7TH ENGINEER SUPPORT BATTALION HISTORY
Activated on 29 September 1950, aboard Camp Pendleton, 7th Engineer Battalion was rapidly built up with equipment and troops for deployment to the Korean Conflict. Activated companies included Headquarters, Service, A, B, C, D, with a Fixed Bridge Platoon and Floating Bridge Platoon attached. Deployment orders were never signed and deployment to Korea was not executed.
With all its new equipment, 7th Engineer Battalion became the training command for all engineers headed overseas to 1st Engineer Battalion in Korea. From 1951-1954 the battalion also completed various engineering projects aboard Camp Pendleton and constructed cold weather training facilities in the San Jacinto and Sierra Mountains.
7th Engineer Battalion was attached to the 1st Marine Division in October of 1955. In the same year, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Platoon was attached to the battalion and was mainly used for clearing ranges.
In 1956, the battalion conducted a rigorous training cycle focusing on ambushes, construction and bridging. The battalion demonstrated its bridging capabilities when the Santa Margarita River flooded in 1957. An unprecedented, 339 feet of M-6 bridging were used to span the swollen river which, at that time, was the longest M-6 Bridge ever erected. That same year, the battalion increased the size of the Fixed Bridge Platoon to a company and the Floating Bridge Platoon was redesignated to 1st Bridge Platoon together creating a new Bridge Company.
In 1962, Company B was embarked aboard ship in support of the Cuban Missile Crisis Response.
On 1 June 1965, Company A attached to Regimental Landing Team-7 and embarked ship headed for the Republic of Vietnam. In August 1965, 7th Engineer Battalion was ordered to embark and depart for service in Vietnam, arriving in Da Nang on 24 August 1965. From Da Nang, the battalion supported the III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF) throughout the I Corps Tactical Zone.
During the following year the battalion constructed an M-4 aluminum pontoon bridge spanning 1,478 feet over the Da Nang River, the longest ever built.
Many of the battalion’s missions in 1967 included the construction of non-standard bridges, M-4 aluminum pontoon bridges, and pile bent bridges as well as the maintenance and upgrading of over 120km of roads.
In 1968, Company A constructed a coffer dam while Company D participated in Operation MAMELUKE THRUST. Service Company provided over 33 million gallons of fresh water to the Marines of III MAF.
Throughout 1969 and 1970 the battalion continued upgrading and maintaining roads, mine sweeping and providing general engineer support until it returned to Camp Pendleton in September 1970.
During April 1971, the battalion was reassigned to the 1st Marine Division and in June Company A detached from the battalion and was relocated to 29 Palms, California.
In March 1976, 7th Engineers was redesignated as 7th Engineer Support Battalion (7th ESB) and was reassigned to the newly formed 1st Force Service Support Group (1st FSSG). 1st Bulk Fuel Company was transferred from Supply Battalion at this time.
From 1977 to 1979 the battalion participated in several exercises including VARSITY EAGLE, OPPORTUNE LIFT, and VARSITY CLEANEX on Camp Pendleton, Twentynine Palms, San Clemente Island, and Barstow, California. Members of the battalion also participated in Operation KERNEL POTLATCH, a joint US-Canadian fleet landing exercise.
7th Bulk Fuel Company was activated in April 1983 followed by the activation of Bridge Company in July of the same year bringing the battalion up to two bridge and two bulk fuel companies.
For the next two years Companies A, B, and C, conducted horizontal construction, building roads, earthwork for runways, and replacing AM-2 matting throughout all Marine Corps installations across the western United States. Bulk Fuel Company trained on fire fighting and the Amphibious Assault Fuel System (AAFS). Bridge Company continued increasing proficiency in constructing Medium Girder Bridges (MGB) and M4T6 rafts in the Del Mar Boat Basin.
On 20 December 1990, 7th ESB deployed in force to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD and was transferred under operational control to Direct Support Command. Operation DESERT STORM began on 23 February 1991 and 7th ESB participated in all aspects of the offensive operations. The battalion returned home to Camp Pendleton by 24 April 1991.
7th ESB deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia on 15 December 1992 in support of Operation RESTORE HOPE. From 15 December 1992 to 25 January 1993, EOD Company assisted in over 300 calls for support recovering and disposing of over 350,000 pounds of ordnance and over two million rounds of ammunition. Bulk Fuel Company employed and operated five AAFS and a Tactical Airfield Fuel Dispensing System (TAFDS) which serviced over 26 different nations during the operation. The battalion’s utilities section purified and provided over three million gallons of water to the multinational contingent.
In January 1993, while the battalion was deployed to Somalia, the Santa Margarita River flooded, which severely damaged Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Camp Pendleton. The Marines of 7th ESB, purified drinking water, rebuilt eight miles of roads and rebuilt the levee that separates the MCAS and the Santa Margarita River.
30 December 1994, Bridge Company was deactivated and its personnel and equipment redistributed throughout the battalion. In March 1995, Company A reactivated and constructed the Combat Skills Training Facility at Camp Deluz.
