|101st Airborne Division|
101st Airborne Division shoulder sleeve insignia
(the "Screaming Eagle").
|Active||1921-1942; 15 August 1942–30 November 1945
|Country||United States of America|
|Role||Air Assault Infantry|
|Part of||XVIII Airborne Corps|
|Motto||"Rendezvous With Destiny"|
|Mascot||Bald Eagle a.k.a. "Old Abe"|
|Engagements||World War II
War in Southwest Asia
|MG John F. Campbell|
|William C. Lee
Maxwell D. Taylor
Anthony C. McAuliffe
William C. Westmoreland
Richard A. Cody
David H. Petraeus
|Distinctive Unit Insignia|
|Combat Service Identification Badge|
|U.S. Infantry Divisions (1939–present)|
|100th Infantry Division||102nd Infantry Division|
The 101st Airborne Division — the "Screaming Eagles"— is a U.S. Army modular infantry division trained for air assault operations. During World War II, it was renowned for action during the Normandy Landings and in the Battle of the Bulge. During the Vietnam War, the 101st Airborne Division was redesignated first an airmobile division, then later as an air assault division. For historical reasons, it retains the "Airborne" tab identifier, yet does not conduct parachute operations at a division level. Many modern members of the 101st are graduates of the U.S. Army Air Assault School, and wear the Air Assault Badge, but it is not prerequisite for assignment to the division. The division's headquarters are at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is the only U.S. Army division with two aviation brigades. It is one of the most prestigious and decorated divisions in the U.S. Army.
The division was activated on 15 August 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. On 19 August 1942, its first commander, Major General William C. Lee, promised his new recruits that the 101st had "no history but had a rendezvous with destiny."
General Order Number Five, which gave birth to the division, reads:
The 101st Airborne Division, activated at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny. Like the early American pioneers whose invincible courage was the foundation stone of this nation, we have broken with the past and its traditions in order to establish our claim to the future.
Due to the nature of our armament, and the tactics in which we shall perfect ourselves, we shall be called upon to carry out operations of far-reaching military importance and we shall habitually go into action when the need is immediate and extreme.
Let me call your attention to the fact that our badge is the great American eagle. This is a fitting emblem for a division that will crush its enemies by falling upon them like a thunderbolt from the skies.
The history we shall make, the record of high achievement we hope to write in the annals of the American Army and the American people, depends wholly and completely on the men of this division. Each individual, each officer and each enlisted man, must therefore regard himself as a necessary part of a complex and powerful instrument for the overcoming of the enemies of the nation. Each, in his own job, must realize that he is not only a means, but an indispensable means for obtaining the goal of victory. It is, therefore, not too much to say that the future itself, in whose molding we expect to have our share, is in the hands of the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division.
The 101st Airborne Division's objectives were to secure the four causeway exits behind Utah Beach, destroy a German coastal artillery battery at Saint-Martin-de-Varreville, capture buildings nearby at Mésières believed used as barracks and a command post for the artillery battery, capture the Douve River lock at la Barquette (opposite Carentan), capture two footbridges spanning the Douve at la Porte opposite Brévands, destroy the highway bridges over the Douve at Sainte-Come-du-Mont, and secure the Douve River valley.
In the process units would also disrupt German communications, establish roadblocks to hamper the movement of German reinforcements, establish a defensive line between the beachhead and Volognes, clear the area of the drop zones to the unit boundary at Les Forges, and link up with the 82nd Airborne Division.
The paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" jumped between 0048 and 0140 British Double Summer Time of 6 June. The first wave, inbound to Drop Zone A (the northernmost), was not surprised by the cloud bank and maintained formation, but navigating errors and a lack of Eureka signal caused the first error. Although the 2nd Battalion 502nd PIR was dropped as a compact unit, it jumped on the wrong drop zone, while the its commander, Lt Col. Steve A. Chappuis, came down virtually alone on the correct drop zone. Chappuis and this stick captured the coastal battery soon after assembling, and found that it had already been dismantled after an air raid.
