How the 82d Airborne Division Was Created

The 82d Airborne Division was constituted in the National Army on August 5, 1917 to support the entry of the United States of America into World War I. It was organized on August 25, 1917 at Camp Gordon, near Atlanta, Georgia. During World War I, many U.S. divisions chose nick-names to help build spirit and forge bonds between the Soldiers. The 82d Division was no different.

Brigadier General W. P. Burnham of the 82d held a competition in conjunction with the Soldiers of the Division, the citizens of Atlanta, and The Atlanta Georgian newspaper, to provide a suitable nickname for his diverse unit that was made up of men from all across the country. It was determined that Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey, BG Burnham, and Major R.E. Beebe would be the judges.

Thousands of people submitted names, but eventually, Mrs. Vivienne Goodwyn’s, “The All American Division” was selected on April 6, 1918. Vivienne felt like the Soldiers of the 82d represented the best attributes and values of America. To pay tribute to their nickname, 82d Soldiers began sewing the blue circle that was in the middle of their red square shoulder patch, with the double “AA” for “All American.” Originally, some thought the “AA” on the patch stood for “All Aboard”. Additionally, when the patch was first authorized, full gold patches were used for officers. Eventually, the patch was standardized with the red, white and blue that you can see on today’s patches.

Handmade 82nd Patch

For more in-depth information regarding this topic, click here to listen to the “All American Legacy” podcast, created by the Public Affairs office of the 82d Airborne Division.

The 82d was one of the first seven U.S. divisions to arrive in England, and fight in France. The Division participated in the Battle of Lorraine 1918, and the campaigns of St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne 1918. Two 82d Soldiers, LTC Emory J. Pike and Corporal Alvin C. York received the Medal of Honor for their actions in combat.

The 82d demobilized on May 27, 1919 at Camp Mills, New York, after returning home from World War I. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Division was re-designated on February 13, 1942 as Division Headquarters, 82d Division. It was ordered into active service on March 25, 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, under the command of General Omar Bradley. Sergeant Alvin C. York addressed the men and inspired them to continue their history and service from World War I.

General Bradley began a strict and physical training regimen, which was carried on by the next commander, Major General Matthew Bunker Rigdway. On August 15, 1942, the Division was reorganized and designated the 82d Airborne Division. The U.S. Army adopted and developed the airborne concept, and the 82d was the first U.S. division to receive this designation. MG Ridgway lead the Division to North Africa in May 1943, where it intensely trained for the airborne assault onto the island of Sicily for Operation HUSKY. Following this, the division participated in major WWII battles, including Operation OVERLORD, and Operation MARKET GARDEN. For a complete list, click here.

82d in Normandy

Today, The 82d Airborne Division is an active-duty, modular airborne infantry division. 82d Soldiers train for airborne assault operations into enemy-denied areas, with a specialization in airfield seizure. Currently under the command of the XVIII Airborne Corps, the 82d is the nation’s Global Response Force. Once ordered, it can mobilize, load, and land anywhere in the world in less than 36 hours to perform combat operations, assist U.S. allies, and provide humanitarian assistance.

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