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79th Engineer Construction Battalion
39th Engineer Group

Looking for more information from military/civilian personnel assigned to or associated with the U.S. Army in Germany from 1945 to 1989. If you have any stories or thoughts on the subject, please contact me.

406th Engr Bn 

79th Engr Bn

406th Engineer Battalion History
406th Engineer Bn DUI
(Source: Email from Richard Dolan)
I was in the 406th Engr. Bn. from Sept 1953 until Feb. 1955, at which time the 406th became the 79th Engr. Bn. We were stationed at Neureut Kaserne. We were under the 39th Gp.

I think that the 406th arrived at Neureut in 1952 as all colored unit at which time it was slowly integrated.

I rotated back to the States in Apr. 1955
If you have more information on the history or organization of the 406th Engr Bn, please contact me.

79th Engineer Battalion History

Group photo of A Company, 79th Engineer Construction Battalion (Richard Martin)
79th Engineer Bn DUI
(Source: Email from Richard Martin, A Co, 79th Engr Bn and HHC, 39th Engr Gp)
I was with the 79th Engr Const Bn at Neureut Kaserne, Karlsruhe (and Pirmasens; Toul, France; Wildflecken; and all the places we had been) then Hq. Co 39th Engr Gp. Worked at Group Hq.

Was wondering if Donald Steffanus, Bruce DeLassus, Willie Sparkman, the Red Head Thomas who dated a fräulein in the village, and a lot of the others from that period are still around. We used to work out together at the gym. Don and his wife Brigitte visited me in Md in 2000. Still married to the fräulein from Rastatt.

I'm now in Western MD and still kicking at 77 years young. Lot of changes made since that era. Ich habe doch heimweh dazu. Schön war die zeit. If my Deutsch is still correct..

Miss that era and the guys and of course the German atmosphere which of course has changed

If you have more information on the history or organization of the 79th Engr Bn, please contact me.

Company sign in front of "A" Company, 79th Engineer Construction Bn, Wiley Ksn, around 1967

Some of "C" Company's heavy construction equipment, Wiley Ksn, around 1967
(Source: Unit History of 79th Engr Construction Bn on Norm Snowdon's website (see link below))
The 79th Engr Bn moved from Husterhoeh Kaserne, Pirmasens to Wiley Kaserne in March 1966. At this time the Battalion fell under the control of the 39th Engineer Construction Group.

"D" Company was reduced to a skeleton status due to engineer troops being levied for the war in Vietnam. This left the 79th with only two functioning construction companies.

79th Engr Bn
Wiley Ksn, Neu Ulm


1. "A" Company barracks
2. Shop truck

3. Motor pool

4. POL station

(Source: Email from Mark "Jeff" Furber, Hq Company, 79th Engr Bn, 1966-68)
Just happened to look at some of the pictures of Wiley Barracks. I was stationed there from mid 1966 to Dec of 1968. Our outfit, the 79th Eng Bn, moved down there from Pirmasens sometime in the spring or summer of 1966.

I worked in the orderly room of the HQ Co, 79th Eng. under CW3 Klahn...and SSGT(E7) Booker who was a great guy and a terrific office manager. I was wondering if you had any records that went back to that time? Or do you know anyone who has compiled those records.

I cannot remember our CO but I do remember a Capt Robert G. Tames, who was our Adj and he got promoted to Major and seemed to be moving up in the system.

Those pictures of Wiley area brought a lot of memories back. The 79th Eng was a Construction Engineer unit and often had many of the line company's TDY to many countries and even the old Wheelus AB in Libya.
In 1967, if I remember correctly, they had the 7 Days War and Wheelus AB was attacked. Our B Co. had put machine guns in the back of the construction trucks and helped the AP patrol the base. I remember they inoculated every one in the 79th for Africa when the alert came in, just in case they needed to ship personnel to Africa. We were all sick for the next week...it was a tense time.

I do remember some of those things, particularly those pictures of around the parade ground (what we called the quadrangle) where they held morning formations.