During 1996, EOD techs provided range sweeps at multiple Marine Corps and Air Force installation across the southwestern U.S. Additionally, EOD also supported the U.S. Secret Service in Los Angeles and San Diego. February 1996, Company C deployed to the U.S. Army’s National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California where it acted as a ‘Soviet Engineer Battalion’ as opposition force against U.S. Army units. During the fall of 1996, and per the Commandants Guidance, 7th ESB was tasked with constructing the obstacles courses, assault courses, and warrior stations for the Crucible, at Edson Range.
Company B deployed to Annette Island in Southeast Alaska in support of Operation ALASKAN ROAD in August of 1997. During the three month joint civil-military operation, Company B assisted with the construction of over 14.7 miles of paved roads, the improvement of 10 miles of unimproved roads, and the construction of a 300-man base camp.
In July 2000, Company C deployed to the Kingdom of Tonga constructing a music/library/administrative facility for the Tailulu College. The Marines of Company C were the first Marine Corps Engineers to execute construction in the Kingdom of Tonga.
During the first portion of 2001, 7th ESB deployed personnel in support of a US Department of State-sponsored Humanitarian Demining Training Program in Djibouti, Africa. During the second half of 2001, Company B deployed to Egypt with Brigade Service Support Group (BSSG)-1 while participating in Exercise BRIGHT STAR-01 where they built and maintained a base camp for 3500 Marines. After the attacks on September 11th, 7th ESB attached engineers to MEU Service Support Group (MSSG)-15, 15th MEU, Task Force-58. The Marines were among the first American forces to enter Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) as they helped establish Camp Rhino providing water purification, electricity, heavy equipment, security and EOD support.
In April of 2002, Company A participated in DESERT SCIMITAR-02. Bridge platoon constructed a 457 foot continuous-span ribbon bridge over the rapidly flowing Colorado River. The bridge crossed over nearly 1,700 Marines, and over 500 tactical vehicles.
On 28 January 2003, the battalion deployed to Camp Coyote, Kuwait in preparation for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). On 20 March, Company B and Company C, breached lanes through the Iraqi border obstacle belt providing entry for Task Force Tarawa and Regimental Combat Team (RCT)-7. 7th ESB supported the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) through all facets of engineering during the push to Baghdad before redeploying to Kuwait on 16 May 2003.
The battalion returned to Iraq in February 2004 with elements of Headquarters and Service (H&S) Company, Company A, Support Company, Bulk Fuel Company and EOD Company and assumed the role as Combat Service Support Battalion (CSSB)-1. The bulk of the battalion operated out of Camp Fallujah supporting Regimental RCT-1 and other units in the Al Anbar Province. CSSB-1 participated in Operation VIGILANT RESOLVE by establishing tactical control points (TCP’s) around Fallujah, isolating the city in preparation for offensive operations of RCT-1.
By the end of September 2004, 7th ESB conducted a relief in place (RIP) with Company C replacing Company A, while H&S, Bulk Fuel and EOD Companies remained in Iraqi, only rotating personnel from Camp Pendleton. The battalion, minus a few detachments had redeployed back to Camp Pendleton by March 2005.
Contingents of 7th ESB companies formed Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB)-5 and deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in early 2006. During the deployment, the battalion provided engineer support throughout the Al Anbar Province. The battalion redeployed to Camp Pendleton in September 2006 while Company A conducted a RIP with Company C. In October 2006, Company B was stood up and was assigned the bridging mission for the battalion. Company A redeployed to Camp Pendleton in March 2007.
In August 2007, EOD Company and Company B deployed personnel to Iraq in support of OIF 6-8.2.
The battalion deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in February 2008 in support of OIF 6-8.1 and returned in September 2008. Support Company and Company A attached Marines to CLB-7 to deploy in support of OIF 9.1. EOD Company continued to support the global war on terror as they deployed personnel to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Company B attached to CLB-1 and deployed to Afghanistan in support of OEF 9.2 in June 2009. In October of 2009, 7th ESB completed it pre-deployment block leave and deployed to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
During its deployment, the battalion provided engineering support throughout Helmand Province. The battalion stood up Combat Logistics Company-7 in order to support 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines and Operation MOSHTARAK during the clear and hold phase into Marjeh, Afghanistan. In May 2010, the battalion completed its RIP with 9th ESB and redeployed to Camp Pendleton.
During May 2011, 7th ESB deployed and conducted a relief in place with 8th ESB in Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan for OEF 11.2. Throughout the deployment the battalion provided mobility by conducting route clearance for International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF). Bridge platoon greatly enhanced mobility throughout the area of operation (AO) by emplacing Medium Girder Bridges (MGB) and building non-standard bridges over wadi’s and irrigation canals. The battalion redeployed to Camp Pendleton on 14 December 2011.
In 2012, the battalion supported construction projects across Southern California. Company C completed a road project in Imperial Beach, California for Joint Task Force-North and the Border Patrol. Companies A, B, C constructed K-Span structures at Camp Wilson, MCAGCC, Twentynine Palms.