The 509th Infantry Regiment is an airborne infantry regiment of the United States Army.  Nicknamed "Geronimo", the 509th conducted the U.S. Army's first combat jump during World War II on 8 November 1942, flying 1,500 miles from England to seize Tafarquay airport in Oran, Algeria. The 1st Battalion remains active and serves as the Opposing Force (OPFOR) at the JRTC.

1-509th soldiers acting as the OPFOR in an exercise



LTC ThornalLieutenant Colonel Mason W. Thornal

LTC Mason Thornal was born at Fort Rucker, AL and was commissioned as an Infantry Officer in 2006.

His initial assignments included service in 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, NC and 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, GA. He then served as aide-de-camp to the Deputy Commander for Operations, Regional Command-South, Kandahar, Afghanistan. He completed battalion staff and company command assignments in 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), Caserma Ederle, Italy and the Regimental Special Troops Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, GA. His field grade assignments were in 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, GA and the 75th Ranger Regimental Headquarters at Fort Benning, GA.

His awards include the Combat Infantryman’s and Expert Infantryman’s Badges, and he is a graduate of the Ranger, Airborne and Jumpmaster Courses. He has deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Freedom’s Sentinel.


CSM BrooksCommand Sergeant Major William “Jake” Brooks III

CSM William “Jake” Brooks III entered the U.S. Army in January of 2001 from his hometown of Dahlonega, GA, he conducted Infantry One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia.

CSM Brooks served in 1st Ranger Battalion in both Bravo Company and Headquarters Company from 2001 thru 2006, serving as a Rifleman, Grenadier, Assistant Gunner, SAW Gunner, Recce Radio Telephone Operator, and Recce Assistant Team Sergeant; He then served in 2nd Ranger Battalion in Charlie, Delta and Headquarters Company from 2006-2012 serving as a Squad Leader, Weapons Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant, and Recce Platoon Sergeant. He completed 14 Combat Deployments (8 to Afghanistan and 6 to Iraq) with the 75th Ranger Regiment. CSM Brooks was assigned from 2012-2014 to the United States Military Academy- West Point, where he served as a Military Science Instructor, Powerlifting Team NCOIC, and Parachute Team Public Outreach Coordinator. Following that assignment, he served from 2014-2016 as the Apache Company and HHC 2-35 Infantry Company First Sergeant in the 25th Infantry Division. His next assignment was as the Senior Enlisted Advisor for the European Mediterranean directorate under the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, finding our missing Service members from past conflicts. While assigned to DPAA, he served on the U.S.–Russia Joint Commission on POWs/MIAs (USRJC), a Presidential Commission. His next assignment was to USASMA, Class 69. The following assignment was to the Asymmetric Warfare Group as a Troop SGM; he earned the U9 ASI during this assignment. His last assignment was as the OPS SGM for 1-27 INF, 25th Infantry Division. He is currently serving as the CSM for 1-509th.

CSM Brooks' military and civilian education include the Warrior Leaders Course(Commandants List); Advanced Leaders Course, Senior Leaders Course (Distinguished Honor Graduate); Sergeants Majors Course; Airborne School; Ranger Indoctrination Program; Combat Lifesaver Course; Pre-Ranger Course; Jumpmaster Course; Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediate; Master Driver Course; Ranger Basic and Advanced Breacher Course; GSS Surveillance Course; Basic Mountaineering Course; Ranger Course, Anti-terrorism Staff Driver course, SERE 215 Course, Red Team Course, Master Resilience Course, Combatives Level I & II, and the SHARP Course. In addition, he holds a certification from North Metro Technical College in Diesel Technology, Bachelor’s Degree from Excelsior College, and a Class B skydiving license.

His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart; Bronze Star (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster); Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster) ; Joint Service Commendation Medal with 'V' device ; Joint Service Commendation Medal ; Army Commendation Medal (4th Oak Leaf Cluster); Army Achievement Medal (Silver Oak Leaf Cluster); Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Valorous Unit Award (1st Oak Leaf Cluster); Army Superior Unit Award ; Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal (6th Award); National Defense Service Medal ; Afghanistan Campaign Medal (4 Campaign Stars); Iraq Campaign Medal (5 Campaign Stars); Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 4); Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon( Numeral 5); NATO Medal; Combat Infantryman's Badge; Expert Infantryman's Badge; Master Parachutist Badge; Ranger Tab; Order of Saint Maurice-Legionnaire.


The 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) was the first U.S. Airborne unit deployed overseas, arriving at Land’s End, England on 10 June 1942.

In 1942, the unit executed the lowest altitude mass parachute jump in history, exiting the aircraft at 143 feet in England. They later performed America’s first combat parachute insertion on 8 November 1942, following the longest combat invasion in history, of 1600 miles from England to North Africa.

The unit conducted five combat jumps during World War II:  three into North Africa, one into Italy, and one into France.

1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) led an amphibious invasion with Darby’s Rangers at Anzio, Italy, on 22 January 1944, and subsequently participated in a successful allied campaign that lasted 70 days.

Paul B. Huff, a member of the 509th, was the first American paratrooper to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor on 29 February 1944 at Anzio, Italy.

The unit participated in the Battle of the Bulge and earned a Presidential Unit Citation for actions during the battle.

Five members on the 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne) were selected to serve as Pathfinders for the 101st Airborne Division during the Gulf War.  Their helicopter was shot down during the search and rescue mission.  Two were KIA and one became a POW.

Fifteen members of the unit were selected in March 2003 and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as members of various units. Companies A and B deployed to Iraq from June 2004 until March 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and performed various combat operations while attached to the 10th Mountain Division. Two of our Soldiers were killed in action.

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