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887th US.Airborne Aviation Engineer company

Raymond DUNLAP, 887th company guidon holder
Raymond DUNLAP, 887th company guidon holder
887th airborne engineer company 1st lieutnant John B. ADAMS
887th airborne engineer company 1st lieutnant John B. ADAMS
Sergent Tony FRUSCELLA.
Sergent Tony FRUSCELLA.
man of the 887th holding "Rosie" baby in maritims Alps, Charlie BANDY on right
man of the 887th holding "Rosie" baby in maritims Alps, Charlie BANDY on right
Rare picture taken by Charles Speich, from the 887th of Nice airport rebuilt. Nov. 1944.
Rare picture taken by Charles Speich, from the 887th of Nice airport rebuilt. Nov. 1944.

The 887th Engineer Company was one of the great but virtually unknow outfit of World war tow.

Constituted on the 25 of august 1942, in the Army of the United States from men of Company B, 871st Airborne Engineer Battalion. It was officially activated 1 September 1942 at Westover Field, Massachusetts .

The company  left Westover by train at 9am on the 7th of october 1942, to Langley field Virginia.

On the 15th of October the Company left United States at Chesapeare bay by ship on USS Florence Nightingale for North Africa, and took the sea at Northfolk Virginia on the 22nd. On board the engineers were told that they were going to invade Port Lyautey harbor. the job was to take the airfield and repair it if it was necessary to be able to land P40's fighters.  the landing was on the 8th of November, part of operation Torch and then was re-organized and re-designated officialy on 20 November 1942 as the 887th Airborne Engineer Company under command of Captain Morris SHAMAN.

In december 1942, they worked for more airfieds construction for B17 fortress near Biskra, then in march, the 887th moved to Algeria, near Tebessa.At the end of may they wen into Tunisia to built more airfield near the ruins of the bombed town of Souk el Arba.

On the 15th to the 18th of october 1943, more than the half of  887th company was flew by C47's aircrafts to Sicily. Camp located at Catania Airport, the unit is split on the differents US airfields of the islind to keep them in good condition . A total of Sixteen fields on the island.

On december the 24th, the rest of the company came from North Africa to Sicily.

on the 5th of july 1944, The 887th left Palermo to Italy on LST 263. they arrived in Naples on the 6th and proceeded up the road to Rome same day. 

On the 9th of july , the engineer company camp was located on a glider airfield East of Roma named Ciampino and then started to be trained to use CG-4A american gliders preparing to invade on southern France for the operation Dragoon, 15th of august 1944.

For this operation, one part of the 887th was attached to the 550th airborne battalion under command of Ed SACHS, and one with the 551st parachute infantry battalion.

 

The company was split in 2 parts  The biggest one , under command of company commander Morris SHAMAN serial 22 left Italy onboard of 34 gliders at 15H18 from Galera airfield to landing zone "O" the valley and vigneyards between the villages of La Motte,  and Le Mitan along the Nartuby river. the second group, serial 23, under command of 1st Lieutant BROWN left from Ciampino Airfield at 15h26 onboard of 10 gliders to landing zone "A", vigneyards and fields between villages of La Motte, Les Arcs and Trans en Provence.

 

After the landing, and the cleaning of the landing zone area, the 887th company made a little strip for small reco. airplane on landing zone "O" near Le Mitan . 

With the 164 men of this unit came by gliders some small airborne engineer equipment like mini bulldozers as the one tranported by glider pilot Harold GOLBRANDSEN near chateau Valbourges.

We have the privilege to come in touch with John ADAMS during the 90's and he told us in a interview :

"We were supposed to come in at 75 miles an hour, and we landed at 150 ! We suffered in my company of 48 casualty that day and gliders were splintered all over the landing zone.  On the same day we landed, we built a strip for observation planes, working with british engineer  company. In three days we put in three strips for those planes .."

