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.
Lieutenant Colonel Brendan Fitzgerald
LTC Brendan Fitzgerald graduated from the United States Military Academy in May 2003 and commissioned as a 2LT in the Infantry. His first assignment was in 2rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he served as a rifle platoon leader, ant-tank platoon leader in Afghanistan, and Battalion S3 Air officer. Following his time in 2-504th PIR, LTC Fitzgerald was assigned as the Operations Officer for the 82nd Long Range Surveillance Detachment during a second tour in Afghanistan. After attending the Maneuver Captain's Career Course, LTC Fitzgerald returned to Ft. Bragg and served as the assistant Operations Officer for 3-73 CAV. He assumed command of C TRP, 3-73 CAV in Iraq. Upon return from Iraq, he assumed command for HHC BDE, for 1st BCT 82nd ABN DIV. Upon completion of Company command, LTC Fitzgerald moved to Ft. Irwin CA, and was assigned as a Company Primary OCT in the NTC’s Tarantula Team. After 18 months in the desert, LTC Fitzgerald completed ILE at the US Army Command and General Staff College. Following ILE he was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Stewart GA, where he served as the S3 and XO for 1st Battalion 30th Infantry Regiment. After completing his S3/XO time, LTC Fitzgerald was assigned to OPM-SANG as an advisor to the Saudi National Guard’s Military School, the SANG equivalent to TRADOC. After a year in the Kingdom, LTC Fitzgerald was assigned to US Army Pacific, serving as a Battle Major in the USARPAC Current Operations section. LTC Fitzgerald was then assigned to the Joint Readiness Training Center’s OPSGRP, serving as the Operations Officer / OCT for Live Fire Division, prior to serving as the Chief of Plans / Exercise Maneuver Control for OPSGRP for the last year.
LTC Fitzgerald’s awards and decorations include three Bronze Star Medals, five Meritorious Service Medals, and two Army Commendation Medals. He is authorized to wear the Senior Parachutist Badge, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Expert Infantryman's Badge and the Ranger tab.
LTC Fitzgerald holds a Bachelor’s in History from the USMA, and a Master’s of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University.
Command 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.