments with snow removal from roadways.
On 22 January 1996, selected members of the Battalion were called to State Active Duty to provide 400-gallon water trailers (Water Buffaloes) to support the town of Hagerstown, MD. The water treatment and pump stations were polluted by floodwaters from the melting snow.
From 17 February – 3 March 1996, 50 members of Company B and 8 members of HHC deployed to the Republic of Honduras for Exercise Para Los Nines (For the Children) Exercise 96. While in Honduras the Battalion members put a roof on a school at Quebrada de Yoro and built several classrooms, a kitchen, and a permanent latrine facility at a school in Corocal, both in the Department (State) of Yore.
In 2000, members from the Battalion volunteered for service in Bosnia, the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Stabilization Force (SFr-10), and worked under the command of Multinational Division North.
The 121st Engineer Battalion (Corps)(Mech) inactivated in August 2006.
On 11 September 2001, in response to the terrorist attacks on America, members of the battalion volunteered to serve on force protection missions as security forces at armories and facilities across the state.
1. Pyle, Daniel R. “UNIT HISTORY OF THE 121ST ENGINEER BATTALION.” (2014): n. pag. Web.
2. Balkoski, Joseph. The Maryland National Guard: A History of Maryland’s Military Forces, 1634-1991. Baltimore, MD: Guard, 1991. Print.