173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team
Overview
 
The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team ("Sky Soldiers") is an airborne
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

 infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 brigade combat team
Brigade combat team
The brigade combat team is the basic deployable unit of maneuver in the US Army. A brigade combat team consists of one combat arms branch maneuver brigade, and its attached support and fire units. A brigade combat team is generally commanded by a colonel , but in rare instances it is commanded by...

 of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 based in Vicenza
Vicenza
Vicenza , a city in north-eastern Italy, is the capital of the eponymous province in the Veneto region, at the northern base of the Monte Berico, straddling the Bacchiglione...

, Italy. It is the United States European Command
United States European Command
The United States European Command is one of ten Unified Combatant Commands of the United States military, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Its area of focus covers and 51 countries and territories, including Europe, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, and Israel...

's conventional airborne strategic response force for Europe.

Activated in 1915, as the 173rd Infantry Brigade, the unit saw service in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, but is best known for its actions during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. The brigade was the first major United States Army ground formation deployed in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, serving there May 1965–1971 and losing almost 1,800 soldiers.
Encyclopedia
The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team ("Sky Soldiers") is an airborne
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

 infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 brigade combat team
Brigade combat team
The brigade combat team is the basic deployable unit of maneuver in the US Army. A brigade combat team consists of one combat arms branch maneuver brigade, and its attached support and fire units. A brigade combat team is generally commanded by a colonel , but in rare instances it is commanded by...

 of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 based in Vicenza
Vicenza
Vicenza , a city in north-eastern Italy, is the capital of the eponymous province in the Veneto region, at the northern base of the Monte Berico, straddling the Bacchiglione...

, Italy. It is the United States European Command
United States European Command
The United States European Command is one of ten Unified Combatant Commands of the United States military, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Its area of focus covers and 51 countries and territories, including Europe, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, and Israel...

's conventional airborne strategic response force for Europe.

Activated in 1915, as the 173rd Infantry Brigade, the unit saw service in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, but is best known for its actions during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. The brigade was the first major United States Army ground formation deployed in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, serving there May 1965–1971 and losing almost 1,800 soldiers. Noted for its roles in Operation Hump
Operation Hump
Operation Hump was a search and destroy operation initiated on 8 November 1965 by the 173rd Airborne Brigade, in an area about 17.5 miles north of Bien Hoa. The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, deployed south of the Dong Nai River while the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, conducted a...

 and Operation Junction City
Operation Junction City
Operation Junction City was an 82-day military operation conducted by United States and Republic of Vietnam forces begun on 22 February 1967 during the Vietnam War. It was the largest U.S. airborne operation since Operation Market Garden during World War II, the only major airborne operation of...

, the 173rd is best known for the Battle of Dak To
Battle of Dak To
The Battle of Đắk Tô was a series of major engagements of the Vietnam War that took place between 3–22 November 1967, in Kontum Province, in the Central Highlands of the Republic of Vietnam . The action at Đắk Tô was one of a series of People's Army of Vietnam offensive initiatives that began...

, where it suffered heavy casualties in close combat with North Vietnamese forces. Brigade members received over 7,700 decorations
Inter-service decorations of the United States military
Inter-service decorations of the United States military are military awards that are issued by the United States armed forces to members of all five branches of military service. Such medals are thus considered "inter-service" and are awarded under the same criteria to all military branches.The...

, including more than 6,000 Purple Heart
Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York...

s. The brigade returned to the United States, where it was deactivated in 1972.

Since its reactivation in 2000, the brigade served four tours in the Middle East in support of the War on Terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

. The 173rd participated in the initial invasion of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and had three tours in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2005–2006, 2007–2008 and 2009–2010. The brigade returned from its most recent deployment in eastern Afghanistan in December 2010.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team has a long and celebrated combat history. It has received 21 campaign streamer
Campaign streamer
Campaign streamers are decorations attached to military flags to recognize particular achievements or events of a military unit or service. Attached to the headpiece of the assigned flag, the streamer often is an inscribed ribbon with the name and date denoting participation in a particular battle,...

s and several unit awards, including the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions during the Battle of Dak To
Battle of Dak To
The Battle of Đắk Tô was a series of major engagements of the Vietnam War that took place between 3–22 November 1967, in Kontum Province, in the Central Highlands of the Republic of Vietnam . The action at Đắk Tô was one of a series of People's Army of Vietnam offensive initiatives that began...

 during the Vietnam War.

Organization

The 173rd Airborne Brigade serves as the conventional airborne strategic response force for Europe. It is a subordinate unit of the U.S. Army's V Corps.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade currently consists of 3,300 soldiers in six subordinate battalions. The unit's two paratrooper
Paratrooper
Paratroopers are soldiers trained in parachuting and generally operate as part of an airborne force.Paratroopers are used for tactical advantage as they can be inserted into the battlefield from the air, thereby allowing them to be positioned in areas not accessible by land...

 infantry battalions are the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 503rd Infantry Regiment, an association that can be traced back to the unit's Vietnam service. The 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment is the brigade's light reconnaissance battalion, and the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment (AFAR) its field artillery battalion.

In support of the regular combat forces are the 173rd Special Troops Battalion and the 173rd Support Battalion
173rd Support Battalion (United States)
The 173rd Brigade Support Battalion is a Combat Support Battalion of the United States Army based in Bamberg, Germany. It is a subordinate unit of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.- Links :*...

. All of these units including the 4–319th AFAR are airborne qualified
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

, making the 173rd Airborne Brigade the only separate airborne brigade in the United States Army.

World Wars

The 173rd Infantry Brigade was constituted on 5 August 1915 as an infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 brigade
Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

 and organized on 25 August at Camp Pike, Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, as an element of the 87th Division
U.S. 87th Infantry Division
The 87th Infantry Division was a unit of the United States Army in World War I and World War II.-World War I:*87th Division was a National Army division allocated to Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi....

 along with the 174th Infantry Brigade. The brigade deployed to France along with the rest of the division in September 1918, but it did not participate in any campaigns and never saw combat, instead being utilized as a pool of laborers and reinforcements for front line units. Four months later, the brigade returned to the United States, and was demobilized with the rest of the division in January 1919 at Camp Dix, New Jersey
Fort Dix, New Jersey
JB MDL Dix , better known as Fort Dix, is a United States Army base located approximately south-southeast of Trenton, New Jersey. Dix is under the jurisdiction of the United States Army Reserve Command...

.

On 24 June 1921, the unit was reconstituted as the Headquarters and Headquarters Company
Headquarters and Headquarters Company
In United States Army units, a headquarters and headquarters company is a company sized military unit, found at the battalion level and higher. In identifying a specific headquarters unit, it is usually referred to by its abbreviation as an HHC...

 (HHC), 173rd Infantry Brigade, and was assigned to the Organized Reserve Corps and the 87th Division at Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport is the third largest city in Louisiana. It is the principal city of the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana and is the 109th-largest city in the United States....

. It was reorganized in December 1921 at Mobile, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Mobile is the third most populous city in the Southern US state of Alabama and is the county seat of Mobile County. It is located on the Mobile River and the central Gulf Coast of the United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 during the 2010 census. It is the largest...

, redesignated on 23 March 1925 as the HHC 173rd Brigade, and redesignated as HHC 173rd Infantry Brigade on 24 August 1936.

