NY National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division marks 100th Birthday in Garden City during August 12 ceremony

Media Advisory

Related Media

Secretary of War Newton D. Baker reviewing Soldiers of the 42nd Infantry Division-- the Rainbow Division-- at Camp Milles, Garden City, in 1917. (Library of Congress)

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (08/11/2017) (readMedia)-- Members of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division will join the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation to celebrate the division's 100th anniversary during a ceremony here at the Rainbow Division World War I Memorial on Saturday, August 12.

One hundred years ago the 27,000 men of the 42nd Infantry Division mustered at Camp Mills outside Garden City to prepare for service in France in World War I.

The division was nicknamed "The Rainbow Division" because it was created from National Guard units of many state's and reached across the country "like a rainbow" in the words of Douglas MacArthur, the division's chief of staff.

The division commander, Brig. Gen. Steven Ferrari will be promoted to Major General (two-star general) during the commemoration.

WHO: Brig. Gen. Steven Ferrari, the commander of the 42nd Infantry Division, Soldiers of the division, and Major General (retired) Joseph Taluto, President of the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation, the group which keeps the divisions history alive. Members and veterans of the division will be present and the 42nd Infantry Division Band will perform. Taluto commanded the division during its most recent combat deployment; to Tikrit, Iraq in 2005.

WHAT: Commemoration of 100 years of the 42nd "Rainbow" Division, which will include brief remarks and a wreath laying. Orders creating the division were dated 1 August 1917 and the division's Soldiers began assembly at Camp Mills on August 20, 1017. Brig. Gen. Ferrari will also be promoted during the event.

WHEN: Noon, Saturday, August 12, 2017

WHERE: Rainbow Division WWI Memorial, Rainbow Division Plaza at the intersection of Clinton Road and Commercial Avenue in Garden City

Media Opportunities:

Still and video imagery of the remarks, band performance and wreath laying. There will be opportunities to interview leaders and serving Soldiers and division veterans.


The Rainbow Division monument

The 17-ft tall monument is made of Rainbow granite from Minnesota, and was erected in 1941. It weighs more than 30 tons. Each side of the base depicts a phase of Rainbow Division history in maps and words.

The sides of the monument show a Doughboy at attention, a Doughboy blowing taps, and a list of all the units of the division and their states. A permanent red, yellow and blue rainbow is etched in the granite above the soldiers.

This monument stands at the entrance to what was known as Camp Mills, a World War 1 training camp.

The Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation has established memorials at other key sites in the division's history. In 2014 memorials were established at Fort Dix, New Jersey and Fort Drum, New York; to mark the locations where division Soldiers mobilized for service in the Iraq War.

The 42nd Infantry Division; the "Rainbow Division"

The 42nd Infantry Division was created in 1917 from National Guard units from 26 states as a way for the small United States Army to rapidly build strength. Douglas MacArthur, then a major, suggested to William A. Mann, the head of the Militia Bureau, that he form another division from the non-divisional units of several states. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker approved the proposal, and recalled Douglas MacArthur saying that such an organization would "stretch over the whole country like a rainbow." This way the first National Guard unit to deploy to France would come from many states and not just one.

The division was created using units from 26 states and the District of Columbia. The New York National Guard contributed the 69th Infantry Regiment which was renamed the 165th Infantry Regiment. The "rainbow" name stuck, and MacArthur was promoted to colonel as the division chief of staff.

In November 1917 the division deployed to France as part of the American Expeditionary Force led by General John J. Pershing. In 1918 the division took part in four major operations: the Champagne-Marne, the Aisne-Marne, the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. In total, it saw 264 days of combat.

One of the division's first major action was at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry in July 1918 when it defended a road Germans were expected to attack along.

A French major who saw the 42nd "Rainbow" Division in action wrote: "The conduct of American troops has been perfect and has been greatly admired by French officers and men. Calm and perfect bearing under artillery fire, endurance of fatigue and privations, tenacity in defense, eagerness in counterattack, willingness to engage in hand-to-hand fighting-such are the qualities reported to me by all the French officers I have seen."

2,058 division Soldiers were killed during World War I and 12,625 were wounded.

During World War II the division was reactivated in 1943 at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma. The division's Soldiers landed in southern France in December of 1944 and were instrumental in stopping the German's Operation Nordwind offensive along the Rhine near Strasbourg.

The division went onto take a number of German cities to include Wurzburg and Schweinfurt and on April 29, 1945 the division liberated 27,000 inmates at the infamous Dachau concentration camp.

When Germany surrendered, the 42nd Infantry Division occupied the Salzburg area of Austria until late in 1946.

The division was inactivated in 1947 and then assigned to the New York National Guard. The division has had its headquarters in New York since then, while troop assignments have included units in other states.

In 2004 the division headquarters and division support elements – a total of 3,500 Soldiers – were mobilized for duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. National Guard Soldiers from New York and New Jersey and other states mobilized at Fort Drum, New York and Fort Dix, New Jersey.

The National Guard Soldiers deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in late 2004 and early 2005 and on Feb. 14, 2005, the division took command of Task Force Liberty: 23,000 Army National guard, Active Army, and Army Reserve Soldiers operating in four Iraqi provinces north of Baghdad.

The division returned to the United States in November 2005.

Today the division has training responsibility over National Guard units throughout New England and New Jersey and is involved in homeland defense and domestic support operations.

The Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation

The Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation is a charitable, non-profit that preserves the legacy of 42nd Infantry Division Soldiers who have served since the division was created in 1917.

The foundation, which traces its ancestry back to the veteran's organization created following World War I, does this by:

--Sustainment of existing 42nd Division memorial sites and the establishment of new memorial sites in order to perpetuate the Deeds and Accomplishments of it Soldiers past, present and future.

--Awarding Scholarships to College age students who are the children/descendents of current RDVF Members in good standing and sponsored by an RDVF Veteran or Legacy member.

--Supporting families of RDVF members and as well as supporting family readiness groups throughout the 42nd Infantry Division.

--Keeping its membership informed through a first class website, the publication of a newsletter four times per year and an annual reunion, board meeting and awards banquet.

To find out more about the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation go here:www.rainbowvets.org