The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) of the United States Army, nicknamed the "Screaming Eagles," was activated on August 15, 1942. On August 19, its first commander, Major General William C. Lee, promised his new recruits that the 101st had a "rendezvous with destiny."
General Order Number Five, which gave birth to the division, read
- The 101st Airborne Division, activated at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny. Like the early American pioneers whose invincible courage was the foundation stone of this nation, we have broken with the past and its traditions in order to establish our claim to the future.
- Due to the nature of our armament, and the tactics in which we shall perfect ourselves, we shall be called upon to carry out operations of far-reaching military importance and we shall habitually go into action when the need is immediate and extreme.
- Let me call your attention to the fact that our badge is the great American eagle. This is a fitting emblem for a division that will crush its enemies by falling upon them like a thunderbolt from the skies.
- The history we shall make, the record of high achievement we hope to write in the annals of the American Army and the American people, depends wholly and completely on the men of this division. Each individual, each officer and each enlisted man, must therefore regard himself as a necessary part of a complex and powerful instrument for the overcoming of the enemies of the nation. Each, in his own job, must realize that he is not only a means, but an indispensable means for obtaining the goal of victory. it is, therefore, not too much to say that the future itself, in whose molding we expect to have our share, is in the hands of the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division.
The 101st Airborne Division was reactivated as a training unit at Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, in 1948 and again in 1950. It was reactivated again in 1954 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and in March 1956, the 101st was transferred, less personnel and equipment, to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to be reorganized as a combat division.
In the mid-1960s, the 1st Brigade and support troops were deployed to the Republic of Vietnam, followed by the rest of the division in late 1967. In almost seven years of combat in Vietnam, elements of the 101st participated in 15 campaigns.
In 1968, the 101st took on the structure and equipment of an airmobile division. Today, the 101st stands as the Army's and world's only air assault division with unequaled strategic and tactical mobility.
In January 1991, the 101st once again had its "Rendezvous with Destiny" in Iraq during the deepest combat air assault into enemy territory in the history of the world. The 101st sustained no soldiers killed in action during the 100-hour war and captured thousands of enemy prisoners of war.