The 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade has a rich historical lineage, and today supports the United States Armyís famed 82nd Airborne Division.† The 82nd CAB provides the division with many of its surveillance and mobility capabilities, as well as a great measure of its firepower.
The 82nd CABís tactical symbol, Pegasus, comes not solely from the winged horse of Greek mythology, but from the glider-borne assault on Pegasus Bridge.† This was arguably the most critical objective seized in preparation of the D-Day invasion of mainland Europe by Allied Forces during World War II.
Shortly after midnight, six gliders carrying British paratroopers landed near Pegasus Bridge, representing the first, company-sized Allied unit to land in German-occupied France.† The seizure of Pegasus Bridge prevented opposing forces from flanking British and Canadian troops conducting amphibious assaults on Sword and Juno beaches in Normandy in support Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944.
Today, the 82nd CAB (typically known as Task Force Pegasus when deployed) is composed of about 2,800 troopers and 122 aircraft.† Airframes include the AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed reconnaissance helicopter, CH-47F Chinook heavy lift cargo helicopter, and variant models of the UH-60 Blackhawk general-purpose utility helicopter.
The highly flexible 82nd CAB conducts full-spectrum aviation operations, to include combat resupply, battlefield circulation, air assaults, close combat support, and medical evacuation.† All these capabilities are critical assets ensuring tactical success on the modern battlefield in any environment worldwide.
The 82nd Aviation Brigade, officially activated on Jan. 15, 1987, preceded the organizational structure of the 82nd CAB.
The 82nd Aviation Bde. was primarily a conglomeration of three preexisting units: the 82nd Combat Aviation Battalion; 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, and the 269th Aviation Battalion.† The colors of the 82nd Combat Aviation Battalion are still used to represent most of the modern 82nd CAB, and 1st Sqdn., 17th Cavalry Regiment still proudly displays its traditional colors.
The 17th Cav. traces it lineage back to July 1, 1916, and is by far the oldest unit within the 82nd CAB today.† The 82nd Combat Aviation Battalionís origins are rooted in the establishment of the 82nd Aviation Company, which was activated in 1957.
The 82nd Aviation Company gradually expanded into a battalion-sized organization over the next decade and elements served in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic.
In July 1979, the 82nd CAB received two additional assault companies.† The 82nd Combat Aviation Battalion soon became the largest aviation battalion in the United States Army, as it incorporated a general support company and an attack company prior to deployment to Grenada in support of Operation Urgent Fury in October 1983.
Operation Urgent Fury marked the first time the UH-60 Blackhawk was used in combat operations.
Soon after, efforts to consolidate the 82nd Abn. Div.ís aviation assets resulted in the activation of the 82nd Aviation Bde., internal realignment continued.† This resulted in the establishment of the brigade headquarters and headquarters company, as well as an aviation intermediate maintenance company.† Also, a provisional second battalion was established in May 1987.† The second battalion was formally activated in September 1989, just two months before the brigade deployed to Panama in support of Operation Just Cause.
In August 1990, the 82nd Aviation Bde. deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of the build-up of American forces in the Persian Gulf region to support Operation Desert Shield, and later, Operation Desert Storm.† In February and March 1991, the brigade launched deep attacks into Iraq and supported friendly forces liberating Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.† Just a few years later, the 82nd Aviation Bde. deployed to Haiti in November 1994 in support of Operation Uphold Democracy.
(Editorís note: This is part one of a two-part story about the 82nd CAB. For part two, see next weekís Paraglide).