The 4th Engineer Battalion, “The Vanguard of the 4th Division,” saw action in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and Vietnam. It was organized Dec. 31, 1861, in Washington, D.C., from new and existing companies of engineers as a provisional engineer battalion. It was constituted July 28, 1866, as the Battalion of Engineers.
The Battalion of Engineers was reorganized on Feb. 26, 1901. During the Spanish-American War, the battalion saw action in Cuba, taking part in the Santiago campaign. It later served briefly in the Philippine Insurrection.
Upon the United States’ entry into World War I, the battalion, now known as the 2nd Regiment of Engineers, was expanded to form three engineer regiments (2nd, 4th, and 5th). The 4th Regiment, redesignated as the 4th Engineers on Aug. 29, 1917, was assigned to the 4th Division Jan. 1, 1918. During the war, the 4th took part in five campaigns: Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, Champagne 1918, and Lorraine 1918. In 1921, the 4th Engineers was inactivated at Camp Lewis, Washington.
Between 1927-1933, the unit was reassigned to support the 6th Division, and six years later it was redesignated as the 4th Engineer Battalion activated (less Company A, which activated July 24, 1922, at Fort Bragg) June 1, 1940, at Fort Benning. In reorganizations and redesignations the 4th Engineer Motorized Battalion (September 1942) then the 4th Engineer Combat Battalion (August 1943) were formed.
Elements of the 4th Engineer Combat Battalion were in the first wave of assault troops to hit the beaches of Normandy in the early hours of D-day. The combat engineers of the 4th Eng. Bn. cleared Utah Beach of mines and opened a road for elements of the famed 8th and 22nd infantry regiments. The battalion took part in the fighting in the Huertgen Forest, where it earned a Presidential Unit Citation. In all, the 4th Engineer Battalion took part in five World War II campaigns.
Soon after World War II ended, the unit was inactivated Feb. 19, 1946, at Camp Butner, North Carolina. This did not last long however, with reactivation July 6, 1948 at Fort Ord, California, and subsequent redesignation as the 4th Engineer Battalion in June 1953.
The unit supported operations in Vietnam, including during the Tet Offensive of 1968. In July 1966, elements of the 4th Engineer Battalion, under the command of Lt. Col. Gerhard Schulz, arrived at Pleiku, Republic of Vietnam and established the battalion headquarters at Camp Enari. In addition to multiple construction and defense projects, the engineers of the 4th were also committed as infantry on several occasions, defending Pleiku against enemy attack. In all, the 4th took part in eleven campaigns during the Vietnam War. Company A, 4th Engineer Battalion, earned two Presidential Unit Citations, while Company C earned a Valorous Unit Award. The entire battalion earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation along with several citations from the Republic of Vietnam.
During the initial stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 4th Engineer Battalion crossed the border into Iraq on April 14, 2003. Stationed north of Baghdad, sappers of the 4th Eng. Bn. conducted numerous reconstruction projects, destroyed countless ammunition caches, conducted presence patrols and were subsequently awarded the Valorous Unit Award upon redeployment. The battalion was inactivated Dec. 15, 2004, and was later reactivated Oct. 18, 2006 at Fort Carson as the 4th Engineer Battalion (Combat Effects) a part of 555th Engineer Brigade based out of Fort Lewis.
In February 2009, the battalion deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was subsequently redeployed to southern Afghanistan to perform route clearance missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom until redeployment in February 2010. Its deployment to Iraq and redeployment to Afghanistan was the first subsequent redeployment mission since World War II.
As of the Summer of 2014 and the return of its last company from Afghanistan, the 4th Engineer Battalion and its subsequent engineer companies, currently have 28 months of continuous service in OIF and OEF with a combined total of 37 months during that 28-month period due to having multiple engineer companies deployed separately at the same time. The 4th Engineer Battalion has accrued more than 95 months of combined deployment time in support of the Global War on Terrorism from 2003 to 2014, with its most recent deployment to Afghanistan from August 2013 to May 2014.
The 4th Engineer Battalion is one of the Engineer Regiment’s oldest and most decorated battalions. The 4th Engineer Battalion’s unit decorations include the Presidential Unit Citation, the Valorous Unit Award and the Meritorious Unit Commendation.