834th Engineer Aviation Battalion (EAB)

Presidential Unit Citation ribbon

Activated in April, this Battalion arrived overseas in Aug 1942. During the following 16 months they built Matching Airdrome. It was awarded the Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation for work on first invasion fields in Normandy, including an ELS, and an evacuation strip, a tactical field and a tactical air depot. On V-E Day, the 834th was working on Czechoslovakia’s first American airfield.

Aviation Engineers in Mobile Warfare

The 834th EAB was one of two units in the IX Engineer Command to be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (the other was the 819th EAB). The following is the text of the citation:

The 834th Engineer Aviation Battalion is cited for outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy from 6 June to 16 July 1944. Advance elements of the 834th Engineer Aviation Battalion were scheduled to land on the Normandy beachhead at H plus 4 hours on D-day with the mission of constructing an emergency landing strip, but because of intense enemy activity the initial group was not able to begin its work until D-day plus one. Finding that the ground forces had not yet taken the site upon which the unit was to construct an emergency landing strip, the battalion promptly reconnoitered the terrain available and within the space of 16 hours a new site had been located and the landing strip made serviceable. Without pause the unit continued to develop the initial strip into a 3,400-foot landing strip which was usable on 7 June by transport aircraft evacuating wounded. For the entire period 6 June to 16 July this strip handled the major portion of transport air traffic between the Continent and the United Kingdom. By 8 June 1944, pushing forward directly behind the advanced elements of the Infantry, the reconnaissance group of the battalion penetrated to the site originally selected for the refueling and rearming strip. The bulk of the battalion proceeded to the new site where rapid construction was continued without pause, despite enemy snipers, the hazards of working day and night in areas heavily mined, and the constant and intense ground activity close at hand. Through the strenuous and indefatigable efforts of the 834th Engineer Aviation Battalion the first operational airfield in an important sector of the Normandy battle zone was completed and in use by 14 June 1944. The outstanding record of the battalion, achieved in the face of great obstacles, was of vital importance to the success of aerial operations during the initial phase of the campaign in western Europe and reflects the highest credit on the personnel of the entire organization.

General Orders, No. 10. 22 February 1945