Three Facts About the 101st Airborne Division

The 101st Airborne Division was activated on August 16, 1942, at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. In his first address to 101st soldiers, commander Major General William Lee said that though the division had no history, it had “a rendezvous with destiny,” and the division was to be called on when the need was “immediate and extreme.”

Here are some more interesting facts about the 101st Airborne Division:

1. How the 101st Got Its Nickname

The 101st Airborne Division’s “Screaming Eagles” nickname originates from their insignia – a bald eagle on a black shield. The eagle on the patch is named “Old Abe” in honor of President Abraham Lincoln and was originally the mascot of a Wisconsin regiment during the Civil War.

Old Abe and the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment Color Guard in 1863.

2. The 101st During D-Day

On June 6, 1944, the Screaming Eagles became some of the first Allied soldiers to set foot into occupied France.

During D-Day, The 101st Airborne Division was given the task of clearing the way for the seaborne assault by seizing the western exits of four causeways that crossed marshy areas just inland from Utah Beach, and then organizing the southern flank of the beachhead. It would also establish bridgeheads across the Dove River for a later drive to the city of Carentan.  

Pictured below, a 101st Airborne Division trooper prepares to jump on D-Day. 

3. Celebrity Alum

Perhaps the most famous 101st Airborne Division alum is also one of the greatest guitarists ever. Jimi Hendrix served with the 101st for about a year before he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1962. The rest is history.

Jimi Hendrix, left in 1962

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