The 5th Engineer Battalion traces its lineage back to 1861 and the “Battalion of Engineer Troops,” supporting the Army of the Potomac. The battalion was awarded battle streamers for the battles of Peninsula, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Virginia 1863, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Appomattox.
During the Spanish-American War, the battalion engaged in bridge and railroad construction in Cuba, where they earned a battle streamer at Santiago. During the same period, the battalion saw action in the Philippine Insurrection and the Mexican Expedition, for which the battalion earned two more battle streamers. During World War I, the 5th Engineer Regiment was assigned to the 7th Infantry Division, fought in the province of Lorraine and was awarded the Lorraine battle streamer. During World War II, the 5th Engineer Regiment formed several new units, including the 1278th Engineer Battalion.
The 1278th was redesignated as the 5th Engineer Battalion in January 1945. World War II service included constructing bridges, clearing minefields and fighting as infantry. During World War II, the battalion received battle streamers for Normandy, northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe. In February 1957, the Fightin’ 5th was moved to Fort Leonard Wood. The reputation of the 5th placed the battalion high on the troop deployment list for Operation Desert Storm. As a member of 36th Engineer Group and 20th Engineer Brigade, the 5th Engineer Battalion supported the 1st Brigade, 24th Infantry Division in the defense of Saudi Arabia. Continuing to fight with 1st Brigade, 24th Infantry Division, the Fightin’ 5th attacked east into the Euphrates River Valley and on into Basra. The 5th Engineer Battalion has deployed three times in support of the global war on terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom. For its service to the nation, the 5th Engineer Battalion has received multiple meritorious unit citations and battle streamers.