During World War II, brigades were eliminated from divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

. Consequently, the HHC 173rd Infantry Brigade was designated as the 87th Reconnaissance Troop in February 1942 and activated on 15 December 1942. Though the brigade in name did not exist during the war, the redesignation meant that it carried the lineage of the 87th Reconnaissance Troop, and when the brigade was reactivated, it would include the troop's lineage and campaign streamers. The troop entered combat in 1944 and fought in three European campaigns; central Europe, the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

 and Ardennes-Alsace operations. The maneuver battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

s of the Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 era 173rd trace their lineage to the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, which successfully assaulted the fortress island of Corregidor
Corregidor
Corregidor Island, locally called Isla ng Corregidor, is a lofty island located at the entrance of Manila Bay in southwestern part of Luzon Island in the Philippines. Due to this location, Corregidor was fortified with several coastal artillery and ammunition magazines to defend the entrance of...

 in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 by parachute and waterborne operations, thereby earning the nickname "The Rock". After the war, the troop reverted back to reserve status and was posted at Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

 from 1947 until 1951. On 1 December 1951, the troop was inactivated and released from its assignment to the 87th Infantry Division.

Re-creation as an airborne brigade

From 1961 to 1963, the Army began reorganizing its force so that each division would have a similar structure, which would vary depending on the type of division it was. This move was called the Reorganization Objective Army Division (ROAD) plan. The plan eliminated regiments but reintroduced brigades to the Army's structure, allowing three brigades to a division. The reorganization also allowed for the use of "separate" brigades which had no division headquarters and could be used for missions that did not require an entire division. The 173rd Brigade was selected to become a separate brigade and a special airborne task force, which could deploy rapidly and act independently. It was then designed uniquely from other separate brigades. The 173rd was the only separate brigade to have support formations permanently attached to it, though other separate brigades would receive support elements of their own a year later. The brigade was also the only separate brigade to receive its own tank company, in the form of Company D, 16th Armor. Consistent with Regimental Combat Teams
Regimental combat team
A regimental combat team was a provisional major infantry unit of the United States Army during the World War II and the Korean War, and of the U.S. Marine Corps to the present day...

 activated before them, these separate brigades were given their own shoulder sleeve insignia. The soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade created a patch with a wing on it to symbolize their status as an airborne unit, along with red, white, and blue, the national colors of the United States. The SSI would be given to them in May 1963.

On 26 March 1963, the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) was assigned to the regular army
Regular Army
The Regular Army of the United States was and is the successor to the Continental Army as the country's permanent, professional military establishment. Even in modern times the professional core of the United States Army continues to be called the Regular Army...

 and activated on Okinawa. Brigadier General
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

 Ellis W. Williamson took command of the unit, which was chartered to serve as the quick reaction force for the Pacific Command. Under Williamson, the unit trained extensively, making mass parachute jumps. They earned the nickname Tien Bien, or Sky Soldiers, from the Taiwanese
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 paratroopers. During their time in Okinawa, they prided themselves as the "toughest fighting men in Okinawa, if not the entire US Armed Forces". They took their theme song from the television series Rawhide
Rawhide (TV series)
Rawhide is an American Western series that aired for eight seasons on the CBS network on Friday nights, from January 9, 1959 to September 3, 1965, before moving to Tuesday nights from September 14, 1965 until January 4, 1966, with a total of 217 black-and-white episodes...

. As the Pacific quick-reaction force, they were the first brigade to be sent to Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 two years later when hostilities escalated there.

Vietnam War

The brigade arrived in Vietnam in May 1965, the first major ground combat unit of the United States Army to serve in the country. Williamson boldly predicted on arrival that his men would defeat the Viet Cong quickly and that they "would be back in Okinawa by Christmas". 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division
101st Airborne Division
The 101st Airborne Division—the "Screaming Eagles"—is a U.S. Army modular light infantry division trained for air assault operations. During World War II, it was renowned for its role in Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944, in Normandy, France, Operation Market Garden, the...

 and 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division quickly followed the 173rd into Vietnam, the first of what would eventually be 25 different brigades to serve in the country. As larger US Army commands were established in Vietnam, the brigade was assigned to the III Corps
III Corps (South Vietnam)
III Corps was a corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam , the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975...

 and II Corps
II Corps (South Vietnam)
The II Corps was a corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam , the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975. It was one of four corps in the ARVN, and it oversaw the region of the central highlands region, north of the capital Saigon...

 tactical zone, which they would serve in for the next six years. The brigade was put under the command of II Field Force, Vietnam.

The 1st and 2nd Battalions, 503rd Infantry were the first Army combat units from the 173rd sent into South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

, accompanied by the 3rd Battalion, 319th Artillery. They were supported by the 173rd Support Battalion, 173rd Engineers, Troop E, 17th Cavalry and Company D, 16th Armor. The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment is a regular light infantry battalion of the Australian Army. 1 RAR was first formed as the 65th Australian Infantry Battalion in 1945 and since then has been deployed on active service during the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War...

 and the 161st Field Battery of the Royal New Zealand Artillery were attached to the brigade for one year in 1965. Late in August 1966, the 173rd received another infantry battalion, the 4th battalion, 503rd Infantry from Fort Campbell, Kentucky
Fort Campbell, Kentucky
Fort Campbell is a United States Army installation located astraddle the Kentucky-Tennessee border between Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Clarksville, Tennessee...

. The 3rd battalion, 503rd joined the brigade at Tuy Hoa Province in September 1967 following the former's reactivation and training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Fort Bragg is a major United States Army installation, in Cumberland and Hoke counties, North Carolina, U.S., mostly in Fayetteville but also partly in the town of Spring Lake. It was also a census-designated place in the 2010 census and had a population of 39,457. The fort is named for Confederate...

. The 173rd was also assigned Company N, 75th Ranger Regiment
United States Army Rangers
United States Army Rangers are elite members of the United States Army. Rangers have served in recognized U.S. Army Ranger units or have graduated from the U.S. Army's Ranger School...

. At its peak of its deployment in Vietnam, the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) comprised nearly 3,000 soldiers.

The brigade was the first unit sent into War Zone D to destroy enemy base camps, introducing the use of small Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol
Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol
Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols, or LRRPs , were special small four to six-man teams in the Vietnam War on highly dangerous special reconnaissance missions deep into enemy territory....

s. On 8 November 1965, the 173rd took part in Operation Hump
Operation Hump
Operation Hump was a search and destroy operation initiated on 8 November 1965 by the 173rd Airborne Brigade, in an area about 17.5 miles north of Bien Hoa. The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, deployed south of the Dong Nai River while the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, conducted a...

, just north of Bien Hoa
Bien Hoa
Biên Hòa is a city in Dong Nai province, Vietnam, about east of Ho Chi Minh City , to which Bien Hoa is linked by Vietnam Highway 1.- Demographics :In 1989 the estimated population was over 300,000. In 2005, the population wss 541,495...

 on the outskirts of Saigon
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City , formerly named Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam...

, the capital of South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

. They were ambushed by approximately 1,200 Viet Cong fighters, suffering 48 deaths. The unit fought in the Iron Triangle
Iron Triangle (Vietnam)
The Iron Triangle was a area in the Binh Duong Province of Vietnam, so named due to it being a stronghold of Viet Minh activity during the war...

