The regiment was activated at Fort Benning, Georgia on July 6, 1942, as part of the US Airborne Command based at Ft. Bragg. In 1943, the 505th was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. Of note, the first colonel of the regiment was James Gavin, later commander of the 82nd Airborne division for much of World War II.
World War II
Colonel Gavin who lead the Regiment in Operation HuskyIn preparation for the invasion of Sicily, the regiment was moved to Tunisia, in North Africa, where they completed six weeks of training. The regiment made a combat jump into Sicily, which was the first regimental sized combat jump in history. The unit then returned to North Africa for refit before participating in the assault on Salerno, where they made their second combat jump.
In the American airborne landings in Normandy, the 505th actually jumped before its scheduled "h-hour", thus earning their motto "H-minus". Upon completing operations in the Ste. Mere-Eglise area, the unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. In September 1944, the unit then participated in Operation Market Garden, in which the regiment received a second Presidential Unit Citation. the war. By the end of the war, the 505th was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the French fourragère, the Netherlands Military Order of William, and the Belgium fourragère. Following the German surrender, the regiment served as part of the Allied occupation force in Berlin.