That’s today! The US 1st Infantry Division, ‘The Big Red One’, which is currently based at Ft. Riley, was organized on June 8th, 1917 at Ft. Jay, Governor’s Island, NY. The infantry components, all regulars, were the 16th, 18th, 26th and 28th Regiments. The 16th and the 28th were pulled from Mexican border service and the 26th came from the Philippines.

The division has also been called the ‘Fighting First’ or sarcastically the ‘Big Dead One’ and the ‘Bloody First’.

The Big Red One fired the first American shot in WW1 on October 23rd, 1917 and launched the first American offensive at Cantigny on May 20th, 1918. They also fought at Soissons in the Second Battle of the Marne, led the St. Mihiel Offensive and in the Meuse Argonne Offensive.

The division saw extensive service in WW2, in North Africa, Sicily, they hit Omaha beach on D-Day and fought all the way to Czechoslovakia. They didn’t serve in Korea, but were in Vietnam from 1965 until 1970, principally based at Lai Khe in The Iron Triangle.  They have been deployed many times in recent mid-eastern conflicts.

Here’s the whole story from Kansas Public Radio

James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official living in Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including "Roads to the Great War," "St. Mihiel Tripwire," "Over the Top" and "Medicine in the First World War." He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges. An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he does work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and has memberships in the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Indian Military Historical Society and the Salonika Campaign Society.