Patch and Distinctive Unit Insignia
The 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army is an elite modular airborne infantry division and was constituted in the National Army as the 82nd Division on March 5, 1917, and was organized on March 25, 1917, at Camp Gordon, Georgia. Since members of the division came from all 48 states, the unit was given the nickname “All-American.” This is the basis for its famed “AA” shoulder patch. Famous soldiers of the division include Sergeant Alvin C. York, General James M. Gavin, former Chief Dave Bald Eagle (grandson of Sitting Bull), Senator Strom Thurmond (325GIR in WW II), and Congressman Patrick Murphy (the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress).
Involvement in international conflicts
World War I
WWI 82nd Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia.Between April and July, 1918, less than a year after its formation, the division deployed in small unit groups to France to fight in World War I as the 82nd Infantry Division. In nearly five months of combat the 82nd fought in three major campaigns and helped to break the German Imperial Army. Alvin Cullum York was a soldier in the division and became famous for his heroism in World War I. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, killing 20 German soldiers and capturing 132 others.
World War I Casualties
1,298 Killed in Action
6,248 Wounded in Action
After the Great War, the 82nd was demobilized May 27, 1919 at Camp Upton, at Yaphank, New York. The 82nd was reconstituted on June 24, 1921 in the Organized Reserves as Headquarters, 82nd Division, and was organized on September 23, 1921, at Columbia, South Carolina.
World War II
Louisiana to Italy
The 82nd Division was re designated February 13, 1942 as Division Headquarters, 82nd Division. After the outbreak of World War II, it was recalled to active service on March 25, 1942, and reorganized at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, under the command of Major General Omar N. Bradley. During this time spent in training, the division brought together three officers who would ultimately steer the US Army during the next two decades: Matthew B. Ridgway, James M. Gavin, and Maxwell D. Taylor.
On August 15, 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division became the first airborne division in the U.S. Army, and was redesignated the 82nd Airborne Division. In April 1943, paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division deployed to North Africa under the command of Major General Matthew B. Ridgway to participate in the campaign to invade Italy. The Division's first two combat operations were parachute assaults into Sicily on July 9 and Salerno on September 13, 1943. The initial assault on Sicily, by the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was the first regimental sized combat parachute assault conducted by the United States Army. The first glider assault did not occur until Operation Neptune as part of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944. Glider troopers of the 319th Glider Field Artillery, the 320th Glider Field Artillery and the 325th Glider Infantry did participate in the Italian campaign but came in by landing craft at Maiori (319th) and Salerno (320th, 325th).
In January 1944, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which was temporarily detached from the division to fight at Anzio, adopted the nickname "Devils in Baggy Pants," taken from an entry in a German officer's diary. While the 504th was detached, the remainder of the 82nd was pulled out of Italy in November 1943 and moved to the United Kingdom to prepare for the liberation of Europe. See RAF North Witham and RAF Folkingham.
France to Germany
With two combat assaults under its belt, the 82nd Airborne Division was now ready for the most ambitious airborne operation of the war so far, as part of Operation Neptune, the invasion of Normandy. The 82nd Airborne Division conducted Operation Boston, part of the airborne assault phase of the Overlord plan.
In preparation for the operation, the division was reorganized. Due to a need for integrating replacement troops, rest, and refitting following the fighting in Italy, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment was not assigned to the division for the invasion. Two new parachute infantry regiments, the 507th and the 508th, were attached to provide it, along with the 505th, a three-parachute infantry regiment punch. On June 5, 1944 and June 6, 1944, these paratroopers, parachute artillery elements, and the 319th and 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalions, boarded hundreds of transport planes and gliders to begin the largest airborne assault in history. Its 325th Glider Infantry Regiment would follow-up by glider on June 7 to provide a division reserve.
By the time the All-American Division was pulled back to England, it had seen 33 days of bloody combat and suffered 5,245 troopers killed, wounded, or missing. The Division's post-battle report, authored by Ridgway, stated in part, "...33 days of action without relief, without replacements. Every mission accomplished. No ground gained was ever relinquished."
Following the Normandy invasion, the 82nd became part of the newly organized XVIII Airborne Corps, which consisted of the U.S. 17th, 82nd, and 101st Airborne Divisions. Ridgway was given command of XVIII Airborne Corps, but was not promoted to Lieutenant General until 1945. His recommendation for succession as commander was Brigadier General James M. Gavin. Ridgway's recommendation met with approval, and upon promotion Gavin became the youngest two-star general since the Civil War to command a US Army division.
