1944 Map of Railway Operating MRS units in Europe WWII

Thanks to Lt Col. Marth and granddaughter Julie 710th Railway Grand Division

744th Railway Operating Battalion Lyons

I am the grandson of Cpl Lyons form the 744.... I have a collection of photos to share if interested I will be going on a DDday tour in two weeks and would like to retake pictures of locations from my grandfathers locations.

756th Railway Shop Battalion Joseph H. Ladislas

Diane writes .....My father was station with the 756th Railway Shop Battalion  - here is an article I found on him. Not sure when he actually arrived in London. He met my mother there and they were married Aug. 22, 1944. He met my mother while stationed near London. 
Their first date was in the underground, her sister was dating his friend
My father was station @ Hainault 756th Railway HQ Company Essex, after looking at their marriage certificate, this is listed on it.

MRS events and update from Mark Metz

From Mark Metz please make arrangements to attend if you can :

To MRS Veterans and Friends:

Following a year marked by budget cuts and Sequestration the Transportation Corps, the TC Museum, and Ft. Eustis are planning two events to recognize the service and contributions of both Veterans and those still serving.

The new Chief of Transportation, BG John P. Sullivan, has designated Thursday, the 24th of July as the date to celebrate the 72nd Anniversary of the founding of the Transportation Corps on July 31, 1942.   He will use the opportunity to dedicate the recently completed Operation Iraqi Freedom wing of the TC Museum.  In addition, the Transportation Corps Regimental Association will be announcing the recipients of this years scholarships awards.  These activities will be followed by a social and picnic to be held in the Museum's Rail Pavilion. The following day, Friday the 25th of July, the The TC Museum Foundation will hold it annual general membership meeting with a theme focused on "TC Veterans and Retirees."

The second event being scheduled is a Ft. Eustis installation recognition of Veteran's Day on November 11th.  While this is still in the planning stage, efforts are underway way to invite and host Amtrak's 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train for an on post visit.  This would be most appropriate in that General Frank S. Besson, for whom the TC Museum is named, in retirement was one of the Presidential appointees incorporating and an initial Board of Directors member of Amtrak's parent the National  Railroad Passenger Corporation. 

The dedication and museum activities are open the public and your participation is encouraged.  Plan to join us for one or both of these events at Fort Eustis to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of Army Railroaders from the Civil War to current operations in Afghanistan.  Take time this Memorial Day to remember and honor all who have served to defend and protect our country through the decades.

The following was written as the Rail Column for inclusion in the Foundation Spring Newsletter.  Because of its size, it most likely be printed in two parts.  As always, comments and corrections are most appreciated.

Mark Metz
Foundation Rail Committee
22 May 2014



With special thanks to: COL David T. Pollard, COL Robert M. Pelletier, MAJ Scott D. Meyer, MR George Gounley & MR Tim O. Moriarty

The Korean Conflict would be the last overseas (OCONUS) military involvement that would see the deployment of tactical Military Railway Service units, specifically the 712th, 714th, 724th, and 729th Transportation Railway Operating Battalions (TROB) and the 765th Transportation Railway Shop Battalion.  Post Korea, the Army's active duty railway force structure would consist of the 774th Transportation Group (Railway), the 714th Transportation Battalion (Railway Operating) and 763th Transportation Battalion (Railway Shop) all stationed at Fort Eustis, VA.  On 3 June 1965 the 774th Transportation Group and 763rd Transportation Battalion would be inactivated leaving the 714th Transportation Battalion as the Army's only active duty rail battalion.

During the Viet Nam war era, several rail units were activated at Fort Eustis to include eleven Transportation Detachments (Railway Station) on 1 June 1966; the 157th Transportation Company, (Diesel - Electric Locomotive Repair) and the 663rd Transportation Company (Railway Car Repair) on 1 April 1967; and the 716th Transportation Group (Railway) on 25 January 1968.  The 716th Transportation Group,  with lineage as a World War II Railway Operating Battalion, time as an active unit would be short lived as it was inactivated on 3 September 1968. The only rail units to be deployed to Viet Nam would be the 149th, the 525th and 526th Transportation Detachments (Railway Station). Assigned as documentation specialists to the 507th Transportation Group (Traffic Management Agency) (TMA). they quickly lost their rail identity and were absorbed into the parent organization.

