First on Omaha
The colors are cased, the citations gathering dust somewhere.
The men have moved on--out of the Army or on to other duty assignments.
But for decades, the battalion sounded off with 'First on Omaha' in memory of those hours 63 years ago.
The 299th Engineer Combat Battalion (as it was then known) was formed in April of 1943. Soon after formation, it began training at a naval installation in amphibious warfare techniques. Upon staging in England, the Battalion received instruction on underwater demolitions as well as training blowing apart obstacles based on aerial photography of the beaches in Normandy. The unit was divided into boat teams, with fillers from other units to bring them up to strength. The commander was 'bigoted', or briefed with the details of the Operation Overlord.
On 1 June, the teams moved into the embarkation areas and loaded on the ships. The invasion was scheduled for 5 June, but was pushed back 24 hours due to weather.
At 0300, the men were awakened. Two hours later, they began loading the LCMs.
At 0633, 06 June 1944, eight assault teams of the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion landed on
The 299th Engineer Combat Battalion was the only Engineer unit to land on both beaches D-Day. Companies A and C and Headquarters and Service Company on Omaha and Company B on
By 0715, 5 of the 8 assigned gaps has been cleared, even though two of the assault elements got lost and were not located until 0900. While the Engineers fulfilled their mission, the infantry were pinned down until 1000 before they began moving inland. The 299th continued to clear the beaches continuously until 2300 on the 9th of June, under heavy enemy mortar and artillery fire as well as the occasional air attack.
The Presidential Unit Citation for the action read:
"The 299th Engineer Combat Battalion, as part of a special engineer demolition task force, was attached to the 1st U. S. Infantry Division for the assault, with the mission of c1earing the beach obstacles within the tidal range of the beach from vicinity of Vierville-sur-Mer to Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. The battalion was organized into eight assault demolition teams, four support demolition teams, and a command. Each demolition team was landed in an I.C.M. at 0633,