82nd Airborne Division drop near Grave in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden. (National Archives)On 2 August 1944 the division became part of the First Allied Airborne Army. In September, the 82nd began planning for Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. The operation called for three-plus airborne divisions to seize and hold key bridges and roads deep behind German lines. The 504th, now back at full strength, was reassigned to the 82nd, while the 507th was assigned to the 17th Airborne Division. On September 17, the 82nd conducted its fourth combat assault of World War II, into the Netherlands. Fighting off German counterattacks, the 82nd captured its objectives between Grave, and Nijmegen. Its success, however, was short-lived because the defeat of other Allied units at the Battle of Arnhem. After a period of duty on the Arnhem front, the 82nd was relieved by Canadian troops, and sent to France.
504th Regiment, 82nd Airborne troops advancing through snow-covered forest during the Battle of the BulgeOn December 16, 1944, the Germans launched a surprise offensive through the Ardennes Forest which was known as the Battle of the Bulge. Two days later the 82nd joined the fighting and blunted General Gerd von Rundstedt's northern penetration in the American lines. During this campaign, PFC Martin, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, told a sergeant in a retreating tank destroyer to, "...pull your vehicle behind me - I'm the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going!" After helping to secure the Ruhr, the division ended the war at Ludwigslust past the Elbe River, accepting the surrender of Lieutenant General Kurt von Tippelskirch's 21st Army. Over 150,000 troops surrendered to the division. General Omar N. Bradley's reaction is worth an aside; he claimed in a 1975 interview with Gavin that Montgomery told him German opposition was too great to cross the Elbe. When Gavin's division crossed it, it moved 36 miles in one day and captured over 100,000 troops, causing great laughter in Bradley's 12th Army Group headquarters.
Following the surrender of Germany, the 82nd was ordered to Berlin for occupation duty. This lasted from April until December 1945. In Berlin General George Patton was so impressed with the 82nd's honor guard he said, "In all my years in the Army and all the honor guards I have ever seen, the 82nd's honor guard is undoubtedly the best." Hence the "All-American" became also known as "America's Guard of Honor." The 82nd was scheduled to partake in the invasion of Japan, but the war ended before their departure.
During the invasion of Italy in World War II, Will Lang Jr. of TIME was considered an honorary member of the 82nd Airborne Division by General Matthew B. Ridgway.
1,619 Killed in Action
6,560 Wounded in Action
332 Died of Wounds
1946 to 1990
The division returned to the United States January 3, 1946. The division crossed the Atlantic home on the RMS Queen Mary. In New York City it got a Ticker-tape parade. In 1947 the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was assigned to the 82nd and was reflagged as the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Instead of being demobilized, the 82nd made its permanent home at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was designated a Regular Army division on November 15, 1948. The 82nd was not sent to the Korean War, as both Presidents Truman and Eisenhower deemed it necessary to keep the division as a strategic reserve in the event of a Soviet ground attack anywhere in the world. Life in the 82nd during the 1950s and 1960s consisted of intensive training exercises in all environments and locations, including Alaska, Panama, the Far East and the continental United States.
In April 1965, the "All-Americans" were alerted for action in response to the civil war in the Dominican Republic, in which more than 3,000 Dominicans died. Spearheaded by the 3rd Brigade, the 82nd deployed to the Caribbean in Operation Power Pack. Within the United States in 1967, the 82nd was sent into Detroit to deal with a massive riot. Within two days of their deployment, the riots ended.
A year later, the 82nd Airborne Division was again called to action. During the Tet Offensive, which swept across the Republic of Vietnam in January 1968, the 3rd Brigade was alerted and within 24 hours, was en route to Chu Lai. The 3rd Brigade performed combat duties in the Huế - Phu Bai area of the I Corps sector. Later the brigade was moved south to Saigon, and fought battles in the Mekong Delta, the Iron Triangle and along the Cambodian border, serving nearly 22 months in Vietnam.
