101st Airborne Division
The 101st Airborne Division was activated after the U.S. entry into World War II, 15 August 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. Following organization and training they arrived in the ETO on 15 September 1943.
On the night of 5 June 1944, Pathfinders of the 101st Airborne left England to begin the night drop of the Invasion of Normandy which would become known as D-Day. Even though all the drop zones were missed 101st Paratroopers slowly reformed before taking objectives such as Carentan and Ste Mere Eglese as the Allies established a beachhead on the Normandy coast.
After the Normandy Breakout and while the Allies were quickly pushing across France, a daring operation was planned for September, Operation Market Garden. The Division jumped into Holland for their 2nd combat parachute jump.
In December, the Germans began their surprise Ardennes Offensive. This became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The 101st had been on R&R behind the Allied lines, but when the Germans attacked the 101st was quickly deployed to Bastogne, a city that was at the junction of many roads through this area. Bastogne was a key objective for the enemy advance. As the Bulge grew the town of Bastogne became surrounded and because of bad weather no supply drops were available. The German artillery laid seige to the town, but the 101st would not yield.
Perhaps one of the most memorable quotes came from this engagement. The German commander overseeing the seige of Bastogne sent a message to the Americans, wanting them to surrender. The 10st at Bastogne was under the command of Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe who sent back this reply:
To the German Commander:
- Signed, The American Commander
The Americans finally got supplies and as the Bulge collapsed, the 101st Airborne Division had not given up Bastogne. Along with other Divisions, they began the final offensive to end World War II in May of 1945.
Nickname: Screaming Eagles
Motto: Rendezvous with Destiny
Mascot: Bald Eagle a.k.a. Old Abe
101st US Airborne Division in Normandy
101st Airborne Division in Western Europe