, a Viet Cong stronghold north of Saigon, seeing many engagements with enemy forces during that time. They participated in Operation Crimp
Operation Crimp
Operation Crimp , also known as the Battle of the Ho Bo Woods, was a joint US-Australian military operation during the Vietnam War, which took place north of Cu Chi in Binh Duong Province, South Vietnam...

 in 1966, a failed attempt to root out enemy forces from the Cu Chi tunnels. The Brigade deployed from Okinawa complete with an aviation
Aviation
Aviation is the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially heavier-than-air aircraft. Aviation is derived from avis, the Latin word for bird.-History:...

 unit of its own, making it a de facto airmobile formation. The helicopter unit became the Casper Aviation platoon, befitting a separate infantry brigade as the only separate aviation platoon deployed in Vietnam. Casper platoon was part of the HHC 173rd Airborne Brigade and its members wore the brigade patch. The attached Assault Helicopter Company, the 335th AHC, the "Cowboys", deployed with the brigade all over Vietnam into mid 1968 and comprised the Airmobile capability along with the Caspers. Soldiers of the brigade became involved in Operation Attleboro
Operation Attleboro
Operation Attleboro was a search and destroy operation by the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. The operation was named after Attleboro, Massachusetts, where the brigade had been formed...

 in fall of 1966, an operation that started out as a small search and destroy mission north of Saigon but eventually involved 22,000 troops from 21 battalions. Soldiers of the brigade also took part in smaller humanitarian missions in between major combat operations.

On 22 February 1967, the 173rd conducted Operation Junction City
Operation Junction City
Operation Junction City was an 82-day military operation conducted by United States and Republic of Vietnam forces begun on 22 February 1967 during the Vietnam War. It was the largest U.S. airborne operation since Operation Market Garden during World War II, the only major airborne operation of...

, the only combat parachute jump of the Vietnam War. The operation saw three brigades controlling eight battalions dropped by helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s and US Air Force aircraft into War Zone C
War zone C
A Vietnamese communist base area located in Tay Ninh province near the Cambodian border during the Vietnam war. Reportedly the general location of COSVN, the headquarters for communist military and political activities in the southern half of Vietnam....

, in Tay Ninh Province. During the battle, the Brigade operated out of the northeastern part of the war zone along with the 196th Infantry Brigade (Separate), as four other brigades from the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions attempted to surround and destroy the 9th Viet Cong Division in the War Zone. The Operation was a success, and the battered VC division fled. In August of that year, the brigade received its distinctive unit insignia
Distinctive unit insignia
A Distinctive Unit Insignia is a metal heraldic device worn by soldiers in the United States Army. The DUI design is derived from the coat of arms authorized for a unit...

. The soldiers chose to have it contain a parachute and dagger to symbolize their participation in Operation Junction City and the other heavy fighting they had been through. The DUI was also inscribed "Sky Soldiers" as homage to the nickname that the Taiwanese soldiers had given them.

Dak To

In the Summer of 1967, the 4th Infantry Division's 1st and 2nd Brigades were making heavy contact with enemy forces in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, in western Kontum Province. These heavy enemy contacts prompted division commander Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 William R. Peers
William R. Peers
William R. Peers was a United States Army General, who is most notable for presiding over the Peers Commission investigation into the My Lai massacre and other similar war crimes during the Vietnam War.-Biography:...

 to request reinforcement and, as a result, on 17 June, two battalions of Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 John R. Deane's
John R. Deane, Jr.
John Russell Deane, Jr. was a United States Army general and served as commander of the United States Army Materiel Command.Deane was born in San Francisco, California on June 8, 1919. In 1937, he enlisted in the 16th Infantry. After one year, he entered the United States Military Academy...

 173rd Airborne Brigade were moved into the Dak To
Dak To
Đắk Tô is a village in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and in the so-called "tri-border" area where the borders of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia all come together. Located just north of the Vietnamese town of Tan Canh , Dak To is populated by a Montagnard tribal people known as the Degar...

 area to begin sweeping the jungle-covered mountains in Operation Greeley. The 173rd had been operating near Bien Hoa Air Base
Bien Hoa Air Base
Bien Hoa Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force military airfield located in South-Central southern Vietnam about 20 miles from Saigon near the city of Bien Hoa within Dong Nai Province....

 outside Saigon and had been in combat only against NLF guerillas. Prior to its deployment to the highlands, Peer's operations officer, Colonel William J. Livsey
William J. Livsey
William James Livsey is a retired United States Army four star general who served as Commander in Chief, United Nations Command/Commander in Chief, ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command/Commander, United States Forces Korea/Commanding General, Eighth United States Army , 1984-1987.Livsey is a native of...

, attempted to warn the Airborne officers of the hazards of campaigning in the highlands. He also advised them that PAVN regulars were a much better equipped and motivated force than the NLF. These warnings, however, made little impression on the paratroopers, who were about to become victims of their own overconfidence.
On 20 June, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry (C/1/503) discovered the bodies of a Special Forces CIDG unit that had been missing for four days on Hill 1338, the dominant hill mass south of Dak To. Supported by Alpha Company, the Americans moved up the hill and set up for the night. At 06:58 the following morning, Alpha Company began moving alone up a ridge finger and triggered an ambush by the 6th Battalion of the 24th PAVN Regiment. Charlie Company was ordered to go to support, but heavy vegetation and difficult terrain made movement extremely difficult. Artillery support was rendered ineffective by the limited range of visibility. Close air support was impossible for the same reasons. Alpha Company managed to survive repeated attacks throughout the day and night, but the cost was heavy. Of the 137 men that comprised the unit, 76 had been killed and another 23 wounded. A search of the battlefield revealed only 15 dead North Vietnamese.

In response to the destruction of Alpha Company, MACV ordered additional forces into the area. On 23 June, the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Air Cavalry Division arrived to bolster the 173rd. The following day, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam
Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam , sometimes parsimoniously referred to as the South Vietnamese Army , was the land-based military forces of the Republic of Vietnam , which existed from October 26, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975...

's (ARVN) elite 1st Airborne Task Force (the 5th and 8th Battalions) and the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Air Cavalry Division arrived to conduct search and destroy operations north and northeast of Kontum
Kontum
Kon Tum is the capital town of Kon Tum province in Vietnam. It is located inland in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam, near the borders with Laos and Cambodia....

. General Deane sent his forces 20 kilometres (12.4 mi) west and southwest of Dak To to search for the 24th PAVN Regiment. By October, the 173rd, the 4th Infantry Division, and six ARVN battalions were moved to Dak To. The North Vietnamese Army, in turn, had moved almost 6,000 troops in four infantry regiments and one artillery regiment.

The battle around Dak To became more costly as 4th Battalion of the 173rd was ordered to occupy Hill 823, south of Ben Het, for the construction of Fire Support Base. Only the battalion's B Company was available for the attack, which was borne by helicopter. The Company was able to take the hill but suffered 9 dead and 28 wounded.