227 Killed in Action (2 were MIA and later declared KIA)
1,009 Wounded in Action
During 1969 till the 1970s, the 82nd Airborne Division deployed to Korea and Vietnam paratroopers on more than 180DBT [Days Bad Time] served both expeditionary foreign service for exercises in potential future battlegrounds. The division was also alerted three times. One of the alerts was for Black September 1970. Some paratroopers were on their way to Amman Jordan when the mission was aborted. War in the Middle East in the fall of 1973 brought the 82nd to full alert. Then in May 1978, the division was alerted for a possible drop into Zaire, and again in November 1979, the division was alerted for a possible operation to rescue the American hostages in Iran. The division formed the nucleus for the newly created Rapid Deployment Forces, a mobile force at a permanently high state of readiness.
On October 25, 1983, elements of the 82nd were called back to the Caribbean to the island of Grenada. The 82nd provided support to the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions. The first 82nd unit to deploy in the invasion of Grenada was a task force of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions (Airborne), 325th Infantry. On October 26 and 27, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 505th Infantry, and the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 508th Infantry, with support units deployed to Grenada. Military operations in Grenada ended in early November. 2/505 was deployed as well. Note that 2/325 did not deploy one company within. It was a COHORT company which was not "ARTEP'd". Each proceeding Bn, pushed a single company forward with A-2/504 (Led by then Cpt. Humble and 1SG Graham) deploying only one company out of the entire Bn. The Operation was critically flawed in several areas. Newly issued BDU's were not designed for the tropic environment. Communication between services (Army, Navy and Airforce) became a noticeable weak-link, no interoperability exist. Interesting to note, it was the first time MRE's were mass issued to paratroopers.
The operation tested the Division's ability to act as a rapid deployment force. The first aircraft carrying division troopers touched down at Point Salinas 17 hours after notification, and that was the 2d battalion 325th commanded by Jack L.Hamilton with Alpha company as Initial Ready Company.
In March 1988, a brigade task force made up of two battalions from the 504th Infantry Regiment and 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 505th Infantry, conducted a parachute insertion and airland operation into Honduras as part of Operation Golden Pheasant. The deployment was billed a joint training exercise, but the paratroopers were ready to fight. The deployment of armed and willing paratroopers to the Honduran countryside caused the Sandinistas to withdraw back to Nicaragua. Operation Golden Pheasant prepared the paratroopers for future combat in the increasingly unstable world.
On December 20, 1989, the "All-American," as part of the United States invasion of Panama, conducted their first combat jump since World War II onto Torrijos International Airport, Panama. The goal of the 1st Brigade task force, which was made up of the 1st and 2nd Battalions (Airborne), 504th Infantry well as the 4th Battalion (Airborne), 325th Infantry and A Company, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 505th Infantry, was to oust Manuel Noriega from power in Panama. They were joined on the ground by 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 504th Infantry, which was already in Panama. After the night combat jump and seizure of the airport, the 82nd conducted follow-on combat air assault missions in Panama City and the surrounding areas. The paratroopers returned to Fort Bragg on January 12, 1990.
1990 to 2001
Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm: Iraq
Ground operations during Operation Desert Storm, with the 82nd Airborne Division positioned at the left flank.Seven months later the paratroopers were again called to war. Six days after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, the 82nd became the vanguard of the largest deployment of American troops since Vietnam as part of Operation Desert Shield. The first unit to deploy to Saudi Arabia was a task force including the division's 2nd Brigade. Soon after, the rest of the division followed. There, intensive training began in anticipation of fighting in the desert with the heavily armored Iraqi Army.
On January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm began when Allied war planes attacked Iraqi targets. As the air war began, elements of the 82nd were initially deployed in the vicinity of the Aramco oil facilities outside Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. Coinciding with the start of the air war, three National Guard Light-Medium Truck companies, the 253rd (NJARNG), 1122nd (AKARNG), and the 1058th (MAARNG) joined 2nd BDE of the 82nd. In the coming weeks using primarily the 5-Ton cargo trucks of these truck companies, the 2nd BDE moved north to "tap line road" in the vicinity of Rafha, Saudi Arabia. Eventually, these National Guard truck units effectively "motorized" the 4/325 AIR (commanded by, then LTC, John Vines), providing the troop ground transportation required to allow them to keep pace with the 6th French Light Armored Division during the incursion into Iraq. The ground war began almost six weeks later. On February 23, the vehicle-mounted 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers protected the XVIII Airborne Corps flank as fast-moving armor and mechanized units moved deep inside Iraq. A battalion-task force from 2d Brigade (4/325) was attached to the 6th French Light Armored Division becoming the far left flank of the Corps. In the short 100-hour ground war, the 82nd drove deep into Iraq and captured thousands of Iraqi soldiers and tons of equipment, weapons, and ammunition. During that time, the 82nd ABN DIV Band and the 82nd MP Company processed 2721 Enemy Prisoners of War. After the liberation of Kuwait, the 82nd began its redeployment back to Fort Bragg with most of the Division returning by the end of April.
