528th Engineer Detachment (Utility)
Unit History: 1 June 1963 to 30 March 1968
The 528th Engineer Detachment (Utility) was activated in June 1963 and assigned to Headquarters USARYIS, HG Team, EB Team, and GF Team of TO&E 5-5000 where its original mission was that of Post Engineer. Organized under 5-5000 with an HG (Utilities) Team, EB (Engineer Maintenance) Team and a GF (Water Purification) Team, it has a TO&E strength of six Officers and 93 Enlisted men. The 528th was reassigned in 1963 to Camp Friendship, Korat, Thailand. There it assumed the Post Engineer functions of Repair and Utilities until July 1966 when its mission changed to vertical construction.
Originally attached in June 1963 to the 9th Logistical Command (B), the 528th was further attached to the 44th Engineer Group (Construction) in December 1963. It was again attached to 9th Logistical Command (B) from August 1966 to August 1967 when it was returned to 44th Engineer Group (Construction).
As the Post Engineer Detachment form 1963 to 1966 the 528th drilled the first wells at Camp Friendship and laid the water pipe line from the wells to Camp Friendship. The 528th GF Team operated and maintained six pumps at the water point. Power generators were operated and maintained by the 528th before commercial electric power and a central generating plant came to Camp Friendship.
In addition to the normal Post Engineer functions of garbage disposal, grounds maintenance, repair of roads and buildings etc, they also did some construction. Fifty-two tropical climate hooches were built at the Smith Barracks section of Camp Friendship with the help of local national carpenters and laborers. They built a hanger, concrete runway and apron for the Army Air Head at the Royal Thai Air Force Base in Korat. The 528th built an extension to the Headquarters of the 519th Transportation Battalion, extensions to the Class II & IV stock control building, the CID building and lighted tennis, basketball, volleyball courts.
The 528th added to the swimming pool facility at Camp Friendship, by constructing the bath house, the concrete work surrounding the pool, and the first snack bar. It replaced the pool plumbing after the original pipes cracked from the vibrations caused at the bomb disposal range.
The 528th did considerable work at Camp USARTHAI, the 44th Engineer Group (Construction) Headquarters, Located about 5 miles from Camp Friendship. There it remodeled the hooches, putting wooden louver sides on them, built the library and the water tower.
In July 1966 AMPAC, a Civilian Contractor, took over the Post Engineer work for the Army in all of Thailand. The 528th Engineer Detachment then turned to vertical construction as its primary mission. It built some of the most beautiful, most useful and most appreciated buildings on post.
The first project after this change of mission was the education center-library building, started in August 1966 and completed 30 days later. The next project was the Post Chapel, a truly modern and inspiring structure. The Chapel was dedicated by General Harold K Johnson, Army Chief of Staff. The PX-Snack Bar and Concession complex was begun in November 1966. It featured air conditioning and terrazzo floors, a combination of white concrete and marble chips.
In September 1967 construction was completed on an addition to the NCO Club with teakwood interior paneling and terrazzo floors. The 528th built a 546 seat air conditioned theater, visited every evening by much of the personnel on post.
The enormous and beautiful EM Club was completed at the end of 1967, to be dedicated on January 2, 1968 by General Harold K. Johnson. This $107,000 structure included a huge ball room, bar, lounge, patio, party room, game room and snack bar. The interior of the fully air conditioned EM Club is teakwood walls with tile and terrazzo floors.
Other structures completed in 1967 were 4 wash houses at the new permanent billets, for use by the housegirls, a Motor Maintenance Facility used by the 519th Transportation Battalion, and an FOQ for Army Nurses; this high priority project was completed after only 28 days.
In early 1968 the new air conditioned library was completed. It was designed in its entirety by the drafting section of the 528th which included a graduate architectural Engineer. (The design of the NCO Club and interior of the EM Club were also the handiwork of the 528th's draftsmen.
A VIP BOQ was completed in February 1968. This was the first concrete block construction done by the 528th.
The squash and handball court was finished in March 1968 and was welcomed by those enthusiasts who previously had to use the Air Force's overcrowded courts.
In the first 3 months of 1968 the 528th started work on 3 concrete BOQ's, and Engineer Field Maintenance Facility, a brick and concrete Mess Hall and a new Army Air Head complex including access road, parking apron (1460' x 420'), open storage pad (100 x 300') and a hanger (80' x 120')
The members of the 528th, both Americans and Thai, are proud of their accomplishments. The buildings constructed by them are practical, as well as beautiful, and the quality of work done was observed by many distinguished visitors. Among them were Generals Johnson, Beach, Haines, Heiser, Clarke, Stillwell, and SGM of the Army Woolridge.
The 528th, was privileged to build such useful and unique structures, but also under the pressure of meeting completion deadlines, found itself building so many structures at one time and all in such a short time that it adopted the motto "We Can Do Anyseen." The motto shows the pride and industriousness of the unit as well as the close contact and cooperation with the Thai, as illustrated in the Thai pronunciation of "anything."
The 528th was as industrious after duty as well as on duty. In both 1967 and 1968 it won the Korat area volleyball championships. In 1967 it Won the all-Thailand Championship and in 1968 it represented Korat in the All-Thailand tournament held in Udorn. The 528th spirit and teamwork was also demonstrated during the intramural softball seasons at Camp Friendship when its team finished in third place.
The 528th Engineer Detachment, equipped mainly for Post Engineer work, adapted quickly to its new mission of vertical construction. The original table of organization and equipment (TO&E) provided the 528th with the personnel and equipment to make the transition possible and to allow the 528th to build structures normally attempted only by professional Civilian Contractors with draftsmen, surveyors, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, heavy equipment operators, supply specialists, and skilled supervisors, it was possible for the 528th to design, plan, procure material, construct, and complete a building with almost no help from other organizations.
As if the completed building along were not a lasting tribute to the 528th and its motto "We Can Do Anyseen", somewhere in almost every major building on Camp Friendship are the numbers 528th inscribed to further testify to the pride of this small but hardworking unit.
(Note added 22 April 2001 by Mac Thompson, much former 2nd Lt with the 528th from Feb '64 to Feb '65: I don't know when the above was prepared, but obviously prior to the availability of spell and grammar checkers. I've retyped the history in its original form without the insertion of "sics" which would have harmed the continuity of the message. Indeed, the 528th was usually too busy working to worry too much about the fine points of form. It was a good unit to be associated with.)
Daniel Pritchard, Reference Librarian U.S. Military Academy (West Point) Library
Editing by 2LT MacAlan "Mac" Thompson, 528th - Camp Friendship Korat 64-65