1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment
1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Air Assault)
In January 2006, as part of the Army's modularization process, the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment was deactivated and reflagged as 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry at Fort Carson Colorado. It was reactivated as part of the transitioning 173rd Brigade Combat Team, and moved to Vicenza, Italy to be reunited with its sister battalion, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infatry Regiment. The Battalion was also redesignated from Air Assault to Airborne as part of the move.
The 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Air Assault) was previously one of 2 Air Assault Infantry Battalions forwardly deployed as part of the 2nd Infantry Division on the Korean Peninsula. As part of the 2nd Infantry Division, 1-503rd Infantry (Air Assault) was prepared to transition to war and secure enclaves to expedite division movement to combat. On order, the battalion would evacuate noncombatants, and support division counterfire operations for decisive combat and be prepared to move to tactical assembly area (TAA) to prepare to attack or defend.
The 503rd Parachutist Battalion, one of the original formations of the expanding US Army Airborne forces, was first activated and organized in August 1941. On 24 February 1942, the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment was formed. The Regiments 1st and 2nd Battalions were formed at Fort Benning, Georgia, from the 503rd and 504th Parachute Battalions, respectively. Shortly thereafter, the Regiment was deployed as an independent parachute regiment to join General MacArthur's forces in the South Pacific theater. After several months of preparation, the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment assaulted Corregidor Island, the Philippines, for which the unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. The two other airborne operations included an assault on the Japanese-held Nadzab airstrip, New Guinea on 5 September 1943, and Kamiri Airfield on Noemfoor Island off the coast of Dutch New Ginea on 3 July 1944. The unit was inactivated at Camp Anza, California in December 1945. It was reactivated and redesignated as Company B, 503rd Airborne Infantry in February 1951 and assigned to the 11th Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
1 July 1958 saw Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Airborne Battle Group, 503rd Infantry, being relieved from assignment to the 11th Airborne Division and being assigned to the 24th Infantry Division. This was not final, because several months later, on 7 January 1959, the unit was relieved from assignment to the 24th Infantry Division and assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. The regiment again reorganized as the 1st and 2nd Airborne Battle Groups, 503rd Infantry, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In March 1963, both battle groups were redesignated and reorganized as the 1st and 2d Battalions, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, and reassigned to the newly formed 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate).
In May 1965, the 503rd Infantry deployed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade to Vietnam as the first major US Army ground combat unit to be deployed. During its 6 years in Vietnam, the 503rd Infantry participated in 14 campaigns, winning 2 more Presidential Unit Citations and a Meritorious Unit Commendation. The most notable of these operations were Operation Hump from 5-9 November 1965, Operation Silver City from 9-22 March 1966, and Operation Macarthur from 1 November to 14 December 1967.
The 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Airborne, with the rest of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, left Vietnam in 1971, and had the distinction of being one of the first to arrive and one of the last units to leave the Republic of Vietnam. Thus begun the second transition period for the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Airborne. On 14 January 1972, the battalion was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. The Battalion called Ft. Campbell home for the next 12 years. It was inactivated at Ft. Campbell and relieved from assignment to the 101st Airborne Division in 1984.
The Battalion was reactivated 19 December 1986 and was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division as the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Air Assault). American forces have been guarding and patrolling the American sector of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) since the Armistice signing in 1953. The 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, was the last 2nd Infantry Division battalion to man the guardposts and patrol the American sector of the DMZ in October 1991. The Battalion would patrol the DMZ between Communist North Korea and Democratic South Korea until 2004.
n July 2004, the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Air Assault) deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in the Al Anbar Province, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While deployed to Iraq, the 1st Battalion worked closely with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Upon its return to the States in August 2005, it was reassigned to Fort Carson, Colorado. In October 2005, the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Air Assault) was reflagged as the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry at Fort Carson Colorado. On 23 May 2006, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment reactivated in Vicenza, Italy as part of the Southern European Task Force (Airborne) and assigned once again to the newly transformed modular 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
On 9 May 2007, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry deployed as part of the 173rd Airborne Regimental Combat Team to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VIII.