August 30, 2016

Captain Robert E. Coffey's Cap

Hello, I recently purchased this cap from a auction in Cresco, Iowa. The name inside reads Robert E Coffey and I think he was apart of the 109th Engineers from the little information I have found. I was wondering if you could help me find anymore about him. I would also be honored if you would include this cap in your blog, but only if you wanted too! Thanks

July 25, 1942 – This date in SDNG history – Col. Robert E. Coffey
Captain Robert E. Coffey was the company commander of Company B, Brookings, South Dakota, when the 109th Engineer Regiment was mobilized for federal active duty on Feb. 10, 1941.
Coffey was the athletic director at South Dakota State University (SDSU) when the call came. A star football player for four years at SDSU, Coffey was a successful coach at Brookings High School prior to his appointment as athletic director in 1939.
When the regimental commander, Col. Earle Lewis, died of a stroke on Sept. 17, 1941, at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, Lt. Col. Bettenberg was appointed as the 109th Engineer Regimental commander. It was still prior to America’s entry in World War II that Capt. Coffey was transferred to the regimental staff and promoted to major. After the United States entered World War II in December 1941, the unit, which had converted from a regiment to a battalion, moved to Ireland in early 1942. Shortly after they got settled, Bettenberg was transferred to the 168th Infantry Regiment. Coffey, who was described as a born leader, was placed in command of the 109th Engineer Battalion on July 24, 1942. Two weeks later, Coffey, who just one year earlier was a captain, was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
Coffey commanded the 109th Engineer Battalion all through World War II, from North Africa to the top of the boot in Italy, when the war in Europe ended in May 1945. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.
Lt. Col. Coffey ele
cted to remain in the Army after World War II and retired as a colonel. He spent several years working at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Copied from the South Dakota National Guard Faceook page.

April 26, 2016

Henry Bach in Bizerte, North Africa

Hello, my name is Eric Cook and I recently came across the website for the 109th Engineer battalion. The photo I've sent is one of a group from that unit in N. Africa in 1943, I believe. 

My great uncle Henry Bach is the second from the left. He was with a medical detachment, according to the 349th ID "Tunisian Campaign" booklet that I acquired from my grandmother many years ago. My great uncle died in 1963 so I never met him. I would like to have the photo put on the website, if you don't mind.

Also, I don't know how many veterans of the unit are still around but, I would like to see if anyone might recognize my uncle! Either way, please feel free to contact me if you like as I have a few bits and pieces of info.


Eric Cook