101st Airborne Division unit completes transformation as history comes full circle
May 15, 2014
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- The 3rd Brigade Combat Team "Rakkasans", 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), added to its distinguished history with the formal recognition of the addition of 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment "White Currahee" in a ceremony held here May 14.
"Both our Soldiers, our Families and our Veterans from the White Currahee nation are extremely honored to come back to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team," said Lt. Col. Scott Kirkpatrick, commander, 2nd Bn, 506th Inf. Rgt. "It's about two storied organizations, the Currahees and the Rakkasans, coming together to make a legendary one."
The Currahees came to 3rd Brigade as both the brigade and division commemorate the events of the Vietnam War. The 3rd Bn., 187th Inf. Rgt., "Iron Rakkasans", will host a week-long series of events to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of the Battle for Dong Ap Bia, better known as Hamburger Hill, and the division will remember the 50th anniversary of the division's deployment to Vietnam during Week of the Eagles.
"We've been here before. Third Brigade, 101st in Vietnam was not the Rakkasans, it was the Currahees, it was the 506th," said Col. J.B. Vowell, commander of 3rd BCT. "At Dong Ap Bia, the majority of 3rd Brigade, 1st of the 506th and 2nd of the 506th were the base of that brigade. The third battalion in that brigade was the 187th, the Iron Rakkasans. So 40 odd years ago, we were the guests."
Vowell went on to say that the addition of the 2nd Bn., 506th represented a full circle in both units' history.
"Fast forward to 2014 and the base of this brigade as an infantry brigade is 1st Battalion and 3rd Battalion, 187th now with 2nd Battalion, 506th as our guests," Vowell said.
The merging of two units with a strong sense of pride and history takes a delicate touch.
"There's a lot of pride in our veterans and justifiably so," said Vowell. "I would remind veterans whether they were in for a few years or 30, in the grand scheme of things, we have all fought together and we're going fight together for each other in the future."
In addition, Battery B, consisting of 105mm howitzers, was formally transferred from 4th Bn., 320th Field Artillery Regiment, to 3rd Bn., 320th FA Rgt. "Red Knights", during the ceremony. The addition of the new battery forms a composite artillery battalion consisting of two batteries of 105mm howitzers and one battery of 155mm howitzers.
The 3rd Bn., 320th FA Rgt. officially reformed in February and was given a chance to test the new composite formation during the brigade's Operation Golden Eagle exercise.
"The exercise provided Soldiers and leaders of the battalion with a mental model of how to provide fires support to a BCT air assault operation," said Lt. Col. Brendan Raymond, commander of the 3rd Bn., 320th FA Rgt. "Red Knight cannoneers and fire direction Soldiers became subject matter experts on their new weapon systems and were able to deliver a new capability to the BCT."
The brigade also reflagged the 3rd Special Troops Battalion as the 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion in March with the addition of an extra company of engineers and a larger engineer focused headquarters.
The additions to 3rd BCT were undertaken as part of the division's Agile Eagle II operation, designed to localize and implement the larger Department of the Army-directed BCT 2020 initiative. This overarching move mandates development of a plan that will reduce the overall strength of the Army in order to meet current and future mission requirements. The additions make 3rd BCT the first fully transformed brigade in the 101st.