The following morning Bravo Company was relieved by Lieutenant Colonel David J. Schumacher's 1/503, which (against the admonitions of Colonel Livsey) was divided into two small Task Forces. Task Force Black consisted of Charlie Company supported by two platoons of Dog Company and Task Force Blue which was composed of Alpha Company and the remaining platoon of Dog. Task Force Black left Hill 823 to find the North Vietnamese who had attacked B/4/403. At 08:28 on 11 November, after leaving their overnight laager and following a PAVN communications wire, the force was ambushed by the 8th and 9th Battalions of the 66th PAVN Regiment and had to fight for its life. Task Force Blue and Charlie Company 4/503 drew the job of going to the relief of the beleaguered task force. They encountered fire from all sides during the relief attempt, but they made it, reaching the trapped men at 15:37. U.S. losses were 20 killed, 154 wounded, and two missing.

Following an attack on the Dak To airbase, and actions on hill 882 by the 1/503rd that saw 7 men dead and 34 wounded, 330 men of 2/503 moved in to assault Hill 875. At 10:30, as the Americans moved to within 300 metres (984 ft) of the crest, PAVN machine gunners opened fire on the advancing paratroopers. Then B-40 rockets and 57 mm recoilless rifle fire were unleashed upon them. The paratroopers attempted to continue the advance, but the North Vietnamese, well concealed in interconnected bunkers and trenches, opened fire with small arms and grenades. At 14:30 PAVN troops hidden at the bottom of the hill launched a massed assault from the rear. Unknown to the Americans, they had walked into a carefully prepared ambush by the 2nd Battalion of the 174th PAVN Regiment. Soon, U.S. air strikes and artillery fire were being called in, but they had little effect on the battle because of the dense foliage on the hillside. Resupply became a necessity because of high ammunition expenditures and lack of water, but it was also an impossibility. Six UH-1 helicopters were shot down or badly damaged that afternoon trying to get to 2/503.
The next morning the three companies of 4/503 were chosen to set out and relieve the men on Hill 875. Because of intense PAVN sniper and mortar fire (and the terrain) it took until nightfall for the relief force to reach the beleaguered battalion. On the afternoon of 21 November both battalions moved out to take the crest. During fierce, close-quarters fighting, some of the paratroopers made it into the PAVN trenchline but were ordered to pull back as darkness fell.

The following day was spent in launching airstrikes and a heavy artillery bombardment against the hilltop, totally denuding it of cover. On 23 November, the 2nd and 4th Battalions of the 503rd were ordered to renew their assault while the 1st Battalion of the 12th Infantry assaulted 875 from the south. This time the Americans gained the crest, but the North Vietnamese had already abandoned their positions, leaving only a few dozen charred bodies and weapons.

The battle of Hill 875 had cost 2/503 87 killed, 130 wounded, and three missing. 4/503 suffered 28 killed 123 wounded, and four missing. Combined with noncombatant losses, this represented one-fifth of the 173rd Airborne Brigade's total strength. For its combined actions during operations around Dak To, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation
Presidential Unit Citation (US)
The Presidential Unit Citation, originally called the Distinguished Unit Citation, is awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and allies for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941...

. 340 of the 570 173rd Airborne troops who attacked the hill become casualties.

Pullout from Vietnam

The intense fighting during the Battle of Dak To took a heavy human toll on the 173rd. While several of its units, including the 2/503rd and A/3/319th were ordered to Tuy Hoa
Tuy Hoa
Tuy Hòa is the capital city of Phu Yen province in south-central Vietnam. The city has the total area of 107 km2 and the population of 262 000 ....

 to repair and refit, the 173rd was transferred to the An Khe
An Khe
"An Khe" is the 102nd The West Wing episode and 14th of the fifth season. It originally aired on NBC February 18, 2004. Events circle around the rescue of five US pilots shot down over North Korea. Written by John Wells and directed by Alex Graves, the episode contains guest appearances by Philip...

 and Bong Son areas during 1968, seeing very little action while the combat ineffective elements of the brigade were rebuilt. One of few combat operations that brigade conducted during this time was an amphibious assault against North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces as part of an operation to clear the rice-growing lowlands along the Bong Song littoral
Littoral
The littoral zone is that part of a sea, lake or river that is close to the shore. In coastal environments the littoral zone extends from the high water mark, which is rarely inundated, to shoreline areas that are permanently submerged. It always includes this intertidal zone and is often used to...

. The unit then served in An Khe until mid-1969, seeing little in the way of heavy fighting. From April 1969 until its withdrawal from Vietnam in 1971, the brigade served in Binh Dinh Province
Binh Dinh Province
Bình Định is a province of Vietnam. It is located in Vietnam's South Central Coast region.-Administration:Binh Dinh is divided into one city and 10 districts:*An Lão*An Nhơn*Hoài Ân*Hoài Nhơn*Phù Cát*Phù Mỹ*Tuy Phước*Tây Sơn*Vân Canh...

. From April until August 1971, the unit underwent the process of redeployment to Fort Campbell, Kentucky
Fort Campbell, Kentucky
Fort Campbell is a United States Army installation located astraddle the Kentucky-Tennessee border between Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Clarksville, Tennessee...

 in the United States, the first time that the 173rd Airborne Brigade in name had returned to the country since 1942. During more than six years of continuous combat, the brigade earned 14 campaign streamer
Campaign streamer
Campaign streamers are decorations attached to military flags to recognize particular achievements or events of a military unit or service. Attached to the headpiece of the assigned flag, the streamer often is an inscribed ribbon with the name and date denoting participation in a particular battle,...

s and four unit citation
Unit citation
A unit citation is a formal, honorary mention by high authority of a military unit's specific and outstanding performance, notably in battle.Similar mentions can also be made for individual soldiers....

s, the Presidential Unit Citation, a Meritorious Unit Commendation
Meritorious Unit Commendation
The Meritorious Unit Commendation is a mid-level unit award of the United States military which is awarded to any military command which displays exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service, heroic deeds, or valorous actions....

, a Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and a Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal. Sky Soldiers serving in Vietnam received 13 Medals of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

, 32 Distinguished Service Crosses
Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army, for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree...

, 1,736 Silver Star
Silver Star
The Silver Star is the third-highest combat military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the United States armed forces for valor in the face of the enemy....

s and more than 6,000 Purple Heart
Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York...

s. The 173rd incurred 1,533 deaths and around 6,000 wounded.

After Vietnam, the Army retained the 173rd Airborne Brigade as a quick deploying contingency brigade. However, with the removal of The Draft
Conscription in the United States
Conscription in the United States has been employed several times, usually during war but also during the nominal peace of the Cold War...

 following America's disengagement from Vietnam, many of the Army's formations had to be rebuilt for the volunteer force. One of these was the 101st Airborne Division, which had also been redeployed to Fort Campbell. It was decided that the 173rd would be used to help rebuild the division, which had been converted into an airmobile formation during the Vietnam War. The brigade was inactivated on 14 January 1972 at the fort, and its assets were used to form the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, a parachute component within the airmobile 101st. The 3rd Brigade went off jump status on 1 April 1974, the same date on which the Airmobile Badge (Air Assault Badge
Air Assault Badge
The Air Assault Badge, pictured to the right, is awarded by the U.S. Army for successful completion of the Air Assault School, a two-week course. The course includes three phases of instruction involving U.S. Army rotary wing aircraft: combat air assault operations; rigging and slingload...

 as of 4 October 1974) was introduced.

Reactivation and preparation for Iraq

In the late 1990s, Army leaders including General
General (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an...

