The 503rd Infantry Regiment was first constituted on 24 February 1942 as the 503rd Parachute Infantry, with its two Battalions being formed by consolidation with the 503rd and 504th Parachute Battalions, both constituted 14 March 1941 and later activated at Fort Benning in Georgia. A third Battalion was activated on 8 June 1942, and on 2 November 1942 the original 2nd Battalion was redesignated the 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry (thus beginning its own lineage); a new 2nd Battalion was simultaneously activated in Australia. (The Regiment was redesignated as the 503rd Infantry under the Combat Arms Regimental System, and was given its current designation of 503rd Infantry Regiment in December 1986.)

During World War II, the Regiment earned credit for participation in four named campaigns, one with the Arrowhead device indicating an assault landing. Arguably its most famous action took place at the Battle of Corregidor, when the Regiment (along with elements from other units) parachuted onto the tiny island-fortress as the lead invasion forces to expel the Japanese defenders holed up there. The 503rd was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for its achievements on Corregidor, and also acquired its nickname of “the Rock” or “the Rock regiment” (this had been Corregidor’s nickname).

Although the entire Regiment did not deploy to Vietnam at one time, many of its subordinate units saw action there and earned campaign credits for taking part in 14 of the 17 named campaigns in the Vietnam War. Its outstanding service is evident from the four Presidential Unit Citations and the Valorous Unit Award it received for service in Vietnam.

In the War on Terrorism, 1st and 2nd Battalions (or element of them) have been awarded five Meritorious Unit Commendations, two Valorous Unit Awards, a Presidential Unit Citation, and an Arrowhead for participation in one airborne assault in the Bashur Drop Zone on 26 March 2003.

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