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25th Infantry Division, 173rd Airborne Brigade: Santo Domingo, Thailand, Vietnam (1966)

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Published on Jun 29, 2012

From 1961 to 1963, the Army began reorganizing its force so that each division would have a similar structure, which would vary depending on the type of division it was. This move was called the Reorganization Objective Army Division (ROAD) plan. The plan eliminated regiments but reintroduced brigades to the Army's structure, allowing three brigades to a division. The reorganization also allowed for the use of "separate" brigades which had no division headquarters and could be used for missions that did not require an entire division. The 173rd Brigade was selected to become a separate brigade and a special airborne task force, which could deploy rapidly and act independently. It was then designed uniquely from other separate brigades. The 173rd was the only separate brigade to have support formations permanently attached to it, though other separate brigades would receive support elements of their own a year later. The brigade was also the only separate brigade to receive its own tank company, in the form of Company D, 16th Armor. Consistent with Regimental Combat Teams activated before them, these separate brigades were given their own shoulder sleeve insignia. The soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade created a patch with a wing on it to symbolize their status as an airborne unit, along with red, white, and blue, the national colors of the United States. The SSI would be given to them in May 1963.

On 26 March 1963, the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) was assigned to the regular army and activated on Okinawa. Brigadier General Ellis W. Williamson took command of the unit, which was chartered to serve as the quick reaction force for the Pacific Command. Under Williamson, the unit trained extensively, making mass parachute jumps. They earned the nickname Tien Bien, or Sky Soldiers, from the Taiwanese paratroopers. During their time in Okinawa, they prided themselves as the "toughest fighting men in Okinawa, if not the entire US Armed Forces". They took their theme song from the television series Rawhide. As the Pacific quick-reaction force, they were the first brigade to be sent to Vietnam two years later when hostilities escalated there.

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

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