Welcome Back, 11th Abn Div

Early last month, U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth announced that U.S. Army Alaska– generally consisting of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) “Spartan” and 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Arctic Wolves” of the 25th Infantry “Tropic Lightning” Division– will be redesignated as the 11th Airborne Division (“Arctic Angels”), constituting the nation’s third airborne division and second paratrooper (not “airmobile”) division.

Of course, it will still just be two brigade-sized, with the 4/25 IBCT(A) reflagging to 2nd Brigade, 11th Airborne Division, and 1/25 SBCT becoming 1st Brigade, 11th Airborne. The latter is expected to lose its Strykers and become light infantry, if not airmobile at some point. It should be noted that the only current “airborne” capable units of U.S. Army Alaska are two battalions of the 4th IBCT (A): 1/501st and 1/509th Airborne Infantry.

The 11th Airborne Division originally operated between 25 February 1943 and 20 June 1958 (then again briefly in the 1960s as an airmobile experiment that became the 1st Air Cav), first activated during World War II in the Pacific Theater for the liberation of the Philippines and the occupation of Japan.

General Kruger Discussing Plans For A Paratroop Drop With Officers Of The 11Th Airborne Division, 511Th Parachute Infantry Regiment. 4:30Am, 23 June 1945 At Lipa Airstrip, Luzon, In The Philippine Islands. (U.S. Air Force Number A60741AC)

They earned two MoHs, 13 Distinguished Unit Citations, 9 DSCs, 432 Silver Stars, and 1,515 Bronze Stars in combat through New Guinea, and Luzon, distinguishing themselves in the Raid at Los Baños. In all, the “Angels” of the 11th suffered 2,431 battle casualties between Nov 1944 and Aug. 1945.

One of its members was a young Rod Serling.

During the Cold War, the 11th Airborne visited Alaska several times in semi-annual Snowbird exercises, solidifying the relationship and lineage.

11th Airborne Paratrooper preparing to board an L4 Piper Cub for snow jump 1950s, via the 11th ABN Assoc

The activation ceremony for the 11th Airborne Division will be live on Facebook on USARAK’s page, at 0955 AKDT,  Monday, June 6th. 

11th Airborne Division “Arctic Angels” Activation & 1/25 Reflagging:

https://fb.me/e/3oCovmk9T

4/25 Reflagging to 2/11;

https://fb.me/e/1xTh5r7Zc

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