 Eric Shinseki
Eric Shinseki
Eric Ken Shinseki is a retired United States Army four-star general who is currently serving as the 7th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. His final U.S. Army post was as the 34th Chief of Staff of the Army...

 began shifting the Army force toward brigade centered operations. All separate brigades had been inactivated in the 1990s as part of the US Army's drawdown following the end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. These inactivations, along with subsequent reorganization of US Army divisions, saw several divisional brigades stationed in bases that were far from the division's headquarters and support units. These brigades had difficulty operating without support from higher headquarters.

It was Shinseki's idea to reactivate a few separate brigades and assign them their own support and sustainment units, which would allow them to function independently of division-level headquarters. These formations were termed "Brigade Combat Team
Brigade combat team
The brigade combat team is the basic deployable unit of maneuver in the US Army. A brigade combat team consists of one combat arms branch maneuver brigade, and its attached support and fire units. A brigade combat team is generally commanded by a colonel , but in rare instances it is commanded by...

s". Such units could be stationed in bases far from major commands, not requiring division-level unit support, an advantage in places like Alaska and Europe, where stationing entire divisions was unnecessary or impractical. The first of the separate brigades was the 172nd Infantry Brigade, activated in 1998. The 173rd Airborne Brigade was reactivated on 12 June 2000 at Caserma Ederle
Caserma Ederle
Caserma Ederle is an Italian post where the U.S. Army has troops stationed located in Vicenza, Italy. A small number of members of other U.S. services are also stationed there. The post serves as the headquarters of United States Army Africa and the 173d Airborne Brigade. Caserma Ederle serves as...

 in Vicenza, Italy, where it now serves. It was previously designated the SETAF Infantry brigade. In 2002 it activated a second maneuver battalion. The unit finally reached "initial operating capability" on 14 March 2003, with all units ready for deployment. It would be in combat 12 days later.

In 2003, as preparations were being made for Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was assigned to be a part of an assault from the north of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. The original plan was for the 173rd to be attached to the 4th Infantry Division as a flexible force of airborne troops to complement the heavy weapons of the division's three brigades. Supported by the 1st Infantry Division and the 10th Special Forces Group, the 4th Infantry Division was to assemble in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and use its heavy mechanized brigades to attack through Tikrit
Tikrit
Tikrit is a town in Iraq, located 140 km northwest of Baghdad on the Tigris river . The town, with an estimated population in 2002 of about 260,000 is the administrative center of the Salah ad Din Governorate.-Ancient times:...

 and eventually assist V Corps, which would attack from the south, in surrounding Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. However, this plan fell through when the government of Turkey would not allow offensive operations to be conducted from its soil, and the entire 4th Infantry Division was left stuck on ships in the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 for the opening of the operation. This meant that the entire northern front of the war would be conducted by the 173rd Airborne Brigade and Army special forces operating with aircraft from Europe as their only supply line. As the brigade had no heavy or mechanized forces and only a few Humvees and an artillery battery, heavier forces were attached to it in the form of two companies of M113 Armored Personnel Carrier
M113 Armored Personnel Carrier
The M113 is a fully tracked armored personnel carrier that has formed the backbone of the United States Army's mechanized infantry units from the time of its first fielding in Vietnam in April 1962. The M113 was the most widely used armored vehicle of the U.S...

s, M1 Abrams
M1 Abrams
The M1 Abrams is a third-generation main battle tank produced in the United States. It is named after General Creighton Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and Commander of US military forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972. The M1 is a well armed, heavily armored, and highly mobile tank designed for...

 tanks, and M2 Bradley
M2 Bradley
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle is an American fighting vehicle platform manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments, formerly United Defense.As with other infantry fighting vehicles, the Bradley is designed to transport infantry with armor protection while providing covering fire to suppress enemy...

s. These elements were put under the command of 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor, which was assigned to the brigade. The force also received a pair of Dragoneye Unmanned Aerial Vehicles from the US Marine Corps, to be operated by the Brigades Ground Surveilance Systems (GSS) team.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade was made part of Task Force Viking
Task Force Viking
Joint Special Operations Task Force – North , also known as Task Force Viking was the command responsible for the northern front during Operation Iraqi Freedom Rotation I...

, a special operations task force that contained elements of the 10th Mountain Division
10th Mountain Division
The 10th Mountain Division is a light infantry division of the United States Army based at Fort Drum, New York. It is a subordinate unit of the XVIII Airborne Corps and the only division-sized element of the U.S. Army to specialize in fighting under harsh terrain and weather conditions...

 and the 10th Special Forces Group. The use of the 173rd as a part of a special operations task force was a unique first in US Army history. This force was assisted by Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 rebels in northern Iraq and tasked with attacking key airfield and oil production positions deep in northern Iraq. The brigade would take off from Aviano Air Base
Aviano Air Base
Aviano Air Base is a NATO Air Base under U.S. Air Force administration in northeastern Italy, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. It is located in Aviano municipality, at the foot of the Carnic Pre-Alps, or Southern Carnic Alps, about 15 kilometers from Pordenone.-Units:Aviano is hosted by the...

 in Italy, a 4½ hour flight from northern Iraq. As the preparations for the brigade were in their final stages, it moved 10 trains and 300 trucks worth of equipment to the air base, as well as 120 busloads of soldiers. Though the brigade's movement was impeded by Italian protestors, the Italian police provided escort operations to the brigade and ensured that it reached the Air Base without incident, and was not significantly delayed. Operation Iraqi Freedom began on 20 March with V Corps, consisting of the 101st Airborne Division, 82nd Airborne Division, and 3rd Infantry Division making a forceful push from the south, beginning the Iraq War. A few days later, the 173rd and 10th Special Forces Group departed for northern Iraq.

Iraq War

On 26 March 2003, 954 soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade conducted a combat jump from C-130 and C-17 aircraft onto Bashur Airfield in Northern Iraq, in an assault known as Operation Northern Delay
Operation Northern Delay
On March 26, 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, C-17s of the 62d Airlift Wing, 315th Airlift Wing, 437th Airlift Wing, and 446th Airlift Wing dropped SETAF's 173rd Airborne Brigade into Northern Iraq. More than 1,000 paratroopers jumped into Bashur Airfield...

. The jump took a total of 58 seconds, though 32 paratroopers were unable to jump because they would have landed too far from the rest of the force. The force had been strung out over a 10,000-yard drop zone, and it took 15 hours before it was completely assembled. The paratroopers secured the airfield, allowing the C-17s to land and bring in the heavy armor and the 1–63rd Armor contingents. They jumped from aircraft of the 62d Airlift Wing
62d Airlift Wing
The 62d Airlift Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. It is assigned to the Eighteenth Air Force of Air Mobility Command and is active duty host wing on McChord. The wing is composed of more than 7,200 active duty military and civilian...

 and the 728th Airlift Squadron
728th Airlift Squadron
The 728th Airlift Squadron is located at McChord Air Force Base, Washington. It is part of the 446th Airlift Wing and operates the C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. The mission of the 728th AS is to provide mission-ready aircrews for operational support for strategic and tactical airlift,...

 along with the 786th Security Forces Squadron
786th Security Forces Squadron
The 435th Security Forces Squadron is a United States Air Force unit capable of overland airlift, air assault, or airborne insertion into crisis situations. The unit incorporates more than 13 different specialities including people with civil engineering, medical, intelligence, investigative,...