Most of the remainder of the 502nd (70 of 80 sticks) dropped in a disorganized pattern around the impromptu drop zone set up by the pathfinders near the beach. The battalion commanders of the 1st and 3rd Battalions, Lt Col. Patrick J. Cassidy (1/502) and Lt Col. Robert G. Cole (3/502), took charge of small groups and accomplished all of their D-Day missions. Cassidy's group took Saint Martin-de-Varreville by 0630, sent a patrol under S/Sgt. Harrison C. Summers to seize the "XYZ" objective, a barracks at Mésières, and set up a thin line of defense from Fourcarville to Beuzeville. Cole's group moved during the night from near Saint Mère Église to the Varreville battery, then continued on and captured Exit 3 at 0730. They held the position during the morning until relieved by troops moving inland from Utah Beach. Both commanders found Exit 4 covered by German artillery fire and Cassidy recommended to the 4th Infantry Division that it not use the exit.
The division's parachute artillery did not fare nearly as well. Its drop was one of the worst of the operation, losing all but one howitzer and dropping all but two of 54 loads four to twenty miles (32 km) to the north, where most ultimately became casualties.
The second wave, assigned to drop the 506th PIR on Drop Zone C 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Sainte Marie-du-Mont, was badly dispersed by the clouds, then subjected to intense antiaircraft fire for 10 miles (16 km). Three of the 81 C-47s were lost before or during the jump. One, piloted by 1st Lt. Marvin F. Muir of the 439th Troop Carrier Group, caught fire. Lt. Muir held the aircraft steady while the stick jumped, then died when the plane crashed immediately afterward, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Despite the opposition, the 506th's 1st Battalion[notes 1] (the original division reserve) was dropped accurately on DZ C, landing two-thirds of its sticks and regimental commander Col. Robert F. Sink on or within a mile of the drop zone.
Most of the 2nd Battalion commanded by Lt Col. Robert L. Strayer had jumped too far west, near Sainte Mère Église. They eventually assembled near Foucarville at the northern edge of the 101st Airborne's objective area. It fought its way to the hamlet of le Chemin near the Houdienville causeway by mid-afternoon, but found that the 4th Division had already seized the exit hours before. The 3rd Battalion of the 501st PIR, led by Lt Col. Julian J. Ewell (3/501), also assigned to jump onto DZ C, was more scattered, but took over the mission of securing the exits. An ad hoc company-sized team that included division commander Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor reached the Pouppeville exit at 0600. After a six-hour house-clearing battle with elements of the German 1058th Grenadier Regiment, the group secured the exit shortly before 4th Division troops arrived to link up.
The third wave also encountered severe flak, losing 6 aircraft. The troop carriers still made an accurate drop, placing 94 of 132 sticks on or close to the drop zone, but part of the DZ was covered by pre-registered German machinegun and mortar fire that inflicted heavy casualties before many troops could get out of their chutes. Among the killed were two of the three battalion commanders and the executive officer of the 3/506th.
The surviving battalion commander, Lt Col. Robert A. Ballard, gathered 250 troopers and advanced toward Saint Côme-du-Mont to complete his mission of destroying the highway bridges over the Douve. Less than half a mile from his objective at les Droueries he was stopped by elements of battalion III./1058 Grenadier-Rgt. Another group of 50 men, assembled by the regimental S-3, Major Richard J. Allen, attacked the same area from the east at Basse-Addeville but was also pinned down.
The commander of the 501st PIR, Col. Howard R. Johnson, collected 150 troops and captured the main objective, the la Barquette lock, by 0400. After establishing defensive positions, Col. Johnson went back to the DZ and assembled another 100 men, including Allen's group, to reinforce the bridgehead. Despite naval gunfire support from the cruiser Quincy, Ballard's battalion was unable to take Saint Côme-du-Mont or join Col. Johnson.
