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The FReeper Foxhole Studies The U.S. Army Engineer Special Brigades - Feb. 20, 2004
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Posted on 02/20/2004 4:27:43 AM PST by snippy_about_it


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Engineer Special Brigades

Amphibian Engineer Units
1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th Amphibian Engineer Units from “Surf and Sand” by Robert Amory Jr.

The fortress island of Corregidor quivered under the relentless pounding of the Jap bombers and the heavy batteries massed on recently subdued Bataan. The weary defenders, safe only in the depths of its tunnels, knew they could not hope to repulse the final assault that would strike them any day. The last effective barrier to complete Japanese conquest of the Philippines was doomed. A tiny Aussie garrison in the mountains above Port Moresby, the last impertinent Allied foothold on the second largest island in the world, wondered when the Japs on the north coast of New Guinea would decide to rub them out.

The bitter rear-guard action in Burma was drawing to an ignominious close as the remnants of the British, Indian, and Chinese forces stumbled over the trackless mountains into India, and the victorious Japs seized the Burma Road and pressed on into isolated China.

Between New Caledonia and the Solomons roamed the scouting planes of a small American naval task force seeking to locate the Japanese fleet that was about to sally forth for an attack on the Australian mainland.

On the other side of the world, Germany and her satellites bestrode Europe unchallenged from Gibraltar to the North Cape, from the Channel Islands to the African desert. The Russian winter counteroffensive, having hurled the Germans from the suburbs of Moscow, had bogged down in the ooze of spring. The Germans were attacking at Kharkov and in the Crimea, and their Afrika Korps was coiling for a deadly lunge at Egypt. German submarines stalked ships in the delta of the Mississippi and within sight of the New Jersey coast.

So began the month of May, 1942.

In these darkest moments of World War II, the Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff were nevertheless grimly preparing offensives to regain the ground lost and bring the Axis ultimately to abject surrender. One fact stood out: there was no land route of approach, and so the British and American forces could come to grips with the Germans and Japanese only by amphibious attack. Not only would strong armies have to be raised, trained and equipped, but those armies would also have to be provided with ships and boats and trained beach parties in order to assault the fortress of Europe and the vast island empire of Japan.

Both the British and American navies were doing all they could to procure ships and small landing craft and to train crews for them, but the U.S. Navy in particular was necessarily preoccupied with meeting the menace of German submarines in the Atlantic and the threat of the now superior Japanese naval forces in the central Pacific. In order better to distribute the burden of preparing the amphibious forces, the Joint Chiefs of Staff assigned to the Army the task of creating a major amphibious training center and of recruiting and training specialized units capable of operating landing craft and handling the engineering work on beachheads.

This decision was reduced to orders on May 9, 1942 directing General Somervell, commander of the Army Service Forces, to establish an amphibian training center at Camp Edwards, and to procure equipment and personnel for the specialized amphibian units.

As had been its lot throughout its long history, the U.S. Corps of Engineers received this new and unique assignment. After a brief period of study, the Engineer Amphibian Command was activated on June 5, 1942, with the mission of organizing, equipping and training eight engineer amphibian brigades, each capable of transporting and supporting a reinforced infantry division in a shore-to-shore amphibious attack.

Colonel Daniel Noce, an engineer who had had much to do with the organization of the original air-borne units took command, and opened his headquarters at Camp Edwards, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Ten days later the 1st Engineer Amphibian Brigade was activated, using two engineer combat regiments as its nucleus. Five days later the 2d Brigade came into being.

To procure personnel with appropriate civilian background as officers and noncommissioned officers for this work, an intensive recruiting program was inaugurated with headquarters in Washington. Employing extensive publicity and cooperating with the U.S. Power Squadrons, yacht clubs, and other organizations concerned with maritime activities, this drive resulted in many hundreds of civilians being enlisted or commissioned during the summer of 1942.

Procurement of boats was handled through the Navy Bureau of Ships in order not to duplicate effort. In accordance with the decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the engineer amphibian units were restricted to craft less than 100 feet long, on the general theory that these would be adequate for the short distance across the English Channel, where the brigades were initially expected to be employed.

Description: On a blue rectangular background 3 inches wide with rounded top 3 1/8 inches in height, a modern anchor palewise behind a sub-machine gun fesswise on which is perched an eagle with wings displayed and inverted all in golden yellow.

Symbolism: The design was based on the design of the British Combined Operations patch which was worn by commandos, landing craft personnel, and others.

Background: The insignia was originally approved on June 17, 1942 for personnel assigned to Engineer Amphibian Units. It was redesignated on June 10, 1944 as the shoulder sleeve insignia for all Army personnel assigned to the following amphibian units: Amphibian Tank Battalions; Amphibian Tractor Battalions; Engineer Amphibian Units; Joint Assault Signal Companies; Headquarters Ships Detachments (Type A); Headquarters Ships Detachment (Type B); Headquarters Section (Army); and Amphibian Training Command - Pacific Fleet. (Note: A shoulder sleeve insignia was authorized for the Amphibian Command on October 23, 1942. The insignia was a white oval within a blue orle superimposed by a red sea horse naint). It was redesignated as the insignia for the 2d Engineer Special Brigade on June 12, 1946. That authorization was changed to include the 409th Engineer Special Brigade on March 20, 1951 and changed to all Engineer Special Brigades on October 26, 1951).

Each day brought a fresh influx of personnel and equipment to Cape Cod. Veteran Coast Guard and Marine officers, battle tested Britishers with experience in commando raids, experts in civil engineering, navigation, boat repair, and communications formed the nucleus of the training command at Edwards. Camps were opened at Waquoit and Cotuit, and docks were built to provide appropriate training bases for the boat units.

During June and early July 1942 the Allied situation throughout the world grew more perilous. The Afrika Korps routed the British Eighth Army and reached within striking distance of the Nile; von Bock's great group of armies started its 1000-mile plunge from Orel to Stalingrad; and the Japanese, despite the naval battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, still threatened Australia.

To the Combined Chiefs of Staff, meeting in London early in July, the most serious danger appeared to be that the German summer offensive would succeed in knocking Russia out of the War. In order to do what little they could to relieve the pressure on the hard pressed Red armies, they agreed to launch, if necessary, a crosschannel invasion of France, even though the forces at their disposal were pitifully small.

