|In the late summer of 1945, the 101st began training for redeployment in the Pacific, but the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan and the country’s subsequent surrender ended the war before they could be sent east. The division’s WWII actions were depicted in several movies and series, the most famous being HBO’s Band of Brothers miniseries.
World War II was over, but the 101st Division continued to serve. It was deactivated and reactivated several times in the late 40s and the 50s. In 1957, it was reactivated as the first “pentomic” division of the United States Army. Pentomic divisions were a short-lived experiment to adapt to the Cold War. A pentomic division comprised of not three regiments, but five smaller battle groups. The idea was that this would allow the division to be in more places and do more things at the same time. Additionally, with the five battle groups dispersed over a larger area, it would be harder for the Soviets to destroy an entire division with nuclear weapons.
The pentomic experiment didn’t last, but the 101st achieved another milestone in 1957, though one less military in nature. A group of nine African-American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School, Arkansas, in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education, and the ensuing political crisis placed the students in danger. Soldiers of the 101st were ordered into Little Rock to protect the students of the formerly segregated school from harassment or harm.