101st Airborne Division

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Shoulder sleeve patch of the United States Army 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles.
Shoulder sleeve patch of the United States Army 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles.

The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) —nicknamed the Screaming Eagles— is an airborne division of the United States Army mainly trained for air assault operations. The division is headquartered at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and is currently serving in the Iraq war.



The division was activated on August 15, 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. On August 19, 1942 its first commander, Major General William C. Lee, promised his new recruits that the 101st had a "rendezvous with destiny."

General Order Number Six, which gave birth to the division, reads:

The 101st Airborne Division, activated at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, 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.

During World War II, the Pathfinders of the 101st Airborne Division led the way on D-Day in the night drop prior to the invasion. They left from RAF North Witham having trained there with those of 82nd Airborne Division.

On August 2, 1944 the division became part of the First Allied Airborne Army. As part of this formation it took part in Operation Market Garden.

During the Battle of the Bulge the 101st, as one of the few forces available to contain the German advance was rushed forward to defend the vital road junction of Bastogne. Famously, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe answered the German demand for surrender with the reply "To the German Commander: Nuts! -The American Commander" and the division fought on until the siege was lifted and the German advance halted.

For their efforts during World War II, the 101st Airborne Division was awarded four campaign streamers and two Presidential Unit Citations.

The exploits of Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (part of the 101st) during these times have been turned into a HBO television mini-series called Band of Brothers by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.

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.

From September through November of 1957 elements of the division were deployed to Little Rock, Arkansas, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to enforce Federal court orders during the Little Rock Crisis.

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. In almost seven years of combat in Vietnam, elements of the 101st participated in 15 campaigns.

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.

Tragedy struck the division on December 12, 1985. A civilian aircraft, Arrow Air Flight 1285, chartered to transport some of the division from the Sinai to Kentucky, crashed near Gander, Newfoundland. There were no survivors. 241 US servicemen died, most were from the 3d Battalion, 502d Infantry.

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 division has supported humanitarian relief efforts in Rwanda and Somalia, then later supplied peacekeepers to Haiti and Bosnia.

Maj. Gen. David Petreaus, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), congratulates the leadership of the 52nd Engineer Battalion on the work they have completed in the city of Mosul.
Maj. Gen. David Petreaus, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), congratulates the leadership of the 52nd Engineer Battalion on the work they have completed in the city of Mosul.

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 strongpoints which that division has 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.

General information

Subordinate Units

  • 1st Brigade Combat Team ("Bastogne")
    • HHC, 1st BCT ("Warriors")
    • 1-327th Infantry Battalion ("Above the Rest")
    • 2-327nd Infantry Battalion ("No Slack")
    • 3-327th Reconnaissance Squadron (RSTA) ("Battle Force")
    • 2-320th Field Artilery Battalion ("Balls of the Eagles")
    • 326th Brigade Troops Battalion
    • 426th Brigade Support Battalion ("Taskmasters")

  • 2nd Brigade Combat Team ("Strike")
    • HHC, 2nd BCT
    • 1-502nd Infantry Battalion ("First Strike")
    • 2-502nd Infantry Battalion ("Strike Force")
    • 3-502nd Reconnaissance Squadron (RSTA) ("Widowmakers")
    • 1-320th Field Artillery Battalion ("Top Guns")
    • 311th Brigade Troops Battalion ("Team")
    • 526th Brigade Support Battalion ("Best By Performance")

  • 3rd Brigade Combat Team ("Rakkasans")
    • HHC, 3rd BCT
    • 1-187th Infantry Battalion ("Leader Rakkasans")
    • 2-187th Infantry Battalion ("Raider Rakkasans")
    • 3-187th Reconnaissance Squadron (RSTA) ("Iron Rakkasans")
    • 3-320th Field Artillery Battalion ("Red Knight")
    • 381st Brigade Troops Battalion
    • 626th Brigade Support Battalion ("Assurgam")

  • 4th Brigade Combat Team ("Currahee")
    • HHC, 4th BCT
    • 1-506th Infantry Battalion
    • 2-506th Infantry Battalion
    • 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron (RSTA)AKA 1st of the 51st Cavalry
    • 4-320th Field Artillery Battalion
    • 4th Brigade Troops Battalion
    • 801st Brigade Support Battalion

  • 101st Aviation Brigade ("Wings of Destiny")
    • HHC, 101st Aviation Brigade
    • 2-17 Air Cavalry Squadron ("Out Front")
    • 1-101st Aviation Battalion ("Expect No Mercy")
    • 2-101st Aviation Battalion ("Eagle Warrior")
    • 5-101st Aviation Battalion ("Eagle Assault")
    • 6-101st Aviation Battalion ("Pathfinder")
    • 8-101st Aviation Battalion ("Troubleshooters")

  • 159th Aviation Brigade ("Eagle Thunder")
    • HHC, 159th Aviation Brigade
    • 1-17th Air Cavalry Squadron
    • 3-101st Aviation Battalion ("Eagle Attack")
    • 4-101st Aviation Battalion ("Wings of the Eagles")
    • 7-101st General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB) ("Eagle Lift")
    • 9-101st Aviation Battalion ("Eagle Strike")

  • 101st Sustainment Brigade ("Life Liners")
    • DMMC
    • 63rd Chemical Company
    • 106th Transportation Battalion
    • 372nd TC Company
    • 594th TC Company
    • 613th MCT
    • 632nd MCT
    • 129th Combat Support Battalion
    • 494th TC Company
    • 561st Combat Support Battalion
    • 95th Maint
    • 102nd Quartermaster Company
    • 196th Quartermaster Detachment
    • 227th GS Company
    • 541st TC Company
    • 584th Maintenance Company
    • 717th EOD Detachment
    • 101st Sustainment Brigade Troops Battalion
    • 101st SSB

  • 2-44th Air Defense Artillery Battalion ("Strike Fear")
  • 887th Engineer Company (LE) ("Empire")
  • 86th CSH

Helmet Insignia

The 101st is made famous partly by their helmet decorations. The soldiers used card symbols (the spade, heart, and club) to indicate the regiment to which they belonged.

    • 502nd Airborne: Heart
    • 327th Glider: Club
    • 506th Infantry: Spade
  • These insigna were first seen in WWII and can still be seen on 101st Division soldiers today.

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