To do this they would need more landing craft and crews than were available in the British Isles; so the 1st Brigade on July 23 was ordered to England as fast as it could be moved. The Brigade was in a sad state of confusion, with almost no equipment and all ranks barely oriented as to their technical missions and training objectives. Nevertheless, equipment was rushed from all parts of the country to the Brigade, and it was brought to full strength and sailed from New York on August 5th.

Hardly had it debarked in England when it became apparent that the German drive was slowing down in the Caucasus and was being fought to a standstill at Stalingrad, and that it would not be necessary to launch the major attack across the channel during that year. Given this breathing spell, the navies of both Great Britain and the United States set about reversing the decision made in May to have the Army run the small landing craft, and in England they actually took away the 1st Brigade's boats.

Back in the United States a bitter wrangle ensued, and the understandably inexpert performance of some of the engineer boatmen in their first maneuvers lent weight to the Navy's argument that only 'boys in blue' could satisfactorily handle boats. Colonel Arthur Trudeau, the Chief of Staff of the Engineer Amphibian Command, made a flying trip to visit General MacArthur in Australia during the early part of October to see if he was interested in continuing the development of the amphibian brigades.

Just at this time MacArthur was engaged in his "Battle of the Marne" in the passes of the Owen Stanley Mountains and in the steaming jungles and plantations of Milne Bay. Though he had been successful in driving the Japanese back toward their bases on the northeast coast of New Guinea, lack of water-borne transportation had caused him to rely almost exclusively on his pitifully few airplanes, and he was, necessarily, in a most receptive mood. He promptly informed the War Department that he would like one engineer amphibian brigade immediately, to be followed in 1943 by a second one. The War Department, therefore, reduced the number of brigades to be created by the Engineer Amphibian Command to three.

Thus, the Navy's campaign to keep the Army out of the boat business succeeded to the extent that the amphibians in the European theater were henceforth to be nothing more than shore party engineers, while in the portion of the Pacific under Admiral Nimitz's control there would be no specialized amphibian engineers at all. Only in the Southwest Pacific were the amphibian engineers to be given a chance to operate in the manner originally contemplated in the dark days of May, 1942.

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6th ESB History

The Engineer Special Brigades or ESBs were organized in England from existing Engineer Combat Groups to support the landings and subsequent supply operations over Omaha Beach during the Normandy Landings. The ESB Engineers found themselves helping out the assault troops in the early fighting for Omaha Beach. The uniform shown below is from the 5th or 6th ESB unit that fought in the DOG and CHARLIE sector of Omaha Beach Normandy.

U.S. Army Engineer Special Brigade Uniform Omaha Beach, Normandy France 1944

The M-1 flex bail helmet has the 5th/6th ESB white arc painted over the ESB insignia. A black rubber M-5 Assault gas mask is suspended from the soldiers neck. This soldier wears a Flannel OD issue shirt under his M-1941 Field Jacket. His M-1928 khaki Haversack supports a M-1923 M1 Garand Cartridge Belt, M-1916 Pistol Holster with M-1911 .45 cal. Pistol, three M-1 Fragmentation Hand Grenades and One CN-DM Gas Hand Grenade. Around the waist of this soldier is the USN made Duel Type Invasion Life Belt. Additionally this soldier carries two spare bandoleers for 8 clips of .30-06 M1 Rifle ammunition.

Reverse view of the ESB uniform showing a white horizontal band on the rear of the M-1 Helmet for NCO’s (Non Commissioned Officers). The reverse of the M-1923 Haversack shows the M-1 Bayonet with M-7 Scabbard on the left side, M-1910 Entrenching Tool with carrier and stowed M-1942 Mess Kit. Suspended from this soldiers M-1923 Cartridge Belt is a M-1910 Canteen and a M-1942 First Aid Kit. On the left side of the ESB uniform is a bag that contains Demolition Chain Blocks of M-1 High Explosive.

Close up shot of the ESB uniform with the Demolition Bag being shown.

Close up shot of the ESB insignia worn on the left shoulder.

On 17 January 1944 the 1116th Engineer Combat Group arrived in England, three days later on 20 January it was re-designated the 6th Engineer Special Brigade and immediately had additional units assigned to it. Heavy equipment was obtained and standard operating procedures perfected and training began.

The 6th Engineer Special Brigade composition was described in their operation report. Colonel Paul Thompson whose task at the Assault Training Center had concluded took command of the Brigade. He obtained other officers from the Training Center and asked for and received Colonel Lucius Chase who on the 17th March became the Executive Officer of the Brigade. The Brigade consisted primarily of three Engineer Combat Battalions the 147th, 149th and the 203rd and they were reinforced by Quartermaster, Medical, Transportation, Signal, Chemical, Naval and M Ps to form three Beach Groups. Assigned and attached units were added up to time for the invasion.

On the last day of January the 1st Army issued its planning directive for Operation Overlord/Neptune. This directive detailed target date and destination of the invasion of Europe and then the 6th Brigade started planning their phase and also further training. The three Engineer Battalions and most of supporting units had been training together or close to each other while still in the states unknowing that eventually they would all be a part of an amphibious brigade. The units all arrived in England at about the same time and were billeted around Torquay and Paignton and other towns in Southern England.

After it was decided that three infantry divisions would be used in the inital assault one of the three Brigades was assigned to one of the infantry division. The I st Brigade was to support the 4th Division on Utah Beach while the 5th Brigade ould support the I st Division on the eastern half of Omaha Beach and the 6th Brigade was to support the 29th Division on the western end of Omaha Beach.

A rather bland and deceptive statement in a 6th Brigade overview document stated that they were occupied with conducting basic, unit and beach training in southern England between 16 January and first part of June. What it did not even hint at is the frantic pace at which this was to be done. Colonel Thompson quickly saw the need for training the brigade and the biggest need was time and facilities. They had very little of either. As for time the calendar said they had three months but this was misleading as weeks were devoted to large unit invasion dress rehearsals and the time spent in embarkation camps prior to the actual invasion which only left a scant six week for actual training.

The main problem was to provide realistic training for the DUKW and truck companys and units in unloading supplies and landing craft. They needed a lot more help from the Navy than they ever got and as some of the units had never received any amphibious training before joining the brigade each unit had to take additional training on their own as time and facilities did not allow the mounting of a brigade scale exercise and the brigade was only fully assembled for the first time at the start of Operation NEPTUNE.

