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Unit History

503rd Infantry Regiment

Coat of Arms

Shield

On the argent (silver-colored) shield, a fort in azure (blue-colored) is pierced to the center by a pile (point), counterchanged (exchanges colors) with the fort and bears three parachutes of the first, two and one.


Symbolism

The colors, blue and white, are those of Infantry. The inverted triangle terminating in the broken fort symbolizes the drop on Corregidor, whereas the three parachutes represent the three other battle honors awarded the organization.

Additional Information

Crest

On a wreath of argent and azure, a Gules (red-colored) dragon passant (is walking) in front of three swords, points conjured in base proper (colored naturally), with hand grips of the second nailed and edged in or (gold). In the center overall, a carved arrowhead points down to the last.


Symbolism

The dragon and the colors scarlet and yellow refer to the Republic of Vietnam where the regiment participated in thirteen campaigns; scarlet also alludes to the award of the Meritorious Unit Commendation. The arrowhead indicates the unit’s participation in an assault landing during the Counteroffensive, Phase II, and the swords with blue grips represent the Presidential Unit Citation awarded three times for service in the Republic of Vietnam.

Motto: THE ROCK.

Background: The Coat of Arms was originally approved for the 503rd Airborne Regiment on April 28, 1952. It was amended to change the motto on May 28, 1952. The coat of arms was redesignated for the 503rd Infantry on Jan. 29, 1958.

2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment

“The Rock,” the nickname for 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, traces its history back to the efforts of the Airborne Test Platoon just before World War II.

The unit was originally constituted March 14, 1941, as Company B, 503rd Parachute Battalion, and was activated on Aug. 22, 1941, at Fort Benning, Ga. On Feb. 24, 1942, it was consolidated with and renamed to Company B, 503rd Parachute Infantry.

2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry, conducted the first combat jump in U.S. history from C-47 aircraft, which took off in England, and dropped the battalion onto a drop zone near Lourmel, Algeria. The jump initiated the North Africa campaign.

During the war, the unit participated also participated in campaigns in the Pacific: New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon and Southern Philippines.

One of its missions in the Philippines was an airborne assault on an island called Corregidor, which was nicknamed “the Rock.” This is where the unit got its own nickname and its motto. It was also awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions during this mission.

On Dec. 24, 1945, the unit was inactivated at Camp Anza, Calif.

The unit was redesignated as Company B, 503rd Airborne Infantry, 11th Airborne Division, on Feb. 1, 1951. A month later, on March 2, 1951, it was activated at Fort Campbell, Ky. Almost exactly six years later, on March 1, 1957, the unit – in Germany at the time – was relieved from its assignment to the 11th Airborne Division and inactivated. The unit did not see combat during the Korean War.

On. Sept. 1, 1958, the unit was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Airborne Battle Group, 503rd Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division, and activated at Fort Bragg, N.C.

On June 24, 1960, 503rd Infantry was relieved from assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division and assigned to the 25th Infantry Division. A year later, on July 1, 1961, it was relieved from that assignment

The Rock was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade on March 26, 1963, in Okinawa, Japan. Later in the year – on June 25, 1963 – it was reorganized and redesignated as the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry.

As the 173rd Airborne Brigade was the Pacific Command's quick-reaction strike force, the unit became the first U.S. Army combat unit committed to the Vietnam War.

The unit participated in many campaigns in Vietnam, such as the Tet Counteroffensive and the Sanctuary Counteroffensive. It was also awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for Vietnam 1965-1967 and Presidential Unit Citations for Phuoc Vinh and Dak To.

On Jan. 14, 1972, it was relieved of assignment to the 173rd Airborne Brigade and assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. Eleven years later, on Oct. 1, 1983, it was relieved from assignment and inactivated at Fort Campbell, Ky.

On Dec. 16, 1986, the Rock was activated and assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. Four years later, it was relieved from assignment and inactivated on Sept. 29, 1990.

The unit was activated in Vicenza, Italy, and once again assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade on Dec. 16, 2001.

From March 2003 to February 2004, the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry, served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit participated in everything from conducting night combat parachute assaults to establishing local police forces and securing normalcy for communities.

The unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit commendation for Iraq 2003.

On Oct. 1, 2005, the unit was redesignated as the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment.

The Rock deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom VI, where it fought with Taliban and Al Qaeda forces in Helmand, Zabul and Kandahar provinces and participated in parliamentary elections in fall 2005.

On Sept. 16, 2006, the larger 173rd Airborne Brigade was redesignated as the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

From May 2007 to July 2008, the unit deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom VIII. Among many tasks, the unit conducted counterinsurgency operations in Kunar and Nuristan provinces and partnered with Afghan forces in the Korengal and Shuryak vallies.

503rd Infantry Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia 173rd Airborne Distinctive Unit Insignia
173rd Airborne Combat Service Identification Badge

173rd Airborne Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

On a blue silhouetted cylinder with a white border, a vertical white wing is in flight. The lower end of the wing is extended and hooked around a red bayonet. Attached above the insignia is a blue tab with “AIRBORNE” inscribed in white.

The bayonet is used to refer to the brigade. The wing alludes to the brigade’s airborne status. Red, white and blue are U.S. national colors.

The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved on May 13, 1963. It was amended to correct the dimensions on July 29, 1963. The insignia was amended to include the tab and update the description on April 26, 2000. It was redesignated for the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team on Oct. 11, 2006.

Additional Information:

173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Heraldry