The S-3 officer of the 3rd Battalion 506th PIR, Capt. Charles G. Shettle, put together a platoon and achieved another objective by seizing two foot bridges near la Porte at 0430 and crossed to the east bank. When their ammunition drew low after knocking out several machine gun emplacements, the small force withdrew to the west bank. It doubled in size overnight as stragglers came in, and repulsed a German probe across the bridges.
Two other noteworthy actions took place near Sainte Marie-du-Mont by units of the 506th PIR, both of which involved the seizure and destruction of batteries of 88mm guns of the German III Battalion-191st Artillery Regiment. During the morning, a small patrol of troopers from Company E 506th PIR under 1st Lt. Richard D. Winters overwhelmed a force 3-4 times its size and destroyed four guns at a farm called Brécourt Manor for which Winters was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Around noon, while reconnoitering the area by jeep, Col. Sink received word that a second battery of four guns had been discovered at Holdy, a manor between his CP and Sainte Marie-du-Mont, and the defenders had a force of some 70 paratroopers pinned down. Capt. Lloyd E. Patch (Headquarters Company 1st/506th) and Capt. Knut H. Raudstein (Company C 506th PIR) led an additional 70 troops to Holdy and enveloped the position. The combined force then continued on to seize Sainte Marie-du-Mont. A platoon of the 502nd PIR, left to hold the battery, destroyed three of the four guns before Col. Sink could send four jeeps to save them for the airborne's use.
At the end of D-Day, Gen. Taylor and his assistant division commander (ADC) Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe returned from their foray at Pouppeville. Taylor had control of approximately 2,500 of his 6,600 men, most of which were in the vicinity of the 506th CP at Culoville, with the thin defense line west of Saint Germain-du-Varreville, or the division reserve at Blosville. Two glider airlifts had brought in scant reinforcements and had resulted in the death of his other ADC, Brig. Gen. Don F. Pratt. The 327th Glider Infantry had come across Utah Beach but only its third battalion (1st Battalion 401st GIR) had reported in.
The 101st Airborne Division had accomplished its most important mission of securing the beach exits, but had a tenuous hold on positions near the Douve River, over which the Germans could still move armored units. The three groups clustered there had tenuous contact with each other but none with the rest of the division. A shortage of radio equipment caused by losses during the drops exascerbated his control problems. Taylor made destroying the Douve bridges the division's top priority and delegated the task to Col. Sink, who issued orders for the 1st Battalion 401st Glider Infantry to lead three battalions south the next morning.
On 25 August 1944, the division became part of the XVIII Airborne Corps in the First Allied Airborne Army. The division took part in Operation Market Garden (September 17–25, 1944), an unsuccessful Allied military operation under field marshall Bernard Montgomery to capture Dutch bridges over the Rhine fought in the Netherlands and the largest airborne operation of all time.[notes 2]
The plan, as outlined by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, required the seizure by airborne forces of several bridges on the Highway 69 across the Maas (Meuse River) and two arms of the Rhine (the Waal and the Lower Rhine), as well as several smaller canals and tributaries. Crossing the these bridges would allow British armoured units to outflank the Siegfried Line, advance into northern Germany, and encircle the Ruhr, Germany's industrial heartland, thus ending the war. This meant the large-scale use of Allied airborne forces, including both the 82nd and 101st.
The operation was initially successful. Several bridges between Eindhoven and Nijmegen were captured by the 82nd and 101st. The 101st met little resistance and captured most of their initial objectives by the end of 17 September. However, the demolition of the division's primary objective, a bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal at Son, delayed the capture of the main road bridge over the Maas until 20 September. Faced with the loss of the bridge at Son, the 101st unsuccessfully attempted to capture a similar bridge a few kilometers away at Best but found the approach blocked. Other units continued moving to the south and eventually reached the northern end of Eindhoven.
