From the Blue Ridges to the Sandhills: The History of 4 North Carolina Families

38th Engineer Regiment--World War II


Published in a Memorial Day program in honor of Robert L. Briggs, Roy E. Yeargin, Ed. McDonald, Thomas J. Aversa, Robert J. Bishop, Bernard G. Koch, and Jack Chinnici, on May 30, 1945 in France, by the 38th Engineer General Service Regiment.

Robert Briggs

The 38th Engineer Regiment Combat Corps was activated 28 May 1941 at Fort Jackson, S. C. Assigned to 1st Corps of First Army, the regiment participated in the 1941 Carolina maneuver.

In February 1942 the unit was alerted for overseas movement and sailed from Charleston, S. C., on the 14th of March. They arrived on Ascension Island March 30th. The mission was to construct an airport, tank farm, and camps. The work was completed in August, and the regiment left the "Rock" for Africa. The commanding officer during this time, was Col. Robert E. (Uncle Bob) Coughlin. In Africa Col. Coughlin left the unit to return to Washington. Col. Donald C. Hill was the new commanding officer.

The mission in Africa was to construct and repair airports. The regiment was scattered throughout the Belgian Congo, French Equatorial Africa, British Gold Coast, Nigeria, French West Africa and French Morrocco. The extremes were six thousand air miles apart.

For work on the "Rock" and in Africa the regiment was cited by Headquarters United States Army Forces in the Middle East.

Sailing from Dakar, F.W.A. the regiment arrived in England in January 1944. In England the unit was changed to 38th Engineer General Service Regiment. The unit constructed camps and participated in the intensive pre-invasion training (for D-Day). Attached to the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, the regiment was in the invasion forces on the coast of France. In France the unit has built roads, cleared mines, unloaded ships, constructed railroads, bridges and craneways. Large assignments were the development and operation of the Vologne Staging Area and the Red Horse Assembly Area and the construction of Camps Twenty Grand and Old Gold.

Col. John D. McElheny joined the regiment in the summer of 1944 as commanding officer and remained as such until December when one of the original officers, Lt. Col. Terrence S. Lighthouse, assumed command.

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