MSG Earl Louis Irelan was born on January 5, 1936, in Brooklyn, Michigan, to Raymond and Elva Johnson Irelan. He served 21 years in the United States Army, including 3 tours in Vietnam and was a 32nd degree Free Mason. Earl passed away on June 23, 2019, at the age of 83 in Paris, Tennessee.
MSG Irelan entered service on March 21, 1953 and attend basic training at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He remained at Ft. Campbell for Advanced Infantry Training and then shipped off to Bt Benning, GA, for Airborne School.
Upon completion of airborne training in August 1953, Earl was assigned to 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. The unit was being deployed to the Korean theater. Earl and his fellow recruits joined the remainder for the 187th at Camp Chickamauga near Beppu, Japan. The 187th returned the states and Ft Campbell in July 1955.
In 1956, the 187th Regimental Combat Team was absorbed into the reactivated 101st Airborne Division. Earl was assigned as a member of the 1st Battalion 502nd Infantry and served there until May 1967. It was during this era that Earl earned his Ranger Tab and Master Parachutist Badge. While still with the 1-502, Earl received orders to take part in an experimental patrol training called Recondo training.
May 1, 1967 Ranger Irelan was assigned to the 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 506th Infantry as the platoon sergeant of the developing Battalion Reconnaissance Platoon known as the “Currahee Shock Force.” On October 2, 1967 the 3-506 left for duty in Vietnam. Earl and the Currahee Shock Force experienced multiple engagements that earned Ranger Ireland a Bronze Star, Army Accommodation Medal w2 Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Combat Infantryman Badge, and multiple unit awards. The 3rd of the 506th would become the nucleus of the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols.
In March of 1968, Earl was selected to be a member of he MACV Mobile Advisory Team as these smaller elements were taking over the counterinsurgency role from the Special Forces Teams.