Created in 1974, The US Army Air Assault Badge is awarded to any Member of The US Army who undergoes and passes The Air Assault Training Course given at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The School is part of The 101st Airborne Division (of World War II fame). The Course is designed to train Soldiers in the use and deployment of Air Mobile and Air Assault (Helicopter) Operations. This is accomplished by use of rappelling (with rope) from an airborne Rotary Wing Aircraft to the ground (often during Combat scenarios). In addition, Candidates learn to properly load cargo and Personnel for Combat Operations. Great emphasis is placed in Military Rappelling Operations.
The original Device was pioneered by Members of The 1st Cavalry Squadron (7th US Cavalry) in 1965. These where the first Combat Soldiers deployed to The Vietnam War and it was the first time Combat Helicopters were used as such. The 1965 device was very much different was only awarded to “Air Cav” Soldiers. After The War, such expertise was determined to be of use to other Infantrymen and Combat Arms Soldiers. A formal School was created (which would eventually be open to all US Army Personnel).
Taking 2-weeks, The Course is physically demanding and training has a high attrition rate. Candidates are instructed by Air Assault Instructors known as “Black Hats” (for their Black distinctive Baseball-Type Hats worn). Upon Graduation, The Candidate is award The Air Assault Badge. This Device is made of silver metal and is 3-inches in width. It features the front image of a UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” Helicopter. Flanking either side is a pair of stylized Wings. The Device is very similar to The US Army Parachutist Badge.