585th Engineer Company (DT)

585th Engineer Company (Vietnam) Unit Recognition Plaque Ceremony
 16 May 2005
 Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri

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Speaker Comments

Thomas Jefferson once said; ”The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” With this in mind, let’s get started.

The 585th Engineer Company was born as an Engineer Train Company in October 1921. In WW II the 585th served in the Pacific Theater as a Dump Truck Company for almost four years. It was a segregated unit with black troops and white officers. After VJ day, the 585th went to Japan and supported assigned missions until September 1948, when it was inactivated. In May 1959 the 585th Engineer Company found itself at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where it stayed until Captain Gerald Kinyon, who is here with us today, deployed the unit to South Vietnam in August 1966. The 585thEngineer Company served with distinction in Military Region II and Military Region III during it’s 65 months incountry. After Vietnam, the unit was inactivated for eight years, then served in Germany for eight years before inactivating in August 1988. The 585th is currently alerted for activation as a Pipeline Construction Company, effective 15 September 2005 at Fort Lewis, Washington, under the command of Captain Ady Velasco. The 585th Engineer Company (Vietnam) Association wishes them good luck in all future endeavors and we will serve as their sponsor on any assistance they may need from within the civilian community.

I can only speak from personal experience about the 585th from January 1971 to December 1971, when I was privileged to serve as it’s Company Commander. When I assumed command in early January, we were supporting the 589th Engineer Battalion at Vinh Hao, on the construction of Route Ql-1 between Tuy Phong and Keeper Seawall. In March 1971, the 589th stood down and returned their colors to CONUS. The 585th became the carrier unit for Task Force Asphalt, inheriting the 589th mission, base camp, personnel and equipment. We grew from 120 plus troops to over 300. It was a seamless transition due to the can-do attitude of all unit personnel. A couple examples I remember are SFC Daniel Ray, a Transportation Corps Truckmaster, became the NCOIC of the Asphalt Plant and Lieutenant Bob Straub went from Dump Truck Platoon Leader to Platoon Leader, 73rd Quarry Platoon. Flexibility was the key word during those long days. In the late fall of 1971 we closed Vinh Hao; blew over 8500 defensive land mines, repelled an enemy night attack and staged through Phan Rang to Don Duong near Dalat. Shortly after our arrival at Don Duong, we assumed the 577th Engineer Battalion mission when they went home. When I departed for home in mid-December, TFA (585th) was getting ready to be assigned to an Engineer Command (Vietnam) subordinate HQ at Nha Trang. The 585th was inactivated in Vietnam on 29 January 1972. The unit guidon and records were delivered to Philadelphia by Captain Wyland Leadbetter, the last 585th Company Commander in Vietnam.

The 585th was a family while I was with them. We were a representative cross section of the country that had sent us to war. Mostly young boys/men proudly operating their assigned vehicles and equipment, led by able junior and senior non-commissioned officers. The officer corps at Vinh Hao was exemplary, with all assigned officers working hard to ensure the welfare of our men and accomplish our mission. The quality of these officers was borne out later in their careers, with five of them promoted to full Colonel.

I always thought of the 585th as the “little train that could”. Regardless of the circumstances, the unit just kept chugging along. They weren’t beautiful ,but, they got the job done in spite of all the obstacles in their way. Speaking of appearances, we had 100% dental checks at Phan Rang while transitioning through to Don Duong. When I visited the Dental Clinic, an Air Force Major looked at me and said, ”So you’re the Commander of the Vinh Hao Vandals!” To which I proudly replied, "they may be vandals, but, they’re my vandals and nobody better screw with them while I’m around." He laughed and wished us good luck on our move north.

In closing, General George Washington was quoted as saying, ”Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable, procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.” Another George, General George Patton, said, ”The most vital quality a soldier can possess is self-confidence.” The 585th embodied these traits; it was a disciplined unit, with a can do attitude. That unit espirit de corps is what brought us here today. To honor our unit and our comrades; especially the six who were killed in action and the 132 who have died since returning home from Vietnam. May they all rest in peace.

Thank You! Any questions?

- H.Kenneth Seymour, Colonel(R), CE, USA

If there are any problems, questions, or comments, please contact Breland and Gayle Clement by clicking email below