The Commercial Appeal
101st tries to save ‘Band of Brothers’
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — The 101st Airborne Division is trying to save its illustrious 506th Infantry Regiment, whose origins date to World War II’s fabled “Band of Brothers,” from deactivation under the Army’s massive restructuring.
The Army announced this week that at least 12 combat brigades nationwide are to be eliminated by 2017 under sweeping military reductions, among them the 4th Brigade Combat Team at Fort Campbell, Ky.
The brigade traces its lineage to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, created in 1942, at Camp Toccoa, Ga.
The 506th was among several parachute regiments created to sneak behind enemy lines in the war. Nicknamed “Currahee,” which is a Native American Cherokee term for “stands alone,” the regiment parachuted into Normandy during the DDay invasion in 1944 and then later parachuted into Holland. The regiment raced to liberate Europe amid bouts of fierce fighting in Bastogne, Belgium and then overran Hitler’s famed “Eagle’s Nest” in Germany.
The regiment wasn’t associated with the “Band of Brothers” nickname until the book by historian Stephen Ambrose came out in 1992, reigniting interest in the regiment among the public. The subsequent HBO miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks about the men of Easy Company won national acclaim.
Brig. Gen. Mark Stammer, acting senior commander of the 101st Airborne Division, said the division wants to preserve the regiment’s two battalions, along with its flags and its historical legacy.
He said that the regi- ment’s battalions should be transferred to two of the division’s three remaining infantry brigades. If Washington’s defense and budget planners approve of such a plan, he said “the 506th will live, but it will just live in another brigade combat team.”