The 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team (517th PRCT) began its existence in March 1943, training at Camp Toccoa in the backwoods of Georgia. Although it began as the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment (517th PIR), an element of the 17th Airborne Division, the 517th PRCT was formed when the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment was combined with the 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (460th PFAB) and the 596th Parachute Combat Engineer Company. The 517th saw most of its combat (in Italy, Southern France, and the Battle of the Bulge) as an independent unit. At the end of World War II, the unit was eventually incorporated into the 13th Airborne Division.
Before its dissolution after only thirty-three months, the outfit of 2,500 men endured some of the heaviest fighting of the European campaigns—from Italy through the invasion of Southern France (Operation Dragoon), then the bitter winter in the Ardennes (in the Battle of the Bulge) and the final thrust into Germany.
During its relatively brief lifetime, the 517th Regimental Parachute Combat Team collected one Medal of Honor, six Distinguished Service Crosses, five Legions of Merit, 131 Silver Stars, 631 Bronze Stars, two Air Medals, four Soldiers Medals, 17 French Croix De Guerre, and 1,576 Purple Hearts—at the cost of 252 killed.
The 517th was formally deactivated in 1946. Eight members of he 517th went on to attain the rank of General in the U.S. Army.
Read more about 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team: Activation and Training, Italy, Operation Dragoon, The Campaign in Southern France, Ardennes-Alsace (Battle of The Bulge), Battle of Hurtgen Forest, Last Days of WWII, Statistics, Helmets, Today
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