At 06:00 hours on 18 September the Irish Guards Group resumed the advance while facing determinded resistance from German infantry and tanks.:p71 Around noon the 101st Airborne were met by the lead reconnaissance units from XXX Corps. At 16:00 radio contact alerted the main force that the Son bridge had been destroyed and requested that a bailey bridge be brought forward. By nightfall the Guards Armoured Division had established itself in the Eindhoven area however transport columns were jammed in the packed streets of the town and were subjected to German aerial bombardment during the night. XXX Corps engineers, supported by German prisoners of war, constructed a class 40 bailey bridge within 10 hours across the Wilhelmina Canal.:p72 The sector of the longest sector of the highway secured by the 101st Airborne Division later became known as "Hell's Highway".
The Ardennes Offensive (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German offensive launched towards the end of World War II through the forested Ardennes Mountains region of Belgium. Germany's planned goal for these operations was to split the British and American Allied line in half, capturing Antwerp, Belgium in the process, and then proceeding to encircle and destroy the entire British 21st Army Group and all 12th U.S. Army Group units north of the German advance, forcing the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis Powers’ favor as a result. In order to reach Antwerp before the Allies could regroup and bring their superior air power to bear, German mechanized forces had to seize all the major highways through eastern Belgium. Because all seven of the main roads in the Ardennes converged on the small town of Bastogne, control of its crossroads was vital to the success or failure of the German attack.
Despite several notable signs in the weeks preceding the attack, the Ardennes Offensive achieved virtually complete surprise. By the end of the second day of battle, it became apparent that the 28th Infantry Division was near collapse. Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton, commander of VIII Corps, ordered part of his armored reserve, Combat Command B of the 10th Armored Division to Bastogne.[notes 3] Meanwhile, Gen. Eisenhower ordered forward the SHAEF reserve, composed of the 82nd and 101st Airborne, which were stationed at Reims.
Both divisions were alerted on the evening of 17 December, and not having organic transport, began arranging trucks for movement forward. The 82nd, longer in reserve and thus better re-equipped, moved out first. The 101st left Camp Mourmelon on the afternoon of 18 December, with the order of march the division artillery, division trains, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 506th PIR, 502nd PIR, and 327th Glider Infantry. Much of the convoy was conducted at night in drizzle and sleet, using headlights despite threat of air attack to speed the movement, and at one point the combined column stretched from Bouillon, Belgium, back to Reims.
The 101st Airborne was routed to Bastogne, located 107 miles away on a 1463 ft (445m) high plateau, while the 82nd Airborne took up positions further north to block the critical advance of Kampfgruppe Peiper toward Werbomont, Belgium. The 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion, in reserve sixty miles to the north, was ordered to Bastogne to provide anti-tank support to the armorless 101st Airborne on the 18th and arrived late the next evening. The first elements of the 501st PIR entered the division assembly area four miles west of Bastogne shortly after midnight of 19 December, and by 0900 the entire division had arrived.
By 21 December, the German forces had surrounded Bastogne, which was defended by both the 101st Airborne and Combat Command B of the 10th Armored Division. Conditions inside the perimeter were tough—most of the medical supplies and medical personnel had been captured on 19 December. CCB of the 10th Armored Division, severely weakened by losses in delaying the German advance, formed a mobile "fire brigade" of 40 light and medium tanks (including survivors of CCR of the 9th Armored Division, which had been destroyed while delaying the Germans, and eight replacement tanks found unassigned in Bastogne). Three artillery battalions, including the all-black 969th Field Artillery Battalion, were commandeered by the 101st and formed a temporary artillery group. Each had 12 155 mm howitzers, providing the division with heavy firepower in all directions restricted only by its limited ammunition supply (By 22 December artillery ammunition was restricted to 10 rounds per gun per day.) The weather cleared the next day, however, and supplies (primarily ammunition) were dropped over four of the next five days.