The brigade was issued paratroop type boots and new patches, the eagle,tommy gun and anchor of Combined Operations in gold on a blue background to be worn as a shoulder patch and the Engineers Amphibious oval sea horse patch to be worn on the breast pocket. During April and early May additional units were attached to the Brigade bringing the total of assigned and attached troops to a total of 9848 men and 1219 vehicles.

Section 3 of the 1st Army Operation Memo issued 13 February listed the mission and tasks for the 6th Brigade and its units and what was expected of them in the upcoming invasion.

Insure the continous movement of personnel, vehicles and supplies across the beach in support of a landing operation involving an Infantry Division to be followed by other Divisions and troops.

Brigade H Q Co.-Establish and operate forward and rear Brigade Command Posts.

Battalion Beach Groups-Organize and operate all shore installations necessary for the supply and landing of a RCT and provide local security and the evacuation of casualties.

Quartermaster Companies-Coordinate operations of Class 1, 2 and 3 dumps and furnish intrabrigade personnel as needed.

Ordnance Platoon-Maintenance of all weapons of the brigade.

Quartermaster Gas Supply Co.-Organize and operate including storage and issuing of all Class 3 supplies andinventory same.

Quartermaster Railhead Co.-Organize and operate Class 1 and 2 dumps including receipt, storage, issue and inventory of Class I and 2 supplies.

Quartermaster Service Battalion-Furnish personnel to assist in dump and unloading operations. Operate the brigade transfer point and transit area to receive troops from the beach and escort them to destination.

Quartermaster Truck Co.-Transfer equipment and supplies from the transfer point to BMA dumps.

Quartermaster Amphibious DUKW Co.-Transfer equipment and supplies from ship to shore going to either the brigade transfer point or onto BMA dumps as needed.

Ordnance Ammunition Co.-Organize and operate Class 5 dump including the receipt, storage and the inventory of all Class 5 supplies.

Medical Battalion H Q-Coordinate activities of medical companies in the collecting, clearing and evacuation of casualties to the beach and from the beach to ships and also supervise medical supplies.

Medical Detachments personnel, pertaining to Engineer Special Brigades, embarking for the Invasion, note Stretchers, Medical Pouches, Assault Gasmasks, Life Belts, and special Helmet Markings, June 5, 1944

Medical Companies-Collect and or clear beach casualties in conjunction with medical detachments and the Naval Beach medical section.

Signal Company-Establish and maintain radio and telephone communications and message centers for Brigade HQ, intrabrigade communications to shore and various dumps, air ground and naval gunfire observers.

Military Police Company-Guide and enforce traffic and police regulations, guard and evacute prisoners of war.

Medium Automotive Maintenance Company-Maintain and service all brigade vehicles.

Chemical Decontamination Company-Executes chemical decontamination of equipment, vehicles, supplies areas. roads bridges and other military objects excluding personnel and clothing. Operate the chemical dump.

All other units of the Brigade had assigned duties both for the Brigade and their own Engineer Beach Group. The Brigades tasks include marking hazards to navigation and determine suitable landing points and report such to the Naval Beach battalion. The marking of landing lanes for arrival and departure of landing craft on their area of the beach. Maintain roads and exit routes both to and from the beach area. Unloading of supplies, removal of underwater obstacles and mines. Erect enclosure for prisoners of war, maintain communications with senior commanders both on shore and afloat along with security and all other areas needed for the operation of the beach and dumps.

It was decided that the 147th and 149th Engineer Combat Battalions were to operate the beaches and do all road construction and maintenance within their assigned areas. The 203rd Engineer Combat Battalion would handle all other areas of the BMA. The Engineer Battalions were put into Beach Groups for inital landings and operation of their areas. Smaller units were split with a platoon being assigned to each Beach Group for inital landings.

The first of the 6th Brigade troops landed at H + 5 minutes and landed on Easy Green beach. They were part of the 149 Engineer Battalion plus eight medical personnel. What they witnessed was beyond belief and numerous men were killed and wounded immediately on gaining the shore line.

Due to the disruption of the landing plan, communications were of the upmost importance and the first element of the 293rd Signal Co were landed at H+45 minutes or 30 minutes before they were schedueled to land. Much of their equipment was lost in landing but they somehow set up communications for Brigade HQ and contacted the 116th RCT within 15 minutes after their landing.

Brigade communications between their own elements became vital for the coordination of their operations. Ten signal detachments landed one early, eight late and only one on time. Three landed on the right beach with the other seven landing on wrong beaches. Proper communications were not set up till D+3 due to lost equipment and other disruptions.

At H+70 minutes the brigade was supposed to have a beach traffic plan in operation as far south as Route B to keep traffic moving across and off the beach. But like all other missions of the day it became impossible to carry out due to heavy fire from the enemy's artillery and also due to the fact that if vehicles did make it to the beach they had nowhere to go as the beach was congested with the first waves not being able to penetrate inland.

At 0810 headquarters personnel of the 6th Brigade aboard LCIs 91 & 92 were heading for Dog White beach right on schedule. About five hundred yards from shore all hell broke loose and they came under accurate, observed artillery fire along with mortar fire from batteries positioned along the top of the cliffs at the back of the beaches which had been untouched by air and naval fire earlier and they became like all other previous waves in a fight for their lives.

One hundred twenty German weapons emplacements and observation posts had been identified along the five miles of Omaha Beach and all had been untouched by re-invasion bombardments. All the Navy landing craft crews wanted to do was get in, touch down, unload and get the hell back out from the beach as fast as possible. LCI 91 radioed on the way in that they were among floating mines and many craft had hit them and sunk and there were many troops in the water.

Colonel Chase was aboard LCI 92 which contained advance party of the Brigade and parts of the 147th Engineers. Their landing craft came in towards shore under heavy enemy fire when they were hit by an oil shell setting the craft afire and wounding and burned many of the men on board. Despite painful burns Col. Chase by his leadership and calmness immediately restored order and placed men in covered positions. Shortly thereafter the craft struck a mine putting both unloading ramps out of order. With the help of numerous men and Col. Chase a ladder was secured to the side of the craft and troops were led through the surf to the waters edge. Col. Chase was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for this action.

