Legend of Diamonds and Tail-booms

By Spc. Tracy R. WeedenOctober 13, 2010

Legend of Diamonds and Tail-booms
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Legend of Diamonds and Tail-booms
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The black diamond worn on the helmet of Task Force Destiny Soldiers is an iconic part of their uniform and history.

The legend began in World War II, when the 101st Airborne Division created tactical helmet insignias to help reassemble the paratroopers on the ground.

After jumping into Normandy on D-Day, the troops were divided over miles of terrain. If they were unable to recognize each other, it would be difficult to regroup.

The four infantry regiment commanders pulled cards from a deck before D-Day, which is why they were labeled with card suites, said John O'Brien, Fort Campbell, Ky. installation historian at Don F. Pratt Museum. Some additional symbols were later added to designate other assets within the division.

At the end of World War II, the 101st was deactivated and helmet symbols were abandoned.

When the division was reactivated, it was reorganized several times, finally being designated as an air assault division.

The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Destiny, was constituted in 1968 at Camp Eagle, Republic of Vietnam under the 101st Airborne Division, which makes their helmet symbol history different than their brother infantry units.

Helmet markings were rarely seen after World War II, said O'Brien. However, in Vietnam, tail-boom markings were used to designate aircraft.

The tail-boom marking of the 101st Aviation Battalion helicopters was the diamond.

"It appears to me that the 101st Aviation Regiment and the 159th Aviation Brigade can trace their helmet symbols not to the deck of cards scheme of World War II, but to the tail markings of Vietnam," said O'Brien.

Helmet markings were reestablished for esprit de corps and unit pride after the attacks on 9/11.

Helmet markings came back into use the summer of 2001 when Capt. Jim Page, 1st Brigade Combat Team assistant operations officer, recommended they readopt the Club patch, said O'Brien. By 2003, as units were deploying to Iraq, the other brigades were adopting their units' patch and gluing it to their helmets.

Units who did not have one of the initial helmet patch designs adopted symbols representing their lineage, such as tail-boom markings.

All units within the division now wear the markings on their helmets to pay tribute to their rich heritage.

The 101st Airborne Division is one of the most esteemed and decorated divisions in the U.S. Army. Adorned with unit awards and historic symbols, Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division wear their pride on their helmet.