The 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team, or Sky Soldiers, is the United States European Command’s conventional airborne strategic response force for Europe. A brigade just slightly over 100 years old, with an extensive and storied service, it’s best known for its actions during the Vietnam War. The brigade was the first major U.S. Army ground formation deployed in Vietnam, serving there from 1965 to 1971 and losing almost 1,800 soldiers. It also collected over 7,700 decorations including more than 6,000 Purple Hearts.
Already on their second stint, from November 2009 until November 2010, the 173rd Airborne Brigade once again returned to Afghanistan, this time to the provinces of Logar and Wardak. With combat experience already earned in other similar mountain regions in 2007 and 2008, the Brigade distinguished itself in combat regularly against the Taliban, fighting tenaciously against them while still promoting and attempting to legitimize the Afghan government. On this footage, the Sky Soldiers can be seen returning fire while taking cover behind a wall during their participation in Operation Pakawul in the Chak District in Wardak, Afghanistan. The Sky Soldiers Combat Team lost seven members from the brigade before returning to their home station in Europe in November 2010. A brave bunch of hard chargers.