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82nd Infantry Division
82nd Airborne Division
The shoulder sleeve insignia of the 82nd Airborne Division.
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Army|
|Type||Airborne light infantry|
|Part of||XVIII Airborne Corps|
|Garrison/HQ||Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S.|
|Nickname(s)||"All American Division", "82nd Division", "82nd Infantry Division", "America's Guard of Honor", "The 82nd"|
|Motto(s)||"All the way!", "Death from above"|
|Color of berets||Maroon|
|March||"The All-American Soldier"|
|Commander||MG James Mingus|
|Deputy Commanding General – Operations||BG Christopher LaNeve|
|Deputy Commander – Support||BG Vacant|
|Deputy Commander – Plans||Brigadier (UK) Oliver Kingsbury|
|Chief of Staff||Colonel Brett Funck|
|Command Sergeant Major||Command Sergeant Major Michael A. Ferrusi|
|Complete list of commanders|
|Distinctive unit insignia of the Division's Headquarters Battalion|
|Combat service identification badge|
The 82nd Airborne Division is an airborne infantry division of the United States Army, specializing in parachute assault operations into denied areas. Based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 82nd Airborne Division is part of the XVIII Airborne Corps. The 82nd Airborne Division is the U.S. Army's most strategically mobile division. Some sources consider the 82nd Airborne the best trained light infantry division in the world. The 82nd Airborne has been conducting operations in Iraq, advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces.
The All American division was constituted, originally as the 82nd Division, in the National Army on 5 August 1917, shortly after the American entry into World War I. It was organized on 25 August 1917, at Camp Gordon, Georgia and later served with distinction on the Western Front in the final months of World War I. Since its initial members came from all 48 states, the division acquired the nickname All-American, which is the basis for its famed "AA" shoulder patch. The division later served in World War II where, in August 1942, it was reconstituted as the first airborne division of the U.S. Army and fought in numerous campaigns during the war, gaining an excellent reputation.
Famous soldiers of the division include: Sergeant Alvin C. York; General James M. Gavin; General of the Army Omar Bradley; Senator Strom Thurmond (325th Glider Infantry Regiment in World War II); Senator Jack Reed; R&B singer Lou Rawls; actor William Windom; country music singer Craig Morgan; Renown Independent Baptist Minister Jack Hyles; former Syracuse University football coach Ben Schwartzwalder; fashion critic/choreographer Bruce Darnell; The Honorable Patrick Murphy (Under Secretary of the Army); Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards; General "Henry" Hugh Shelton (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001); and Colonel Chris Gibson, former commander of the 2d Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, and later commander of the division's 2d Brigade Combat Team, now a New York Congressman.
The 82nd Division was first constituted on 5 August 1917 during World War I in the National Army. It was organized and formally activated on 25 August 1917 at Camp Gordon, Georgia. The division consisted entirely of newly conscripted soldiers. The citizens of Atlanta held a contest to give a nickname to the new division. Major General Eben Swift, the commanding general, chose "All American" to reflect the unique composition of the 82nd—it had soldiers from all 48 states. The bulk of the division was two infantry brigades, each commanding two regiments. The 163rd Infantry Brigade commanded the 325th Infantry Regiment and the 326th Infantry Regiment. The 164th Infantry Brigade commanded the 327th Infantry Regiment and the 328th Infantry Regiment. Also in the division were the 157th Field Artillery Brigade, composed of the 319th, 320th and 321st Field Artillery Regiments and the 307th Trench Mortar Battery; a divisional troops contingent, and a division train. It sailed to Europe to join the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), commanded by General John Pershing, on the Western Front.
William P. Burnham, who had previously commanded the 164th Brigade, led the division during most of its training and its movement to Europe. In early April, the division embarked from the ports in Boston, New York and Brooklyn to Liverpool, England, where the division fully assembled by mid-May 1918. From there, the division moved to mainland Europe, leaving Southampton and arriving at Le Havre, France, and then moved to the British-held region of Somme on the front lines, where it began sending small numbers of troops and officers to the front lines to gain combat experience. On 16 June it moved by rail to Toul, France to take position on the front lines in the French sector. Its soldiers were issued French weapons and equipment to simplify resupply. The division was briefly assigned to I Corps before falling under the command of IV Corps until late August. It was then moved to the Woëvre front, in the Lagney sector, where it operated with the French 154th Infantry Division.
The division relieved the 26th Division on 25 June. Though Lagney was considered a defensive sector, the 82nd Division actively patrolled and raided in the region for several weeks, before being relieved by the 89th Division. From there it moved to the Marbache sector in mid-August, where it relieved the 2nd Division under the command of the newly formed US First Army. There it trained until 12 September, when the division joined the St. Mihiel offensive.
Once the First Army jumped off on the offensive, the 82nd Division engaged in a holding mission to prevent German forces from attacking the right flank of the First Army. On 13 September, the 163rd Infantry Brigade and 327th Infantry Regiment raided and patrolled to the northeast of Port-sur-Seille, toward Eply, in the Bois de Cheminot, Bois de la Voivrotte, Bois de la Tête-d'Or, and Bois Fréhaut. Meanwhile, the 328th Infantry Regiment, in connection with the attack of the 90th Division against the Bois-le-Prêtre, advanced on the west of the Moselle River, and, in contact with the 90th Division, entered Norroy, advancing to the heights just north of that town where it consolidated its position. On 15 September, the 328th Infantry, in order to protect the 90th Division's flank, resumed the advance, and reached Vandières, but withdrew on the following day to the high ground north of Norroy.
