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101st Airborne Division, 69th Signal Battalion: Vietnam War (1966)

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Published on Jun 29, 2012

In 1971, elements of the division supported the ARVN Operation Lam Son 719, the invasion of southern Laos, but only aviation units actually entered Laos. In the seven years that all or part of the division served in Vietnam it suffered 4,011 Killed in Action and 18,259 Wounded in Action.[citation needed]

It has been said that most North Vietnamese had never seen a bald eagle, so they called the 101st soldiers "Chicken Men" or "Rooster Men." Viet Cong commanders were rumored to regularly include in their briefings that they were to avoid confrontation with the "Chicken Men" at all costs, as they were sure to lose. Supposedly this remained a source of fierce pride among veterans who served in Vietnam under the 101st.[21]

In 1968, the 101st took on the structure and equipment of an airmobile division. Following its return from Vietnam, the division was rebuilt with one brigade (3d) and supporting elements on jump status, using the assets of what had been the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The remaining two brigades and supporting units were organized as airmobile. With the exception of certain specialized units, such as the pathfinders and parachute riggers, in early 1974 the Army terminated jump status for the division. Concurrently the 101st introduced the Airmobile Badge (renamed later that year as the Air Assault Badge), the design of which was based on the Glider Badge of World War II. Initially the badge was only authorized for wear while assigned to the division, but in 1978 the Army authorized it for service-wide wear. Soldiers continued to wear the garrison cap with glider patch, bloused boots, and the cloth wing oval behind their wings, as had division paratroopers before them. A blue beret was authorized for the division in March or April 1975 and worn proudly until revoked at the end of 1979.[22] The division also was authorized to wear a full color (white eagle) shoulder patch insignia instead of the subdued green eagle shoulder patch that was worn as a combat patch by soldiers who fought with the 101st in Vietnam. While serving with the 101st, it was also acceptable to wear a non-subdued patch as a combat patch, a distinction shared with the 1st and 5th Infantry divisions.

During this time, the 101st was tasked to keep a Battalion on readiness alert to respond to any emergencies or actions with the area of responsibility the United States. Should anything happen, troopers of the 101st would be "wheels up" in an aircraft within 30 minutes for the first responding unit, with back-up following within one hour. Within 24 Hours there would be a response as needed.

Charles Bloodworth, a pathfinder officer in the 101st during the early 1970s, describes the transition of the post-war division to fully Air Assault and the adoption of the Air Assault Badge at this link.[23]

In September 1980, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry, 2nd Brigade, took part in Operation Bright Star '80, a exercise deployment to Egypt. In 1984, the command group formed a full-time team, the "Screaming Eagles", Command Parachute Demonstration Team.[24] However the team traces its history to the late 1950s, during the infancy of precision free fall.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/101st_Ai...

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