Joseph Begin spent his frist
year of service in the U.S. Army in the 103rd Engineer Regiment
from February 17, 1941 until February 17,
1942 when the 2nd Battalion
was redesignated as the 180th Engineer Battalion.
The 103rd was an element
of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 28th Infantry Division (Mechanized).
The 1st Infantry was converted and redesignated as 103rd Engineer Regiment,
an element of the 28th Infantry Division April 1, 1921. It was organized
and federally recognized in Philadelphia, Pa. July 18, 1921. It was inducted
into Federal service for World War II in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania February
17, 1941. On February 17, 1942, the regiment was broken up and its
elements reorganized and redesignated as follows: Regiment (less the 2nd
Battalion) as the 103rd Engineer Battalion, an element of the 28th Infantry
Division. The 2nd Battalion was redesignated as the 180th Engineer
Battalion and relieved from assignment to the 28th Infantry Division.
On August 1, 1942, the 180th Engineer Battalion was redesignated as the
180th Engineer Heavy Pontoon Battalion. On November 27, 1945, the 180th
Engineer Heavy Pontoon Battalion was inactivated at Camp Miles Standish,
Massachusetts. On May 24, 1946, the 103rd Combat Battalion (the 103rd
Engineer Battalion was redesignated the 103rd Combat Battalion March 9, 1943)
and the 180th Engineer Heavy Pontoon Battalion consolidated and were designated
as the 103rd Engineer Combat Battalion.
Pennsylvania's historic regiments:
The 103rd Engineers
DISTINCTIVE UNIT INSIGNIA (OR CREST)
For the 103rd Engineer Battalion (Combat)
When Benjamin Franklin issued his
appeal for citizens of Philadelphia to "associate" for the common defense
in 1747, he looked to the skilled carpenters and craftsmen in the city’s
booming shipyards who were familiar with naval guns to form a battery of artillery.
The resulting units, the Artillery Companies of the Associated Regiment
of Foot of Philadelphia, the progenitors of today’s 103rd Engineer Battalion,
are among the oldest and most decorated military organizations in the Commonwealth.
Armed with cannon, some purchased with the proceeds of a city-wide lottery
and others "borrowed" from New York, the artillerists mounted the first
major defenses of the Delaware River.
The cannoneers saw their first combat action during the French and Indian
War, when elements of the artillery were mustered into Crown service and
dispatched to Pittsburgh and Erie. A generation later, at the onset of the
American Revolution in 1776, the men were reorganized as the Philadelphia
One company, under the command of Capt. Thomas Proctor, was designated
as the Pennsylvania Artillery Company and later expanded and placed in
the Continental Army as Proctor’s 4th Continental Artillery. The unit participated
in numerous Revolutionary battles, including Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth,
Brandywine, Germantown and Yorktown.
This unique assignment makes today’s 103rd Engineer Battalion, "The Dandy
First," the only Pennsylvania unit authorized to carry the lineage of a
Continental Army unit.
The storied history of the 103rd continues when the Proctor’s Artillery
Battalion and the Philadelphia Artillery Battalions are consolidated at the
end of the Revolutionary War. They became the Regiment of Artillery. Called
up for service in the War of 1812, six companies saw service.
In 1822, the unit was reorganized as the Artillery Battalion, 1st Brigade,
1st Division, Pennsylvania Militia and later the 1st Artillery Regiment,
The unit, also known as the 1st Regiment Gray Reserves, was called into
federal service for the Civil War in April 1861 and redesignated the 17th
Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.
In 1862, the regiment was reorganized into two new regiments -- the 118th
"Corn Exchange Regiment" and the 119th Gray Reserves -- both in the Army
of the Potomac. The Philadelphians, now infantry rather than artillery,
won fame and glory in such places as Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville
By the time America went to war with Spain in 1898, the unit was called
the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and it served under that designation
when it was sent to Texas to help chase Pancho Villa back into Mexico during
the 1916 Mexican expedition.
When the U.S. entered the Great War in Europe in 1917, the unit was drafted
into federal service and consolidated with the 13th Infantry, Pennsylvania
National Guard, to form the 109th Infantry, an element of the newly formed
28th Infantry Division.
The Keystone soldiers fought the best -- and the worst -- Germany had
to throw at them in such places as Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, Oise-Aisne,
Meuse-Argonne and Lorraine. They endured horrific trench warfare, constant
bombardment and the debilitating effects of mustard gas in bringing the
Kaiser’s troops to heel.
Shortly after World War I, the Philadelphians got their current designation:
103rd Engineer Regiment. They used the vast resources of the city’s many
universities to recruit engineers; their armory is now located in the midst
of the academic communities of Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania.
On the eve of World War II, the regiment was broken up into the 103rd
Engineer Battalion (Combat) and the 180th Engineer Heavy Pontoon Bridge Battalion.
The 103rd, serving as part of the 28th Division, participated in the Normandy
campaign and in Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central
Europe. Their contributions were particularly noteworthy during the Battle
of the Bulge, when they helped stop the German advance into Belgium.
After the war, the two units were consolidated into the 103rd Engineer
Battalion (its current designation). The 103rd, like the rest of the 28th
Division, was mobilized for the Korean War and served in occupied Germany
until 1953. Since that time the 103rd has continued its service to the
Commonwealth, supporting the training of mechanized infantry and assisting
with community projects across the state.