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HISTORY

 

The 173D Airborne Brigade was activated on the island of Okinawa on March 26, 1963. From its beginning, it proved to be an aggressive and unique unit led by (then) Brigadier General Ellis W. Williamson who established realistic training throughout the Pacific Region.

The "TIEN BING," as the Nationalist Chinese paratroopers called the 173d, loosely translated to SKY SOLDIER, made thousands of parachute jumps in a dozen different Pacific area countries. The Brigade was the first Army ground combat Unit sent to the Republic of South Vietnam in May, 1965. The major portion of the brigade landed at Bien Hoa Airfield and found an area that had been battered frequently by enemy raids and shelling attacks.

The 1st and 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment along with the 3rd Battalion of the 319th Artillery.  comprised the foxhole strength of the 173d. They were well supported by their own Support Battalion and Troop E, 17th Cavalry, D Company, 16th Armour.  The First Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, and the 105 Field Battery, 1 RAR AUST Group were later attached to the Brigade during the first year.  In Late August, 1966, the 173d received another Infantry Battalion, the 4th, 503rd which arrived from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. A 3rd Battalion was formed in early 1967 at Fort Bragg, N.C. and was shipped to Vietnam to join the Brigade on October 2, 1967. 

In the combat operations to follow, the paratroopers made their superb training payoff. They were the first to go into War Zone D to destroy enemy base camps. They introduced the use of small, long range patrols. They fought the battles of the Iron Triangle, conducted the only major combat parachute jump in the Tay Ninh area, and blocked NVA incursions during some of the bloodiest fighting of the war at Dak To during the summer and fall of 1967, culminating in the capture of Hill 875. Elements of the brigade conducted an amphibious assault against NVA and VC forces as part of an operation to clear the rice-growing lowlands along the Bong Song littoral.

The troopers of the 173D Airborne Brigade (Sep) wear their combat badges and decorations with pride. During more than six years of nearly continuous combat, the brigade earned 14 campaign streamers and four unit citations. 13 Medal of Honor winners, over 6,000 Purple Hearts, the only Combat Parachute Assault of the War, and sadly, over 1700 names of Sky Soldiers on THE WALL. The Brigade was deactivated on January 14, 1972 at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.

The Brigade was reactivated in 2000 in Vicenza, Italy. No longer a seperate Brigade, the 173d became the Southern European Task Force, early intervention element for Europe, Africa and portions of Asia, just as the original unit had the same responsibility in the Pacific priot to deployment to Vietnam. Operation Iraqi Freedom found the Brigade making it's second combat jump. This time into Northwest Iraq to secure the Northern Airfield and area. A year later it was subsequently redeployed to Italy to refit and retrain for deployment to Afghanistan where it is currently engaged in combat operations.

RECIPIENTS OF THE MEDAL OF HONOR

SGT Larry S. Pierce
20 September 65
PFC Milton L. Olive
22 October 65
Sp5/SFC Lawrence Joel
8 November 65
Sp4 Alfred Rascon
16 March 66
SGT/CSM Charles B. Morris
29 June 66
SP4 Don L. Michael
8 April 67
PFC John A. Barnes III
12 November 67
MAJ (Chaplain) Charles J. Watters
19 November 67
PFC Carlos J. Lozada
20 November 67
SSG Laszlo Rabel
13 November 68
CPL Terry T. Kawamura
20 March 69
SP4 Michael R. Blanchfield
3 July 69
SSG Glenn H. English, JR.
7 September 70

 

Recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross


 Name  Rank Unit DateofAward OrderNo.
DAVIS,  Eugene R. SP4 B-2/503d-173d July 7, 1965 302/65AP
VARMENT,  Dixon G. SP4 A-1/503d-173d October 5, 1965 45/66AP
FULTON, William B. SP4 1/503d-173d October 5, 1965 17/66AP
WILLIAMSON,  Ellis W. BRIG GEN HQ173dABNBDE November 9, 1965 27/66DA
GIPSON,  Robert P. SP4 B-2/503d-173d March 16, 1966 5951/66RV
FIELDS,  Lloyd Jr. SSGT E/17Cav-173d April 13, 1966 219/66AP
DEANE,  John R. Jr. BRIG GEN HQ173dABNBDE January 9, 1967 1853/67RV
SEVERSEN, Daniel J.  1st LT B-4/503d-173d January 16, 1967 1064/67RV
HAYDEN,  Phillip P. 1st LT C-2/503d-173d February 1, 1967 2388/67RV
FIELDS,  Elija PL SGT E-1/503d-173d February 8, 1967 4454/67RV
CAMPBELL,  Keith A. SP4 HHC-1/503-173d February 8, 1967 1178/67RV
STOWELL,  Robert D.  1st LT E/17Cav-173d March 3, 1967 2321/67RV
LITWIN,  Robert R. PL SGT A-2/503d-173d June 22, 1967 5285/67RV
BOROWSKI,  John C. PFC A-4/503d-173d July 10, 1967 4665/67RV
JORDAN,  Daniel W. 1st LT A-4/503d-173d July 10, 1967 4802/67RV
SABEL,  Joel M. SP4 HHC-4/503d-173d July 10, 1967 4663/67RV
HOLLAND,  Charles J. SFC(SSGT) E17Cav-173d August 18, 1967 15/68DA
CECIL,  Gerald T. 1st LT C-1/503d-173d November 11, 1967 1410/68RV
SHAW,  Gary F.  PFC C-1/503d-173d November 11, 1967 1487/68RV
MARTIN , Larry SGT D-1/503d-173d November 11, 1967 698/68RV
KELLEY,  Jerry C. SP4 C-1/503d-173d November 12, 1967 1140/68RV
ROGAN,  James P. B-2/503d-173d November 13, 1967 1079/68RV
ROBINSON,  John R. 2nd LT A-1/503d-173d November 18, 1967 837/68RV
BOEDECKER,  Billy E. PFC A-1/503d-173d November 18, 1967 1419/68RV
LEONARD,  Ronald R. CAPT B-4/503d-173d November 20, 1967 611/68RV
MURREY,  Tracy H. 1st LT C-4/503d-173d November 20, 1967 400/68RV
GARCIA, Edward.  SP4 B-4/503d-173d November 21, 1967 873/68RV
SCHWELLENBACH,  Gary R. CPL(PFC) A-3/503d-173d December 27, 1967 (P)57/68DA
JOHNSON,  James H. LT COL HHC4-/503d-173d January 30, 1968 2247/68RV
JUSTINIANO,  Victor A.  PFC B-3/503d-173d March 3, 1968 3600/68RV
HELMICK,  Robert F. CAPT D-16Armour-173d March 4, 1968 1196/69RV
BULLARD,  Karl L. 1st LT B-2/503d-173d May 5, 1968 3765/68RV
BRISCOE,  Charles H. CAPT 173dABNBDE June 17, 1968 31/71DA
PONDER,  Billy W. SR SGT C-2/503d-173d August 23, 1968 5424/68RV
REEDER,  Phillip D. PVT C-1/503d-173d September 26, 1968 5750/68RV
ANAGNOSOTOPOULOS, James PFC HHC-1/503d-173d February 27, 1969 4758/68R
BEERS,  Jack B. Pl SGT B-3/503d-173d April 7, 1969 1278/69RV
WILLIAMS,  Harold D. SSGT C-75thInf-173d August 1, 1969 4389/69RV
FLOYD,  Robert G.  SP4 C-3/503d-173d March 31, 1970 2067/70RV
DOLAN,  James E. SP4 B-1/503d-173d May 25, 1970 4504/70RV
BURBANK,  Kenneth R. SGT E/3/503d-173d August 28, 1970 5305/70RV
OVERWEG,  Robert D. SGT B-1/503d-173d September 19, 1970 5248/70RV
McDONALD,  Martin T. SP4 HHC-2/503d-173d April 10, 1971 32/72/DA