Gen. Hoge's ceremonial swing at Kaiserslautern, 1954
Published: October 27, 2012
Neil Doherty ©Stars and Stripes
Kaiserslautern, Germany, September, 1954: It was halfway around the world from Promontory Summit, Utah, and the last spike wasn't golden, but the soldiers from the 432nd Engineer Construction Battalion watching Gen. William M. Hoge, USAREUR commander-in-chief, take a ceremonial swing could relate to the workers on the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The event marked the completion of a three-mile rail spur built by the 432nd from Kaiserslautern's main station to Panzer Casern. Hoge was something of a World War II engineering Zelig, being deeply involved in such endeavors as the construction of the Alaska Highway, the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach, and the capture of the famed bridge at Remagen and the crossing of the Rhine that followed.