During World War I, the 2nd Engineer Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division
was considered one of the best regiments in the American Expeditionary
Force (AEF) in France. Because of its bloody engagements in Belleau Woods,
Chateau Thierry, Soissons, and Meuse-Argonne, the division's infantry
units sustained the highest percentage of major casualties among AEF
units -- 30.08 percent.
The 2nd Engineers, moreover, stood 15th on the list of casualties with
12.73 percent, by far the highest of any engineer unit.
The reasons were simple -- the trench war was preeminently an engineer's
war. Cutting barbed wire entanglements, putting them up, digging bunkers,
machine gun positions, and trenches, and often fighting as infantry.
Throughout its time in combat, the regiment maintained high morale and
unexcelled performance in all its assignments. An unnamed American general
said that "the 2nd Engineers is the best regiment I ever saw...The
regiment has assisted the artillery, has helped the tanks, built railroads,
manned machine guns and fought time-after-time as infantry. That regiment
can do anything."
One reason for its excellent performance was the high standards its
officers and men required of themselves and each other. These standards
applied throughout the regiment and were vigorously enforced.