On 17 September, the St-Mihiel Operation stabilized, and the 90th Division relieved the 82nd's troops west of the Moselle River. On 20 September, the 82nd was relieved by the French 69th Infantry Division, and moved to the vicinity of Marbache and Belleville, then to stations near Triaucourt and Rarécourt in the area of the First Army. During this operation, the division suffered heavy casualties from enemy artillery. The operation cost the division over 800 men. Among them was Colonel Emory Jenison Pike of the 321st Machine Gun Battalion, the first member of the 82nd to be awarded the Medal of Honor. The division was then moved into reserve until 3 October, when it assembled near Varennes-en-Argonne prior to returning to the line. During this time, the division trained and prepared for the war's final major offensive at Meuse-Argonne.
The division was next moved to the Clermont area, located west of Verdun on 24 September. They were stationed there to act as a reserve for the US First Army. George B. Duncan, former commander of the 77th Division, relieved Burnham on 3 October, and Burnham subsequently served as military attaché in Athens, Greece. On the night of 6/7 October 1918, the 164th Infantry Brigade relieved troops of the 28th Division, which were holding the front line from south of Fléville to La Forge, along the eastern bank of the Aire River. The 163rd Infantry Brigade remained in reserve. On 7 October, the division, minus the 163rd Infantry Brigade, attacked the northeastern edge of the Argonne Forest, making some progress toward Cornay, and occupied Hill 180 and Hill 223. The next day it resumed the attack. Elements of the division's right flank entered Cornay, but later withdrew to the east and south. The division's left flank reached the southeastern slope of the high ground northwest of Châtel-Chéhéry. On 9 October, the division continued its attack, and advanced its left flank to a line from south of Pylône to the Rau de la Louvière.
For the rest of the month, the division turned to the north and advanced astride the Aire River to the region east of St-Juvin. On 10 October, it relieved troops of the 1st on the right, north of Fléville, as far as a new boundary extending north and south through Sommerance. It then attacked and captured Cornay and Marcq, and established the front just to their south. On 11 October, the right flank of the division occupied Sommerance and the high ground north of la Rance Rau while the left advanced to the railroad south of the Aire. The next day, the 42nd relieved the 82nd's troops in and near Sommerance, allowing it to resume the attack. The 82nd passed through part of the Hindenburg defensive position, and reached a line just north of the road from St-Georges to St-Juvin.
On 18 October, the division relieved elements of the 78th as far to the left as Marcq and Champigneulle. Three days later it advanced to the Ravin aux Pierres. On 31 October, the 82nd, except the artillery, was relieved by the 77th Division and the 80th Division, and assembled in the Argonne Forest near Champ-Mahaut. On 2 November, the division concentrated near La Chalade and Les Islettes, and, on 4 November, moved to training areas in Vaucouleurs. On 10 November, it moved again to training areas in Bourmont, where it remained until the 11 November armistice. During this campaign the division suffered another 7,000 killed and wounded. A second 82nd soldier, Alvin C. York, won the Medal of Honor during this campaign.
The division suffered 995 killed and 7,082 wounded, for a total of 8,077 casualties. Following the war's end, the division moved to training areas near Prauthoy, where it remained through February 1919. It returned to the United States in April and May, and was demobilized and deactivated at Camp Mills, New York, on 27 May.
For the next 20 years the 82nd Division existed only as a unit of the Organized Reserve. It was reconstituted on 24 June 1921 establishing headquarters at Columbia, South Carolina, in January 1922. Elements of the division were located in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
The 82nd Division was redesignated on 13 February 1942 during World War II, just two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the German declaration of war, as Division Headquarters, 82nd Division. It was recalled to active service on 25 March 1942, and reorganized at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, under the command of Major General Omar Bradley. During this training period, the division brought together four officers who would ultimately steer the U.S. Army during the following two decades: Matthew Ridgway, Matthew D. Query, James M. Gavin, and Maxwell D. Taylor. Under Major General Bradley, the 82nd Division's Chief of Staff was George Van Pope.
On 15 August 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division, now commanded by Major General Ridgway, became the first airborne division in the history of the U.S. Army, and was redesignated as the 82nd Airborne Division. The division initially consisted of the 325th, 326th and 327th Infantry Regiments, and supporting units. The 327th was soon transferred to help form the 101st Airborne Division and was replaced by the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, leaving the division with two regiments of glider infantry and one of parachute infantry. In February 1943 the division received another change when the 326th was later transferred, being replaced by the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under James M. Gavin, then a colonel, who was later destined to command the division.
In April 1943, after several months of tough training, its troopers deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, under the command of Major General Ridgway to take part in the campaign to invade Sicily. The division's first two combat operations were parachute assaults into Sicily on 9 July and Salerno on 13 September 1943. The initial assault on Sicily, by the 505th Parachute Regimental Combat Team, under Colonel Gavin, 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 landings of June 6, 1944. Glider troopers of the 319th and 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalions and the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment (and the 3rd Battalion of the 504th PIR) instead arrived in Italy by landing craft at Maiori (319th) and Salerno (320th, 325th).
In January 1944, the 504th, commanded by Colonel Reuben Tucker, which was temporarily detached to fight at Anzio, adopted the nickname "Devils in Baggy Pants", taken from an entry in a German officer's diary. The 504th was replaced in the division by the inexperienced 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel George V. Millet, Jr.. While the 504th was detached, the remainder of the 82nd Airborne Division moved to the United Kingdom in November 1943 to prepare for the liberation of Europe. See RAF North Witham and RAF Folkingham.
With two combat drops 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 Allied invasion of Normandy. The division conducted Operation Boston, part of the airborne assault phase of the Operation Overlord plan.