Colonel Thompson the Brigade Commander landed shortly thereafter and was badly wounded leading a hastily improvised assault team against fortifications at the D 3 exit which the infantry had by passed earlier. A bullet had gone through his right shoulder and another had gone in one side of his jaw and out the other without hitting any bones or teeth on the way through. Col. Thompson received the DSC and Purple Heart and was evacuated later in the day. He was wounded While performing tasks that he had taught others at the Assault Training Center.

At 1030 hours H+4 hours all personnel that had been landed up to that timejoined the infantry and started forcing their way up the hills off the beach. The Engineers were clearing paths through minefields trying to lead the way and the Quartermaster Platoon who were to operate the transit area had joined up with a company of Rangers. It was a slow process as some mine detectors had been left on the beach. Paths through minefields were marked with anything that could be found.

Once the top of the cliffs were gained and the beach started clearing out boats with bulldozers landed and they started clearing away damaged and burned out vehicles to make room for combat vehicles to gain shore. As many troops landed on wrong beaches a information center was set up in a pillbox on the side of the hill leading from the beach so that people could find out where they were to go and how to get to their units. This was manned by BrigadeH Q people and proved very effective till things smoothed out a couple of days later.

At 1130 hours the Brigade working with the Naval Beach Battalion evacuated the first of the wounded back to England. Also at this time it was reported by the Brigade Bomb Disposal Squad that all unexploded ordnance and booby traps had been disposed of or marked on the beach.

As the first tide receded all available Brigade equipment and personnel began clearing debris and obstacles from the beach while the Engineers opened a access road across the beach and a road to E I exit thus relieving traffic congestion.

At 1430 hours the Brigade was finally able to start their original missions. So far it had been a matter of personal survival and caring for the masses of wounded and helping the slowly developing tactical situation in which they had been involved. LCTs piled high with badly needed ammunition eventually got into Easy GreenBeach under heavy fire and were unloaded directly onto the beach just beyond the high water mark then to be loaded on whatever vehicles could be obtained and moved up the hill to the front lines.

"MARS" CP of the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group,
set up in captured German pillbox, WN65,
overlooking Exit E-1, EASY Red Beach, Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944

Six LCTs each carrying 200 tons of food and medical supplies were brought in late D Day and unloaded and reloaded with between two and four hundred casualties to be evacuated. On D+1 58 LCTs were to land with 2900 tons of supplies and 8 dumb barges each loaded with 1000 tons of supplies all were unloaded stacked on the beach then reloaded onto trucks and moved to front lines as no supply dumps had been started at this time.

As D Day came to a close enemy firing lightened and all available troops were put to clearing the beach of dead bodies and debris then started forming a defense line on the right flank of the beach. The depth of the days advance could be sadly measured in yards in some areas and nothing over a mile deep at the most. At midnight General Hoge of the Provisional Group landed and assumed command of Omaha Beach and the 5th and 6th Brigades regained control of their assigned and attached units. Planning was made for D+1 at which time the Brigade would be fairly well at full strength ashore and all missions and tasks could be fully started Dump locations and signs to them were to be made.

At dawn the 3205th QM platoon and the Rangers were still trying to take control of the fields to be usedfor the brigades transit area. They were finally cleared late that morning of all snipers and artillery observers but was still under artillery fire. Colonel Chase had assumed command of the brigade upon the evacuation of Col. Thompson and upon his shoulders fell the task of reorganizing the brigade and getting cargo movement going again. No cargo was to be brought in on D+1 and the day was spent in clearing beaches, opening Exit D3, opening access roads to the exits, assembly of equipment and sweeping fields directly inland of mines for establishing dumps. Colonel Chase was awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to the Legion of Merit he had been awarded while at the Assault Training Center.

A radio network was set up to locate ships off shore for various needed supplies from time to time, operations of DUKW companies and hatch crews were organized for 24 hour duty. These innovations were to prove successful so that the 6th Brigade were able in the first 104 days of operation to move 547,966 tons of cargo across their beaches. On its best day 9,007 tons were moved across the beach easily surmounting the preinvasion target of daily tonnage.

D+2 June 8 shows that the 6th Brigade moved 10628 personnel across the beach and through the transit area along with 1830 vehicles and evacuated 241 casualties and 5 prisoner of war. Only 40 tons of supplies moved across Omaha Beach that day as the time was spent finishing the clearing of debris from the beach area and improving lanes for craft to land. Manifests of loaded cargo ships anchored off shore were gone over and the ones with needed ammo medical supplies and food supplies were picked out and craft sent out to locate them and move them to the front of the off shore cargo area. This had to be done by the Brigade and Brigade Group as the Navy was unable to provide any information at this time. After much confusion it was decided to just unload all ships present at this time as fast as possible and the mission was finally finished on D+9.

D+2 saw all the brigades troops on shore and all missions and tasks started. The traffic and dump signs failed to be found ashore causing M Ps additional strife, trucks couldn't find where the dumps had been started. Additional aid stations were operating and the Engineers were opening more roads and improving and widening the ones in use to move traffic on and off the beach faster. By late afternoon all dumps were started and started to receive supplies that had been unloaded and stacked on the beach. Make shift signs were made and erected direction traffic to the dumps and things were starting to shape up and run more smoothly every hour. As more areas were cleared of mines more dumps were enlarged and others started. Each day saw more tonnage being brought ashore and more vehicles and people were coming in at all hours of day and night. All units were on at least a 12 to 16 hour day and usually more like 18 hour shifts trying to build up supplies.

On D+13 all BMA dumps were in full operation and a central transfer point was set up by the brigade at the D 3 exit and was put under control of the 538th QM Battalion and put on 24 hour a day operation. It was ran by the 2nd platoon of the 3205th plus people from the 967th QM Co which had been attached to the 538th. On the afternoon of D+13 high winds started and increased during the night and at 0400 it became a howling storm. A barge full of badly needed artillery shells was beached and some of the 147th Engineers turned out to get it re-floated anchored and unloaded. That was the last of the unloading for 3 days so everyone was put to road maintenance. The storm wrecked a section of the Mulberry landing and caused some craft to wash ashore and on D + 16 the area once again at waters edge had to be cleared At the end of the storm the small ports of Isigny and Grandcamp, started operations to help catch up with the supply situation that ceased during the 3 day storm.