While no operating operating units were deployed to Viet Nam, limited military use was made of the rail network that remained operable. This was primarily around port cities to nearby depots and installations. Actual operations were conducted under a Host Nation (HN) agreement by the Viet Nam Railway (Hoa Xa Viet Nam).  For example, during 1970 -71, trains operated from Bridge Ramp in Da Nang to Phu Bai, carrying rations, fuel, and construction materials to 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), and gravel for roads from Camp Sally, north of Hue, toward Phu Bai.  During this period the railroad also began to be used for retrograde material from Phu Bai to Bridge Ramp, after the railroad successfully handled a short notice request to carry helicopter rotor blades to meet up with the repair ship USNS Corpus Christi Bay. 

Interface between US forces and the Vietnamese Railway was conducted by the Military Assistance Command Viet Nam (MACV) rail liaison office and the TMA.  During the US involvement, the Vietnamese Railways were operating with French built steam and diesel-electric locomotives along with US built General Electric diesel-electrics provided as foreign aid.  In addition, the Army sent several Plymouth built diesel-hydraulic locomotives in TC paint from Thailand to country for Vietnamese use.  Freight equipment was a mixture of French built and US foreign aid cars built by Pullman-Standard.

The post Viet Nam troop draw down was not kind to the Army rail structure.  Units activated at Fort Eustis but not deployed were inactivated or returned to reserve status.  The 714th Transportation Battalion (Railway Operating) (Steam & Diesel Electric) itself was inactivated on 22 June 1972 leaving all rail operating capability in the Army Reserve (USAR). With the inactivation of the 714th, the 1st Railway Detachment was established at Fort Eustis to carry on some of the battalion's mission including individual training of Army railway soldiers, hosting reserve railway units during their annual training, and operating the post utility railway.  Railway MOS's were deleted from the active Army in May 1976 and the 1st Railway Detachment itself would be inactivated on 30 September 1978.
By the mid -1970s the USAR force structure was reduced to the 3rd Transportation Brigade (St. Louis, MO), 67th Transportation Group (Railway) (Jacksonville, FL)(Affiliated with SCL), the 706th Transportation Group (Railway) (Chester, PA), the 717th Transportation Battalion (Railway Operating) (Philadelphia, PA), the 729th Transportation Battalion (Railway Operating) (Middletown, CT), the 757th Transportation Battalion (Railway Shop) (Milwaukee, WI), along with a handful of company-level units. Most were inactivated by the end of the decade, to include the 3rd Transportation Brigade (31 December 1976), the 706th Transportation Group (30 June 1976) and 717th Transportation Battalion (15 September 1975).  The 729th was inactivated on 30 September 1976 and its assets, through a series of reorganizations and reflaggings, later emerged as the 1205th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion, a smaller  unit providing domestic (CONUS) railway operating and track maintenance support to the Military Traffic Management Command's (MTMC)  Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, NC (MOTSU).  The headquarters of the 757th Transportation Battalion was inactivated on 16 December 1980, leaving the subordinate numbered railway companies as separate units, and was then reactivated on 16 May 1985. The 67th Transportation Group remained active until 1 October 1986.  In the wake of its inactivation, the 416th Transportation Battalion (Railway) was activated on 16 September 1987 as a composite unit with 45 personnel to provide railway operation planning rather than actual operating capability. It too was inactivated during the post-Cold War drawdown in February 1994.
For forty-five years from its inception in December 1945, the Berlin Duty Train would provide not only transportation between Frankfurt, Bremerhaven and Berlin, but serve as a Cold War symbol of the Allies exercising transit rights through East Germany to the divided city of Berlin. Army TC would provide conductors for the train throughout it existence.  Conductor duties included processing passengers and overseeing the crew in the absence of the train commanders, who rode only through the East German portion of the trip.  In later years, German rail employees from the Deutsche Bundesbahn (DB) in the West and the Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) in the East actually operated the trains.  Included as one of the many passengers, Elvis Presley would ride the train in 1958 as part of his Army career.  With the coming to end of the Cold War, elimination of Soviet checkpoints, and the reunification of Germany; the political justifications for the train ceased to exist. The Berlin Duty Train's last run was on 8 December 1990.
Utilization of Army railroaders during the First Iraq War was limited.  The only unit to be activated was the 1205th TROB that reported to MTMC's MOTSU terminal to augment the civilian workforce. Volunteers from the 757th Transportation Battalion did deploy to several US installations to include Fort Hood and Fort Carson to support unit deployments.  In theater, the 318th Transportation Agency (Movement Control) would utilize the Saudi Railway from the Arabian Gulf to Riyadh as a segment of the western supply route to Iraq.

