The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) “Currahee”
he 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment was activated at Camp Toccoa, Ga. on July 20, 1942. The Regiment was given the motto “Currahee,” a Native American Cherokee word which means “stands alone”—a name that would become synonymous with its combat history. On March 1, 1945, the 506th was assigned to the newly formed 101st Airborne Division. The Division’s first commander, Major General William C. Lee observed that “the 101st has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny.” The 506th Infantry was destined to write its history in places such as Normandy, Arnhem, Bastogne, the Central Highlands of Vietnam and Cambodia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Under Colonel Robert F. Sink’s command, the Regiment proved itself over the skies of France as the lead element of the massive Allied D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944. With the objective to seize the high ground immediately behind the Normandy beach in order to prevent the Germans from reinforcing their shoreline defensive positions, the Regiment distinguished itself as the Soldiers of the 506th successfully conducted a night airborne insertion into German occupied France and secured their objectives. For its exploits at Normandy, the 506th Infantry Regiment received a Presidential Unit Citation. The 506th later parachuted into combat as a part of Operation Market Garden and earned its second Presidential Unit Citation for actions while successfully resisting the vicious German assaults at Bastogne. The final significant event during World War II occurred when the 506th drove into Southeastern Germany and overran Hitler’s famed “Eagle Nest” in Berchtesgaden. On Nov. 30, 1945, the 506th Infantry was inactivated at Auxerre, France.
The Regiment was twice reactivated as a training unit at Breckenridge, Ky., July 1948 to April 1949 and August 1950 to December 1953, and later reactivated in May 1954 at Fort Jackson, S.C. On April 25, 1957, the 506th was reorganized as part of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell. In December 1967, the 506th deployed to the Central Highlands of Vietnam. While in Vietnam, the Regiment was converted from Airborne to Airmobile Infantry. They served four years in Vietnam, earned twelve battle streamers and were awarded a fourth Presidential Unit Citation for actions at Dong Ap Bia Mountain at the north of the A Shau Valley.
The 506th was deactivated in 1984. The 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry regiment was later reactivated in 1987, to serve at Camp Greaves in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. They served in Korea until August 2004 when they deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. From August 2004 to July 2005, the 506th made huge strides in reducing the insurgent menace in their battle space. They conducted numerous search, raid, and sweep missions resulting in the detention of hundreds of insurgents and the destruction of tons of weapons and ordinance caches. The 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment deactivated Sept. 15, 2005.
The 506th Infantry Regiment was re-activated on Sept. 15, 2005 at Fort Campbell as the 506th Brigade Combat Team, providing regimental designation to the newly created 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The entire Brigade, structured under the Army Modularity Concept, deployed for combat a short two months later to Iraq for a year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07. The Brigade's Soldiers added to the rich legacy of the 506th, setting the Army standard for route sanitization, conducting thousands of combat missions in Baghdad and Ar Ramadi, capturing or killing over 1,000 insurgents, and training Iraqi Army and Police forces. The Brigade's task organization included 22 battalion-sized elements. The 1-506th Infantry Battalion fought in Ar Ramadi, while 2-506th Infantry Battalion fought in South Baghdad. The remainder of the Brigade fought in East Baghdad, securing a population of over 4.9 million residents and landmass of over 1,600 square kilometers. Soon after a successful redeployment, the Brigade, in the midst of personnel and equipment reset, became the Army’s Division Ready Brigade, once again poised for short-notice worldwide operations.
As the Currahees “Stood Alone” as the Army’s Division Ready Brigade, they deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in March 2008. The 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan and transitioned to Combined Task Force Currahee, consisting of almost 6,000 service members from the United States, Poland and the Czech Republic to promote peace and prosperity to the people of Paktya, Paktika, Khost, Ghazni, Logar and Wardak, as part of Combined-Joint Task Force 101. The Currahees returned to Fort Campbell from the operation in March 2009.
In February of 2010, the Brigade received orders to deploy to Afghanistan for the second time.
As part of the final portion of the 2010 surge of Soldiers into Afghanistan as ordered by President Barak Obama, the 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in August of 2010 and transitioned into Task Force Currahee as part of Combined-Joint Task Force 101.
The Currahees were deployed to Paktika Province in Eastern Afghanistan in August 2010. Incidentally this was a familiar province to Currahees from their 2008 to 2009 deployment. However this deployment Task Force Currahee moved into only this province, quadrupling the number of Currahees in the area of operation.
Task Force Currahee, partnered with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was responsible for Paktika Province, Eastern Afghanistan in order to promote a stable and peaceful environment free from the tyrannical rule of the Taliban.
After spending nearly a year continuing to build and foster relationships in the province, Currahees completed their redeployment back to Fort Campbell in August of 2011.
The Currahees’ final Rendezvous with Destiny would take them back to Afghanistan in 2013. In May of 2013 the first elements of Task Force Currahee began to deploy to eastern Afghanistan. The Currahees would take over responsibility for the provinces of Paktiya and Khowst. Charged with closing down Forward Operating Bases and Combat Outposts, the Currahees made quick work of their task and began to redeploy back to Fort Campbell as early as November of the same year. The Currahees were the last Brigade Combat Team in the two provinces capable of taking the fight to the insurgency, all follow-on units were responsible for Assisting and Advising their Afghan counterparts.
Upon the Currahees return to Fort Campbell the unit was tasked with the unfortunate task of inactivation. Once again the Currahees were to be disbanded. 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, was realigned under the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), while 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, was realigned under the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
The Currahees officially inactivated on April, 25, 2014 at Fort Campbell, Ky.