In preparation for the operation, the division was significantly reorganized. To ease the integration of replacement troops, rest, and refitting following the fighting in Italy, the 504th PIR did not rejoin the division for the invasion. Two new parachute infantry regiments (PIRs), the 507th and the 508th, provided it, along with the veteran 505th, a three-parachute infantry regiment punch. The 325th was also reinforced by the addition of the 3rd Battalion of the 401st GIR, bringing it up to a strength of three battalions.
On 5 and 6 June, these paratroopers, parachute artillery elements, and the 319th and 320th, boarded hundreds of transport planes and gliders to begin history's largest airborne assault at the time (only Operation Market Garden later that year would be larger). During the 6 June assault, a 508th platoon leader, First Lieutenant Robert P. Mathias, would be the first U.S. Army officer killed by German fire on D-Day On 7 June, after this first wave of attack, the 325th GIR would arrive by glider to provide a division reserve.
In Normandy, the 82nd gained its first Medal of Honor of the war, belonging to Private First Class Charles N. DeGlopper of the 325th GIR. By the time the division was relieved, in early July, the 82nd had seen 33 days of severe combat and casualties had been heavy. Losses included 5,245 troopers killed, wounded, or missing, for a total of 46% casualties. Major General Ridgway's post-battle report stated in part, "... 33 days of action without relief, without replacements. Every mission accomplished. No ground gained was ever relinquished."
Following Normandy, the 82nd Airborne Division returned to England to rest and refit for future airborne operations. The 82nd became part of the newly organized XVIII Airborne Corps, which consisted of the 17th, 82nd, and 101st Airborne Divisions. Ridgway was given command of the corps, but was not promoted to lieutenant general until 1945. His recommendation for succession as division commander was Brigadier General James M. Gavin, previously the 82nd's ADC. Ridgway's recommendation met with approval, and upon promotion Gavin became the youngest general since the Civil War to command a U.S. Army division.
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 PIR, now back at full strength, was reassigned to the 82nd, while the 507th was assigned to the 17th Airborne Division, at the time training in England.
On 17 September, the "All American" Division conducted its fourth (and final) combat jump of World War II. Fighting off German counterattacks, the division captured its objectives between Grave, and Nijmegen. However, the failure of the British 1st Airborne Division to seize the Arnhem bridge allowed the Germans to move defenders to the Nijmegen bridge. The division failed to capture Nijmegen Bridge when the opportunity presented itself early in the battle. When the British XXX Corps arrived in Nijmegen, 6 hours ahead of schedule, they found themselves having to fight to take a bridge that should have already been in allied hands. In the afternoon of Wednesday 20 September 1944 the 82nd Airborne Division conducted a successful opposed river assault on the river crossing of the Waal river, capturing the north end of the Nijmegen road bridge. War correspondent Bill Downs, who witnessed the assault, described it as "a single, isolated battle that ranks in magnificence and courage with Guam, Tarawa, Omaha Beach. A story that should be told to the blowing of bugles and the beating of drums for the men whose bravery made the capture of this crossing over the Waal possible."
The British XXX Corps units did not follow up their own and the 82nd's success by advancing toward Arnhem. This led to some friction between the 82nd's Colonel Tucker and Major General Gavin and Captain Peter Carrington of the Grenadier Guards. By the time the advance was resumed the opportunity for a rapid capture of the road to Arnhem had passed. So the costly successes of the 82nd's Nijmegen bridge seizure was followed by the failure to take the main prize; the British 1st Airborne Division was lost at the Battle of Arnhem. The Market Garden salient was held in a defensive operation for several weeks until the 82nd was relieved by Canadian troops, and sent into reserve in France. During the operation, 19-year old Private John R. Towle of the 504th PIR was posthumously awarded the 82nd Airborne Division's second Medal of Honor of World War II.
On 16 December 1944, the Germans launched a surprise offensive through the Ardennes Forest, which became known as the Battle of the Bulge. In SHAEF reserve, the 82nd was committed on the northern face of the bulge near Elsenborn Ridge.
On 20 December 1944, the 82nd Airborne Division was assigned to take Cheneux where they would force the Waffen SS Division Leibstandarte's Kampfgruppe Peiper into a fighting retreat. On 21–22 December 1944, the 82nd Airborne faced counterattacks from three powerful Waffen SS divisions which included the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, and the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen. The Waffen SS efforts to relieve Kampfgruppe Peiper failed due to the stubborn defense of the 82nd Airborne.
On 23 December, the German divisions attacked from the south and overran the 325th GIR holding the Baraque- Fraiture crossroads on the 82nd's southern flank, endangering the entire 82nd Airborne division. The 2nd SS Panzer's objective was to outflank the 82nd Airborne. It was not an attack designed to reach Peiper, but it was his last chance, nonetheless. If it did outflank the 82nd, it could have opened a corridor and reached the stranded yet still powerful Kampfgruppe. But the attack came too late.
On 24 December 1944, the 82nd Airborne Division with an official strength of 8,520 men was facing off against a vastly superior combined force of 43,000 men and over 1,200 armored fighting and artillery vehicles and pieces. Due to these circumstances the 82nd Airborne Division was forced to withdrawal for the first time in its combat history. The German's pursued their retreat with the 2nd and 9th SS Panzer Divisions. The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich engaged the 82nd until 28 December when it and what was left of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte were ordered to move south to meet General Patton's forces attacking in the area of Bastogne. Some units of the 9th SS Panzer including the 19th Panzer Grenadier Regiment stayed and fought the 82nd. They were joined by the 62nd Volksgrenadier Division. The 9th SS Panzer tried to breakthrough by attacking the 508 and 504 PIR positions, but ultimately failed. The failure of the 9th and 2nd SS Panzer Divisions to break through the 82nd lines marked the end of the German offensive in the northern shoulder of the Bulge. The German objective now became one of defense.