The picture of building #203 looks very familiar and it might have been where our A, B and C companies were housed. As A Company was closest to the Mess Hall, pictured in the early 1950's photo by Chuck Charnquist, the building to the right of the flags would be 39th Eng Group (which was our higher headquarters) and that would be the one with the blue door, I think. The 79th HQ was either the latter part of the building (perhaps the next door). It would help if we could find a over head shot of the parade ground, that was a bit closer in prospective.

When we moved from Pirmasens in the summer or spring of 1966, everyone was very happy, including myself, as Pirmasens was up in the mountains and down right terrible weather. Bavaria, of course was terrific most of the year.

I also remember that there was a small exit gate for personnel behind the Mess Hall, as we all had guard duty and one of the posts we had to walk was there. Pretty barren at 3am, and they did come around and check to see if we were awake!

As I remember guard duty was posted about 4pm and some 2nd Lt would read us the riot act during inspection. After a while you knew what was needed to get by so it all worked out.

There was a restaurant not far from the small Wiley gate and guys would be always running over to get sandwiches and beer, late at night so they would always pick you up a sandwich if you got hungry. It must have been a gold mine for the owner.

From what I remember the barracks we were in, I was told that they were storm trooper barracks and were quite nice. There were some single rooms, some doubles and many 4 person rooms. Down below (underneath) the quadrangle parking lot and the barracks were the steam plants that provided heat and water for our end of the Kaserne.

As I remember, we had our barracks on the top two floors of HQ company. The administrative offices, along with the Co.Commander (I am still working on his name), the Adjutant, Capt Robert G. Tames, then CWO F.C. Klahn, SSGT Booker, a Spec 5 who was being groomed for the personal Sgt position. a finance clerk, an orders clerk and about 4 other clerks. We would process enlisted men and officers into the 79th system. You had to be a fairly good typist to survive those old typwriters and trying to learn the Army system.

We often had many jobs depending what was on tap for the day. We had to publish the morning report and trying to figure out where every one was in the company. We also cut orders, Art 15's and court martials. There was a msg center across the hall from our working quarters. Below us and at the end of the building was the medical dispensary and down the hall was the crypto room, which was staffed by at least one officer and I cannot tell you how many men were in there, as we often brought paper work down there but were never allowed in.

I believe the intelligence officer was just down the hall from the Adjutant. I remember him, he was a Major Bittle, and we didn't often see him but when we did it was not fun. Perhaps he spend a lot of time in the crypto room?

The big event was pay day. They would choose a payroll officer and he would pick an individual to escort him to the American Express office out side the Kaserne.

I was chosen to do this every now and then. The 1st LT I went with was from Tenn., and he was a crypto officer. He was a decent guy who did not care much for the Army but did his job, all the time.

One summer day we had to go down and get the payroll, for HQ company. I was issued a .45 (loaded), a briefcase for the $$. Once in the American Ex office we met about a dozen other Lt's and their enlisted men , the AMEX guy had every payroll slip set out and he counted each and every one, I counted likewise and the Lt did so too. When we all agreed with the count and the number of employee's being paid, it went into two brief cases and we walked back to the Kaserne about a 15min walk.

On our way out I asked the Lt. what we were supposed to do if there was a robbery, did he want me to shoot the person. He about flipped his wig. "Jesus," he said, "do not under any circumstances shoot a German National, let them have the money". Of course there was never a problem and I did the payroll run about 3 times a year. It was great if the officer was human but if you got a nut case it was not always pleasant.

Related Links:
  79th Engineer Battalion History - a revamped unit website created by Bruce Christman for fellow veterans and friends who are interested in the history of the 79th Engineer Battalion - from the unit's initial activation in 1942 to 1992. Lots of history and photos!  
  79th Engineer Battalion (Const) - Norm Snowdon's website that covers his father's service with the 79th in Germany between 1959-1962.  
  Gerszewski Barracks Yahoo Group - a place for discussing the "old days" at the now-closed and torn down Gerszewski Kaserne located in Karlsruhe.