On D+21 June 27 the Provisional Group was disbanded and the 5th and 6th Brigades now operated independently under the control of the Omaha Beach Command which superseded the Provisional Group.

On Monday July 17 the 6th Brigade held an interdenominational memorial service for members of the Brigade who were killed in action or listed as missing in action on D Day. All personnel not on needed duty attended and it was held at the cemetery started by the 6th Brigade on D +3.

By the end of July the Brigade reached its peak of manpower and rose from a 6 June strength of 326 Officers and 7495 Enlisted Men to 452 Officers and 10,920 Enlisted Men. The first week of August saw the Brigade move a record of 9,007 tons of cargo across their sector of the beach in a 24 hour period.

Another 3 day storm in August curtailed unloading operations and bad weather now replaced German efforts as being the Brigades worst enemy. At the end of this second storm lighting systems were put into operation in increase nighttime operations. As bigger generators and more of them became available to the Brigade the lighting system was enlarged to include 3 new dumps plus the Transfer point and almost the entire operating area. The only problems were when poles were knocked down by trucks.

During August the USO shows started landing and Dinah Shore came ashore and gave the first show at our transit area along with the Beachcombers, a band made up of people of the Brigade who also gave concerts in the evenings and then we started getting movies twice a week. Also August saw the operations of the beach slacken and units started departing for other areas. Beach operations had originally been scheduled to cease in September but due to lack of ports being ready to operate it was decided to continue operations till last of December.

The 149th Engineers were assigned to keeping roads open and maintained, which left the 147th and 203rd Engineers and the 538th QM Bn to operate the beach. Each Engineer Battalion was assigned half of Omaha Beach to operate and the 538th took control of the airstrip and transfer points and transit area. The transit area was later closed in the 6th brigade sector and all three companies of the 538th were put to help the Engineers. P 0 Ws were put into companies and used for road work and each unit was held responsible for the guarding of the companies during the day.

In early October the Brigade held a formal formation with the 147th parading in review of Lt. Gen Lee who awarded medals to numerous men for heroism on D Day. On October 18 a dance was held with English and Canadian nurses attending. Music was by the 5th General Hospital Band. The next morning early another rain storm hit the area and late the next day all roads were axle deep in mud. The 6th Brigade took over some of the 5th Brigades unloading duties and a General Engineer Regiment and 2 Port Companies joined the brigade to take over duties letting the 2 Engineer Battalions to join the 149th in road maintenance to keep supplies moving off the beaches.

On 29 October the present commander of the Brigade Colonel Mulligan was ordered to the states and relinquished command of the 6th Brigade to Lt. Col. Mottorn. who had been C 0 of the 149th Engineer Battalion since D Day. Still the rains came and the battle of mud became more critical each day.

On October 30 the 5th Brigade replaced the 6th Brigade and the entire 6th Brigade was put to road maintenance working POWs. Thus the 6th Brigade moved off the beaches they had gained with their blood and sweat on 6 June.

On Memorial Day numerous units of the 6th Brigade took part in ceremonies at cemeteries and the 147th Engineers dedicated their battalion monument in the courtyard of Chateau Englesqueville. Later that month the 6th Engineer Special Brigade dedicated their monument on the face of the cliffs overlooking Omaha Beach. It was the first monuments of W W 2 to be erected and dedicated

531st_monument.jpg-This photo of the 1st Brigade Monument were taken shortly after D-Day. The Monument was built next to a German “pillbox on Utah Beach, Normandy, France

Finally as other units departed the supply situation had improved to where the beaches were no longer necessary and on 15 November 1944 Omaha Beach was closed bringing to an end the unparalleled amphibious operation of supplying a large army in a major operation over open beachheads. All other units were transferred to other areas of operation and on 10 December Brigade command officers were transferred to the 1st Brigade for returning to the states and event - usually to the Pacific area.

The 6th Brigade H Q now consisted of 8 Officers and 24 Enlisted Men and moved to Barneville and the 3 Engineer Battalions were turned to defense troops along the coast. On December 23rd the 3 Engineer Battalions and the 538th Quartermaster Battalion moved inland to other operations. The Brigade HQ moved to eastern France to control operations of coal mines and general construction till they returned to the states in July 1945 and on the 20th of October 1945 the 6th Engineer Special Brigade was inactivated.

Today's Educational Sources and suggestions for further reading:
1 posted on 02/20/2004 4:27:44 AM PST by snippy_about_it
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To: snippy_about_it

Other units that where not well known. But just as important to the war effort. Were the 2nd Engineer, the 3rd Engineer and the 4th Engineer. As well as the 593rd Amphibian and the 533rd Amphibian, These five engineer and amphibious groups had trained at Fort Ord before being shipped to the pacific theater.

World War II demanded new innovative tactical training with weapons, artillery, air defense and amphibious landings. The concept of combat readiness training was first introduced at Fort Ord. In 1942 the WACs was formed to handle the administrative and non combat duties.

After the D-Day invasion many German soldiers were taken prisoner and were interned at the fort's east garrison. The POWs were used to make improvements around Fort Ord. so American troops could concentrate on their training for overseas duty. The largest congregation of troops at any one time was totaled at 50,000. But the average population of soldiers was closer to 35,000.

2 posted on 02/20/2004 4:31:06 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Poundstone; Wumpus Hunter; StayAt HomeMother; Ragtime Cowgirl; bulldogs; baltodog; Aeronaut; ...

FALL IN to the FReeper Foxhole!

Good Friday Morning Everyone

If you would like added to our ping list let us know.

3 posted on 02/20/2004 4:31:49 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning, snippy. and everyone at the Foxhole.

We had 40-50 MPH winds yesterday. Severe T-Storms in Northern Oklahoma. It's calm here now.

4 posted on 02/20/2004 4:43:39 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf
All were amazed and glorified God.

I bow, O Lord, before Your throne
In awed humility
When I reflect on who You are
And all You've done for me

Never measure God's unlimited power by your limited expectations

5 posted on 02/20/2004 4:52:45 AM PST by The Mayor (No service for Christ goes unnoticed by Him.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning Snippy.

