The official lineage for the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion lists the unit’s original designation as the 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force formed 24 February 1941. But Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Kerry Lane, who served in the unit from its inception and who was awarded two Purple Hearts, a Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Stars with the “Valor” device, and many other medals and honors, stated in his book Guadalcanal Marine that the unit was originally called the 1st Pioneer Battalion. Lane even recalls the name of the battalion’s first commander: a “crusty old mustang colonel by the name of George R. Rowan.”

Regardless of the unit’s original designation (it wasn’t officially titled the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion until March 1976), what is beyond dispute is the battalions incredible performance under combat conditions. Between 1942 and 2003, the battalion garnered nine Presidential Unit Citations—three in the World War II, three in Korea, two in Vietnam, and one during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Other major awards it earned include two Navy Unit Commendations (one during the Korea War, another during Operation Iraqi Freedom) and two Meritorious Unit Citations (both during the Vietnam War).
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