On 3 January 1945, the 82nd Airborne Division conducted a counterattack. On the first day's fighting the Division overran the 62nd Volksgrenadiers and the 9th SS Panzer's positions capturing 2,400 prisoners. The 82nd Airborne suffered high casualties in the process. The attached 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion was all but destroyed during these attacks. Of the 826 men that went into the Ardennes, only 110 came out. Having lost its charismatic leader Lt. Colonel Joerg, and almost all its men either wounded, killed, or frostbitten, the 551 was never reconstituted. The few soldiers that remained were later absorbed into units of the 82nd Airborne.
After several days of fighting, the destruction of the 62nd Volksgrenadiers, and what had been left of the 9th SS Panzer Division was complete. For the 82nd Airborne Division the first part of the Battle of the Bulge had ended.
After helping to secure the Ruhr, the 82nd Airborne Division ended the war at Ludwigslust past the Elbe River, accepting the surrender of over 150,000 men of Lieutenant General Kurt von Tippelskirch's 21st Army. General Omar Bradley, commanding the U.S. 12th Army Group, stated in a 1975 interview with Gavin that Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, commanding the Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group, had told him that German opposition was too great to cross the Elbe. When Gavin's 82nd crossed the river, in company with the British 6th Airborne Division, the 82nd Airborne Division moved 36 miles in one day and captured over 100,000 troops, causing great laughter in Bradley's 12th Army Group headquarters.
Following Germany's surrender, the 82nd Airborne Division entered Berlin for occupation duty, lasting from April until December 1945. In Berlin General George S. 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 war ended before their scheduled participation in the Allied invasion of Japan, Operation Downfall. During the invasion of Italy, Ridgway considered Will Lang Jr. of TIME magazine an honorary member of the division.
The division returned to the United States on 3 January 1946 on the RMS Queen Mary. In New York City it led a big Victory Parade, 12 January 1946. 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 found a permanent home at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, designated a Regular Army division on 15 November 1948. The 82nd was not sent to the Korean War, as both Presidents Truman and Eisenhower chose to keep it in 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 1957, the division implemented the pentomic organization (officially Reorganization of the Airborne Division (ROTAD)) in order to better prepare for tactical nuclear war in Europe. Five battle groups (each with a headquarters and service company, 5 rifle companies and a mortar battery) replaced the division's 3 regiments of 3 battalions each. The division's battle groups were:
The pentomic organization was unsuccessful, and the division reorganized into 3 brigades of 3 battalions (the Reorganization Objective Army Division (ROAD) organization) in 1964.
A year later, the 82nd went into action in Vietnam. During the Tet Offensive, which swept across Vietnam in January 1968, the 3rd Brigade was en route to Chu Lai within 24 hours of receiving its orders. The 3rd Brigade performed combat duties in the Huế – Phu Bai area of the I Corps sector. Later the brigade moved south to Saigon, and fought in the Mekong Delta, the Iron Triangle and along the Cambodian border, serving nearly 22 months. While the 3rd Brigade was deployed, the division created a provisional 4th Brigade, consisting of 4th Battalion, 325th Infantry; 3d Battalion, 504th Infantry; and 3d Battalion, 505th Infantry. An additional unit, the 3d Battalion, 320th Artillery, was activated under Division Artillery to support the 4th Brigade.
The units assigned and attached to the 3d Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division were as follows:
The deployment of the 3d Brigade took place with significant problems and controversy. In The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1965–1973, author Shelby L. Stanton describes how, other than the 82d, only two under-strength Marine and four skeletonized Army divisions were left stateside by the beginning of 1968. MACV, desperate for additional manpower, wanted the division to deploy to Vietnam, and the Department of the Army, wishing to retain its "sole readily deployable strategic reserve, the last real vestige of actual Army divisional combat potency in the United States left to the Pentagon," compromised by sending the 3d Brigade. As Stanton wrote:
The division had been so rushed to get this brigade to the battlefront that it ignored individual deployment criteria. Paratroopers who had just returned from Vietnam now found themselves suddenly going back. The howl of soldier complaints was so vehement that the Department of the Army was soon forced to give each trooper who had deployed to Vietnam with the 3d Brigade the option of returning to Fort Bragg or remaining with the unit. To compensate for the abrupt departures from home for those who elected to stay with the unit, the Army authorized a month leave at the soldiers’ own expense, or a two-week leave with government aircraft provided for special flights back to North Carolina. Of the 3,650 paratroopers who had deployed from Fort Bragg, 2,513 elected to return to the United States at once. MACV had no paratroopers to replace them, and overnight the brigade was transformed into a separate light infantry brigade, airborne in name only.
In his book on war crimes committed in Vietnam, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, author Nick Turse included this incident involving the 3d Brigade during its Vietnam deployment:
Sometimes, when units were short of “kills,” prisoners or detainees were simply murdered. On September 22, 1968, for example, members of the 82d Airborne Division captured a wounded Vietnamese in Thua Thien Province. “I got on the radio and told the CO [commanding officer] that the man was wounded, unarmed and had surrendered,” said Lieutenant Ralph Loomis. According to Loomis’s testimony to an Army criminal investigator, his superior officer, Captain John Kapranopoulous, replied, “Damnit, I don’t care about prisoners, I want a body count.” Although Loomis ordered his men not to execute the prisoner, his radioman, Specialist Joseph Mattaliano, “opened up with a burst of automatic fire from his M-16 killing the Vietnamese instantly.”
