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29th Infantry Division (Light)

29 Letís Go!

Brief History of the 29th Infantry Division

 

Comprised of National Guard units from Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Washington, DC, the 29th Infantry Division was organized at Camp McClellan, Alabama on August 25, 1917.  It was at Camp McClellan that the division adopted the nickname "Blue and Gray" in recognition of former Civil War adversaries coming together as one organization.  Soon thereafter, the division adopted as its insignia, the Korean symbol of life in a blue and gray pattern.  That patch, in 1918, became the first approved by the War Department for official use as an Army shoulder sleeve insignia.

 

During World War I, as a member of the American Expeditionary Forces, the division participated in the Alsace and Meuse-Argonne campaigns, where it engaged in heavy fighting.  By the close of the war on November 11, 1918 the 29th had suffered more than 5,500 casualties with three of its soldiers earning Medals of Honor.

 

In 1941, the 29th Infantry Division was again called to federal service, this time for World War II.  The "Blue and Gray" became the first American combat division to arrive in England to begin training for the invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe when the 29th made history as one of the five initial U.S. assault divisions to participate in the D-Day invasion.  Commanding the 29th on D-Day was Major General Charles H. Gerhardt, who during training in England added to the 29th's lexicon the rallying cry:  "29 Let's Go!"

 

On June 6, 1944, the 29th Division landed its 116th Infantry Regiment on the Dog Green Sector of Omaha Beach, where despite suffering horrific casualties they established a beachhead.  By the end of D-Day, the 29th had two infantry regiments ashore along with most of the division's other units.  As the division progressed in the Normandy campaign, fighting through the bloody hedgerows, it cemented its legend by taking towns such as Isigny (e-seen-yee), Vire and St. Lo.  After the capture of St. Lo, which was viewed by the Allied high command as critical for the breakout of Patton's Third Army, the 29th along with the 8th Infantry Division would capture the port at Brest.

 

After the campaigns in Normandy and Central France, the 29th moved to the northern shoulder of the Allied front fighting in Belgium and the industrial heartland of Germany, where it liberated a Nazi slave labor camp and captured several key German V2 rocket sites.  While some Army divisions served longer in combat, by VE day and after nearly eleven months of continuous fighting, the 29th had suffered the second highest combat casualty rate of any division in the war.  With nearly 20,000 casualties, the 29th's casualty total was eclipsed only by the total of the 1st Infantry Division.

 

The 29th Infantry Division was deactivated in 1968 and its colors cased until 1985, when it was reactivated as a light infantry division and headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.  Since that time units of the 29th have participated in numerous U.S. military operations: to include missions in the Sinai, Bosnia and Central America.

 

In 1999, the division received the notification for training message to begin preparations to deploy to Bosnia to command the SFOR-10 rotation.  In support of that objective the 29th pledges to continue the tradition of excellence established by its Multinational Division (North) predecessors.

 

The division returned in April of 2002 from Bosnia-Herzegovina after a successful tour of Peacekeeping duty in the war-torn nation. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001 units or soldiers from the division are on active duty supporting the War on Terrorism, Peacekeeping and supporting the defense of the homeland.