Throughout this period from the end of the Korean Conflict through the turn of the century, Army rail organization and doctrine remained based on the World War II era.  The basic battalion mission remained being able to operate the equivalent of a hundred mile commercial railroad division.  In the 1970s as the Army was embracing containerization, Transportation School rail lesson plans still focused on break bulk.  This organizational structure and doctrine no longer fit Army deployment requirements.  By the time of the Second Iraq War in 2003, use of Iraqi rail capability to support US troops was TBD (To Be Determined) during the planning process.

In February 2003 when the possibility of utilizing the Iraqi Republic Railway (IRR) network to support Coalition forces was made by LTC Robert Pelletier in a 3rd COSCOM  pre- deployment planning exercise in  Germany,  LTC Pelletier found himself directed by the COSCOM commander BG Charles Fletcher to develop a plan.  LTC Pelletier was an activated reservist on leave from his civilian employment as a corridor manager in Union Pacific Railroad's Omaha operation center. The plan called for utilizing the 757th Transportation Battalion along with internal expertise from on hand reservists with railroad experience to assess, repair, manage and operate the Iraqi rail system. Initial and future operational plans were drawn up as well as personnel and equipment requirements were determined. In early March 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom's Coalition C4, MG Claude V. Christianson  requested the 3rd COSCOM provide a  “Tiger Team” to plan, organize and utilize the IRR to support Coalition forces.

The Tiger Team, headed by LTC Pelletier, deployed to Arifjan, and then to Umm Qasr in early-April to work with a team from the 757th Transportation Battalion that was attached to the 17th Port & Maritime Regiment (UK).  After the rail line between Basrah to Umm Qasr was opened, the Tiger Team moved to Baghdad to begin operations and conduct an assessment of the entire IRR system.  Future military logistics nodes (railheads) were identified and proposed, schedules were developed, a communications network was established and preliminary security forces were stood up.  Early on,  the deployment of the remaining elements of the 757th Transportation Battalion was deleted from any concept.  These actions meant that rail support would be completely dependent on working with the HN IRR management and its operating capability

By mid-May, train schedules and timetables were developed and coordinated with the IRR.  Compensation terms were negotiated and agreed to with the IRR.  Ultimately, railheads were established at the logistical bases of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 4th Infantry Division, the 3d Armored Calvary Regiment, the 3rd COSCOM, the1st Marine Expeditionary Force and British Forces in the Basra - Umm Qasr area.  Additionally, the Tiger Team became an integral part of the Ministry of Transportation’s rail reconstruction and post war utilization of the rail network as part of nation building.  Utilization of the IRR capability proved to be a force multiplier by moving 11,000 container during the first eight months of rail operations reducing the overall need for military or contractor motor vehicles and drivers.

