The 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) mission is to provide advice and technical assistance in all aspects of electrical power and distribution systems and to generate and distribute prime electrical power in support of Army operations worldwide. But this was not always the case.
The 249th Engineer Combat Battalion was originally constituted in 25 February 1943 and activated 5 May 1943 at Camp Bowie, Texas. The Battalion was deployed to Europe where it engaged in four major World War II campaigns, and was cited in the Belgian Army Order of the Day for action in the Ardennes in Alsace, France. Following the war, the unit pulled a short tour of occupation duty and then returned to Camp Patrick Henry, Va., where it was inactivated on 27 November 1945.
On 23 March 1948, the Battalion was redesignated as the 442d Engineer Battalion and assigned to the Active Reserve Corps under Fifth Army. The Battalion was activated and affiliated with the Iowa State Highway Commission in 1948-49. It again was inactivated in May 1950 and returned to reserve status. On 25 June 1952, the 442d Battalion was redesignated as the 249th Engineer Construction Battalion, and on 9 December 1954 was allocated to the Regular Army. The battalions was reactivated on 9 February 1955 and sent to Kaiserslautern, West Germany.
In March 1960, the Battalion deployed to France, fragmented and performed airfield missions. It returned to Karlsruhe, West Germany in 1965. On 30 June 1975, the Battalion was redesignated as the 249th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy). On 8 December 1990, the 249th deployed to Southwest Asia to participate in Desert Shield and later Desert Storm. For its actions there, the unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation. On 29 April 1991, the unit returned to Germany and was inactivated on 15 October 1991. On 16 November 1994, at Fort Belvoir, the 249th was again activated as the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power).
The 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) was originally comprised of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Companies A, B, and C. Company C evolved from the U.S. Army Engineer Reactor Group started in 1958 at Fort Belvoir, Va. The mission of the reactor group was to prepare military personnel to operate, maintain, and manage the Army’s nuclear and fossil-fueled powerplants. The course was modified in 1977 to the current Prime Power Production Specialist Course. On 1 October 1997, Company C was redesignated as the U.S. Army Prime Power School.
Company A was established in July 1991, by converting four, widely dispersed U.S. Army Facilities Engineering Support Agency TDA Prime Power Detachments into TOE platoons. Currently, Company A’s headquarters is located at Fort Lewis, Wash., with six platoons in the following locations: 1st PLT at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; 2nd and 3rd PLTs at Fort Lewis; 4th PLT at Camp Humphreys, Korea; 5th PLT (Reserve) at Fort Lewis; and 6th PLT (Reserve) at Attleboro, Mass.
Company B was first activated and constituted in June 1944 in London, England at the 2892nd Engineer Technical Team. The unit participated in four World War II campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Reineland, and Ardennes-Alsace. The 2892nd was deactivated on 30 April 1947 in Germany. The 2892nd was redesignated the 535th Engineer Detachment in the early 1950s. The unit spearheaded the United States Army Nuclear Power Program by operating and maintaining the nuclear Power Barge STURGIS, along with numerous other fossil-fueled power barges and nontactical generator powerplants. Company B’s headquarters is presently located at Fort Bragg, N. C., with six platoons in the following locations: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd PLTs at Fort Bragg; 4th PLT at Schwetzingen, Germany; 5th PLT (Reserve) at Kittanning, Penn.; and 6th PLT (Reserve) at Attleboro, Mass.
Prime Power participated in operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle, New York City and Pentagon Terrorist Attacks, Just Cause, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Provide Comfort, Provide Hope, Uphold Democracy, Support Hope, Joint Endeavor and Joint Guard, and numerous disaster relief missions. The Battalion has earned three Superior Unit Awards: for disaster relief operations, 1992; for worldwide missions support, 1995; and participation in Task Force Eagle Implementation Force, 1996.
The 249th is a four time Itschner Award winner with D Company in 1982, C Company in 1983, B Company in 1984, and B Company once again in 1986. Additionally, the 249th Engineer Battalion has produced three Sturgis Award winners.