I was cruising around the ‘net yesterday and found an interesting story on Forbes about the First Infantry Division. It seems the Army has licensed the use of the insignia and related items for a clothing line to appear at Sears. Not without controversy, some veteran’s organizations and others are shocked at the deal. Right or wrong, this decision brings to the forefront the interesting history and lineage of this great army division stretching from World War One through today.
Deployed in World War One to places such as Cantigny and the Picardy area and working with the French army, the “Fighting First” First Infantry Division established a strong record of service and honor to the battlefield.
World War II saw the division deployed once again to Europe and it fought in major actions from Operation Torch and Operation Husky to Operation Overlord, the D-Day invasion. While many contemporary sources emphasize the airborne operations, it was the plain Joe who took the brunt of the attack. Landing on Omaha beach and slogging inward, here’s a first hand account from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from June 12, 1944 (courtesy Google Newspaper Archive):
“The troops dived for cover…and pressed their bodies into the stone for protection….Those four hours were a nightmare of bursting shells, of wounded and the pleading look in the eyes of men dying….There was no panic….None could compare with what the First Division did on the beaches of Normandy….”
Post-War, the divsion saw continued deployments in Europe before being sent stateside and its home post of Ft. Riley Kansas. They were also deployed in Vietnam, most noticeably in actions such as Bushmaster I and Bushmaster II as well as the battle at Ong Thanh.
Since Vietnam, the division has continually seen action from Kosovo and Desert Storm (capturing over 10,000 POW’s) to the current action, Operation Iraqi Freedom.
While unknown numbers of soldiers have served this great division, one of the more noticeable leaders included Theodore Roosevelt Jr. In fact, he was the ONLY US general to actually land with the troops on D-Day.
I’ve assembled some great links below that will give you some more background, first-hand stories and pictures of the division. Included you will find a more comprehensive history of the division as well as related information.
Have a great day!