Do you know a soldier or officer who wears that distinctive unit patch with 2 A’s on it? Have you ever asked them about their unit? The history behind it? If you have, I would bet it was a long, detailed, and interesting story.
In today’s post, I am going to share some of the history of the 82nd Airborne. Here are 22 cool facts:
1: Main Base
The 82nd Airborne is based at the largest military base in the world when we speak of base population. Their home base is Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The 82nd became a division of the United States Army during World War I. The 82nd Division was constituted on August 5th, 1917.
There was a contest to give the 82nd Division a nickname. The final choice was made by the Commanding General, Major General Eben Swift. The choice was All American. The reason for this choice was because the 82nd had soldiers from every State, which was 48 at that time.
4: World War I Fatalities
During World War I, the 82nd had 995 soldiers or officers killed.
5: 1st Airborne Division
The 82nd Infantry Division became the 1st Airborne Division in the United States Army.
On August 15th, 1942, under Major General Matthew Ridgway, they became the 82nd Airborne Division.
7: 1st Combat Operation As An Airborne Unit
The 1st combat operation for the 82nd Airborne was a parachute jump as part of the Invasion of Sicily. Colonel James Gavin led the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the first regimental sized parachute jump by the U.S. Army.
The 82nd Airborne played an integral part in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy. Parachuting behind enemy lines the night before, many of them were dropped in zones that were incorrect. But the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment was dropped in the accurate location and captured the town that was their objective during Operation Boston.
While there were many errors, overall the 82nd played an important part in the D-Day invasion.
Immediately after the invasion of Normandy, the 82nd Airborne Division became part of the XVIII Airborne Corps, which also included the 17th and 101st Airborne Divisions.
10: Other Missions During World War II
The 82nd had other missions during World War II. They included:
Operation Market Garden. The 82nd Airborne parachuted into the Netherlands to capture key bridges. They performed their mission to great success, but the British failed in their mission.
Battle of the Bulge. The 82nd were predominant in stopping General Gerd von Runstedt’s penetration. They helped secure the Ruhr and accepted the surrender of nearly 150,000 Germans.
Berlin Occupation. From April to December of 1945, the 82nd were in occupation of Berlin duty.
During World War II, the 82nd lost approximately 2,000 to death.
11: Dominican Republic
In 1965, elements of the 82nd Airborne were deployed to the Dominican Republic to aid in the terrible civil war going on there.
12: Detroit Race Riots
In 1967, the 82nd was sent to Detroit, Michigan to help control the race riots. The riots ended 2 days later with over 40 people killed.
The 82nd saw a lot of combat action in Vietnam. They had soldiers in Saigon, the Mekong Delta, the Iron Triangle and along the border with Cambodia. There were plenty of All-Americans in Vietnam.
After Vietnam, the Department of Defense knew they needed units that would be able to respond quickly. The 82nd Airborne Division was at the core of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force.
Elements of the 82nd deployed to Grenada to keep control of the Point Salinas airport that Ranger Battalions had captured earlier. This happened in 1983.
In 1989, elements of the 82nd Airborne Division jumped into Panama in an invasion. It was meant to take out the dictator Manuel Noriega. It was known as Operation Just Cause and showed just how quickly the 82nd could act.
17: Desert Storm
During Desert Storm, the All-American Division was on the left flank during the operation to take out Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi Army.
18: Restored Democracy Before Jumping
In 1994, Raoul Cédras had taken over a military dictatorship in Haiti. The 82nd were en route to take him out, but when the dictator heard that they were about to parachute in, and he stepped down.
19: War On Terror
The 82nd Airborne Division has been a major player in the War on Terror. For Operation Enduring Freedom, elements of the 82nd deployed to Afghanistan. They were at the heart of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Some of the 82nd rapidly deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan to support free elections. The 1st Brigade of the 82nd deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom VI in 2005.
The 82nd has been involved in the other stages of Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.
In total, the Division lost 245 Paratroopers in the War on Terror.
20: Medal Of Honor Awards
It is the highest honor that can be given to a member of the military. These are those who were awarded the Medal of Honor as members of the 82nd:
World War I
Lieutenant Colonel Emory Pike
Sergeant Alvin York
World War II
PFC Charles DeGlopper
1st Sergeant Leonard Funk Jr.
Private Joe Gandara
Private John Towle
Staff Sergeant Félix Conde Falcón
21: Famous 82nd Soldiers
There have been some famous names who were within the 82nd. They include:
General Hugh Shelton
General James Gavin
John Bel Edwards
General of the Army Omar Bradley
Under Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy
Senator Jack Reed
Former Syracuse Football Coach: Ben Schwartzwalder
Country Western Star: Craig Morgan
The 82nd Airborne Division has an association. You can sign up at this link.
Yes, the 82nd Airborne Division has an amazing history. Do tell us if you are, were or have family that were members of the 82nd. You can post any and all questions and comments below. Thank you.