"when we moved to the Italian border, one of my men sank a one man german submarine.. The sub came up for air near the beach and this boy let him have it with his rifle. apparently hitting the plastic canopy. The submarine washed up on the beach a couple of days later..." 

The 887th engineer company moved with the men  of the first airborne task force on the way to the Italian Border, along the riviera coast and the maritims Alps during six weeks.

The company also have the task to rebuilt the Nice Airport airfield, helped by the 596th para engineer company. 

They also have many mission of german defences destructions, and german guns destruction as Charlie BANDY did.

On 9 November 1944 the company was once again reorganized and re-designated as the 887th Airborne Engineer Aviation Company.

No story of the 887th would be complete without "Rosie"...

"Rosie" master and owner was sergeant FRUSTELLA from new york.  he remember :

"We found "Rosie" at Palermo, Sicily, she was adopted by the men and went with us . She made three glider training flights and went in with us in the combat glider landing in southern France !.. She became a mother in France, and we have to put her behind with his baby's..

"Rosie" was a good flyer, she jumped one man to another, when we landed , she came out barking.. everybody in the company liked her, and she liked the men. The only trouble was she couldn't understand english for awhile...  We had a little trouble getting her back to the states. We had to put her in a accordion case to get her aboard ship..!!! We kept her below desks all the time and she spend the rest of her life in United states with her adopted father Sergeant Tony FRUSCELLA.

After the Italian border front, the unit moved to northern France, then Belgium and Germany.

On the 164 men of the 887th, 7 men have men have been reported killed in action during WWII, and 84 were wounded and awarded of the purple heart. The company was disbanded at the end of the war on 10 May 1945 at Geiger Field, 6 miles from Spokane, Washington state.


La 887th Engineer Support Company (génie) a été constituée le 25 août 1942 dans l'armée des États-Unis sous le nom de Company B, 871st Airborne Engineer Battalion. Elle a été officiellement activée le 1er septembre 1942 à Westover Field, Massachusetts, puis a été réorganisée et renommée le 20 novembre 1942 en tant que 887th Airborne Engineer Company, Aviation sous le commandement du capitaine Morris SHAMAN.

La 887th Engineer Company fut une unité remarquable de la guerre mondiale, mais pratiquement inconnu. La compagnie quitte les USA pour se rendre en Afrique du Nord, puis en Sicile, en Italie, et se prépare à atterrir par planeurs dans le sud de la France pour l'opération aéroportée de Dragoon, le 15 août 1944.

La zone de débarquement était la vallée entre les villages de La Motte, Les Arcs et Le Mitan.

Pour cette opération, un peloton du 887th était attaché au 550th bataillon aéroporté du colonel Ed SACHS, et un peloton avec le 551st bataillon d'infanterie parachutiste.

Avec les 164 hommes de cette unité sont venus en planeurs quelques petits bulldozers aéroportés comme celui transporté par le pilote de planeur Harold GOLBRANDSEN près du château de Valbourges.

Après l'atterrissage et le nettoyage  de la zone d'atterrissage, la 887th compagnie fait une petite piste pour les petits avions de reconnaissance sur la zone d'atterrissage "O" près du Mitan.

Nous avons le privilège d'entrer en contact avec John ADAMS dans les années 90 et et partageons ici notre interview:

"Nous étions censés atterir à 75 miles à l'heure, et nous avons atterri à 150 ! Nous avons souffert dans ma compagnie de 48 blessés ce jour-là les planeurs gisaient éclatés partout dans la zone d'atterrissage. Le même jour ou nous avons atterri, nous avons construit une piste pour les avions d'observation, avec une compagnie du génie britannique. En trois jours, nous avons fait trois pistes pour ces avions sur la zone de largage.. "

 "quand nous avons déménagé à la frontière italienne, un de mes hommes a coulé un sous-marin allemand un place. Le sous-marin est venu en surface reprendre de l'air près de la plage et mon soldat à réussi à l'avoir avec son fusil, apparemment frappant la verrière en plastique.