At roughly the same time, a second Vietnamese man, a civilian, was also detained. He had his hands tied behind his back and was forced to kneel. The unit’s forward observed recalled the Sergeant Alexander Beard “called the CPT [captain] on the horn and told him the man had no papers and the CPT replied that the man was a gook or dink ‘and you know what to do with him.’ The group of GIs left the prisoner and walked away about 5–6 yards and then I heard one weapon fire a burst and I saw the prisoner fall… I then saw the group approach the dead prisoner, remove the rope from his arms and roll him over into a ditch.”
Unit member Johnny Brinson told investigators that it had been a standing order for months not to take prisoners.
On 24 July 1967, shortly before midnight, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the U.S. military into Detroit to boost the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police, the Wayne County Sheriff, and the Michigan National Guard in curtailing the city's ongoing major civil disorder. At 1:10 am, 4,700 paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, under the command of Lieutenant General John L. Throckmorton, arrived in Detroit and began working in the streets, coordinating refuse removal, tracing persons who had disappeared in the confusion, and carrying out routine military functions, such as the establishment of mobile patrols, guard posts, and roadblocks.
Later that night, rioting peaked in high intensity, and the 82nd worked alongside with the 101st to secure east of Woodward, while the National Guard took to the west of Woodward. Incidents began to decline, as the paratroopers constantly patrolled the perimeter with M16 rifles, M60 machine guns, and M48 tanks, and the police began making arrests on those violating curfew regulations or who were caught looting. On 27 July, with a sense of normalcy returned to the city, in part due to the presence of Army and National Guard troops, the riot was officially declared over. The Army began to scale down in order to return to their normal duties, leaving the control back to local authorities.
Although Army paratroopers exercised great restraint on firepower due to being racially integrated as well as their combat experience in Vietnam (as opposed to the mainly white and inexperienced National Guard troops), the 82nd was responsible for one death and the only riot fatality associated with federal troops. On 29 July, two days after the riot officially ended, 82nd Captain Randolph Smith fatally shot a 19-year-old black man, Ernest Roquemore, who inadvertently stray into the line of fire east of the alley, as the paratroopers and the police were firing at a man allegedly armed with a gun (it was later found out to be a transistor radio). Three other individuals were injured by shotgun fire from police in the same incident. The Army and Detroit Police were on a joint patrol in order to recover looted items within the vicinity where the shooting took place.
On 30 July, the 82nd and the 101st completely left Detroit and moved back to Selfridge for redeployment to their home stations, a process that continued gradually until 2 August.
From 1969 into the 1970s, the 82d deployed paratroopers to South Korea and Vietnam on more than 180DBT (Days Bad Time) for exercises in potential future battlegrounds. The division received three alerts. One was for Black September 1970. Paratroopers were on their way to Amman, Jordan when the mission was aborted. In May 1971 they were used to help national guard and Washington DC police to round up and arrest protestors. Nine years later in August 1980, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 504th Infantry was alerted and deployed to conduct civil disturbance duty at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, during the Cuban refugee internment. War in the Middle East in the fall of 1973 brought the 82nd to full alert. In May 1978, the division was alerted to a possible drop into Zaire. In November 1979, the division was alerted for a possible operation to rescue the American hostages in Iran. The division formed the nucleus of the newly created Rapid Deployment Forces (RDF), a mobile force at a permanently high state of readiness.
On 25 October 1983, elements of the 82d conducted an Airland Operation to secure Point Salinas Airport following an airborne assault by the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions who conducted the airfield seizure just hours prior. The first 82d unit to deploy was a task force of the 2d and 3d Battalions (Airborne), 325th Infantry. On 26 October and 27, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 505th Infantry, and the 1st and 2nd Battalions (Airborne), 508th Infantry, deployed to Grenada with support units. 2-505 deployed as well. Military operations ended in early November (Note: that C/2-325 did not deploy due to being a newly formed COHORT unit, in its place B/2-505 deployed, landing at Point Salinas. The 82d expanded its missions from the airhead at Salinas to weed out Cuban and Grenadian soldiers Each proceeding battalion pushed a single company forward with A/2-504 deploying only one company out of the entire brigade. The operation was flawed in several areas and identified areas needing attention to enhance the United States RDF doctrine. Newly issued Battle dress Uniforms (BDUs) were not designed for the tropical environment; communication between Army ground forces and Navy and Air Force aircraft lacked interoperability and even food and other logistic support to ground forces was hampered due to communication issues between the services. The operation proved the division's ability to act as a rapid deployment force. The first aircraft carrying troopers from the 2-325th touched down at Point Salines 17 hours after H-Hour notification.
In March 1988, a brigade task force made up of two battalions from the 504th Infantry and 3d Battalion (Airborne), 505th Infantry, conducted a parachute insertion and air/land operation into Honduras as part of Operation Golden Pheasant. The deployment was billed as a joint training exercise, but the paratroopers were ready to fight. The deployment caused the Sandinistas to withdraw to Nicaragua. Operation Golden Pheasant prepared the paratroopers for future combat in an increasingly unstable world.
