The 317th Engineers was first constituted on 24 October 1917 and organized at Camp Sherman, Ohio as the 317th Engineer Regiment, 92nd Division. Like the rest of the 92nd Division, the 317th Engineers was an all black, or “Negro troops” unit, with many of the NCOs coming from the 9th and 10th Cavalry. The 317th Engineers sailed for France in June 1918, and it was the first unit of the 92nd Division to enter the line, completing the relief of the 7th Engineers on 23 August 1918. The unit earned campaign streamers for the Meusse-Argonne and Lorraine campaigns supporting the 92nd Division and the 1st Army Corps. After the war, the 317th was demobilized 31 March 1919.
On 15 October 1942, the unit was re-designated the 317th Engineer Battalion, and was activated at Fort McClellan, Alabama, an organic element of the 92nd Infantry Division. The 92nd Infantry Division was again formed as an all black unit known as the “Black Buffaloes.” Company B deployed to Italy in July 1944 as part of the 370th Infantry Regiment Combat Team and participated in the Arno River crossing. The remainder of the Battalion deployed to Italy in September 1944 and participated in the North Apennines and Po Valley campaigns. The Battalion was awarded the Italian Croce al Merito di Guerra, and constructed a memorial to the Battalion’s dead at Torre del Lago, Italy. After the war, the Battalion was inactivated 29 November 1945.
On 20 October 1950, the Battalion was relieved from assignment to the 92nd Infantry Division and allotted to the Regular Army. It was activated on 1 November 1950 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and moved to Germany in 1951, initially at Hoechst, then Eschborn. Throughout the Cold War, the Battalion provided combat engineer support to the US Army, enjoyed a close partnership with a German engineer battalion, and performed civic action missions throughout the European Theater, to include bridge construction in Tunisia. The German government awarded the Battalion the Fahnenband Einsatz fur Frieden und Freiheit.
In December 1990, the 317th Engineer Battalion deployed to Southwest Asia for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The Battalion participated in all 3 campaigns of this war: the Defense of Saudi Arabia, Liberation and Defense of Kuwait, and Cease-Fire. Company D was awarded the Valorous Unit Award as part of Task Force 1-41st Infantry, the first coalition force to breach the Saudi Arabian border on 15 February 1991 and conduct ground combat operations in Iraq.
After the Persian Gulf War, the Battalion moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, and was assigned to the 24th Infantry Division in 1992. In October 1994, the Battalion returned to Southwest Asia as part of Operation Vigilant Warrior, earning the Army Superior Unit Award. On 15 February 1996, the Battalion was relieved from assignment to the 24th Infantry Division and assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division. This reassignment was part of the re-flagging of the 24th Infantry Division as the 3rd Infantry Division.
In January 2003, the Battalion helped liberate Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, earning the Presidential Unit Citation as part of the 3rd Infantry Division.
In 2004 the 317th Engineer Battalion was inactivated along with the 3rd Infantry Division’s Engineer Brigade, as part of the transformation of the 3rd Infantry Division to the US Army’s new modular force structure. Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 317th Engineer Battalion was reflagged as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
In 2015, the 317th Engineer Battalion was re-activated at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.
NOTABLE UNIT DECORATIONS
Italian Croce al Merito di Guerra
Army Superior Unit Award
Presidential Unit Citation
World War I
World War II
Persian Gulf War
Defense of Saudi Arabia
Liberation and Defense of Kuwait