As if the fanfare over the hit series "Band of Brothers" wasn't enough, the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division now have something new to squawk about.
The U.S. Army's only air-assault division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky recently defeated the All Americans of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina in the final round of the Unit Madness 2020 Challenge, according to a recent news release from the 101st. The Screaming Eagles received 93 more votes than the 82nd in the sports bracket-style social media competition designed to identify the Army unit with the most unit pride.
The online competition -- which was started by the 25th Infantry Division -- generated nearly 1.5 million total votes for 16 different Army units during the 20-day event, according to the release.
"Thank you to everyone who voted the Screaming Eagles #1!," Lt. Col. Charles Barrett, spokesman for the 101st said in the release. "I want to congratulate the All-American Division on a hard-fought contest that went back and forth, ultimately coming down to the wire. This contest helped to show just how much pride we have for the Army, regardless of what unit we're in or what units we have served with."
Lt. Col. Mike Burns, spokesman for the 82nd Airborne, told Military.com that the 101st "is a great unit" and that "the real winner in this is the nation" to have such proud units serving the Army.
The comments on Facebook were a little more telling.
"Let's be real, we all knew the best would come out on top!" wrote one commenter.
Another gloated, "And 101 gets it done once again!!!! Too much history to deny its destiny!!!!"
"No Way!" wrote a suspicious user. "This is a Russian conspiracy cooked up and released from a Chinese lab!"
One posted saved his ribbing for the end of his comment.
"Alright guys!! This is everyone who voted for 101st [sic] proudest moment, let's give them their 15 seconds of glory!! Tomorrow everything will be back to normal and when the world needs saving, they'll call America's Guard of Honor!! AATW!!"
Command Sgt. Maj. Bryan Barker, 101st Airborne's command sergeant major, said in the release that he wasn't surprised that the two units went head-to-head in the final round of the competition.
"Both patches, as well as all of the others in the competition, have a rich proud legacy that we strive to build upon every day until our next rendezvous with destiny."
Both the 101st and the 82nd were activated at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana in August 1942 and they have a combined total of 44 Medal of Honor recipients, according to the release.
The popularity of the Screaming Eagles exploded in 2001 after the release of "Band of Brothers," an HBO series that chronicled the valorous deeds of the men of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment during World War II.
The Unit Madness 2020 Challenge was intended to fill the sports void during the coronavirus pandemic using unit patches, and it quickly morphed into a unit pride competition, Master Sgt. Andrew Porch, spokesman for the 25th said in the release.
Soon there was the eastern region, made up of the 82nd, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), 3rd Special Forces Group, 173rd Airborne Brigade, 75th Ranger Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, 10th Mountain Division and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment.
The western region had the 101st, 25th ID, 2nd Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 7th infantry Division, 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Armored Division.
A combination of Facebook and Twitter vote totals determined which units advanced as results of the one-on-one faceoffs in both brackets.
"With our social media being consumed by COVID-19 at the end of March, we started brain-storming ways we could get away from it but not look insensitive to the issues at hand," Porch said in the release.
"At first, we were going to do just our battalions, but we thought such a large amount of people love sports [that] maybe it would catch on."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.