4th Brigade Combat Team (506th Infantry Regiment),
101st Airborne Division
506th Infantry Regimental Combat Team (Air Assault)
Ever since the 506th Infantry Regiment reactivated, Sept. 15, 2005, providing regimental designation for the newly established 4th Brigade Combat team "Currahee," 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the brigade's Soldiers lived up to the Currahee name. In the brigade's relatively short history, it deployed to combat four times. First to Iraq for a year, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2005-2007, then three tours to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 2008-2009, 2010-2011 and 2013-2014.
As a close to this brief chapter, the Soldiers with the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion; the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment; the 801st Brigade Support Battalion; the 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment; and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); cased their colors during an inactivation ceremony, 25 April 2014.
Then the 3,500-man organization went through a normal reassignment process. While the 801st Battalion cased its colors, two of the Currahee battalions realigned within the 101st Abn. Div. The 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion realigned with 1st Brigade and 3rd Brigade. So their colors, battalion commanders, battalion formations, unit history and unit name Currahee will continue to exist here in the 101st.
In 2004 the entire 101st Airborne Division began transformation to the US Army's new modular force structure. As part of the transformation, the US Army sought to add a 4th brigade to all modular divisions. The 506th Regimental Combat Team formed the basis for the 101st Airborne Division's new 4th Brigade Combat Team.
The mission of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division was to, when directed, rapidly deploy by air, land, or sea to conduct full spectrum operations in support of the Regional Combatant Commander's Requirements.
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 was 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 Infantry 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 1944, 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 the 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. 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 four years, earn twelve 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, were 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. In December 1971, the 506th redeployed to Fort Campbell and was deactivated in May 1984.
During its relatively short history, the 506th Infantry fought in 2 wars on 2 continents, participating in 16 campaigns. Each of these honors served as a distinct reminder of the unit's proud heritage, and its dedication to the preservation of freedom.
The Department of the Army confirmed in late May 2004 that the 101st Airborne Division would have another brigade by the end of the year. The addition of the brigade, also known as a "unit of action," came as the Army was realigning its basic internal structure to form a brigade-focused force. By the end of 2006, 10 more modular brigades (in addition to the original 33) were expected to be in place throughout the Army. Under the new modular design, some division-level assets would be reallocated at the brigade level.
The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) officially kicked off its transformation effort on 16 September 2004. As of 2006, the division had reorganized into four BCT (UA)s, two aviation BCT (UA)s and a support UA. The 4th Brigade Combat Team was activated in August of 2004 as part of the Army initiative to add a forth combat brigade to each division. 4th BCT was formed of 6 battalions that included 2 Infantry, 1 Reconnaissance, 1 Field Artillery, a Brigade Troops Battalion, and the Brigade Support Battalion along with the Headquarters Company for the brigade.
The 4th Brigade Combat Team started from scratch in forming the newest unit to hit the streets of Fort Campbell. Although the unit was new to the area, many of its Soldiers were not. In an effort to get the unit up and running, battalion and company commanders from the three existing brigades called for volunteers, about 200 per brigade, to join the ranks of 4th. Since then, many unit commanders and senior enlisted settled under the brigade colors.
Besides getting new Soldiers and equipment, 4th BCT also had to create new subordinate units. As an example, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Brigades received an artillery battalion each from the old Division Artillery (DIVARTY). 4th BCT created a new artillery battalion from a slice of each of the old battalions. The remaining question was one of identity. Regimental affiliation was ironed out at the Department of the Army.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|