ANSBACH, GERMANY - Soldiers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command held a reactivation ceremony for the 7th Engineer Brigade July 27 at Hangar 2 on Katterbach-Kaserne.
In March of 1944, U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur requested that the War Department authorize him to activate two construction brigades to manage base and other construction projects under his command. This led to the founding of the 5202nd Engineer Construction Brigade later that year in June 1944 which formed into the 7th Engineer Brigade.
The brigade served for fifteen months in the Pacific Theater, where it earned campaign streamers for the New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon campaigns, and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation and Army Meritorious Unit Citation. After the end of hostilities in August 1945, the brigade left Manilla for Yokohama, Japan, where it participated in occupation duties until its inactivation on 5 December 1945.
The Army reactivated the unit as the 7th Engineer Brigade at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on 1 October 1948. The brigade was quickly redesignated as the 7th Engineer Aviation Brigade and sent to the Pacific to construct facilities on Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. This would lead important missions around the world during peace and war as the only engineer brigade in Europe before its inactivation in 1992 at Ludendorff Kaserne, Kornwestheim, Germany.
The brigade’s call back to service 31 years later strengthens U.S. strategic readiness capabilities and enhances the ability to rapidly mobilize, deploy, and sustain U.S. and Ally forces on multi-domain battlefields in Europe.
Col. Kyle T. Moulton, commander of the 7th Engineer Brigade, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rufus Beaman, senior enlisted advisor, assumed command and responsibility today of the unit during the ceremony. Ragin emphasized the importance of this brigade, its history and the impact it will have within the European Theater.
“This decorated brigade’s history of leading the way—whether fighting for freedom or providing humanitarian assistance—is its blueprint to being an essential contributor to U.S. readiness and capability in the European Theater,” said Brig. Gen. Ronald Ragin, commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. “In this game centimeters make the difference. In this game Sappers make the difference. In this game Engineers make the difference. That’s why you’re here. That’s why we’re having this ceremony. You enable the freedom of movement of every Soldier in this Theater. From horizontal construction to clearing obstacles, you clear the way.”
To cherish the history and impact this brigade is set to have across Europe, was a special guest that shares the bloodline of the last leader to command the Tower brigade. Traveling all the way from just outside Seattle, Washington, Ms. Amy and Leland Zender, daughter and grandson of the late Col. Samuel Raines, came to witness the ceremony personally.
Raines commanded the 7th Engineer Brigade through Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a decorated Vietnam War veteran earning both the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal of Valor, he utilized his vast experience to enable and protect VII Corps throughout the 100-day war, earning the unit a Meritorious Unit Citation. With a career spanning over 30 years, the Tower Brigade would be the last unit he would command before retiring in 1995.
The Tower brigade did not hesitate to invite Zender to honor her father’s legacy.
“I am honored and humbled to be included, to have my son with me on this precious and special day, it is poignant to see the brigade that once swelled to nearly ten thousand strong during wartime under my father’s command, that defined our social life and had a place at every holiday,” said Zender. “I have learned new history, and while I could envision the love and admiration I had for my father, it has taken my breath away seeing the indelible footprint he left behind unfolds before me through the memories and stories from others. I am a very proud daughter, and I know he is with us all today.”
Moulton desires to honor the legacy of the Tower brigade he is undertaking and promised to pay the investment the Army entrusts in them forward.
“We have inherited a tremendous legacy from the great Tower Soldiers and leaders who proceeded us,” said Moulton. “With this reactivation we pledge to provide a sustaining return on your investment. We will provide you with a combat credible force, that is trusted to deliver the required solutions to challenging problems.”
The 7th Engineer Brigade now exercises command and control of expeditionary forces at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels in support of U.S. European Command and NATO operations and stand ready to support U.S. Africa Command operations.