Band of Brothers Back for Iraq

The regiment made famous by Stephen Ambrose’s “Band of Brothers” has been reactivated for Iraq.

Band of Brothers Back for Iraq (AP)

The 101st Airborne Division on Thursday reactivated a historic unit whose actions during World War II were the subject of the book “Band of Brothers.” The 506th Regimental Combat Team – also known as the “Currahees,” a Cherokee Indian word meaning “stands alone” – returned to the division just as its soldiers were completing final preparations to return to Iraq. “Our Currahees have trained hard and are ready to join their brothers,” Col. Thomas Vail, said as the unit’s 3,500 soldiers stood behind him. “They are ready to sacrifice their personal comfort and safety to answer a call to duty.”

The reactivation is part of the 101st Airborne Division’s recent expansion from three to four brigade combat teams under a Pentagon plan to reorganize the Army into smaller, easily deployable units.

The unit – then called the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment – was among the first to land in Normandy during World War II. The Army deactivated and reactivated the unit several times, sending its soldiers to Korea and Vietnam, where the unit was critical to winning the battles on Hamburger Hill.

Given the Army’s recruiting woes, I’m just glad it’s not the original Band of Brothers getting called back to active duty.

This is a smart move from an espirit de corps standpoint. Indeed, it’s rather odd that the Army allowed the unit to be deactivated, given the number of regimental units with little heraldry that remained standing.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.