Despite several determined German attacks, the perimeter held. The German commander, Generalleutnant Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz, requested Bastogne's surrender. When General Anthony McAuliffe, now acting commander of the 101st, was told, a frustrated McAuliffe responded, "Nuts!" After turning to other pressing issues, his staff reminded him that they should reply to the German demand. One officer (Harry W. O. Kinnard, then a Lieutenant Colonel) recommended that McAuliffe's initial reply should be "tough to beat". Thus McAuliffe wrote on the paper delivered to the Germans: "NUTS!" That reply had to be explained, both to the Germans and to non-American Allies.
Both of the two panzer divisions of the XLVII Panzer Corps moved forward from Bastogne after 21 December, leaving only one panzergrenadier regiment of the Panzer-Lehr-Division to assist the 26th Volksgrenadier Division in attempting to capture the crossroads. The 26th VG received additional armor and panzergrenadier reinforcements on Christmas Eve to prepare for its final assault, to take place on Christmas day. Because it lacked sufficient armor and troops and the 26th VG Division wes near exhaustion, the XLVII Panzer Corps concentrated the assault on several individual locations on the west side of perimeter in sequence rather than launching one simultaneous attack on all sides. The assault, despite initial success by German tanks in penetrating the American line, was defeated and virtually all of the German tanks involved were destroyed. The next day, 26 December, the spearhead of General George S. Patton's U.S. Third Army relief force, the 4th Armored Division, broke through the German lines and opened a corridor to Bastogne, ending the siege.
On 1 August 1945, the 501 PIR was moved to France while the rest of the division was based around Zell am See and Kaprun in the Austrian alps. The division was deactivated 30 November 1945.
For their efforts during World War II, the 101st Airborne Division was awarded four campaign streamers and two Presidential Unit Citations. The division suffered 1,766 Killed In Action; 6,388 Wounded In Action; and 324 Died of Wounds during World War II.
Source: Order of Battle: U.S. Army World War II by Shelby Stanton, Presidio Press, 1984.
The 101st was distinguished partly by its helmet decorations. The soldiers used card suits (diamonds, spades, hearts, and clubs) to indicate the regiment to which they belonged. The only exception being the 187th, who were added to the division later.
The 101st Airborne Division was reactivated as a training unit at Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, in 1948 and again in 1950. It was reactivated again in 1954 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and in March 1956, the 101st was transferred, less personnel and equipment, to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to be reorganized as a combat division. The 101st was reactivated as a "pentomic" division with five battle groups in place of its World War II structure that featured regiments and battalions. The reorganization was in place by late April 1957 and the division's battle groups were:
Division artillery consisted of the following units:
Other supporting units were also assigned.
The Little Rock Nine were a group of African-American students who were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in September 1957, as a result of The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the historic Brown v. Board of Education case. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, in direct opposition to the Court's ruling, activated and deployed the Arkansas National Guard to support the segregationists on 4 September 1957. The sight of a line of soldiers blocking nine black students from attending high school immediately polarized the city.
Attorneys from the U.S. Justice Department requested an injunction against the governor's deployment of the National Guard from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock. Judge Ronald Davies granted the injunction and ordered the governor to withdraw the National Guard on 20 September.
As a result, elements of the division's 1st Airborne Battle Group, 327th Infantry (bearing the lineage of the old Company A, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment) were ordered to Little Rock by President Eisenhower to enforce the court injunction during the crisis. The division was deployed from September through November 1957, when they were relieved by the U.S. Marshals.
In the mid-1960s, the 1st Brigade and support troops were deployed to the Republic of Vietnam, followed by the rest of the division in late 1967. The 101st was deployed in the northern I Corps region operating against the Vietnam People's Army (NVA) infiltration routes through Laos and the A Shau Valley for most of the war. In almost seven years of combat in Vietnam, elements of the 101st participated in 15 campaigns. Notable among these were the Battle of Hamburger Hill in 1969 and Firebase Ripcord in 1970.
