The 139th Airborne Engineer Battalion (AEB) was created on March 10, 1943 at Camp MacKall, North Carolina. It was assigned as an organic part of the 17th Airborne Division and was activated on April 15, 1943 under the command of Lt Colonel Stanley Johnson.
The Battalion moved to the Tennessee Maneuver Area on February 7, 1944 then transferred to Camp Forrest, Tennessee on March 24, 1944.
The battalion staged at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts on August 14, 1944. It departed the Boston Port of Embarkation August 20, 1944 aboard the USS Wakefield and arriving in Liverpool, England on August 28, 1944.
In England, the battalion was stationned in Camp Chisledon until August 29, 1944. Flight and tactical training continued and night maneuvers were added to the training schedule.
During operation Market Garden, the 17th Airborne Division was held in strategic reserve.
The Battle of the Bulge
From 23 to 25 December, elements of the Division were flown to the Reims area in France. The 139th AEB supported the division in the defense of the Meuse River sector from Givet to Verdun until January 1, 1945.
December 31, 1944, Pvt Robert W Bell (left) and PFC Charles W McCall - 139th Airborne Engineer Battalion are guarding a road leading to the village of Douzy (near Sedan, France) (US Army Signal Corps - TFH collection).
On January 2, 1945 the 17th Airborne moved to Neufchateau, Belgium.
During the next month, the 139th AEB moved several times within Belgium sweeping roads for mines and locating and destroying booby traps until on the 27th when the battalion took up positions near Bockholz, Luxembourg.
On February 11, 1945 the 139th AEB returned to camp at Chalons-sur-Marne in France with the rest of the 17th Airborne Divison.
After the Bulge
The 17th returned to Belgium on 21 March 1945 to prepare for the air assault across the Rhine.
Operation Varsity was the first combat glider landing for the 139th AEB. The 139th's mission was to land north of Wesel in Landing Zone (LZ) S, a large flat area where the Issel River and the Issel Canal merge. Then to seize the crossing over the Issel and protect the division's right flank.
After the war
The 139th AEB served in the Army of Occupation of Germany from 2 May - 19 June 1945. The battalion reassembled in the Neufchateau area of France and returned to the United States via the Boston Port of Embarkation on 14 Sepember 1945 and deactivated at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts on the same date.