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When the Germans demanded that the division surrender after surrounding the town, Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe responded with one word: “NUTS!” The division held that town until just after Christmas when reinforcements arrived.

In the summer of 1965, 4,000 troops from the 101st traveled for weeks by boat across the Pacific Ocean. John Pagel was a private first class and among the first division soldiers who stepped off the boat in Camh Ran Bay in Vietnam.

The brigade was sent all over South Vietnam to clear out Viet Cong fighters, said Mr. Pagel, who is now 68. It was during this war that the division’s troops began shifting from jumping out of a plane to jumping out of helicopters. He had no experience in one before his first chopper assault, he said.

Later in 1967, the rest of the division would deploy to Vietnam, where they would remain until 1972. Capt. Page said records captured during the war showed the North Vietnamese Army warned troops to be cautious when encountering the “chicken men,” referring to the division’s bald eagle patch.