Patch ColorPilots often ask, “Why would anyone jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” But you would if it’s your job. If you’re a member of an airborne division, it’s what you do on a regular basis. And if you’re a member of the heralded 82nd Airborne, you may find yourself floating silently through the dark night sky, touching down quietly deep behind enemy lines.

QuotesAugust 25 marks the 100th anniversary of the first activation of the most legendary of all airborne divisions.

Based at Camp Gordon, GA from 1917-1919, the 82nd Airborne earned the nickname the “All American” division because its members came from all 48 states. (Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states.) The nickname served as the basis for the “AA” on the division’s shoulder sleeve insignia. The unit was first deployed to France near the end of World War I, where it saw limited action as the war was winding down.

Shortly after their return from service, the 82nd was demobilized and moved to Camp Mills, NY, where it would not be called to action again until March 1942, this time as an infantry division under the command of General Omar Bradley. As WWII marched on, the division saw more and more combat in the European theater, including Sicily, Italy, and the D-Day invasion Normandy, where it played an integral part of the largest airborne assault at the time – Operation Neptune – into the French-occupied heartland deep behind German lines. Between D-Day and early July, the 82nd Airborne saw 33 days of severe combat with heavy losses, including over 5,000 troops killed, wounded, or missing, accounting for 46% of the total division.


In the fall of 1944, the men of the 82nd Airborne saw more combat in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands before moving to the infamous Battle of the Bulge in the harsh winter of December 1944. Following the surrender of Nazi Germany a year later, the 82nd was among the first US troops to enter bombed out Berlin, where General George S. Patton was so impressed with their honor guard that he labeled them “America’s Guard of Honor.” The 82nd was then dispatched to the Pacific theater, but the war ended before they saw combat.

After the war, the 82nd was once again scheduled for demobilization but instead moved to their new and permanent home at Fort Bragg, NC.

Over the 72 years since the end of WWII, the 82nd Airborne has distinguished itself in operations throughout the world, including Vietnam, Operations Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983 and Just Cause in Panama in 1989, and the Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) in 1991, plus service in Bosnia and Kosovo in 1990’s. The Global War on Terror thrust the 82nd Airborne into the limelight again with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

QuotesHappy 100th Birthday, 82nd Airborne! The world would be a different place without you!

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