On 20 December 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 1-504th and 2-504th INF as well as 4-325th INF and Company A, 3-505th INF, and 3-319th FAR, was to oust Manuel Noriega from power. They were joined on the ground by 3-504th INF, which was already in Panama. The invasion was initiated with a night combat jump and airfield seizures; the 82nd conducted follow-on combat air assault missions in Panama City and the surrounding areas of the Gatun Locks. The operation continued with an assault of multiple strategic installations, such as the Punta Paitilla Airport in Panama City and a Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) garrison and airfield at Rio Hato, where Noriega also maintained a residence. The attack on La Comandancia (PDF HQ) touched off several fires, one of which destroyed most of the adjoining and heavily populated El Chorrillo neighborhood in downtown Panama City. The 82d Airborne Division secured several other key objectives such as Madden Dam, El Ranacer Prison, Gatun Locks, Gamboa and Fort Cimarron. Overall, the operation involved 27,684 U.S. troops and over 300 aircraft, including C-130 Hercules, AC-130 Spectre gunship, OA-37B Dragonfly observation and attack aircraft, C-141 and C-5 strategic transports, F-117A Nighthawk stealth aircraft and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. The invasion of Panama was the first combat deployment for the AH-64, the HMMWV, and the F-117A. In the short six years since the Invasion of Grenada, Operation Just Cause demonstrated how quickly the US Armed Forces could adapt and overcome the mistakes and equipment interoperability issues to conduct a quick and decisive victory. In all, the 82d Airborne Division suffered 6 of the 23 fatalities of the operation. The paratroopers began redeployment to Fort Bragg on 12 January 1990. Operation Just Cause concluded on 31 Jan 1990, just 42 days (D+42) since the invasion started.
Seven months later the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division were again called to war. Four days after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990, the 4th Battalion (Airborne), 325th Infantry was the Division Ready Force 1 (DRF-1) and the initial ground force, as President George Bush's "Line in the Sand" speech to Saddam Hussein part of the largest deployment of American troops since Vietnam as part of Operation Desert Shield. The 4-325th INF immediately deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Their role was to guard the royal family as part of the agreement with King Faud to station troops in the kingdom. The DRF 2 and 3 (1-325 and 2-325 INF, respectively) began drawing the "line in the sand" near al Jubail by building defenses for possible retrograde operations. Soon after, the rest of the division followed. There, intensive training began in anticipation of desert fighting against the heavily armored Iraqi Army.
On 16 January 1991, Operation Desert Storm began when Allied war planes attacked Iraqi targets. As the air war began, 2d Brigade of the 82d initially deployed near an airfield in the vicinity of the ARAMCO oil facilities outside Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. While 1st Brigade and 3d Brigade consolidated at the Division HQ (CHAMPION Main) near Dhahran in Coinciding with the start of the air war, three National Guard Light-Medium Truck companies, the 253d (NJARNG), 1122d (AKARNG), and the 1058th (MAARNG) joined 2d Brigade of the 82d. In the coming weeks using primarily the 5-Ton cargo trucks of these NG truck companies, the 1st Brigade moved north to "tap line road" in the vicinity of Rafha, Saudi Arabia. Eventually, these National Guard truck units effectively "motorized" the 325th Infantry, providing the troop ground transportation required for them to keep pace with the French Division Daguet during the incursion. The ground war began almost six weeks later. The 2-325th INF was the division's spearhead for the ground war who actually took positions over the Iraqi border 24 hours in advance of coalition forces at 0800hrs on 22 February 1991 on Objectives Tin Man and Rochambeau. On 23 February, 82d Airborne Division paratroopers protected the XVIII Airborne Corps flank as fast-moving armor and mechanized units moved deep inside south-western Iraq. After the second day, 1st Brigade moved forward to extend the Corps flank along with 3d Brigade. In the short 100-hour ground war, the 82d drove deep into Iraq and captured thousands of Iraqi soldiers and tons of equipment, weapons, and ammunition. During that time, the 82nd's band and MP company processed 2,721 prisoners. After the liberation of Kuwait and the surrender of the Iraqi Army, the 82nd redeployed to Fort Bragg between 18 March and 22 April after being deployed for a period of seven months.
In August 1992, the division deployed a task force to the hurricane-ravaged area of South Florida to provide humanitarian assistance following Hurricane Andrew. For more than 30 days, troopers provided food, shelter and medical attention to the Florida population as part of the U.S. military Domestic Emergency Planning System. The 82nd was part of over 20,000 Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and an additional 6200 National Guard troops deployed for the disaster.
They also provided security and a sense of safety for the victims of the storm who were without power, doors, windows and in many cases roofs. There were, as with all disasters, criminals trying to take advantage of the situation, in this case looters and thieves. The presence of the 82nd quickly eliminated that factor from the equation.
On 16 September 1994, the 82d Airborne Division joined Operation Restore Democracy. The 82d was scheduled to make combat parachute jumps into Pegasus Drop Zone and PAPIAP Drop Zone (Port-au-Prince Airport), in order to help oust the military dictatorship of Raoul Cédras, and to restore the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. At the same time that 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 82d's first wave was in the air, with paratroopers waiting at Green Ramp to air land in Haïti once the airfields there had been seized. When the Haitian military verified from sources outside Pope Air Force Base that the 82d was on the way, Cédras stepped down, averting the invasion.
Former Vice President Al Gore would later travel to Fort Bragg to personally thank the paratroopers of the 82d for their actions, noting in a speech on 19 September 1994, that the 82nd's reputation was enough to change Cédras' 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.
