82nd Airborne Division

The 82nd Airborne Division 5

The 82nd Airborne Division is a brand which made his way through the history. Today, it is an elite, an active duty airborne infantry division of the United States Army which has been are specialized in parachute assault operations into hostile areas. They are located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and the unit is part of the XVIII Airborne Corps.


Their origins are tied to the World War I when they were constituted in the National Army on 5 August 1917 and was organized on 25 August 1917, at Camp GordonGeorgia as 82nd Division. Since the unit’s initial members came from all 48 states, the unit acquired the nickname “All-American“, which is the basis for its famed “AA” shoulder patch. Through history, many soldiers went through the unit and one of the units most famous soldiers include Sergeant Alvin C. York, General James M. Gavin, Dave Bald Eagle (grandson of Chief White Bull), Senator Strom Thurmond (325th GIR in World War II), Senator Jack Reed, and Congressman Patrick Murphy (the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress) and many others.

To honor the 1944 Waal assault river crossing made by the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 307th Engineer Battalion (Airborne) during Operation Market Garden in World War II, an annual Crossing of the Waal competition is staged on the anniversary of the operation at McKellars Lake near Fort Bragg. The winning company receives a paddle. The paddle signifies that in the original crossing, many paratroopers had to row with their weapons because the canvas boats lacked sufficient paddles.

World War II

The 82nd Division would gain its reputation in the next war. Recalled for World War II in March of 1942, the Division was re-designated as the 82nd Airborne Division the following August. The 82nd Airborne Division has become the first airborne division in the United States Army. During WWII the 82nd Airborne Division made their name through parachute assaults into Sicily, Salerno, Normandy, and Holland. At the battle of Anzio in Italy, a German officer gave the paratroopers one of their many nicknames when he referred to them as “those devils in baggy pants.”

82nd Airborne Division 1
U.S. paratroopers fix their static lines before a jump before dawn over Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944, in France. (AP Photo/Army Signal Corps)

Korean and Vietnam wars

The 82nd Airborne Division was not sent to the Korean War, but rather began its use as the United States strategic reserve and rapid deployment force. In January of 1968, during the Tet Offensive, the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division was alerted and en route to Chu Lai within 24 hours. The 82nd stayed in Vietnam for 22 months of direct combat. The All-Americans fought in the Hué – Phu Bai area, and then later fought heavy battles in the Mekong Delta, the Iron Triangle, and along the Cambodian border. The 3rd Brigade returned to Fort Bragg in December of 1969.

Peacekeeping and War on terror

As the most highly trained light infantry division in the world, the 82nd Airborne has participated in practically every potential combat deployment of the U.S. Army since Vietnam. This includes Grenada in 1983, Honduras in 1988, the invasion of Panama in 1989, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and into Iraq in 1990-91, Bosnia in 1995, Kosovo in 1999, Afghanistan in 2002, and the invasion of Iraq in early 2003. As of 2007, elements of the 82nd Airborne Division are on rotation to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Camp Ramadi 2009
U.S. Army and Iraqi army soldiers board a Marine Corps CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter in Camp Ramadi, Iraq, 2009

They continued to support US operations worldwide including engagements against Islamic State in Iraq where the operational parts ere engaged into the program of the train and advise for Iraqi troops.

Operational structure and organization

82nd Airborne Division 2
US Army 82nd Airborne Division Structure after the reorganization of December 2013

The 82nd Airborne Division also carries the moniker of “America’s Guard of Honor.” They are the nation’s strategic offensive force, maintaining the highest state of readiness. Generations of veterans have lived up to the Division’s motto. They truly went “All the way!”

As the many units in the world are describing themselves through mottos, it is the same within an 82nd Airborn. Thy us usually to mottos: “All the way!” or “Death from above” while their march slogan is “The All-American Soldier”.