The 502nd Infantry Regiment originated in July 1941, as the 502nd Parachute Battalion, an experimental unit formed to test the doctrine and tactics of parachute assault. The 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment was activated on 1 July 1941, at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) or “Five-Oh-Deuce,” as they became known, was activated as a regiment on 2 March 1942 under the command of Lt. Col. George P. Howell. Unlike other early Parachute Battalions, the 502nd retained the same unit designation and personnel when increased in size from a battalion to a regiment.

PIR Training

Shortly after the formation of the 502nd, the recently promoted Col. Howell relinquished command of the 502nd to assume command of the Parachute school at Fort Bragg. Lt. Col. George Van Horn Moseley, 502nd Executive Officer (EXO), assumed command of the regiment.

Intense training began as soon as the 502nd was activated as a battalion. By the time the 502nd joined the 101st Airborne Division on 15 August 1942, the troopers had undergone extensive training. The 502nd was the original TO&E Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 101st Airborne Division. The 377th Parachute Field Artillery (PFA) Battalion, the only PFA battalion in the 101st, provided artillery support to the 502nd.

After joining the 101st, the 502nd moved from Fort Benning, Georgia to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to join the rest of the division. While at Fort Bragg the 502nd conducted numerous practice jumps from Maxton & Pope Airfields and participated in war games near Evansville, Indiana.