On 12 March 1970, the 3rd Brigade of 101st began rebuilding abandoned Fire Support Base Ripcord which relied, as with most remote bases at the time, on a helicopter lifeline to get supplies in and the personnel out. The firebase was to be used for a planned offensive by the 101st to destroy NVA supply bases in the mountains overlooking the A Shau Valley. Located on the eastern edge of the valley, and taking place at the same time as the Cambodian Incursion, the operation was considered covert.
As the 101st Airborne planned the attack on the NVA supply bases, the North Vietnamese Army was secretly observing their activities. From 12 March until 30 June, the NVA was sporadically attacking the Firebase. After weeks of reconnaissance by the NVA, on the morning of 1 July 1970 the North Vietnamese Army launched a surprise mortar attack on the firebase. The resulting 23 day battle between the 101st Airborne and the North Vietnamese Army was the last major confrontation between United States ground forces and North Vietnam of the Vietnam War.
During the 23-day siege, 75 U.S. servicemen were killed in action, including 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry commanding officer Colonel Andre Lucas, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, and 1st Lt. Bob Kalsu, the only American professional athlete to be killed during the war. During the entire battle (including the siege), 250 members of the division were killed.
Fighting from four hilltops, surrounded, and outnumbered nearly ten to one, the division's forces inflicted heavy losses on eight enemy battalions before an aerial withdrawal was ordered on 23 July 1970 while under heavy mortar, anti-aircraft, and small arms fire, ending the siege. After the division withdrew from the firebase, USAF B-52 heavy bombers were sent in to carpet bomb the area. NVA losses at Ripcord delayed the Easter Offensive by a full year.
In 1971, elements of the division supported the ARVN Operation Lam Son 719, the invasion of southern Laos, but only aviation units actually entered Laos. In the seven years that all or part of the division served in Vietnam it suffered 4,011 Killed in Action and 18,259 Wounded in Action. Casualties for the 101st in Viet Nam were twice those suffered in World War II, and its total number of Killed in Action was the third highest of all U.S. Army ground units, behind the 1st Cavalry Division (5,464) and the 25th Infantry Division (4,561). Had the entire division arrived in 1965, as did the 1st Cavalry and 25th, its total casualties could have been even higher.
It has been said that most North Vietnamese had never seen a bald eagle, so they called the 101st soldiers "Chicken Men" or "Rooster Men." Viet Cong commanders were rumored to regularly include in their briefings that they were to avoid confrontation with the "Chicken Men" at all costs, as they were sure to lose. Supposedly this remained a source of fierce pride among veterans who served in Vietnam under the 101st.
In 1968, the 101st took on the structure and equipment of an airmobile division. Following its return from Vietnam, the division was rebuilt with one brigade (3d) and supporting elements on jump status, using the assets of what had been the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The remaining two brigades and supporting units were organized as airmobile. With the exception of certain specialized units, such as the pathfinders and parachute riggers, in early 1974 the Army terminated jump status for the division. Concurrently the 101st introduced the Airmobile Badge (renamed later that year as the Air Assault Badge), the design of which was based on the Glider Badge of World War II. Initially the badge was only authorized for wear while assigned to the division, but in 1978 the Army authorized it for service-wide wear. Soldiers continued to wear the garrison cap with glider patch, bloused boots, and the cloth wing oval behind their wings, as had division paratroopers before them. A blue beret was authorized for the division in the early 1970s until revoked at the end of 1978. The division also was authorized to wear a full color (white eagle) shoulder patch insignia instead of the subdued green eagle shoulder patch that was worn as a combat patch by soldiers who fought with the 101st in Vietnam, a distinction shared with the 1st and 5th Infantry divisions.
Charles Bloodworth, a pathfinder officer in the 101st during the early 1970s, describes the transition of the post-war division to fully Air Assault and the adoption of the Air Assault Badge at this link.