Integral with working with HN rail capability is a strong interface with the nations political bureaucracy.  By mid summer Mr. Gordon Mott joined the Tiger Team as the Department of Defense' senior civilian rail expert.  Following service with the 3rd Transportation Railway Command in the late 1960s, Mr. Mott held various managerial positions with the Burlington Northern Railroad,  the Federal Railroad Administration Northeast Corridor Project, and CSX Transportation.  Securing and directing US aid for the IRR proved critical in increasing both short term IRR capability and reliability along with cementing its long term role in nation building.  Having on the ground managers with US commercial railroad knowledge and experience first utilized during the Civil War once again proved its worth in Iraq.
While the use of the IRR in the Second Iraq War was a limited portion of the overall requirement, it was important for Army doctrine as it confirmed that with proper planning HN rail infrastructure and operating capability remains a viable alternative for supporting deployed troops.  A similar conclusion was reached in an Engineer Corps after action report on 1996 Bosnia operations.  That report concluded "a functioning rail line is an asset to any military force concerned with supplying and reinforcing its forces." In early November 2004, three months after taking command of MTMC's successor Surface  Distribution and Deployment Command (SDDC), BG Charles Fletcher hosted a Rail Summit Overview to assess current rail capabilities and future rail requirements. 

An early on Summit conclusion was that deployment of traditional operating rail battalions under World War II doctrine was highly unlikely.  The conference did conclude that where available, the use of HN rail capabilities could be a viable transportation alternative and an Army unit designed to facilitate this did have a place in the force structure.  This would mean a dramatic change in the Army rail force structure from an operations orientation to one of assessment, advisory, and contract administration.  Based on the initial IRR Tiger Team experience, various additional after action reports, and other expert input; recommendations for the proposed organizations capabilities, structure, and mission statement were developed.  This would began a ten year process to develop the rail  force structure and doctrine needed to support this mission under the Force Design Update (FDU) process.

While this Summit did come to some basic conclusions and recommendations, progress in moving the concept through the FDU process made little progress. With a pending Total Army Analysis (TAA) questioning the need for any Army rail force structure, LTG Jack C. Stultz,  Chief, Army Reserve, championed maintaining an Army rail capability.  As released in December 2008, TAA10 -15 maintained an Army rail capability but reduced its authorized strength from over 500 to 150 positions. 

With TAA allowances known, BG Edward F. Dorman III, the Army Chief of Transportation, backed a rail advisory force structure to be known as a Rail Support Center (RSC).   By 2009 using lessons learned and after action reports from the initial IRR Tiger Team, follow on teams to include one headed by MAJ Scott Meyer in 2008, and numerous other experts; the Office of Chief of Reserve Affairs (OCRA) of the Transportation School,  CASCOM's Force Development  and other vested parties to include SDDC and 757th Transportation Battalion began  further evaluation and staffing of the RSC.  It would fall on the COL David T.  Pollard, as the OCRA, to begin the process of shepherding the RSC through the FDU.  During the process he would be succeeded by COL Larry McColpin and later COL Dan Rivers.  Critical in this process were Central Commands and Africa Commands positive responses to a CASCOM "White Paper" inquiry if such a capability was needed.  The RSC would be a USAR asset with an authorized strength of 150 (ultimately 184) personnel.  Its mission:  "To provide rail network capacity and infrastructure assessments, perform rail mode feasibility studies and advise on employment of rail capabilities, coordinate rail and bridge safety assessments, perform and assist with rail planning, coordinate use of host HN or contracted rail assets. Perform contracting officer's representative (COR) duties to oversee contracts and provide quality assurance of contracts."  In this process, the RSC would be renamed Expeditionary Rail Center (ERC) in line with evolving Army designations. 

In the fall of 2010 a new 75 km rail line was completed connecting Afghanistan with the Uzberkistan rail network.  The following October, the first of four scheduled USAR Afghan Rail Advisory Teams (ARAT) was deployed to help US forces and Afghan authorities effectively utilize this new rail transportation capability.  One of the ARAT's missions was  to evaluate and further refine the ERC concept.  The ERC concept was approved by Headquarters DA with the unit scheduled to be activated in September 2015.