The 173D Airborne Brigade was activated on the island of Okinawa on March 26, 1963. From its beginning, it proved to be an aggressive and unique unit led by (then) Brigadier General Ellis W. Williamson who established realistic training throughout the Pacific Region. The "SKY SOLDIER," as the Nationalist Chinese paratroopers called the 173d, made thousands of parachute jumps in a dozen different Pacific area countries. The Brigade was the first Army Unit sent to the Republic of South Vietnam in May, 1965. The major portion of the brigade landed at Bien Hoa Airfield and found an area that had been battered frequently by enemy raids and shelling attacks. In the combat operations to follow, the paratroopers made their superb training payoff. They were the first to go into War Zone D to destroy enemy base camps. They introduced the use of small, long range patrols. They fought the battles of the Iron Triangle, conducted the only major combat parachute jump in the Tay Ninh area, and blocked NVA incursions during some of the bloodiest fighting of the war at Dak To during the summer (Hill 1338) and fall of 1967, culminating in the capture of Hill 875. Elements of the brigade conducted an amphibious assault against NVA and VC forces as part of an operation to clear the rice-growing lowlands along the Bong Song littoral. The 1st and 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment were the 1st Army Unit sent to the Republic of South Vietnam along with the 3rd Battalion of the 319th Artillery. They were well supported by their own Support Battalion and Troop E, 17th Cavalry, D Company, 16th Armour. The First Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, and the 105 Field Battery, 1 RAR AUST Group were later attached to the Brigade during the first year. In Late August, 1966, the 173d received another Infantry Battalion, the 4th, 503rd which arrived from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. A 3rd Battalion was formed in early 1967 at Fort Bragg, N.C. and was shipped to Vietnam on October 2, 1967. The troopers of the 173D Airborne Brigade (Sep) wear their combat badges and decorations with pride. During more than six years of nearly continuous combat, the brigade earned 14 campaign streamers and four unit citations. 13 Medal of Honor winners, over 6,000 Purple Hearts, the only Combat Parachute Assault of the War, and sadly, over 1700 names of Sky Soldiers on THE WALL. The Brigade was deactivated on January 14, 1972 at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. The Brigade was reactivated in 2001 and placed into duty in Vicenza, Italy. The Brigade made a combat jump into Iraq making it the second time that the 173d Airborne has jumped into combat.