. Over the next 96 hours, the Wing landed in the remaining 1,200 soldiers of the brigade as well as their vehicles. By 29 March the entire brigade was in Iraq and ready to conduct offensive operations.

The next day, American forces advanced to Kirkuk
Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...

 during Operation Option North, hoping to control oil fields and military airfields in and around the city. Controlling the oil fields had been a specific operational goal of the Task Force because they were viewed as the most valuable strategic asset in northern Iraq. Between 30 March and 2 April, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, along with the Special Forces detachment and the Kurdish forces, engaged and destroyed the 2nd, 4th, 8th and 38th Iraqi Infantry Divisions as well as a force loyal to Ansar al-Islam
Ansar al-Islam
Ansar al-Islam is a Sunni Islamist group of Iraqis, promoting a radical interpretation of Islam, close to the official Saudi ideology of Wahhabism with strict application of Sharia. The group was formed in the northern provinces of Iraq near the Iranian border, and previously had established...

. The brigade used field artillery assets, as well as coordinated airstrike
Airstrike
An air strike is an attack on a specific objective by military aircraft during an offensive mission. Air strikes are commonly delivered from aircraft such as fighters, bombers, ground attack aircraft, attack helicopters, and others...

s to attack Iraqi Republican Guard units defending the city. Within a week these units began to fall apart due to desertions. On 10 April the brigade was able to move into the city, securing it after a short urban battle
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

. The entire battle for Kirkuk cost the brigade only nine casualties. During the operation, some of the troops discovered at least two caches of Iraqi gold, totaling more than 2,000 bars. The unit then took part in Operation Peninsula Strike
Operation Peninsula Strike
Operation Peninsula Strike was a series of raids conducted by American troops from June 9 to June 13, 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It took place on a peninsula alongside the Tigris River near Balad, Iraq. Conducted by members of Task Force Ironhorse, US forces sought to eliminate Ba'ath...

, quelling Ba'ath party resistance and other insurgent groups. These operations, though successful, were not as effective as the 4th Infantry Division's four heavy brigades would have been. V Corps was not able to surround Baghdad as quickly as it had hoped because of a lack of available forces in the north.

After the end of major combat operations in summer of 2003, the 173rd Airborne Brigade did not engage in any major battles, though it was regularly involved in skirmishes with Iraqi insurgents. As Task Force Bayonet, the brigade included the: 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173rd Combat Support Company, 74th Infantry Detachment, Delta Battery of the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment (later expanded to the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment), 501st Forward Support Company, and the attached 1–63 Armor from Rose Barracks, Germany. The brigade served mainly in Kirkuk for the next year. During its service, the brigade was involved in what later became known as the "Hood Event
Hood event
The Hood event was an incident on July 4, 2003 following the 2003 invasion of Iraq where a group of Turkish military personnel operating in northern Iraq were captured, led away with hoods over their heads, and interrogated by the United States military...

", arresting Turkish special forces soldiers, believing them to be plotting attacks against local civilian officials in northern Iraq. The Turkish forces were eventually released. The brigade also participated in Operation Bayonet Lightning
Operation Bayonet Lightning
Operation Bayonet Lightning was a military operation in Iraq designed to capture weapons, materials, and people that posed a threat against Coalition Forces. The joint operation, lasting about 16 hours, was conducted on December 2, 2003 by 1200 troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the 4th...

 in 2003, capturing weapons and materials that the Department of Defense claimed were possibly for use against coalition forces. On 21 February 2004, the brigade returned to Italy for a one year rest before a new deployment.

Afghanistan, 2005–2006

The 173rd Airborne Brigade deployed to Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 in March 2005 under the command of Colonel Kevin Owens, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Brigade, organized as Task Force Bayonet
Task Force Bayonet
Task Force Bayonet serves as a name for several military task forces throughout history:United States* The deactivated 193rd Infantry Brigade, last stationed in the Panama Canal Zone....

, assumed control of Regional Command-South (RC South), comprising Zabul, Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

, Helmand
Helmand Province
Helmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation....

, and Nimruz Provinces in southern Afghanistan.

The 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment conducted combat operations in Zabul Province. The 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment conducted combat operations in eastern Afghanistan. The 3rd Battalion, 319th Artillery of the 82nd Airborne Division, Task Force Gun Devil, was attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade and organized as a maneuver Task Force. It conducted combat operations in Kandahar Province. Its elements included Delta Company, 2–504th Parachute Infantry, Bravo Company, 1–508th Parachute Infantry, a Military Police Platoon (4th plt 13th MP Co.), Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 3–319th Field Artillery, and an Afghan National Army Company advised by French Special Forces. The 173rd Support Battalion and the 173rd Combat Support Company provided logistical support from Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

, while sending individual soldiers to assist at other Forward Operating Base
Forward Operating Base
A forward operating base is any secured forward military position, commonly a military base, that is used to support tactical operations. A FOB may or may not contain an airfield, hospital, or other facilities. The base may be used for an extended period of time. FOBs are traditionally supported...

s. The brigade returned to Italy in March 2006. Seventeen soldiers from the brigade lost their lives during this deployment.

Transformation

On 11 October 2006, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was redesignated as the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), as part of the Army's "Unit of Action
Transformation of the United States Army
Army Transformation describes the future-concept of the United States Army's plan of modernization. Transformation is a generalized term for the integration of new concepts, organizations, and technology within the armed forces of the United States....

" modularized unit force restructuring that General Shinseki had originally envisioned. This was a significant change as it signified the ability for the brigade to deploy its forces and sustain itself with its newly integrated support teams. By integrating these support elements, the unit became able to maintain its fighting forces with all that is required to keep the ground soldiers supplied and moving. The infantry battalions and the brigade headquarters remained in Vicenza, Italy through the transition. Four additional battalions were activated or designated at Bamberg
Bamberg
Bamberg is a city in Bavaria, Germany. It is located in Upper Franconia on the river Regnitz, close to its confluence with the river Main. Bamberg is one of the few cities in Germany that was not destroyed by World War II bombings because of a nearby Artillery Factory that prevented planes from...

 and Schweinfurt
Schweinfurt
Schweinfurt is a city in the Lower Franconia region of Bavaria in Germany on the right bank of the canalized Main, which is here spanned by several bridges, 27 km northeast of Würzburg.- History :...

, Germany. These battalions were: the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, the 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, and the 173rd Special Troops Battalion stationed at Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany
Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany
Warner Barracks are a military base of the United States Army in the city of Bamberg, southern Germany. The base has been occupied by American forces since the end of World War II. Elements of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and 45th Infantry Division entered the town on 13 and 14 April 1945...

, as well as the 1–91 Cavalry, stationed in Schweinfurt
Schweinfurt
Schweinfurt is a city in the Lower Franconia region of Bavaria in Germany on the right bank of the canalized Main, which is here spanned by several bridges, 27 km northeast of Würzburg.- History :...

, Germany. After the new units were integrated into the brigade, the preponderance of the forces within the brigade were stationed in Germany, apart from the brigade headquarters in Italy. This dynamic was intended to last only until additional facilities were constructed at the Dal Molin airbase near Caserma Ederle at Vicenza. The 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry was reflagged as 1st Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry to resume the Vietnam-era lineage of the 503rd Infantry battalions under the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry colors were moved to Ft. Bragg
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Fort Bragg is a major United States Army installation, in Cumberland and Hoke counties, North Carolina, U.S., mostly in Fayetteville but also partly in the town of Spring Lake. It was also a census-designated place in the 2010 census and had a population of 39,457. The fort is named for Confederate...