Tragedy struck the division on 12 December 1985. A civilian aircraft, Arrow Air Flight 1285, chartered to transport some of the division from peacekeeping duty with the Multinational Force Observers on the Sinai Peninsula to Kentucky, crashed near Gander, Newfoundland. All eight air crew members and 248 US servicemen died, most were from the 3d Battalion, 502d Infantry. The crash was the worst in Canadian aviation history. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy traveled to Fort Campbell to comfort grieving family members. On 8 March 1988, two U.S. Army helicopters collided in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, killing 17 servicemen.
In January 1991, the 101st once again had its "Rendezvous with Destiny" in Iraq during the combat air assault into enemy territory. The 101st sustained no soldiers killed in action during the 100-hour war and captured thousands of enemy prisoners of war. The 101st Aviation Regiment, fired the first shots of the war when eight AH-64 helicopters successfully destroyed two Iraqi early warning radar sites.
In September and October 2000, the 3d Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, helped fight fires on the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana. Designated Task Force Battle Force and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Jon S. Lehr, the battalion fought fires throughout the surrounding areas of their Valley Complex near Darby, Montana.
The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) was the first conventional unit to deploy in support of the American War on Terrorism. The 2d Brigade, "Strike", built around the 502d Infantry, was largely deployed to Kosovo on peacekeeping operations, with some elements of 3rd Battalion, 502nd, deploying after 9/11 as a security element in the U.S. CENTCOM AOR with the Fort Campbell-based 5th Special Forces Group. The Division quickly deployed its 3rd Brigade, the 187th Infantry's Rakkasans, as the first conventional unit to fight as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
After an intense period of combat in rugged Shoh-I-Khot Mountains of eastern Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda with elements of the 10th Mountain Division, the Rakkasans redeployed to Fort Campbell only to find the 101st awaiting another deployment order. In 2008, the 101st 4th BCT Red and White "Curraahee" including the 1st and the 2nd Battalions, 506th Infantry "Band of Brothers" were deployed to Afghanistan. The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade deployed to Afghanistan as Task Force Destiny in early 2008 to Bagram Air Base. 159th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed as Task Force Thunder to Afghanistan in early 2009.
In 2003, Major General David H. Petraeus ("Eagle 6") led the Screaming Eagles to war during the 2003 invasion of Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom). General Petraeus led the division into Iraq saying, "Guidons, Guidons. This is Eagle 6. The 101st Airborne Division's next Rendezvous with Destiny is North to Baghdad. Op-Ord Desert Eagle 2 is now in effect. Godspeed. Air Assault. Out." The division was in V Corps, providing support to the 3rd Infantry Division by clearing Iraqi strongpoints which that division had bypassed. 3rd Battalion 187 inf regt (3rd Brigade) was attached to 3rd Infantry Division and was the main effort in clearing Saddam International Airport. 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. 1st and 2d Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment (1st Brigade) oversaw the remote airfield Qayarrah West 30 miles (48 km) south of Mosul. The 502d Infantry Regiment (2d Brigade) and 3d Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment were responsible for Mosul itself while the 187th Infantry Regiment (3d Brigade) controlled Tal Afar just north of Mosul.
Once replaced by the first operational Stryker Brigade, the 101st was 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. The Army also activated the 4th Brigade Combat Team, which includes the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 506th Infantry Regiment ("Currahee") and subordinate units. Both battalions were part of the 101st in Vietnam but saw their colors inactivated during an Army-wide reflagging of combat battalions in the 1980s, with 1-506th INF resurfacing in Korea, along with 1-503d INF and 2-503d INF (the latter later inactivated), as Air Assault units within the 2d Infantry Division. The colors of the 506th have returned to the 101st and 1-503d and 2-503d are parachute infantry battalions of the 173d Airborne Brigade in Italy, just as they were when the 173d was in Viet Nam.
The reconfiguration of 101st formed seven major units in the division (four infantry BCTs, two combat aviation brigades (CABs), and one sustainment brigade), making it the largest formation currently in the U.S. Army.
As of December 2007, 143 members of the Division have died while on service in Iraq.
