Building Patton’s bridges

Charles Hair... 04/11/02
Charles Hair (Photo by Travis Sprawling, published April 24, 2002, used by permission of The Advocate.)

By George Morris

In almost a quarter-century as city engineer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Charles Hair Jr. was responsible for a lot of bridges. But no one was shooting at him when they were being built.

Hair wasn’t always so fortunate as commander of the 3rd Army’s 88th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion. His outfit made 15 river crossings as Gen. George S. Patton Jr. led 3rd Army through France, Luxembourg and on into Germany.

The 88th made three crossings of the Seine, five of the Moselle (in three countries) and three of the Main. They never had to make the same crossing twice.

“To be a good soldier, you’ve got to be lucky,” Hair said in 2002. “We went through that whole thing without any severe times, because when Patton crossed a river, he stayed. If he’d gotten thrown back, we would have been lost.”

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