Waco CG4A Troop Transport Glider

6 posted on 02/20/2004 5:01:14 AM PST by Aeronaut (Peace: in international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.)
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To: E.G.C.
We wondered where you went to yesterday. Good morning. Warm, in the 50's today but turning cold tonight, rain changing to snow. :-(
7 posted on 02/20/2004 5:56:14 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: The Mayor
Good morning Mayor.
8 posted on 02/20/2004 5:56:31 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Aeronaut
Aha! Good morning aeronaut. Now that's a plane I am familiar with after all the threads we've done on gliders and glider troops and battles they've been in. Thanks.
9 posted on 02/20/2004 5:57:24 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All

Good morning everyone in The FOXHOLE.

10 posted on 02/20/2004 6:19:02 AM PST by Soaring Feather (~ I do Poetry and party among the stars~)
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To: bentfeather
Good morning feather.
11 posted on 02/20/2004 6:19:57 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Oops, I saw where I mistakenly forgot to check in yesterday. My apologies.

I received numerous items from outside the Canteen and Foxhole and it consumed so much of my time that I just plumb forgot.:-D

Farmfriend is especially bad about overusing her ping lists. I count about 24 or so pings that I got yesterday.(LOL)As I mentioned more of which were outside the the usual threads.

12 posted on 02/20/2004 6:21:09 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: E.G.C.
LOL. That's okay. We've been known to miss a few pings ourselves. They certainly can get lost in between others when you get pinged a lot. A few days of that and we would have checked up on you. :-)
13 posted on 02/20/2004 6:47:07 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Outstanding, snippy!

Every one of those landing crafts was built by Higgins Boat Company, Algiers, Louisiana. General Eisenhower once remarked to Steven Ambrose that Andrew Jackson Higgins was, "...the man that won the War for us."

Higgins Boat Co. also built PT Boats for the Pacific Campaign. Has the Foxhole ever spotlighted Higgins?

14 posted on 02/20/2004 6:50:46 AM PST by CholeraJoe (Gwell Angau Na Chywilydd)
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To: CholeraJoe
Has the Foxhole ever spotlighted Higgins?

I swear our Foxhole readers are psychic! Sam was just mentioning those to me a couple weeks ago and I know they are down south in the museum. They are on my "to do" list. :-)

Also on my "to do" list is your recent vacation. I'm always running behind. :-(

15 posted on 02/20/2004 6:53:09 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
I've been to the D-Day Museum many times. The street off Lee Circle in New Orleans that leads to it is "Higgins Boulevard." They have a brick walkway leading to the museum and every brick is dedicated to a WWII vet. My dad's is somewhere in it.
16 posted on 02/20/2004 6:58:48 AM PST by CholeraJoe (Gwell Angau Na Chywilydd)
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To: snippy_about_it
Howdy ma'am. Gotta love them Engineer guys.
17 posted on 02/20/2004 7:21:32 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Chief recruiting officer, BicycleSpankenTruppen)
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To: All

Air Power
Lockheed F-104 "Starfighter"

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter was the last of the day fighters, a high-performance supersonic interceptor aircraft capable of high speeds and climb rates. In this role the Starfighter served for only a short time, and was generally disliked by the Air Force who were looking for ever larger and more all-round designs. The Starfighter gained a second lease on life in the 1960s when it was selected as the basis for a high-speed tactical fighter by a European commission. Many served in this role into the 1980s.

In 1951 "Kelly" Johnson, chief engineer at Lockheed's Skunk Works, visited Korea in December 1951 and talked to fighter pilots about what sort of plane they wanted. At the time the US pilots were meeting the MiG-15 in their F-86's, and while the MiG was being flown by poorer pilots, the plane was otherwise in most ways superior to the much larger and more complex American design. The almost universal agreement was that the trend to larger and more sophisticated designs was a bad one, and that what they really wanted was a small and simple aircraft with excellent performance.

On his return to the US, Johnson immediately started the design of just such an aircraft. In March his team was assembled and they studied a number of aircraft designs ranging from tiny designs at 8,000lbs, to fairly large ones at 50,000lbs. In November 1952 a follow-on study started, the lessons learned from the earlier designs being used to eventually result in the Lockheed L-246, of about 12,000 lbs. The 246 remained essentially identical to the Starfighter as eventually delivered.

The design was presented to the Air Force in November 1952, and they were interested enough to create a new proposal and send it out to several companies to participate. Three additional designs were received, the Republic AP-55, an improved version of its prototype XF-91 Thunderceptor, the North American NA-212 which would eventually evolve into the F-107, and the Northrop N-102 Fang, a new J79-powered design. Although all were interesting, Lockheed had an insurmountable lead, and was granted a development contract in March 1953.

Work progressed quickly, with a mock-up ready for inspection at the end of April, and work starting on two prototypes late in May. At the time the J79 engine was not ready, so both prototypes were designed to use the Wright J65 engine instead, a licensed version of the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire. The first prototype was completed by early 1954, and started flying in March. The total time from design to flying was about two years, unheard of even then, let alone today when ten to fifteen years is more typical.

In order to achieve the kind of performance the Lockheed engineers wanted, the Starfighter used what was then a radical design for the wing. To reduce drag in the transonic speed range, a wing should be as thin as possible, and have as long a chord (front to back span) as it can. This reduces the rate of the change in the airflow over the wing, and reduces wave drag, cause of the so-called sound barrier. The vast majority of planes of the era (and today) used the swept wing planform, which fools the air into thinking the wing has a longer chord (by the sine of the sweep angle) while still allowing for a wing that was thick enough to hold control lines, gear and fuel.

The Lockheed decided to dispense with the swept wing, and instead simply make a very thin, long chord wing. The wing was so thin that there was no room inside for landing-gear or fuel, both of which were contained in the rear of the fuselage instead. The trade-off in this design was excellent lift-to-drag ratio for most conditions, except in high angle of attack situations (like combat) where it would have very high drag. The wing also had 10 degrees of negative dihedral (anhedral) in order to combat roll coupling, instead of using an active system like most designs of the era.

Another side effect of the small wing was very high landing speed, so the design incorporated a system known as blown flaps, in which air from the engine was blown over the rear portion of the wing when the flaps are down, dramatically increasing lift. The system was very popular at the time, but would later prove to be a serious maintenance problem on all the designs that tried it.

