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Swiss teen becomes an Honorary Member of 101st Airborne Division Currahee

 

Written by Spc. Patrick Kirby
40th Public Affairs Detachment

Fort Campbell KY - 101st Airborne Division4th Brigade Combat Team - Currahee

Fort Campbell, KY – Members of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment “Currahee”, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division spent the day with a young patriot, Richard M. McErlean III and his father, Richard M. McErlean Jr. on August 2nd, 2017 here.

Lt. Col. Kurt Smith, commander, 2nd Bat., 506th Inf. Regt., invited the McErleans to come and visit the Currahees and Fort Campbell.

Richard M. McErlean III rucks with leaders of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment ‘Currahee’ on Fort Campbell, Ky, Aug 2. McErlean III was made an Honorary Member of the Currahee Regiment after his service to the regiment. (Spc. Patrick Kirby. 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

Richard M. McErlean III rucks with leaders of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment ‘Currahee’ on Fort Campbell, Ky, Aug 2. McErlean III was made an Honorary Member of the Currahee Regiment after his service to the regiment. (Spc. Patrick Kirby. 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

“This kid is going way out of his way to honor veterans,” said Smith. “He basically adopted three paratroopers from “Blue Currahee” that were killed during WWII. He did the research and found out everything there is to know about them. Every year he makes a pilgrimage to Normandy, France, wearing his WWII uniform to the cemetery and educating tourists about these three 506 vets.”

McErlean III thought he was going to be teaching the Currahee Soldiers some history about WWII Soldiers and their battle in Normandy. He didn’t know the commander had a surprise and he would be made an Honorary Member of the Regiment later that day.

Only 70 people have been made Honorary Members of the Regiment. McErlean III is the youngest at 14 years old.

Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment ‘Currahee’ pose for a group photo following a five-mile ruck around Ft. Campbell, Aug 2. The Battalion honored Richard M. McErlean III for his service to the Currahee Regiment. (Spc. Patrick Kirby, 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment ‘Currahee’ pose for a group photo following a five-mile ruck around Ft. Campbell, Aug 2. The Battalion honored Richard M. McErlean III for his service to the Currahee Regiment. (Spc. Patrick Kirby, 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

Smith first saw McErlean III via his father’s youtube video ‘The saluting boy on Omaha beach’ showing McErlean III, in uniform of the 3rd Bn., 506th Parachute Inf. Regt., 101st Abn. Div., standing on Omaha beach with his WWII era, 48 star flag, holding a salute for an hour and a half, 3 years ago.

“It was so windy that day,” said Richard M. McErlean Jr.. “He struggled to hold the flag up.”

Smith recognized the patch on the boys helmet and knew it was a Currahee spade. He also knew he was about to assume command of 2nd Bn. 506th Inf. Regt.

He sent the father a Facebook message saying that whenever he had the chance he would invite them both out to Fort Campbell for a visit.

After a bit of planning, the McErleans made it out to Fort Campbell.

“I left a comment saying if I ever find out who this kid is I am going to invite him to one of our events,” said Smith. “We established a Facebook friendship and finally the times lined up to get him out here.”

Lt. Col. Kurt Smith, commander 2nd Bn. 506th Inf. Regt., and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Conn, senior enlisted advisor, 2nd Bn. 506th Inf. Regt. pin Richard M. McErlean III, 14 with his Commander’s Award for Public Service, and make him an Honorary Member of the Regiment. McErlean III was made an Honorary Member of the Regiment after his service to the regiment. (Spc. Patrick Kirby. 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

Lt. Col. Kurt Smith, commander 2nd Bn. 506th Inf. Regt., and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Conn, senior enlisted advisor, 2nd Bn. 506th Inf. Regt. pin Richard M. McErlean III, 14 with his Commander’s Award for Public Service, and make him an Honorary Member of the Regiment. McErlean III was made an Honorary Member of the Regiment after his service to the regiment. (Spc. Patrick Kirby. 40th Public Affairs Detachment)

To start the day off, McErlean III was given a uniform and was taken on a brief five mile ruck march around post.

They stopped along the way for knowledge tests covering; Currahee history, air assault operations and Army tactics concluding at the paintball range.

“The ruck was hard, but fun,” said McErlean III. “It’s truly an honor to be invited out to Fort Campbell. I am thankful for the opportunity to be here.”

After paintball and laser tag the group was bussed over to Joe Swing Recreation Center for a dining in.

McErlean III was able to hear the history of the Currahee and was made a part of the family. He was presented his awards and was made an Honorary Member of the Regiment.

The guest speaker at the dinning in was Lt. Col. (retired) Dar Place, the president of the regimental association, and former Currahee executive officer.

“These are the events that create teams, and family mentalities,” said Place. “Inviting Currahee vets to these events really makes everything tie back to its history.”


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