FORT KNOX, Ky. — The leaders of 42nd Clearance Company cased the unit’s colors during a brief ceremony in Fort Knox’s Sadowski Center July 13, signaling an end to their time at the Central Kentucky Army installation.
The eventual move, expected to be complete when the unit reforms by Oct. 1, is the latest change in the unit’s nearly 77-year history, which began as a petroleum distribution company. Company Commander Capt. Michael Churchill said their mission will also change.
“It will be a lot less route clearance-focused and more supporting a [brigade combat team] in a direct action conflict,” said Churchill. “It will be more mobility as far as Sapper tasks go — lighter equipment.”
Sappers are the Army’s combat engineers, who perform several different wartime duties to include demolitions, breaching of enemy positions, laying or clearing minefields and constructing defensive positions for ground units.
The 19th Engineer Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Christopher Beal, said the Soldiers of 42nd have been a crucial part of 19th’s missions since 2013.
“With nearly 20% of our unit strength, they have provided great support to both installation and the surrounding community,” said Beal. “The ‘Legends’ were the last of our companies to deploy in support of the Global War on Terror, returning from Afghanistan in July of 2019, where they led the way, ensuring the safety of NATO forces convoys throughout the country.”
Beal said the unit has also been instrumental in accomplishing local tasks as well, including providing Soldiers for the installation salute battery, several post cleanups, and their most recent duty providing over 80 funeral service honors as far away as Michigan.
About 40 of the approximately 80 Soldiers from 42nd will travel to Fort Campbell with the unit later this summer. The rest are expected to be reassigned to other units. While about 30% of the unit’s equipment already sits at Fort Campbell with more equipment being line-hauled there every day, Beal said he wanted to case the colors now before the Soldiers departed.
A sister unit of 19th, 887th Engineer Support Company, is already stationed at Fort Campbell. The 42nd, however, will be joining the ranks of U.S. Army Forces Command, focused on supporting the brigade combat teams of 101st Airborne Division.
“The 42nd Clearance Company is leaving for Fort Campbell for a variety of reasons; the biggest of these reasons is the ability to train more closely with the forces that they would be supporting during operations,” said Beal. “The company will be postured to better execute combined, realistic training with 101st Airborne Division units in support of both deployments and combat training center rotations.”
The 42nd will also mark its new designation with a new name: 42nd Combat Engineer Company -- Infantry.
The unit is not the only 19th Engineer Battalion company expected to undergo change, said Beal.
“Around this time next year the 541st Sapper Company will be going through a similar transition. They will be upgrading from their M113 fleet to the M2A3 Bradley fighting vehicle to better support our armor brethren,” said Beal. “As part of that conversion, they will also be moving to Fort Stewart [Georgia], where they will be able to better integrate with 3rd Infantry Division.”
Beal said as those companies adapt to changing Army demands, 19th Engineer Battalion is expected to remain at Fort Knox.
“While these changes will decrease our footprint on the installation,” said Beal, “we will still be on hand to actively support Fort Knox and the surrounding community.”