On 12 December 1994, the 2d Battalion (Airborne), 505th Infantry, with the 2d Platoon of Company C, 307th Engineer Battalion, deployed as part of Operations Safe Haven and Safe Passage. The battalion deployed from Fort Bragg while on Division Ready Force 1 to restore order against thousands of Cuban refugees who had attacked and injured a number of Air Force personnel and one marine while protesting their detainment at Empire Range along the Panama Canal. The battalion participated in the safeguarding of the Cuban refugees, a camp cordon and reorganization, and the active patrolling in and around the refugee camps in and around the Panamanian jungle along the Panama canal for two months. General Engineering support in the area of camp establishment/improvement operations was provided by the Sappers of the habitually associated Task Force Panther Engineer platoon, 2/C-307th. (Task Force Panther was commanded by LTC Lloyd J. Austin III, who would later be the first African American General to command U.S. Central Command.) This support included the planning of camp power requirements, pouring of 78 concrete pads, 3 foot bridges, a set of "mock doors" for airborne pre-jump training, and a system of decks for the muddy camp. During the deployment, the paratroopers experienced a 92-degree Christmas Day and returned to Fort Bragg on 14 February 1995.
Battalions of the 82d prepared 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 31 December 1995 without hostilities did the 82d begin to draw down against plans for a possible airborne operation there. The 82d's 49th Public Affairs Detachment (Abn) was deployed in support of the 1st Armored Division and air-landed in Tuzla with the 1AD TAC CP and began PA operations to include establishing the first communications in print and radio and covering the crossing of the Sava River by the main forces.
In September 1997 the 82d traveled to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for CENTRAZBAT '97. Paratroopers from Ft. Bragg, NC flew 8000 miles on U.S. Air Force C-17s and jumped into an airfield in Shimkent, Kazakhstan. Forty soldiers from the three republics joined 500 paratroopers on the exercise-opening jump. Marine Gen. John Sheehan, then-commander in chief of the Atlantic Command, was first out of the aircraft. The 82d joined units from Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Russia in the two-week-long, NATO peacekeeping training mission. Members of the international press and local reporters from WRAL-TV and the Fayetteville Observer were also imbedded with the 82d Airborne.
In March 1999 the TF 2-505th INF 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, TF 3-504th INF deployed in support of Operation Joint Guardian, replacing TF 2-505th INF. TF 3-504th INF was replaced in March 2000 by elements of the 101st Airborne Division. On 1 October 1999, the 1-508th ABCT (SETAF) made a combat jump in "Operation Rapid Guardian": 500-foot altitude jump near Pristina.
After 11 September attacks on the United States, the 82d's 49th Public Affairs Detachment deployed to Afghanistan in October 2001 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom along with several individual 82d soldiers who deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility to support combat operations .
In June 2002, elements of the division headquarters and TF Panther (HQ 3d Brigade; 1-504th INF, 1-505th INF, 3-505th INF, 1-319th FA) deployed to Afghanistan. In January 2003, TF Devil (HQ 1st Brigade, 2-504th INF, 3-504th INF, 2-505th INF, 3-319th FA) relieved TF Panther.
In March 2003, 1-325, 2–325 and 3-325th INF of the 2d BCT were 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, Company D crossed the Saudi Arabia–Iraq border as part of Task Force Hunter to escort heavy rocket artillery indirect fire systems to destroy Iraqi artillery batteries in the western Iraqi desert. Upon cancellation of the parachute assault to seize the airport, the battalions returned to their parent 2d Brigade at Talil Airfield near An Nasariyah, Iraq. The 2d Brigade then continued operations in Samawah, Fallujah, and Baghdad. The 2d Brigade being the primary participant in the Battle of Samawah. The brigade returned to the United States by the end of February 2004.
The early days of the 82d 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.
In April 2003, according to Human Rights Watch, soldiers from a subordinate unit, the 325th Infantry, fired indiscriminately into a crowd of Iraqi civilians protesting their presence in the city of Fallujah. They killed and wounded many civilians. The battalion suffered no casualties.
The 3d Brigade deployed to Iraq in the summer, redeploying to the U.S. in spring 2004. The 1st Brigade deployed in January 2004. The last units of the division left by the end of April 2004. The 2d Brigade deployed on 7 December 2004 to support the free elections and returned on Easter Sunday in 2005. During this initial deployment 36 soldiers from the division were killed and about 400 were wounded, out of about 12,000 deployed. On 21 July 2006, the 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, along with a platoon from Battery A, 2d Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment and a troop from 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment deployed to Tikrit, Iraq returning in December 2006. Just days after returning home, the battalion join the rest of the 2d Brigade in another deployment scheduled for the beginning of January 2007.
In late September 2004 The National Command Authority alerted TF 1-505th INF for an emergency deployment to Afghanistan in support of that October's (first free) elections.
In December 2004, the task forces based on 2-325th INF and 3-325th INF deployed to Iraq to provide a safe and secure environment for the country's first-ever free national elections. Thanks in part to the efforts of 2d Brigade paratroopers, more than eight million Iraqis were able to cast their first meaningful ballots.
The 1st Brigade of the 82d deployed in April 2005 in support of OEF 6, and returned in April 2006. 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment deployed in support of OEF 6 from July through November 2005.
The 82d Airborne's 3rd Brigade, 505th Infantry Regiment, and the division's 319th Field Artillery Regiment along with supporting units 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 Major General 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 combat team based organization. Activated elements 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, 307th Engineer Battalion, and 313th Military Intelligence Battalion. The 82d Division Support Command (DISCOM) was redesignated as the 82nd Sustainment Brigade. A pathfinder unit was reactivated within the 82d when the Long Range Surveillance Detachment of the inactivating 313th Military Intelligence Battalion was transferred to the 2d Battalion, 82d Aviation Regiment and converted to a pathfinder role as the battalion's Company F.
