The Leaf-Chronicle / Philip Grey
FORT CAMPBELL, KY. — When the 4th Brigade Combat Team “Currahees” inactivated last month at Fort Campbell, after the colors were furled there was still a big matter of unfinished business.
With the 2nd Brigade Combat Team taking over the 4th BCT “footprint,” there was a need to find a new home for the many monuments to the Currahee fallen that formerly occupied the square behind 4th BCT headquarters.
Together with the former 4th BCT commander, Col. Val. C. Keaveny Jr., and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) command group headed by Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, the relocation of an integral part of the Screaming Eagle legacy was made a priority.
The move was accomplished and a beautiful new memorial square was erected, planting the Currahee “flag” permanently in the center of Fort Campbell.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 21, in the midst of the ‘Week of the Eagles’ celebration and just days before the start of the Memorial Day weekend, the relocated monuments were rededicated in their new home.
Said Keaveny in his remarks at the ceremony, “I can think of no better spot than right between the division museum and the division headquarters ....”
The Currahees, as Keaveny noted, have been a nomadic regiment, activating and inactivating, and moving from one post to another in the ebb and flow of Army requirements.
But amazingly, through all of that, whenever it came time to fight, it was always with the 101st Airborne, starting with the regiment’s inception in 1942 and continuing the pattern through every war involving the Screaming Eagles, with the lone exception of Desert Storm in 1991.
“That’s nine and one-half years in combat with our great division,” said Keaveny, “earning four Presidential Unit Citations, two Valorous Unit Awards, five Meritorious Unit Citations, and six Medals of Honor. The Currahees earned 25 Distinguished Service Crosses on D-Day alone.”
In amassing one of the most impressive combat records in U.S. Army history, the Currahees also endured more than 1,400 soldiers killed in action – equivalent to two battalions – whose names are engraved on the relocated monuments.
'Nomads' home at last
Witnessing the rededication were members of two battalions of the 506th Infantry Regiment, the core of the Currahee name and legacy, who are now split between two of the remaining three brigade combat teams of the 101st Airborne.
Also witnessing the ceremony were Currahee veterans who had come to take part in the historic moment.
Donald Thies of Slinger, Wisconsin, who fought with Bravo Company 2-506 in Vietnam in 1970-1971, is one of the unit veterans who always makes the drive down to Fort Campbell for moments like these.
As president of the 506th Infantry Regiment Association for four years, he had a big part in erecting the monuments at their former location.
While he was unhappy to see the brigade inactivated and the monuments moved, in the end, he said, “It’s about the more than 1,400 names on those monuments and about the young soldiers here carrying on that legacy in their memory.”
That legacy is now permanently affixed to the division, and at least the memory of the Currahees has found a home, whatever happens down the road.Read More: http://www.theleafchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014305210039