101st Airborne - - Airborne
Upon the activation of the 101st Airborne Division on 16 August 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, its first commander, Major General William C. Lee, observed that "The 101st has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny." Time and time again, the 101st has kept that rendezvous and, in so doing, has acquired a proud history.
The 101st moved to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, for training and successfully demonstrated its readiness during the Tennessee maneuvers of 1943. Embarking from New York City in September, the Division continued training in England until D-Day, 6 June 1944, when its pathfinders became the first Americans to set foot in Nazi occupied France. The Screaming Eagles cleared the way for the 1st and 4th Infantry Divisions at Omaha and Utah Beaches. After 33 days of continuous fighting, including a bitter battle for the town of Carentan, the 101st returned to England to prepare for the liberation of Holland. On 17 September 1944, the Division seized and held the Eindoven-Arnhen corridor for 10 days against heavy odds and spent a total of 72 days in battle.
In November 1944, The 101st returned to France for a well deserved rest, only to be called to action again in the Battle of the Bulge. While guarding the crucial transportation hub of Bastogne, Belgium, the division was surrounded by advancing enemy forces who demanded immediate surrender. The acting Division Commander, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, made history with his classic reply "Nuts!". The Siege was broken on 26 December 1944, but the fighting continued until 18 January 1945. After moving through Alsace and the Ruhr Valleys, the 101st captured Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgarden. On 30 November 1945, the Screaming Eagles were deactivated.
In May 1954, the 101st reappeared as a training unit at Ft, Jackson, South Carolina, and in 1956 was transferred to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, for reorganization as a combat division. Official reactivation ceremonies were held on 21 September 1956. Subsequent activities included major training exercises, duty in civil disturbances and maintenance of full readiness as part of the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC).
On 29 July 1965, the 1st Brigade was deployed to Vietnam, where the remainder of the division joined it in December 1967.
In 1968, the 101st took on the structure and equipment of an airmobile division. Today, the 101st stands as the Army's and world's only air assault division with unequaled strategic and tactical mobility. In 1974, the training of the 101st was recognized with the creation of the Air Assault Badge, now a service wide decoration of the United States Army.
The division has supported humanitarian relief efforts in Rwanda and Somalia, then later supplied peacekeepers to Haiti and Bosnia.
It also deployed again to Iraq in 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The division was in V Corps, providing support to the 3rd Infantry Division by clearing Iraqi strong points which that division had bypassed. The Division then went on to a tour of duty as part of the occupation forces of Iraq, using the city of Mosul as their primary base of operations, before being withdrawn in early 2004 for rest and refit. As part of the Army's modular transformation, the existing infantry brigades, artillery brigade, and aviation brigades were transformed, with the addition of re-activating a brand-new (or in this case old) 4th Brigade Combat Team known as "Currahee" has come back since World War II and it's subordinate units, to form a 6-7 major units division, one of the largest currently in the U.S. Army, in preparation to redeploy in fall 2005 to Iraq.
The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) remains ever vigilant, highly trained, and ready to respond to their next "Rendezvous with Destiny." They also retain their original airborne parachutist legacy with individual members of the unit Airborne qualified.