The 20th Engineer Brigade: 10 Cool Facts

When we consider the many aspects of the United States Army, the first assumptions are tanks, rifles and hand grenades. We picture the battles that have happened over many centuries, but we do not see many of those Soldiers and officers that are working behind the scenes creating a strong structure.

One of the “behind the scenes” formations that creates and forms a system in which the Army and allies of the United States can use to properly defend is the 20th Engineer Brigade. The motto of the 20th Engineer Brigade is: Building Combat Power. These men and women do exactly that quite well.

In today’s post, we are going to provide you with 10 cool facts about the 20th Engineer Brigade.

1: Civil War.

While not officially the 20th Engineer Brigade, the original predecessors of the 20th began during the Civil War. These Soldiers were called the Battalion of Engineers. They were involved in 10 campaigns during the Civil War, and they also were involved in:

  • The Spanish/American War

  • The Philippine/American Conflict

  • The Mexican Expedition

  • World War I

  • and World War II

2: Vietnam.

It was in August of 1950 that they were first designated as the 20th Engineer Brigade. The Brigade was deployed to France where they provided construction for the European COMMZ. They were then sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and provided engineering support to the XVIII Airborne Corps.

In August of 1967, the 20th Engineer Brigade was deployed to Vietnam. In Vietnam, this Brigade cleared over 500,000 acres of jungle, paved over 300 miles of roads and constructed 6+ miles of bridges. It was the 20th Engineer Brigade who made it possible for our troops to move through the Vietnam environment.

3: Airborne.

In 1974, the 20th Engineer Brigade became an airborne brigade. It was a subordinate command of the XVIII Airborne Corps. The 20th began to wear “Airborne” tabs over their Brigade insignia. Most, but not all Soldiers with the 20th were Airborne qualified, but because of the distinction, all of the Soldiers wore Airborne tabs. In 2009, the Airborne status was taken away from the 20th and all the Airborne tabs had to be removed.

4: Great Lakes Blizzard.

In 1977 one of the worst blizzards in history hit the State of New York. While New York is usually prepared for snowstorms, this killer blizzard knocked out power grids and shut down traffic almost completely. Snow was as high as 100 inches and wind reaching speeds of 50 mph.  The 20th Engineer Brigade sent approximately 300 service members to aid in recovery and renewing hope.

5: The Gulf War.

When Saddam Hussein sent his Iraqi Army on an invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the United States immediately responded with force. There was much work that needed engineering. With over 7,000 service members, the 20th Engineer Brigade:

  • Built roads, airfields, storage points and life support facilities.

  • Distributed maps.

  • Trained allied engineers.

  • And destroyed enemy bunkers and munitions supplies.

Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. Army 12H MOS: Construction Engineering Supervisor
  2. Army 12B MOS: Combat Engineer
  3. Army 18C MOS: Special Forces Engineer
  4. The Army Corps of Engineers: 18 Cool Facts
  5. Army 12A Engineer Officer: An Overview

6: Other countries and situations.

The 20th Engineer Brigade was utilized in several other situations after the Gulf War. They helped rebuild the infrastructure in Haiti after the devastating earthquake. After the Twin Tower terrorist attack, the 20th also saw action in Kosovo and Afghanistan, along with what I will talk about in #7.

7: 2 tours in Iraq.

The 20th Engineer Brigade was a very important part of the Iraq invasion. They performed 2 tours in the war-torn country. While in Iraq, they constructed roads, landing strips and hospitals. But one of the primary services the 20th performed was patrolling for IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). They patrolled over 36,000 miles of road for these bombs. During the 2nd tour, they were provided the Husky Mine Detection Vehicles.

8: Streamers and awards.

The 20th Engineer Brigade has multiple streamers. Here is a count:

  • Civil War-10

  • Spanish/American War-1

  • Philippine/American War-2

  • Mexican Expedition-1

  • World War I-1

  • World War II-5

  • Vietnam War-11

  • Gulf War-2

  • Operation Iraqi Freedom-3

The 20th also has a wide array of unit awards. There are a total of 7 Meritorious Unit Commendations and 1 Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal. The 7 were for:

  1. 1967-1968: Vietnam

  2. 1968: Vietnam

  3. 1968-1970: Vietnam

  4. 1970-1971: Vietnam

  5. 1990-1991: Southwest Asia

  6. 2004-2005: Iraq

  7. 2007-2008: Iraq

9: Famous members of the 20th Engineer Brigade.

The 20th has had some well known names who were members. Some who you may be familiar with are:

10: Current command.

The current Commander of the 20th Engineer Brigade is Colonel Jayson Gilberti operating out of Fort Bragg. Subordinate commanders include:

  • LTC Michael Clancy-7th Engineer Battalion Fort Drum

  • LTC James Handura-19th Engineer Battalion Fort Knox

  • LTC Dean Scaletta-27th Engineer Battalion Fort Bragg

  • LTC Kremer-30th Engineer Battalion Fort Bragg

  • LTC Rice-83rd Civil Affairs Battalion Fort Bragg

  • LTC Aaron Magan-92nd Engineer Battalion Fort Stewart

  • LTC Putnam-11th Engineer Battalion Fort Benning

These commanders are as of July 2015.

Final Thoughts

The 20th Engineer Brigade is one of the “behind the scenes” hero units in the U.S. Army. They have been an important part of many wars, conflicts and humanitarian aid.

We would like to hear from anyone who has been a member of the 20th. You have every right to be proud. Please tell us more about the 20th Engineer Brigade. Thank you for your service and helping to keep America safe.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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