Le sous-marin s'est échoué sur la plage quelques jours plus tard ... "

 

La 887th compagnie du génie à fait mouvement avec les hommes de la première force opérationnelle aéroportée vers la frontière italienne, le long de la côte d'azur et des Alpes maritimes pendant six semaines.

Elle eu également pour mission de reconstruire l'aérodrome de l'aéroport de Nice, aidé par la 596e compagnie de génie parachutiste.

Ils ont également pris part à de nombreuses missions de destruction des défenses allemandes et de destruction des pièces d'artilleries allemandes tel que Charlie BANDY en eu la tâche.

 

Le 9 novembre 1944, la compagnie est à nouveau réorganisée et redésignée comme 887th Airborne Engineer Aviation Company.

L'histoire de la 887em compagnie de génie ne serait complète sans "Rosie"..

Le maître et propriétaire de "Rosie" était le sergent FRUSTELLA de New York. il se souvient lors d'une correspondance en 94 :

"Nous avons trouvé " Rosie " à Palerme, en Sicile, elle a été adoptée par les hommes et est partie avec nous. Elle a fait trois vols d'entraînement de planeur et à attéri avec nous par planeurs  dans le sud de la France! .. Elle est devenue maman un peu plus tard en France , et nous devons la garder en arrière avec son bébé ..

"Rosie" était une bonne chienne, elle sautait d'un homme à l'autre, et je me souviens quand nous avons atterri, elle est sortie du planeur en aboyant .. tout le monde dans la compagnie  l'aimait et elle aimait les hommes. Le seul problème était qu'elle ne comprenait pas l'anglais pendant et il fallu un certain temps pour qu'elle nous comprenne... Nous avons eu un peu de mal à la ramener aux États-Unis.

Nous avons dû la mettre dans un étui d'accordéon pour la faire monter à bord du bateau .. !!! Nous l'avons gardée sous les bureaux tout le temps et à son arrivée elle a passé le reste de sa vie aux États-Unis ".. avec son père adoptif, le sergent Tony FRUSCELLA.

 

Après le front de la frontière italienne, l'unité s'est déplacée vers le nord de la France, puis la Belgique et l'Allemagne.

 

Sur les 164 hommes du 887em , 7 hommes déclarés mort au combat pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, et 84 ont été blessés et ont reçu la médaille "purple heart". La 887em compagnie sera dissoute à la fin de la guerre le 10 mai 1945 à Geiger Field, Washington

 

German torpedo submarine
German torpedo submarine
Men of the 442nd in front of a one man submarine torpedo In Nice France riviera 1944.
Men of the 442nd in front of a one man submarine torpedo In Nice France riviera 1944.
Cecil FITZGERALD, killed in action during the liberation of Villeneuve loubet France. 26th of august 1944
Cecil FITZGERALD, killed in action during the liberation of Villeneuve loubet France. 26th of august 1944
Ira BARNHURST, died of wounds on the 19th of august 1944. Southern France.
Ira BARNHURST, died of wounds on the 19th of august 1944. Southern France.
Raymond JONES, killed in action on the 4th of october 1944 in the Maritims Alps. burried at Draguignan Rhone cemetery
Raymond JONES, killed in action on the 4th of october 1944 in the Maritims Alps. burried at Draguignan Rhone cemetery

41 years passed before 887th Engineer Support Company was called upon. On 27 March 1986, the 887th ESC was reconstituted on the regular Army as the 887th Engineer Company and March 1987 activated at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The company was inactivated 15 January 2015 and today, 20 October 2017 will be reactivated as the 887th Engineer Support Company under 19th Engineer Battalion at Fort Knox and 20th Engineer Brigade at Fort Bragg. The 887th ESC has a long and proud history that spans 75 years. The company fought in World War II, Southwest Asia, and has fought in the War on Terrorism.


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