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Operation Big Spring: 173rd Airborne Brigade in the Vietnam War (1967)

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Published on Jun 27, 2012

The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team ("Sky Soldiers") is an airborne infantry brigade combat team of the United States Army based in Vicenza, Italy. It is the United States European Command's conventional airborne strategic response force for Europe.

Activated in 1915, as the 173rd Infantry Brigade, the unit saw service in World War I, but is best known for its actions during the Vietnam War. The brigade was the first major United States Army ground formation deployed in Vietnam, serving there May 1965--1971 and losing almost 1,800 soldiers. Noted for its roles in Operation Hump and Operation Junction City, the 173rd is best known for the Battle of Dak To, where it suffered heavy casualties in close combat with North Vietnamese forces. Brigade members received over 7,700 decorations, including more than 6,000 Purple Hearts. The brigade returned to the United States, where it was deactivated in 1972.

Since its reactivation in 2000, the brigade served four tours in the Middle East in support of the War on Terror. The 173rd participated in the initial invasion of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and had three tours in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2005--2006, 2007--2008 and 2009--2010. The brigade returned from its most recent deployment in eastern Afghanistan in December 2010.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team has a long and celebrated combat history. It has received 21 campaign streamers and several unit awards, including the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions during the Battle of Dak To during the Vietnam War.

The brigade arrived in Vietnam in May 1965, the first major ground combat unit of the United States Army to serve in the country. Williamson boldly predicted on arrival that his men would defeat the Viet Cong quickly and that they "would be back in Okinawa by Christmas". 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division and 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division quickly followed the 173rd into Vietnam, the first of what would eventually be 25 US Army brigades to serve in the country. As larger US Army commands were established in Vietnam, the brigade was assigned to the III Corps and II Corps tactical zone, which they would serve in for the next six years. The brigade was put under the command of II Field Force, Vietnam.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/173rd_Ai...

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