The RMT US ARMY #181027 boxcar pays tribute to the ARMY's Railroad Transportation Corps...."the military railroaders". On each boxcar end is a listing of Army posts that the 714th was stationed while an active Army unit.The logo on the boxcar side is the Unit Crest used by the 714th,
Walter M. Matuch of RMT served with the 717th TBROS&DE and did advanced training at Ft. Eustis, VA...the home of the 714th TBROS&DE...and yes they still had steam locomotives at Ft. Eustis. His father trained during WWII at Fort Clairborne, Louisiana.
A Short History of the 714th TBROS & DE
The 714th Transportation Battalion (Railway Operations) (Steam and Diesel Electric) was constituted on 18 October 1927 and was originally known as the 56th Engineering Battalion (Railway). From then until the outbreak of World War II it existed only on paper. Although it was disbanded on 14 November 1940, it was reconstructed as the 56th Engineering Battalion (Railway Operating) because the entry of the United States into
World War II was eminent. On 21 February 1941, it was redesignated as the 714th Engineer Battalion (Railway Operating). Then on 1 April 1942, it is again redesignated the 714th Engineer Railway Operating Battalion (ROB). Finally on 31 October 1942, the 714th ROB was activated at the Engineer Unit Training Center at Camp Clairborne, Louisiana.
The skill of running a railroad battalion was not something that the US Army could train
men to do overnight. Railroading required years of experience. Therefore, the US Army had an agreement with civilian railroad companies that in event of war they would sponsor railroad battalions. They would provide key personnel and training for the organization. The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway sponsored the formation of the 714th ROB and the recruiting took place primarily in St Paul, Minnesota. However, when the recruiting was completed, the men came from far and wide across the country. Since railway battalions were part of the Engineer Corps, the majority of the officers of the 714th were Engineer Reserve officers.
The Engineer Center was not as improved as the rest of the camp so the men accustomed themselves to the rugged life. They first lived pyramid tents with dirt floors then moved into tar-paper shacks. Because of the preponderance of mutton on the menu, the men of the battalion took to calling their new home, “Goat Hill.” They later moved over to the
main camp and replaced the 759th ROB on the Camp Claiborne-Polk Railroad.
“Someone had conceived the idea of constructing a Military Railroad from Camp Claiborne to Camp Polk, a distance of about fifty miles. It had been completed by the time we got there, but no one had ever figured out a method for licking the mud. The more it rained, the deeper the track sank into the good old Louisiana mud. The battalion was greatly over-strength at this stage of the game, but it took the entire personnel to
keep the track open and the trains running. Derailments were the order of the day and night and many a poor GI was aroused from his bed to get out and put the equipment back on the track. Military training was pursued just as diligently as before until GI Joe didn‟t know whether he was in the Army, working on a railroad or riding a horse. About this time the Military Railway Service was transferred, lock, stock, and barrel to the Transportation Corps and we all lost our identity as the 714th Engineer Railway Battalion
and became known as the 714th Railway Operating Battalion. As the time rolled by, the unit shaped up very rapidly and rumors were rife as to where we were going and when. Eventually the day arrived, but the “switch-shanty” rumors still persisted for no one knew, with certainty, where we were bound.”