In August 1992, the division was alerted to deploy a task force to the hurricane-ravaged area of South Florida and provide humanitarian assistance following Hurricane Andrew. For more than 30 days, division troopers provided food, shelter and medical attention to the Florida population.
Operation Restore Democracy: Haïti
On September 16, 1994, the 82d Airborne Division was alerted as part of Operation Restore Democracy. The 82nd Airborne Division was scheduled to make combat parachute jumps into two locations in Haïti, Pegasus Drop Zone and Papia Airport, in order to help oust the military led dictatorship of Raoul Cédras, and then to restore the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. At the same time as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell were negotiating with Cédras to restore Aristide to power, the 82nd's first wave was in the air, with a number of paratroopers waiting at Green Ramp to Air Land into Haïti once the airfields there had been seized. When the Haïtian military dictators verified from sources outside of Pope Air Force Base that the 82nd was on the way to invade, Cédras capitulated and stepped down from power, thus averting the invasion.
Former Vice President Al Gore would later travel to Fort Bragg to personally thank the paratroopers of the 82nd for their actions, noting in a speech on September 19, 1994, that it was the reputation of the 82nd Airborne that was enough to make Cédras change his mind:
"But it did get a little close there for a while. As you may know, there were 61 planes in the air headed toward Haïti at the time they finally agreed. And at one point General Biamby came in and told General Cédras that he had just gotten word on his telephone that the airplanes had taken off from Pope Air Force Base, with soldiers from Fort Bragg, and that both disconcerted them and caused them to be suspicious of the intent of the negotiations, but it also created a situation where immediately after that, the key points they had been refusing to agree to were agreed to, a date certain, other matters that I won't go into in detail here."
Operation Restore Hope: guarding Cuban refugees
In December 1994, the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division was deployed as part of Operation Restore Hope. The battalion was recalled to Fort Bragg for deployment while on Division Ready Force 1 in order to restore order against hundreds of Cuban refugees who had attacked and injured a number of Air Force personnel to protest their detainment at Empire Range along the Panama Canal. The Battalion participated in the safeguarding of the Cuban Refugees and the active patrolling in and around the refugee camps for two months, returning to Fort Bragg in February 1995.
Operation Joint Endeavor: Bosnia
In December 1995, battalions of the 82nd were alerted to prepare for a possible parachute jump to support elements of the 1st Armored Division which had been ordered to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of Operation Joint Endeavor. Only after engineers of the 1st Armored Division bridged the Sava River on December 31, 1995 without hostilities did the 82nd begin draw down against plans for a possible Airborne operation there.
Operation Allied Force: Kosovo
In March 1999 the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division was deployed to Albania and forward deployed along the Albania/Kosovo border in support of Operation Allied Force, NATO's bombing campaign against Serbian forces in the Former Yugoslav Republic. In September 1999, 2-505 was replaced by the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment which deployed in support of Operation Joint Guardian. 3-504 was replaced in March 2000 by elements of the 101st Airborne Division.
2001 to present
The Army 82nd Airborne Division performs a mass jump with 120 members during the 2006 Joint Service Open House hosted at Andrews Air Force Base, May 20, 2006. Operation Enduring Freedom: Afghanistan
After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the 82nd's 49th Public Affairs Detachment deployed to Afghanistan in October 2001 along with several individual 82nd soldiers who deployed to the Central Command Area of Responsibility to support combat operations.
In June 2002, elements of the Division Headquarters and 3rd Brigade deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In January, 2003 1st Brigade relieved 3rd Brigade, and continued the Division's support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During 1st Brigade's tour in Afghanistan, 70 soldiers from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in conjunction with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, conducted a combat jump into western Afghanistan, but was uncelebrated as it remained classified for over a year.
