Black History: Special Delivery!!
95th Engineer Army Battalion Unit: Major Force in Building The Alaska/Canada Highway
The African American 95th Engineer Army Battalion unit was formed in April 1941 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia initially in preparation for World War II. The unit was sent to Alaska and Canada in 1942 to assist with building the Alcan (Alaska/Canada) Highway. The need for the highway was identified in the 1930’s but World War II was the catalyst that started construction. The construction process was compared to building the Panama Canal. The 95th Engineers joined forces with two other back units already working in Alaska as well as 4 white units. All the unit was almost exclusively African American the officers were white. The unit was no stranger to discrimination while working on the project. They were discouraged from interacting with local towns people and their unit accomplishments were largely ignored by the press. Despite the challenges, the 95th Engineers developed a reputation for excellence. The unit was noted in particular for their skill in bridge building. The unit completed the construction project a year ahead of schedule in 1943.