of the 82nd Airborne division
the 82nd division is a classic infantry division, which was created
on August 25, 1917 at Camp Gordon, Georgia. The division was sent
to France during the First World War and participated in three major
offensives which precipitated the collapse of the armies of the
On August 15, 1942, the U.S. military creates for the first time
an airborne division, turning the 82nd infantry in the 82nd Airborne.
It is placed under the command of General Omar Bradley and his second
in command, Brigadier General Matthew Ridgway and it is based at
Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, along with the 101st Airborne division.
Composed as a first step of a parachute infantry regiment (PIR)
and two glider infantry regiments (GIR), the 82nd Airborne is reinforced
once in its new home at Fort Bragg (North Carolina) in October 1942.
It is ultimately composed of the 504th and 505th PIRs, the 325th
GIR, the 319th and 320th glider artillery battalions (GFAB), the
376th and 456th Airborne artillery battalions (PFAB), the 80th Airborne
anti-aircraft bataillon (AAAB), the 370th Airborne engineer battalion
(AEB) and various support elements.
After numerous and very intense trainings, the 82nd Airborne division
is sent to Casablanca (Morocco), where it arrived on May 10, 1943.
It has to train harder for the invasion of Sicily: operation Husky.
This operation is led by Colonel James Gavin, commander of the 505th
PIR. This is the first airborne military offensive of the history
of the United States of America: on July 9, 1943,paratroopers of
the the 505th are dropped over Sicily. Separated into different
fighting groups, the paratroopers are preparing the ground before
the amphibious operation that must follow in Gela. The 504th PIR
was to be dropped on July 11 over Sicily. But when American airmen
flew over the Allied fleet, the sailors have mistaken them with
enemy bombers and they opened fire with their anti-aircraft guns:
23 C-47 aircraft were shot down. 81 paratroopers were killed, including
the Assistant Divisional Commander, Brigadier General Charles Keerans.
On the soil of Sicily, Operation Husky is a success: in 5 days,
the 82nd traveled almost 94 kilometers and has about 23.000 prisoners.
General Clark, commander of the 5th U.S. Army, has to launch an
amphibious attack, called operation Avalanche, at Salerno. On September
9, 1943, the landing begins and for 4 days, the American beachhead
is threatened. Clark therefore appeales to the 82nd Airborne division,
still in Sicily. On September 13, is organized an airborne raid
led by Colonel Reuben Tucker and part of the 504th PIR on the city
of Paestum, south of Salerno. The next day, it is the turn of the
505th PIR to be dropped. The paratroopers of the 82nd repel enemy
shoulder patch of the 82nd Airborne division: two white letters
"AA" for "All Americans" on a blue circle in
a red square.
the two months that follow, the 82nd fights in the region of Salerno
and Naples, where the airborne division is the first to enter. It
continues to progress up to the Volturno river, then it is sent
to England to prepare operation Overlord.
the 504th PIR remained in the area of Anzio, where it continued
to fight the enemy (operation Shingle).
82nd is now in England but without one of its parachute tnfantry
regiments. It is decided that the airborne division should be strengthened
by two new regiments, the 505th and the 507th PIRs.
82nd Airborne division must conquer different objectives in early
June 6, 1944 during operation Neptune, part of operation Overlord.
in the early hours of June 6, 1944, paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne
jump over Normandy: they have to capture different objectives in
the area west of the Allied amphibious invasion, such as the town
of Sainte-Mère-Eglise or the La Fière bridge.
airdrops, as for the 101st Airborne division, are vague and often
American soldiers land miles from their drop zone. On the morning
of June 6, the airborne troops make the junction with the landed
troops belonging to the 4th infantry division at Utah Beach.
June 9, 1944, La Fière sector, soldiers of the 82nd, including
men of the 325th GIR fiercely defend the bridge against German tanks
the 82nd Airborne division fought for 33 days in Normandy until
early July 1944 and received for its galantry actions the Presidential
Unit Citation. But the war is not over at that date and if the 82nd
is removed from the front and returnes to England, it is precisely
to prepare a new offensive in Europe.