Operation Iraqi Freedom: Iraq
Parts of this article (those related to Operation Iraqi Freedom: Iraq) may no longer be up to date. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information, and remove this template when finished. Please see the talk page for more information. (June 2009)
The 2nd brigade of the Division took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in early 2003. In March 2003, 2-325 Airborne Infantry was attached to the 75th Ranger Regiment as part of a Special Operations Task Force to conduct a parachute assault to seize Saddam International Airport in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On 21 March 2003, D Company crossed the Saudi Arabia-Iraqi border as part of Task Force Hunter to escort heavy rocket artillery indirect fire systems to destroy Iraqi artillery batteries arrayed against coalition forces in the western Iraqi desert. Upon cancellation of the parachute assault to seize the airport, the Battalion was detatched and returned to its parent 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Talil Airfield near An Nasariyah Iraq. The brigade returned to the US by end-February 2004.  The 3rd brigade of the division deployed to Iraq in the summer of 2003, redeploying to the US in Spring 2004. The 1st brigade deployed to Iraq in January 2004. The last units of the division left Iraq by the end of April 2004. The 2nd brigade returned to Iraq in mid-December 2004, and returned again on Easter 2005. During this initial deployment 36 soldiers from the division were killed and about 400 were wounded, out of about 12,000 deployed in total. On July 21, 2006, the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment along with a platoon from A Battery 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment and a troop from 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment deployed to Tikrit, Iraq & returned in December 2006. Just days after returning home, the battalion was called up to join the rest of the 2nd Brigade in another deployment scheduled for the beginning of January 2007. On January 4, 2007, 2nd BCT deployed once again to Iraq in support of OIF. On June 6, 2007, 1st Brigade deployed to Southern Iraq in support of OIF and is looking to return home August 2008. Since the deployment began, the Division has lost 37 paratroopers. Since September 11, 2001, the division has lost 20 paratroopers in Afghanistan and 101 paratroopers in Iraq, but the death toll for the division is still growing. The tentative return date for the 2nd Brigade is set for April 2008; however, the 1st Battalion of the 2nd BCT is scheduled to return home sooner in November 2007. The 2nd BCT arrived home to Fort Bragg on March 18, 2008.
The early days of the 82nd Airborne's participation in the deployment were chronicled by embedded journalist Karl Zinsmeister in his 2003 book Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq.
Support of 2004 elections in Afghanistan
In late September 2004 The National Command Authority alerted and deployed 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment for an emergency deployment to Afghanistan in support of the first free elections held in October of that year.
Two infantry battalions from the 82nd Airborne deployed to Iraq before the scheduled October 15 referendum on the proposed constitution, and are expected to remain through the December national elections. The battalions involved are the 2nd Battalion of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment and the 3rd Battalion of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.
First Brigade of the 82nd Airborne deployed to Afghanistan in April 2005 in support of OEF 6, and returned in April 2006.
82nd Airborne Division paratrooper patrols the streets of New Orleans in September 2005.The 82nd Airborne's 3rd Brigade Panthers and DIVARTY along with supporting units were also deployed to support search-and-rescue and security operations in New Orleans, Louisiana after the city was flooded by Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. About 5,000 paratroopers commanded by Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, operated out of New Orleans International Airport.
In January 2006, the division began reorganizing from a division based organization to a brigade based one. Activations include a 4th Brigade Combat Team (1-508th INF, 2-508th INF, 4-73rd Cav (RSTA), 2-321st FA, 782nd BSB, and STB, 4th BCT) and the inactivation of the Division Artillery, 82nd Signal Battalion, and 313th Military Intelligence Battalion. The 82nd Division Support Command (DISCOM) was redesignated as the 82nd Sustainment Brigade. A pathfinder unit was reactivated within the 82nd when the Long Range Surveillance Detachment of the inactivating 313th MI Bn was transferred to the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Aviation Regiment and converted to a pathfinder role.
Back to Afghanistan
In January 2007, the Division Headquarters, 4th BCT (includes 1-508th and 2-508th) and the Aviation Brigade deployed to Afghanistan as Combined Joint Task Force-82 (CJTF-82) for Operation Enduring Freedom VIII. The 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) was extended for 120 days to increase the troop strength against the Taliban Spring Offensive. Supporting the Division are the 36th Engineer Brigade, and the 43rd Area Support Group.
Definition from Wikipedia
OFFICIAL 82nd AIRBORNE DIVISION WEBSITE