The 173rd Airborne Brigade was the first Army unit sent to the Republic of South Vietnam and the first airborne brigade not assigned to a division or task force. During seven years of nearly continuous combat in Vietnam, the brigade earned 14 campaign streamers and four unit citations, 13 Medal of Honor recipients, 137 Distinguished Service Crosses, more than 6,000 Purple Hearts (8,435 treated for wounds) and the only Combat Parachute Assault of the war. Sadly, more than 1,604 names of 173d soldiers are inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall [including four from the 404th Radio Research Detachment (Airborne)]. Upon their arrival in the summer 1965, the First Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment and the 161 Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery, were attached to the Brigade making the 173d Airborne Brigade the first multi-national combat unit in the war.
The 173rd was comprised of between 5,000 and 6,000 mostly assigned and attached paratroopers. The number varied based on attached units. Because Vietnam was America’s longest war, the 10,036 casualties incurred by the Brigade were five times greater than those suffered by the 187th Airborne Regiment in Korea, four times greater than those suffered by the 11th Airborne Division in the Pacific during World War II, more than twice those suffered by the 101st Airborne Division in Europe in World War II, and two-thirds of those suffered by the entire 82nd Airborne Division in WW II.