On June 8th, 1917, The 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) was officially established. Since then, they have participated in most of the major wars that the United States have been involved in. The Big Red One sent the first American shell of World War I. During that war, 1st ID boasted five Medal of Honor recipients. First Division began World War II with the invasion of North Africa as part of “Operation Torch.” When the Germans surrendered in Africa, the Division moved on to take Sicily in “Operation Husky.” On D-Day, 06 Jun 1944, The Big Red One stormed the beaches of Omaha. They pushed through into Germany and held a critical shoulder of the “Bulge” during the Battle of the Bulge. The division earned 16 Medals of Honor.
The Big Red One had the first element of an Infantry Division to arrive in Vietnam in 1965. They participated in major operations such as Hump, Bushmasters I and II, Marauder, Crimp II, Rolling Stone, and Cedar Falls. They worked in joint operations with the 25th Infantry Division and 1st Cavalry Division. They left Vietnam in 1970 with 11 Medals of Honor.
More recently, 1st ID spearheaded the armored attack into Iraq during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, liberating Kuwait and taking 11,400 prisoners. The Division also participated in the Balkans at Bosnia and Kosovo. The Global War on Terrorism has brought the Big Red One into nearly continuous deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan since the war began.
I have started with this brief history in order to provide perspective of the importance, honor, and pride behind wearing the patch of the Big Red One. Heroes of the BRO have been fighting for our country since the First World War. Recently, I had the privilege of placing the 1st Infantry Division patch on the right shoulder of the great Soldiers currently serving with me Afghanistan. The patch being worn on the right shoulder signifies that the Soldier has served in this great division in the combat zone. It is officially the Shoulder Sleeve Insignia, Former Wartime Service (SSIFWS), but it is commonly known as the Combat Patch.
I where my Big Red One with pride and in honor of those that have worn it before me.