ORIGINAL AIR ASSAULT BADGE”

 

            With the activation of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) on 15 February 1963 at Fort Benning, Georgia, the division commander, then Brigadier General Harry W. O. Kinnard, began to fashion an operational reality from a vision – what later came to be called “airmobility”.

 

            Part of this mission was to create a ‘state of mind’ among the members of the division – “sky soldiers” as they were called – to instill in them belief in the new airmobile concept.  Airmobility had to do more than merely provide Infantry troops with helicopters for rides – it needed to train all ground elements in conjunction with all air elements to create a well-honed combat fighting team.

 

            To differentiate 11th Air Assault Division “sky soldiers” from other Army units, General Kinnard had designed and established a ‘special’ badge’ that his “sky soldiers” could wear as a mark of their airmobility expertise.  This became the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) “Air Assault Badge”, first issued in the spring of 1964.

 

In order to qualify for this badge, each soldier had to successfully rappel from a helicopter, thrice from 60 feet and twice from 120 feet.  Each soldier had to pass aircraft safety procedures, an aircraft orientation, arm and hand signals, combat assault operations, prepare, inspect and rig equipment for a sling load, and be able to lash down equipment carried in cargo helicopters.

 

            The original “Air Assault Badge” was awarded only to members’ assigned to the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) and then only for a short time.  In Vietnam, airmobility operations and proficiency became an accepted U S Army tactic, still taught today.

 

The original “Air Assault Badge” training criteria lead to the development of the present Sabalauski Air Assault School located at Fort Campbell, KY, which awards the current Air Assault Badge although today’s badge is substantially different in design and shape.

 

            The 11th Air Assault Division “Air Assault Badge” was, and still is, an unauthorized badge.  Regardless, many of those awarded the original “Air Assault Badge” still wear it today – knowing they were first to do so – and to most “original sky soldiers” this emblem remains a coveted badge worn with PRIDE!