In December 2006, 2nd BCT deployed once again to Iraq in support of OIF. On 4 January 2007, 2nd Brigade deployed to northern Bagdad in the Sumer and Talbiyah district, returning 8 March 2008. On 4 June 2007, 1st Brigade deployed to Southern Iraq, returning 15 July 2008. Since the deployment began, the division has lost 37 paratroopers. Since 11 September 2001, the division has lost 20 paratroopers in Afghanistan and 101 paratroopers in Iraq.
In January 2007, then Maj. Gen. David M. Rodriguez deployed the division headquarters to Bagram, Afghanistan, accompanied by 4th BCT and the Aviation Brigade, as Commander, Combined Joint Task Force-82 (CJTF-82)and Regional Command - East for Operation Enduring Freedom VIII. The 3d BCT, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) was extended for 120 days to increase the troop strength against the Taliban spring offensive. Extended to 15-month deployment, 4th BCT, which included 1–508th Infantry Regiment, 2–508th Infantry Regiment, and 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, was commanded by then Col. Martin P. Schweitzer and remained in Khowst Province from January 2007 until April 2008. The 2–508th IR worked to establish and maintain firebases in and around the Ghazni province while actively patrolling their operational area. The 1-508 IR served in Regional Command-South. Working mostly out of Kandahar province as the theater tactical force, they mentored the Afghan National Security Force, conducted combined operations with both ANSF and NATO partners in the Helmand province. Supporting the division were the 36th Engineer Brigade, and the 43d Area Support Group.
In December 2008, the 3d BCT deployed to Baghdad, Iraq and redeployed to Ft. Bragg In November 2009. In August 2009, 1st BCT deployed once again to Iraq and redeployed late July 2010.
During the months of August and September 2009, 4th BCT deployed again to Afghanistan and returned in August 2010 having lost 38 soldiers.
The 2d Brigade deployed to the Anbar Province in Iraq in May 2011 for the last time in support of Operation New Dawn with the mission to advise, train and assist the Iraqi Security Forces and lead the responsible withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq. Elements of 2d Brigade were among the last US combat units to withdraw from Baghdad. The brigade suffered the loss of the last American service member in Iraq, SPC. David E. Hickman, on 14 November 2011. They were part of the long convoy of equipment and troops who exited Iraq into Kuwait as OIF came to an end.
As part of Operation Unified Response, the 2d BCT, on rotation as the division's Global Response Force, was alerted and deployed forces to Haiti later that same day for the mission to provide humanitarian assistance following the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Paratroopers distributed water and food during the 2010 Haiti earthquake relief.
Just two months following redeployment from Haiti in 2010, elements of 2d BCT (Red Falcons) deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to serve as trainers for the Afghan National Security Forces. In October 2011, the Division Headquarters returned to Afghanistan, where they relieved the 10th Mountain Division as the Headquarters of Regional Command-South.
In February 2012, 4th BCT deployed to Kandahar province. Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, formed an overwhelming force in Kandahar. Zhari district in southern Kandahar, is where Dadullah was recruiting a high number of jihadist. 4th BCT of the 82d held the 5-month siege from March 2012 to the end of July, witnessing some of the most intense combat since the initial deployments since 2001, 4th BCT inflicted massive casualties among the Taliban. Performing with an almost perfect strategic plan, 4th BCT drove Dadullah and his men out of Kandahar to the Northeastern province of kunar, where Dadullah was killed by air strikes.
As of April 2012, the 1st BCT was deployed to Afghanistan, operating in Ghazni Province, Regional Command-East. The paratroopers took control of Ghazni from the Polish Armed Forces, allowing the Polish Task Force White Eagle (pl:Polski Kontyngent Wojskowy w Afganistanie) to consolidate around the provincial seat in northern Ghazni.
In December 2013, elements of the 4th Brigade deployed again to Afghanistan and they were joined by the 1st Brigade in spring 2014. Since 11 September 2001, the division has lost 106 paratroopers in Afghanistan and 139 paratroopers in Iraq
On 19 December 2014, the Stars & Stripes announced 1,000 soldiers from the 82d Airborne's 3d Brigade Combat Team would deploy to Iraq to train, advise, and assist Iraq's Security Forces.
On 3 November 2016, it was reported that 1,700 soldiers from the 2d Brigade Combat Team will deploy to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in Iraq, to take part in Operation Inherent Resolve. They will replace the 2d Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division and will advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces currently trying to retake Mosul from ISIS fighters.
On 27 March 2017, it was reported that 300 paratroopers from the 82d Airborne's 2d Brigade Combat Team will temporarily deploy to northern Iraq to provide additional advise-and-assist combating ISIS, particularly to speed up the offensive against ISIS in Mosul.
1st Brigade Combat Team "Devil Brigade"
2nd Brigade Combat Team "Falcon Brigade"
3rd Brigade Combat Team "Panther Brigade"
82nd Airborne Division Artillery (Has training and readiness oversight of field artillery battalions, which remain organic to the brigade combat teams)
The division's 4th Brigade Combat Team inactivated in fall of 2013: the Special Troops Battalion, 4th BCT; the 2nd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment; and the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion were inactivated with some of the companies of the 782nd used to augment support battalions in the remaining three brigades. The 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry joined the 1st Brigade Combat Team and formed the core of the newly activated 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment. The 2nd Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment joined the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, while the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment joined the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
To commemorate the 1944 Waal assault river crossing made by the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 307th Engineer Battalion (Airborne) during Operation Market Garden, an annual Crossing of the Waal competition is staged on the anniversary of the operation at McKellars Lake near Fort Bragg. The winning company receives a paddle. The paddle signifies that in the original crossing, many paratroopers had to row with their weapons because the canvas boats lacked sufficient paddles.
The following are 82nd Airborne units during World War II.
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