The 82nd Airborne Division is an elite, active duty airborne infantry division of the United States Army. They are specialized in parachute assault operations into hostile areas. The 82nd Airborne Division is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and the 82nd Airborne Division is part of the XVIII Airborne Corps.
The 82nd Division was constituted in the National Army on 5 August 1917, and was organized on 25 August 1917, at Camp Gordon,Georgia. Since their initial members came from all 48 states, the unit acquired the nickname “All-American“, which is the basis for its famed “AA” shoulder patch. The most famous soldiers of the division 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).
The Division would gain its reputation in the next war. Recalled for World War II in March of 1942, the Division was re-designated the 82nd Airborne Division the following August. The 82nd was the first airborne division in the United States Army. During WWII the Division conducted 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.”
The 82nd Airborne Division was not sent to the Korean War, but rather began its use as America’s 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 combat. The All-Americans fought in the Hué – Phu Bai area, and then later fought battles in the Mekong Delta, the Iron Triangle, and along the Cambodian border. The 3rd Brigade returned to Fort Bragg in December of 1969.
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.
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!”