, North Carolina to serve under the 82nd Airborne Division. Immediately after its transformation, the brigade began intensive training in both Germany and Italy to prepare itself for future deployments.

Afghanistan, 2007–2008

In 2006, the brigade was notified for a second tour of duty in Iraq during 2007–2008, but its deployment plan was changed to Afghanistan in February 2007 when the Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

 announced that it would relieve the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division along with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. In the spring of 2007, the 173rd again deployed to Afghanistan, as Task Force Bayonet, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF 07–09), their first deployment as a fully transformed brigade combat team. The brigade was dispersed throughout the east of the country, with units operating in Nangarhar, Nuristan, Kunar
Kunar Province
Kunar is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the northeastern part of the country. Its capital is Asadabad. It is one of the four "N2KL" provinces...

, Paktika and Laghman Provinces. The 173rd ABCT officially relieved the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division on 6 June 2007.

The 173rd participated in various operations with the objective of ensuring security and subduing Taliban insurgents in the mountainous regions along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, one of these being Operation Rock Avalanche
Operation Rock Avalanche
Operation Rock Avalanche was a six-day U.S.-led offensive from October 19–25, 2007, for the purpose of hunting Taliban fighters in the Korangal Valley of Afghanistan. The mission also aimed to establish a peace with the local populace so that a road could be safely built through the area by the...

 near the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

. Throughout their 15-month deployment, the brigade participated in more than 9,000 patrols throughout the region. Journalist Sebastian Junger
Sebastian Junger
Sebastian Junger is an American author, journalist and documentarian, most famous for the best-selling book The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea, his award-winning chronicle of the war in Afghanistan in the 2010 movie Restrepo, and his 2010 book War.-Background:Junger was born...

 and photographer Tim Hetherington
Tim Hetherington
Timothy Alistair Telemachus Hetherington was a British-American photojournalistwith work that "ranged from multi-screen installations, to fly-poster exhibitions, to handheld device downloads." He was best known for the documentary film Restrepo , which he co-directed with Sebastian Junger; the...

 were embedded with Battle Company of 2nd Battalion which saw extensive action in the Korengal Valley. Junger later wrote a highly acclaimed book, War, and, with Hetherington, produced the award-winning documentary, Restrepo
Restrepo (film)
Restrepo is a 2010 documentary film about the Afghanistan war, directed by American journalist Sebastian Junger and British/American photojournalist Tim Hetherington....

, about the deployment. Only two weeks before the brigade was to return to Europe, a platoon
Platoon
A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 16 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer—the...

 of 45 soldiers from the brigade stationed in the Dara-I-Pech district
Dara-I-Pech District
Dara-I-Pech District is located western-central part of Kunar Province, Afghanistan, 30 km West from Asadabad. The population is 48,400 . The district is governed from Mano Gai...

 was attacked by a large force of insurgents during the Battle of Wanat
Battle of Wanat
The Battle of Wanat occurred on July 13, 2008, when about 200 Taliban guerrillas attacked NATO troops near the village of Wanat in the Waygal district in Afghanistan's far eastern province of Nuristan. The position was defended primarily by U.S...

. Though the platoon was able to drive the insurgents back with air support, the fight resulted in 9 soldiers killed and 16 wounded; the deadliest attack on troops in the country since 2005. The brigade repositioned the base three days later. The 173rd's tour ended in July 2008, and the last redeploying paratrooper from the brigade returned to Europe by the beginning of August 2008. The Brigade returned to Europe and home station after once again proving itself in combat throughout the eastern mountains of Afghanistan.

On 14 June 2009, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was announced as one of the Brigade Combat Teams deploying to Afghanistan, and the unit prepared to once again return.

Afghanistan, 2009–2010

From November 2009 until November 2010, the 173rd Airborne Brigade once again returned to Afghanistan, this time to the provinces of Logar and Wardak. With combat experience already earned in other similar mountain regions in 2007 and 2008, the Brigade distinguished itself in combat regularly against the Taliban and fought tenaciously against them, while still promoting and attempting to legitimize the Afghan government. The 1st and 2nd Battalions saw extensive action in eastern Logar and Wardak. The 1/91st Cavalry was given a mission to transform western Logar province into a secure environment; a mission that was not greeted as an easy task. Given the province and its three major districts saw a massive influx of both foreign and domestic fighters due to the relatively calm winter prior to the brigade's arrival, its company-sized and platoon-sized elements found themselves in combat against anti-Coalition forces almost daily from the start of March 2010 until its relief. The Brigade returned to Europe and home station in November 2010.

Unit decorations

Ribbon Award Year Notes
Presidential Unit Citation
Presidential Unit Citation (US)
The Presidential Unit Citation, originally called the Distinguished Unit Citation, is awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and allies for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941...

 (Army)
1967 for fighting in the Battle of Dak To
Battle of Dak To
The Battle of Đắk Tô was a series of major engagements of the Vietnam War that took place between 3–22 November 1967, in Kontum Province, in the Central Highlands of the Republic of Vietnam . The action at Đắk Tô was one of a series of People's Army of Vietnam offensive initiatives that began...

Meritorious Unit Commendation
Meritorious Unit Commendation
The Meritorious Unit Commendation is a mid-level unit award of the United States military which is awarded to any military command which displays exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service, heroic deeds, or valorous actions....

 (Army)
1965–1967 for service in Vietnam
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm 1965–1970 for service in Vietnam
Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class 1969–1971 for service in Vietnam
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Meritorious Unit Commendation
The Meritorious Unit Commendation is a mid-level unit award of the United States military which is awarded to any military command which displays exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service, heroic deeds, or valorous actions....

 (Army)
2003–2004


Campaign streamers

Conflict Streamer Year(s)
World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

(no inscription) 1918
World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

Rhineland Campaign 1944–1945
World War II Ardennes-Alsace Campaign 1944–1945
World War II Central Europe Campaign
Central Europe Campaign
After crossing the Rhine the Western Allies fanned out overrunning all of western Germany from the Baltic in the north to Austria in the south before the Germans surrendered on 8 May 1945. This is known as the "Central Europe Campaign" in United States military histories.By the early spring of...

1945
Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

Vietnam Defense 1965
Vietnam War Counteroffensive, Phase I 1965–1966
Vietnam War Counteroffensive, Phase II 1966–1967
Vietnam War Counteroffensive, Phase III 1967–1968
Vietnam War Tet Counteroffensive 1968
Vietnam War Counteroffensive, Phase IV 1968
Vietnam War Counteroffensive, Phase V 1968
Vietnam War Counteroffensive, Phase VI 1968–1969
Vietnam War Tet 69/Counteroffensive 1969
Vietnam War Summer–Fall 1969 1969
Vietnam War Winter–Spring 1970 1970
Vietnam War Sanctuary Counteroffensive 1970
Vietnam War Counteroffensive, Phase VII 1970–1971
Vietnam War Consolidation I 1970
Operation Iraqi Freedom Iraq 2003–2004
Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan 2005–2006
Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan 2007–2008
Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan 2009–2010

Legacy

The 173rd's service, particularly in Vietnam, has been featured several times in popular culture. The most prominent of these is the 2006 single released by the country music duo Big & Rich
Big & Rich
Big & Rich is an American country music duo composed of Big Kenny and John Rich. Both members alternate as lead vocalists and play rhythm guitar...