The fuselage itself was very long and skinny to achieve a high fineness ratio, key to high performance in the supersonic speed range. With the gear and fuel all in this small fuselage, the plane was left with a very short range and limited ability to carry equipment and armament. It appeared a poor dogfighter, its small wings limiting maneuverability, and it had problems in operating in rough, rainy weather. The plane difficult to fly, and many crashes occurred (292 during the long career of the F-104).

It was produced in two major versions. Armed with a six-barrel 20mm M61 Vulcan cannon it served as a tactical fighter and, with additional heat-seeking AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, as a day-night interceptor. On May 18, 1958, an F-104A set a world speed record of 1,404.19 mph, and on December 14, 1959, an F-104C set a world altitude record of 103,395 feet. The Starfighter was the first aircraft to hold simultaneous official world records for speed, altitude and time-to-climb.

The USAF procured only 296 Starfighters in one- and two-seat versions. The Starfighter became obsolete in Air Force inventory as the USSR moved to replace long range bombers with ICBMs. The plane appeared more useful to NATO countries, and 2,578 F-104s were built in the U.S. and abroad under the military aid program for various nations, including Canada, West Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Pakistan, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Japan. In Germany, the minister of defence Franz Josef Strauss almost had to resign, because of the massive procurement of Starfighters and the death of around 115 pilots in accidents (allegations ranged from "a purely political deal" to bribery). This episode also inspired a rock concept album by Robert Calvert of Hawkwind, called Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters.

"Missile With A Man In It", "Widowmaker", "Flying Coffin".

Manufacurer: Lockheed
Primary Function: Fighter
Contractor: Lockheed Aircraft Corporation
Crew: One - F-104b had Two (pilot & student)
Powerplant: One General Electric J79-GE-3B at 9,600 lb (4,354 kg) each

Length: 54 feet 8 inches (16.6 m)
Wingspan: 21 feet 9 inches (6.6 m)
Height: 13 feet 5 inches (4.0 m)
Weights: Empty: 13,384 lb (6,071 kg) / Maximum Takeoff: 25,840 lb (11,271 kg)

Performance :
Speed: 1,450 mph (Mach 2.2) at 35,000 ft.
Ceiling: 64,795 ft (19,750 m)
Range: 730 miles (1,175 km)

M-61 Vulcan 20mm cannon;
4,000 lbs of bombs under the wings
two AAM-N-7 Sidewinder missiles on tips

All information and photos Copyright of Wetting's Air Power and Global
18 posted on 02/20/2004 7:27:31 AM PST by Johnny Gage (God Bless our Firefighters, our Police, our EMS responders, and most of all, our Veterans)
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To: Aeronaut
Silent Wings Museum This museum was located in Terrel, TX, aabout 30 miles from me for years. It's now in Lubbock, TX, where I was stationed during my AF years. I, unfortunately, have not visited.
19 posted on 02/20/2004 7:29:25 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Chief recruiting officer, BicycleSpankenTruppen)
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To: Professional Engineer
I've been soaring, what a blast!
20 posted on 02/20/2004 7:32:48 AM PST by Aeronaut (Peace: in international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.)
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To: Johnny Gage
To reduce drag in the transonic speed range, a wing should be as thin as possible, and have as long a chord (front to back span) as it can

The wing is only 2 inches thick.

Cavanaugh Flight Museum

21 posted on 02/20/2004 7:36:20 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Chief recruiting officer, BicycleSpankenTruppen)
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To: Aeronaut
I had a ham radio friend in Lubbock who was a freight pilot for UPS. Another of his hobbies was soaring. I've ridden with him in both types of aircraft. Fun.
22 posted on 02/20/2004 7:37:58 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Chief recruiting officer, BicycleSpankenTruppen)
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To: Professional Engineer; Johnny Gage
A few years ago, this particular plane was For Sale. The price was $150,000. I didn't have it. ;-(
23 posted on 02/20/2004 7:39:19 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Chief recruiting officer, BicycleSpankenTruppen)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good Thread today.

Never read much on these units before, the always seemed to be lumped in as "Combat Engineers" when they're mentioned.

The "squabble" between the Navy and Army reminds me of the same type of "no, it's mine" squabble that the Luftwaffe had with the Wehrmacht.
24 posted on 02/20/2004 7:53:03 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: E.G.C.
Morning E.G.C. So far clear and suppised to be warm. The daffodils are starting to come up.
25 posted on 02/20/2004 7:53:48 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: The Mayor
Morning Mayor.
26 posted on 02/20/2004 7:54:02 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: Aeronaut
Morning Aeronaut. You ever done any gliding?
27 posted on 02/20/2004 7:55:01 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: bentfeather
Good Morning Feather.
28 posted on 02/20/2004 7:55:33 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: E.G.C.
It's easy to get lost in pingland. :-)
29 posted on 02/20/2004 7:56:43 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: CholeraJoe
Morning Cholera Joe.

I see Snippy already mentioned we're looking into a thread on "Landing Craft"
30 posted on 02/20/2004 7:57:54 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: SAMWolf
Mornin Sam, the finest is featuring--->Oregon - "She Flies With Her Own Wings"

Have a great day, I gotta fly, hehe great pics today..

31 posted on 02/20/2004 7:58:09 AM PST by The Mayor (No service for Christ goes unnoticed by Him.)
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To: Professional Engineer
Gotta love them Engineer guys.

Morning PE. No bias right? Have to admit I have a soft spot for them too.

32 posted on 02/20/2004 7:59:26 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: Johnny Gage
Thanks Johnny.

33 posted on 02/20/2004 8:01:05 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: SAMWolf
Hiya Sam. I have to admit, all I know of Army Engineers, I've really learned right here in the Foxhole. I love this place.
34 posted on 02/20/2004 8:08:55 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Chief recruiting officer, BicycleSpankenTruppen)
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To: The Mayor
Thanks for the Link Mayor. That's my State!!!
35 posted on 02/20/2004 8:09:25 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: Professional Engineer
Thanks PE. We love having you here.
36 posted on 02/20/2004 8:10:39 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: CholeraJoe
You've been many times? Lucky you, I'm jealous. I've seen their website which is pretty good.
37 posted on 02/20/2004 8:14:06 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Professional Engineer
Gotta love them Engineer guys.

