Before they were Airborne…The 82nd Division in World War I
With the exception of the Korean Conflict, the 82nd Airborne Division has fought in every major U.S. military campaign since World War I. It was during World War II, on the battlefields of Europe, that the Division secured its place in American military history. More recently, the 82nd has deployed multiple times to Afghanistan and Iraq in the fight against Islamic extremism in the Global War on Terror.
Today’s 82nd paratroopers’ lineage dates back a century to 1917. During World War I, the 82nd was an infantry division. Organized at Camp Gordon, Georgia, outside of Atlanta on 25 August 1917. In April 1918, the Division was sent to France to fight alongside the Allied Powers on the Western Front. The 82nd took part in some of the fiercest fighting of the war. The 82nd Division fought in the Battle of Lorraine, in the Saint Mihiel Offensive and Meuse-Argonne Campaign. Two 82nd soldiers, Lieutenant Colonel Emory J. Pike and Corporal Alvin C. York, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their valor.
Just over a year after the 82nd Division arrived in France, on 11 November 1918, the Armistice was signed ending hostilities. During nineteen months of war, 323,018 of America’s best and brightest had been killed, wounded, or were missing. The 82nd suffered 7,555 casualties, with 6,488 occurring during the brutal Meuse-Argonne offensive.
Burton, G. Edward. Official History of the 82nd Division American Expediationary Forces “All American” Division. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1919.