`40s battalion re-emerges in Meridian

Some members of the original force are on hand for the renaming ceremony.
The Associated Press


  MERIDIAN - Fifty years ago the 150th Engineer (Combat) Battalion installed a pontoon bridge across the Rhine River, giving Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army a jump in putting American soldiers into Germany.
  After the war, the unit disbanded and the men went their separate ways, meeting once a year in Cape Cod, Mass., as the 150th Engineer (Combat) Battalion Association.
  Last weekend, about 12 association members were in Meridian for a resurrection. The 150th returned to life as a unit of the Mississippi National Guard during activation ceremonies Sunday at the G.V. Montgomery Reserve Complex at Key Field.
  About 100 people attended the ceremony, including Montgomery, Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith and the state's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. James H. Garner.
  "It was a great thrill to see this," association spokesman Bob Pearl said after the ceremony. "It's good to see the younger men take over. I'm glad the guys were here to lend a historical background.
  At the order "Retire the Colors" the Army National Guard unit that for 15 years occupied a portion of the Montgomery Complex as the 150th Quartermaster Battalion ceased to exist and the 150th Combat Engineers received life.
  Meridian is the headquarters of the 464-member battalion, which includes seven units and is attached to the 155th Separate Armored Brigade, which is stationed in Tupelo.
  "We were notified in 1993 that our mission was going to change," unit commander Lt. Col. Michael D. Gilpin said. "We immediately underwent an extensive program of training. The soldiers have paid a deep price and a lot of hours."
  Gilpin said the unit's mission involves removing obstacles, such as land mines, making lanes for the armored units and preparing firing points for tanks.
  Montgomery, who commanded the 150th when it was a transportation unit, watched the changing of colors with mixed emotions.

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