I do, I do!! :-)

38 posted on 02/20/2004 8:15:06 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Johnny Gage
Thanks Johnny. Great pictures to go along with the profile!
39 posted on 02/20/2004 8:16:20 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: SAMWolf; Valin
Thanks Sam.

btw- Valin hasn't posted for two days and I didn't get any notice saying he was going to be away, did you?

Valin, we hope you're okay.
40 posted on 02/20/2004 8:18:45 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it; Valin
He didn't say anything to me. I knew there was a reason I felt uninformed the last few days.
41 posted on 02/20/2004 8:55:22 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: SAMWolf
You ever done any gliding?

I have. It is really a blast. It's really a nice change for a guy who drives folks around, sits and waits, and brings 'em home again.

42 posted on 02/20/2004 9:17:37 AM PST by Aeronaut (Peace: in international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.)
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To: snippy_about_it
I used to live in Louisiana, so it was easy to go. I'm missing it now especially since it's Mardi Gras time.
43 posted on 02/20/2004 9:18:44 AM PST by CholeraJoe ("It's a crying a$$ shame, but let's git it done." Col. Bob Sink, C.O., 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Div)
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To: Aeronaut
I've heard the "silence" is amazing. Just the wind blowing by. It has to be a kick.
44 posted on 02/20/2004 9:21:49 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: SAMWolf
I've heard the "silence" is amazing.

Actually, it was a bit louder than I expected. I could still talk in conversational levels to the guy in back, however. It was just 'plane' FUN! Try it sometime, you won't regret it.

45 posted on 02/20/2004 9:44:21 AM PST by Aeronaut (Peace: in international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.)
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To: Aeronaut
There's a place a little west from here that offers Glider rides. May have to check them out some day.
46 posted on 02/20/2004 10:02:04 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: SAMWolf
There's a place a little west from here that offers Glider rides. May have to check them out some day.

Wonder if they'll let you take a chute?

47 posted on 02/20/2004 10:31:04 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
LOL! Don't even think about it. :-)
48 posted on 02/20/2004 10:34:46 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: snippy_about_it
Sailors Dressed Like Soldiers
The Naval Beach Battalions

The great fleet of over 5,000 ships and anding crafts and the sailors who manned them began the greatest naval assault ever carried out on the shores of Normandy, France. A significant presence in this invasion was the Naval Beach Battalions - attached to the Army's Engineer Special Brigades - they were used to establish communication and field hospitals and to guide and repair incoming landing craft. Three of the Navy's twelve Beach Battalions were in the Invasion - the 2nd at Utah Beach, the 6th & 7th at Omaha Beach.

An idea for a future thread?

49 posted on 02/20/2004 10:40:45 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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To: snippy_about_it
D-Day Beach Battalions Honored

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors of Beachmaster Unit (BMU) 1 recently spent time in the company of heroes - men who faced death to save the world from fascism nearly 60 years ago.

A handful of World War II veterans and members of the 6th and 7th Naval Beach Battalions (NBB) who took part in D-Day June 6, 1944, were honored at a ceremony at BMU-1’s headquarters at Naval Base Coronado July 10 and 11.

The veterans, who came from throughout the country, came to see their modern day counterparts operate amphibious landing craft and vehicles during the first day of a two-day visit to the command.

During the ceremony, a plaque displaying the 6th Naval Beach Battalion’s (NBB) Presidential Unit Citation was presented to the unit and mounted on BMU-1’s quarterdeck. The ceremony also commemorated BMU-1's 54th birthday.

Retired Lt. Cmdr. Joe Vaghi, Beachmaster of 6th NBB’s C-8 platoon, came from Maryland to share his experiences and be recognized by BMU-1.

“It’s amazing to be here today to tell our stories. After the war was over, I never spoke about what happened on Omaha Beach for almost 50 years,” Vaghi said. “Our unit suffered lots of casualties, and our boys showed a lot of bravery in order to get the job done.”

Moving men and equipment across the beach during the D-Day invasion was the mission of the 2nd, 6th and 7th Naval Beach Battalions at Normandy, France. They were in the first wave of Americans to land on Omaha Beach. Supporting the assault from the sea, these naval forces were components of the Army’s Engineer Special Brigades, responsible for organizing the American landings in France. The NBBs were tasked with providing battlefield medicine, establishing communications between ship to shore, marking sea lanes, boat repairs, removing underwater obstructions and directing the evacuation of casualties. In June of 2001, the 6th NBB mounted a memorial plaque on the 5th Engineer Special Brigade Monument, overlooking the beach.

“I was very impressed with the eagerness the veterans had in talking about their experiences,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jamie Shaddock, of BMU-1. “It is very inspiring.”

These Sailors were depicted in the first scenes of Steven Spielberg’s movie “Saving Private Ryan.” The NBBs were represented by the distinctive red-rainbow markings on their helmets during the graphic opening scenes of American troops under fire.

“It was an honor for us as a command to pay tribute, and to have these veterans visit us and tell us their stories,” said Lt. Cmdr. Carlos Guzman, who is BMU-1’s executive officer. “I believe it builds pride and gives us a greater appreciation for our technology and our history. They showed remarkable drive to get a job done that they knew no one else could do.”

BMU-1 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Edward J. Harrington attempted to reunite history with the present, as he remarked about the accomplishments of the NBBs and the continuing missions of today’s Naval Beach Units. “Our Delta Team left San Diego in January for Kuwait and Iraq, and some came under fire from enemy forces,” said Harrington. “They were the first Beachmasters to arrive and the last to leave.”

Although the equipment has changed greatly over the years, the job of the Beachmaster has changed little. “Even today, with all this technology, you still have to get the same job done,” said Norman Hartline, a 6th NBB signalman. “If we would have had the vehicles and equipment that these guys are now operating with, we would have really done an outstanding job on that beach.”

During closing remarks of the 54th BMU-1 birthday celebration, Robert Watson of 6th NBB and resident of Oceanside, Calif., professed his appreciation for the invitation from the command.

“This has been a wonderful, grand event. It is gratifying to be honored and recognized here after 56 years,” said Watson, referring to the presidential citation they received in 2000. “You have made some old Sailors mighty, mighty proud and happy.”

Journalist 3rd Class Jason Trevett, Amphibious Group 3 Public Affairs

50 posted on 02/20/2004 10:46:14 AM PST by SAMWolf (Contrary to popular belief Hamas has nothing to do with ham. If you throw ham at them they get angry)
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