1st Battalion (Air Assault), 506th Infantry Regiment
"Red Currahee/Stands Alone"
The 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment was activated on 20 July 1942 at Mount Currahee, Camp Toccoa, Georgia, as part of the newly formed 101st Airborne Division. Currahee is a Cherokee Indian word meaning "Stands Alone," a phrase which later became the Regiment's motto. Led by their Regimental Commander, COL Robert F. Sink, the Regiment conducted a 137-mile forced march from Camp Toccoa to Fort Benning to begin Airborne training. They were the first Parachute Infantry Regiment to complete Airborne training as a unit. The 506th was the sixth parachute regiment constituted in the US Army.
Their training continued in England until 5 June, 1944 when the 506th suited up for a different kind of parachute jump. At 0100 hours, 6 June 1944, the Regiment jumped into the skies over France as the lead element of the massive Allied D-Day invasion. Their objective was to seize the high ground immediately behind the Normandy beach. By the evening of 6 June, the Regiment had secured its objectives, and had linked up with other elements of the invasion force who had established a beachhead at Normandy. For its exploits at Normandy, the 506th Infantry Regiment received a Presidential Unit Citation, and 25 of its members received the Distinguished Service Cross.
After 10 weeks of refitting and training the 506th was once again called upon to parachute into combat, this time into Holland as part of Operation Market Garden. The Regiment went on to liberate the town of Eindhoven on 18 September 1944, and aided in the withdrawal of the beleaguered British 1st Airborne from Arnhem on 7 October 1944.
On the morning of 18 December 1944 the unit was hastily loaded onto trucks and transported to the vicinity of Bastogne to stem a major German attack on this critical city. The mission of the 506th was to hold the town of Neville, four miles to north. The Regiment successfully resisted the vicious German assaults, and earned its second Presidential Unit Citation for its actions at Bastogne.
The final significant event of World War II occurred when the Regiment drove into southeastern Germany and overran Hitler's famed "Eagle's Nest" and accepted the surrender of the German 82nd Corps from its commander, General Tolsdorff, at Gestein. When US soldiers pressed into Hitler's mountain hideaway near the end of World War II, they found jewels beyond comprehension. Hitler's grounds in Berchtesgarden on the Austria and Germany border were rife with liquor, fancy cars and weapons. Allied soldiers, including the French and British, were both clamoring to be the first inside his lair. It was Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division, who made it there first and plundered the spoils, sampling Hitler's stash of food and booze.
Easy Company's trials, which included D-Day action and bursting into Hitler's home, were the subject of a 10-part HBO miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. Based on the book "Band of Brothers" by Stephen E. Ambrose, the series was broadcast over 2 months in the United States and was shown on American Forces Network.
For their bravery, the regiment was decorated with 2 Presidential Unit Citations with 25 Curahees earning the Distinguished Service Cross for their actions in Normandy. In November 1945, the 506th Infantry was inactivated at Auxerre, France.
The Regiment was reactivated on 25 August 1950 as part of the Korean War buildup. The 506th remained in the States as a training unit throughout the Korean War and was inactivated again on 1 December 1953. On 25 April 1957, the 506th was reactivated, once again as part of the 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In addition to being an Airborne unit, it tested new Army airmobile concepts, and was part of the Army's strategic reserve.
In December 1967, the 506th arrived in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. While in Vietnam, the Regiment was converted from Airborne to Airmobile Infantry. Here they would serve for 4 years, earn 12 more battle streamers, and be awarded a third Presidential Unit Citation for action at Dong Ap Bia Mountain (Hamburger Hill) in the Ashau Valley.
The 506th soon found itself involved in thwarting the Tet Offensive. The Regiment prevented the Viet Cong from seizing Phan Thiet. It was also during this action that SP4 Gordon R. Roberts earned the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in the Thua Thien Province on 11 July 1969. Four others, 2LT John Harrison, SGT Alan Mayfield, and SP4 John Milguard all were awarded the Silver Star for gallantry during the execution of a night patrol to recover the bodies of fallen comrades. The Regiment participated in numerous actions during the period of Vietnamization; and in December 1971, the 506th redeployed to Fort Campbell and was deactivated in May 1984.
The 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry was assigned on 16 March 1987 to the 2d Infantry Division and activated in Korea. An activation ceremony was held on 15 April 1987 at Camp Greaves, Republic of Korea. A Company was detached and initially stationed at Camp Liberty Bell. 1-506th Infantry operated in Korea as part of 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Its mission was to man the guard posts along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), provide quick reaction forces, and patrol the United Nations Command MACHA "B" sector of the DMZ during the harsh Korean winter months of December through February. During the other 9 months of the year, the Battalion trained and remained ready to relieve the DMZ battalion in place in the event of an armed contingency with the North Koreans. In September of 1991, DMZ responsibilities were transferred to the ROKA 1st Infantry Division, and A Company was relocated to Camp Giant in 1992.
For many years the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment (Air Assault) was one of the most forward deployed combat units in the United States Army. Camp Greaves was located across Freedom Bridge, about 2 miles from the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea. Four battalions of the 2nd Infantry Division patrolled the US Sector of the DMZ, and the 506th Infantry was tasked during the winter time because of its close location. There were 3 phases to the "Mission," patrolling, guardpost duty, and training.
T-hour, T-day, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry (Currahee) secures enclaves, uploads, and attacks to clear NW portion of TAA to prevent enemy interdiction of DISCOM and Aviation Brigade TAA occupation. On order, reinforces JSA and secures artillery logistics assets, 2nd Infantry Division Main, and Aviation Brigade to protect critical assets and evacuate noncombatants; Be prepared to attack or defend to achieve assigned missions.
The 1-506th Infantry stood alone as the only American combat force north of the Imjin River, permanently stationed less than three kilometers from the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). During their one-year tour, Currahee soldiers eventually grew used to sleeping at night against the blare of North Korean propaganda loud-speakers.
Unlike stateside units, the 506th Infantry had the advantage of a continuous training cycle to refine their warfighting ability. The Unification Bridge over the Imjin River was the primary route from South Korea up to Panmunjom on the DMZ, where meetings and negotiations between North and South Korea took place. This bridge was symbolic to the Korean people of ultimate reunification of the two Koreas, and it was guarded by the 506th Infantry.
During its relatively short history, the 506th Infantry had fought in 2 wars on 2 continents, participating in 16 campaigns. The 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry had been decorated 12 times. Each of those honors served as a distinct reminder of the unit's proud heritage, and its dedication to the preservation of freedom.
In preparation for closing and transfer authority for Camp Bonifas and Camp Liberty Bell/Bonifas East in 2004 various units were relocated. Company A, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry was relocated to Camp Giant. In August 2004, 1-506th Infantry was deployed Habbaniyah Iraq in the Al Anbar province in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit returned to Fort Carlson Colorado in July 2005 with 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and was subsequently reflagged as 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry.
1st Battalion, 506th Infantry was relieved on 30 September 2005 from assignment to the 2nd Infantry Division and assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. This reassignment was as part of the transformation to the US Army's new modular force structure. Part of the transformation involved the addition of a fourth brigade to all modular divisions. Units of the 506th Infantry Regiment formed the basis for the 101st Airborne Division's 4th Brigade. The unit was redesignated on 1 October 2005 as the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment. Up until that point, Regiment had not officially been part of the unit designation.
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