The division's second deployment to Iraq began in the late summer of 2005. The division headquarters replaced the 42d Infantry Division, which had been directing security operations as the headquarters for Task Force Liberty. Renamed Task Force Band of Brothers, the 101st assumed responsibility on 1 November 2005 for four provinces in north central Iraq: Salah ad Din, Kirkuk, Diyala and As Sulymaniyah. On 30 December 2005, Task Force Band of Brothers also assumed responsibility for training Iraqi security forces and conducting security operations in Ninevah and Dahuk provinces as the headquarters for Task Force Freedom was disestablished.
During the second deployment, 2d and 4th Brigades of the 101st Airborne Division were assigned to conduct security operations under the command of Task Force Baghdad, led initially by 3d Infantry Division, which was replaced by 4th Infantry Division. The 1st Battalion of the 506th Infantry (4th Brigade) was separated from the division and served with the Marines in Ramadi, in the Al Anbar province. 3d Brigade was assigned to Salah ad Din and Bayji sectors and 1st Brigade was assigned to the overall Kirkuk province which included Hawijah, one of the deadliest cities in Iraq.
Task Force Band of Brothers' primary mission during its second deployment to Iraq was the training of Iraqi security forces. When the 101st returned to Iraq, there were no Iraqi units capable of assuming the lead for operations against Iraqi and foreign terrorists. As the division concluded its tour, 33 battalions were in the lead for security in assigned areas, and two of four Iraq divisions in northern Iraq were commanding and controlling subordinate units.
Simultaneously with training Iraqi Soldiers and their leaders, 101st Soldiers conducted numerous security operations against terrorist cells operating in the division's assigned, six-province area of operations. Operation Swarmer was the largest air assault operation conducted in Iraq since 22 April 2003. 1st Brigade conducted Operation Scorpion with Iraqi units near Kirkuk.
Developing other aspects of Iraqi society also figured in 101st operations in Iraq. Division commander Major General Thomas Turner hosted the first governors' conference for the six provinces in the division's area of operations, as well as the neighboring province of Erbil. Numerous civil affairs operations were directed by the division, including the construction and renovation of schools, clinics, police stations, and other important landmarks in civilian communities from Turkey to Baghdad and from the Syrian border to the Iranian border.
On 19 June 2006, the US military announced that three soldiers of the 3d Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Private First Class Corey R. Clagett, Specialist William B. Hunsaker and Staff Sergeant Raymond L. Girouard, were being charged in connection of the deaths of three male detainees in an operation near a canal north of Baghdad on 9 May. On 21 June a fourth soldier was charged, but none were convicted.
In July 2006, five troopers were charged in connection with the rape and murder of 14 year old Iraqi girl Abeer Qasim, and the murder of three of her family members, including a 5-year-old girl. The incident took place in a small village near Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad. Previously, an arrest in the case was also made in June 2006 when former trooper Steven D. Green was apprehended in North Carolina. On 17 November 2006 Specialist James Barker was sentenced to life in prison for the incident. Friday 23 February 2007 saw the Sergeant, two specialists and two privates convicted with lengthy sentences. On Friday 4 September 2009, ex-Private First Class Steven Green was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences for these offenses.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st is currently deployed in Iraq, in the Salah ad Din Province, northeast of Baghdad. The 2d Brigade Combat Team returned from a deployment in Northwest Baghdad, November 2008, and the 3d Brigade Combat Team is currently back from their most recent deployment in the Southern belt region southwest of Baghdad.
The 4th Brigade Combat Team returned from its second deployment in March 2009.
The most recent change of command within the division took place on 31 July 2009. During this change of command, MG John F. Campbell took command of the 101st from the division's previous commander, MG Jeff Schloesser.
The "Screaming Eagles" is also the nickname for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Command Parachute Demonstration Team. The unit traces its history to the late 1950s, during the infancy of precision free fall. The command group formed a full-time team in 1984.
101st Airborne Division: