A military unit that gained great fame during World War II

The screaming eagle: the history of the US 101st Airborne Division emblem

One of the most famous units of the US Army is the 101st Airborne Division, nicknamed the "Screaming Eagles."

The excellent museum that pays tribute to the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne
Thank you for our freedom: The tearful testimony of a veteran of Bastogne

Like the other major airborne division of the US Army, the 82nd "All American", which was activated as an infantry division on August 25, 1917 (after the country's entry into the World War I), the 101st Division was activated on November 2, 1918 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. In 1921 it was converted to a reserve division based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was there that he teamed up with his mascot, Old Abe, a bald eagle who had been the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment between 1861 and 1881. During the Civil War, Old Abe had the habit of opening his wings and starting to howl at the beginning of battles.

A soldier from the 101st in 1961 (Photo: U.S. Army).

On August 15, 1942, once the United States participated in World War II, the 101st Reserve Division was disbanded. The following day, the division was activated as the Airborne Division at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, incorporating the "Airborne" tab into its emblem. The division became famous on D-Day and the Siege of Bastogne, where it fought with great fierceness. A part of the unit reached the Eagle's Nest, Hitler's summer residence in the Bavarian Alps, at the end of the war, events that are reflected in the famous series "Band of Brothers", which has greatly popularized this unit.

A soldier receiving his 101st patch on his ACU uniform in 2005 (Photo: U.S. Army).

The unit continues to use its famous black patch with the bald eagle on its uniforms, applying the color variant on military parades and using camouflage versions in operational areas. The colors of this emblem have been adapted to successive campaign uniforms, with arid tones in the Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU, used at the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq), with gray tones in the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) and currently with a mix of black and green with the current Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP).

Kentucky National Guard Soldiers wearing 101st patches during an integration of their unit into that division in 2016 (Photo: U.S. Army).

A few days ago, the channel Tropa Guripa (I recommend you subscribe, it always publishes very interesting) published a complete video reviewing the history of this emblem and the different models used by the 101st in World War II, very useful information for historical re-enactors who want to equip themselves appropriately (the video is in Spanish but has English subtitles, you can activate them in the bottom bar of the player):


Main photo: U.S. Army.

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