, entitled "8th of November". The song was based on the story of Niles Harris, a member of the 173rd, during Operation Hump. On 1 July 2006, a documentary inspired by the song and based on the brigade's actions during the operation premiered on the GAC Channel
Great American Country
Great American Country , is a Nashville, Tennessee-based country music cable television network.-History:The station launched December 31, 1995 and Garth Brooks' video "The Thunder Rolls" was the first video to air on GAC....

.

Captain Willard
Benjamin L. Willard
Captain Benjamin L. Willard is a fictional character and the main protagonist in Francis Ford Coppola's film Apocalypse Now, and is portrayed by American actor Martin Sheen. His character is loosely based on the character Charles Marlow from Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness. He is a...

, a fictional character portrayed by Martin Sheen
Martin Sheen
Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez , better known by his stage name Martin Sheen, is an American film actor best known for his performances in the films Badlands and Apocalypse Now , and in the television series The West Wing from 1999 to 2006.He is considered one of the best actors never to be...

 in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American war film set during the Vietnam War, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The central character is US Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard , of MACV-SOG, an assassin sent to kill the renegade and presumed insane Special Forces...

, was a member of the 173rd assigned to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group. He was depicted as being in "the 505th battalion", although no such unit was ever part of the 173rd. Throughout the movie, he wears the Vietnam-era, mustard yellow, "subdued" shoulder sleeve insignia worn by 173rd paratroopers on their jungle fatigues during the Vietnam War. In the 1987 movie Lethal Weapon
Lethal Weapon
Lethal Weapon is a 1987 American buddy cop action film and the first in a series of films, all directed by Richard Donner and starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as a mismatched pair of LAPD detectives, and Gary Busey as their primary adversary...

, the patch worn by Danny Glover
Danny Glover
Danny Lebern Glover is an American actor, film director, and political activist. Glover is perhaps best known for his role as Detective Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon film franchise.-Early life:...

's fictional character Roger Murtaugh
Roger Murtaugh
Roger Murtaugh is a fictional character and protagonist in the Lethal Weapon films, played in all four by Danny Glover.-Lethal Weapon:...

 during a retrospective of his time in Vietnam was that of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. In the 1998 movie The Siege
The Siege
The Siege is a 1998 American thriller film directed by Edward Zwick. The film is about a fictional situation in which terrorist cells have made several attacks on New York City...

, fictional Major General William Devereaux, played by Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis
Walter Bruce Willis , better known as Bruce Willis, is an American actor, producer, and musician. His career began in television in the 1980s and has continued both in television and film since, including comedic, dramatic, and action roles...

, states that he was in the 173rd Airborne Brigade at the same time that character Anthony Hubbard was in the 82nd Airborne Division.

Numerous servicemen from the 173rd, mostly from the Vietnam era, gained notability after their military careers ended. These include Congressmen Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
Duncan Lee Hunter is an American politician. He was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from California's 52nd, 45th and 42nd districts from 1981 to 2009....

 and Charlie Norwood
Charlie Norwood
Charles Whitlow Norwood, Jr., D.D.S. was an American politician and dentist, serving as a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 until his death...

, Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 of Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 Edwin Frederick O'Brien
Edwin Frederick O'Brien
Edwin Frederick O'Brien is an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He is the current Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 29 August 2011...

, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
The Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, in the United States government, advises and assists the Secretary of the Treasury in the supervision and direction of the Department of the Treasury and its activities, and succeeds the Secretary in his absence, sickness, or unavailability...

 Robert M. Kimmitt
Robert M. Kimmitt
Robert M. Kimmitt was United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush. He was nominated by President Bush on June 29, 2005. The United States Senate unanimously confirmed him on July 29, 2005, and he was sworn into office on August 16, 2005...

, business owner Barney Visser
Barney Visser
Barney Visser is the co-owner of Furniture Row as well as owns Furniture Row Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Furniture Row Racing, based in Denver, Colorado is one of a few Sprint Cup teams not based in Charlotte, North Carolina....

, activist Stan Goff
Stan Goff
Stan Goff is a writer, activist, and United States Army veteran having served from 1970 to 1996. He has been an anti-imperialist activist, feminist, socialist, and is now a Christian and a pacifist. He is the co-author of the weblog Feral Scholar, along with D. A...

, and Sergeant Major of the Army
Sergeant Major of the Army
The Sergeant Major of the Army is a unique non-commissioned rank in the United States Army. The holder of this rank is the most senior enlisted member of the Army, unless an Army NCO is serving as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, when in that case that NCO will be the most senior...

 Gene C. McKinney
Gene C. McKinney
Gene McKinney was the 10th Sergeant Major of the Army of the United States, serving from July 1995 to October 1997. He was the first and to date the only African-American to reach that rank in the United States Army. McKinney was the only Sergeant Major of the Army to resign...

.

Sixteen soldiers have been awarded the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

 for service with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and its subordinate units. Lloyd G. McCarter
Lloyd G. McCarter
Lloyd G. McCarter was a Private in the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the United States Army who received the Medal of Honor during the battle to recapture Corregidor Island in the Philippines....

 and Ray E. Eubanks
Ray E. Eubanks
Ray E. Eubanks was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.-Biography:...

 earned the medal while fighting with the 503rd Infantry in World War II, while 13 other soldiers earned medals fighting under the 173rd in Vietnam; John A. Barnes III, Michael R. Blanchfield
Michael R. Blanchfield
Michael Reinert Blanchfield was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.-Biography:...

, Glenn H. English Jr., Lawrence Joel
Lawrence Joel
Lawrence Joel was a United States Army Sergeant First Class who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars...

, Terry T. Kawamura, Carlos J. Lozada, Don L. Michael, Charles B. Morris
Charles B. Morris
Charles Bedford Morris was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.-Biography:...

, Milton L. Olive III, Larry S. Pierce
Larry S. Pierce
Larry Stanley Pierce was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.-Biography:...

, Laszlo Rabel
Laszlo Rabel
Laszlo Rabel was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.-Biography:...

, Alfred Rascon, and Charles J. Watters
Charles J. Watters
Charles Joseph Watters was a Chaplain in the United States Army. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery exhibited while rescuing wounded men in the Vietnam War, specifically the Battle of Dak To...

.

Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta
Salvatore Giunta
Salvatore Giunta is a retired Italian football player who played for, among others, AC Milan and Albacete Balompié, as well as the Italian under-21 side.Giunta played for AS Cannes in French Ligue 2 during the 1998-99 season....

 received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions as a rifle team leader in Company B, 2–503 INF (Airborne) when his squad was caught in a near-ambush the night of 25 October 2007 during Operation Rock Avalanche
Operation Rock Avalanche
Operation Rock Avalanche was a six-day U.S.-led offensive from October 19–25, 2007, for the purpose of hunting Taliban fighters in the Korangal Valley of Afghanistan. The mission also aimed to establish a peace with the local populace so that a road could be safely built through the area by the...

 in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. He was the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War.

External links

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