Skip to comments.1st Infantry Division Bids Farewell to Germany
Posted on 07/06/2006 4:01:13 PM PDT by SandRat
WUERZBURG, Germany, July 6, 2006 The U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, known as the "Big Red One," bid farewell to its host country of Germany at Victory Park on Leighton Barracks here today. The colors of Big Red One are scheduled to be unfurled at Fort Riley, Kan., Aug. 1, and the division will assume command and control of its units now there. Among other duties, the division is slated to take on the mission of training foreign security forces training teams in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Despite numerous deployments to distant countries within the past 10 years, Big Red One soldiers have built lasting relationships with German friends and colleagues. For many, the ceremony marks a bittersweet day.
"When I think about the division leaving Germany and returning to the states, I can't help but be saddened just a little," Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Hunzeker, 1st ID commanding general, said. "Like many of you, I've spent a large part of my military life here in Germany. We will miss the culture, the people, the partnerships, the opportunity to travel, and even the challenges associated with leading troops overseas.
"Serving in Europe has also afforded our leaders the opportunity to visit battlefields and walk the ground where our forefathers fought during World War I and World War II," Hunzeker said. "We are humbled to have been so fortunate to be able to study our profession on the ground that was fought to bring back freedom and democracy to this great continent."
Though first established in 1917 during World War I, the division moved to Germany for the first time immediately after World War II and remained here until 1955, when it first moved to Fort Riley.
Since that time, the Big Red One has answered the call to fight in Vietnam, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, before returning to Germany for the second time April 10, 1996. Within the last 10 years, the 1st ID has played key roles during peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II from February 2004 to February 2005.
"The Big Red One is privileged to have served more than 43 cumulative years on European soil," Hunzeker continued. "Thousands upon thousands of 1st Infantry Division veterans, from almost every era in our history, have shared in the experience of living and serving alongside our friends and neighbors in this great country. The fond memories that we have all had serving in Europe help to forever link us to the group of veterans who are very proud to have worn our patch and to the generations of Germans who have shown us hospitality for so many years."
Numerous special attendees were at the event, including Gen. David McKiernan, U.S. Army Europe commanding general; Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, 5th Corps commanding general; Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa, USAREUR command sergeant major; Lt. Gen. Wolfgang Otto, German Army Forces Command commanding general; Pia Beckmann, lord mayor of Wurzburg; and Paul Beinhofer, Lower Franconia District president, who also spoke during the ceremony.
(Spc. Stephen Baack is assigned to the 1st Infantry Division.)
60 years later...
Kudos to the Big Red One and welcome home!
When Scroeder threatened to deny us the use of our bases in Germany, the die was cast. Our troops will be moved home, or forward based closer to the potential threats. Since the collapse of the Iron Curtain, Germany has been a comfortable and safe rear area for us until suddenly we realized that it wasn't anymore.
Future threats are going to be coming out of the mideast, and Africa, and the Far East. Germany was great, but next stop, Djibouti.
Welcome home guys...its long over due.
and the Poles, Czechs, Romanians, Bulgarians, Slovaks, Georgians, etc., are just loving it.
50 years ago most German citizens thanked us for being there, today they complain. Oddly enough, if our troops hadn't been there since the war Soviet troops would have...and they wouldn't be leaving.
Can anyone help me with the history of the name "Big Red One"? I know Big Red One has been in some infamous battles over the years, and I've heard it's name countless times, but I have always wondered about the origins of the name.
In other words, is there anything more significant than it's the 1st Infantry Division and they wear a red 1 on their patch? Could it just as easily have been "Big Blue One" or "Big Green One" if the numeral had been blue or green? Or does the "red" signify the blood that's been shed? Were they called Big Red One from the beginning in 1917 or did the name evolve over time?
Some divisional nicknames are perfectly clear (i.e. Screaming Eagles for paratroopers).
go to the web site in reply # 1 for the 1st ID and there should be a history link there.
The Big Red One. Wow. This is historic.
1/26th Inf; 1st Inf Div; APO SF 95345 Jul 67-68
Hwy 13 (Thunder Rd), Michelin, Triangle, Zone C, Parrots Beak, etc, etc....
60 years is certainly enough - and 17 years after the Iron Curtain fell.
Two legends have emerged in answer to the question about the origins of the Big Red One shoulder patch.
The first story says that during World War I, First Division supply trucks were of English Manufacture, so the drivers painted a huge figure "1" on each truck to distinguish their vehicles from those of the other Allies. Later, First Division Engineers carried this measure a step further by sewing a red patch on their sleeves on which was placed the number "1."
The second, more-often quoted tale involves a general and a lieutenant. According to this version, during the build-up and training days of 1917, a general officer decided that the Division needed a suitable shoulder sleeve insignia. He proceeded to cut a crude numeral "1" from a ragged suit of his flannel underwear. When a brash young lieutenant saw the red numeral, he shouted, "the general's underwear is showing!" The general shouted back, "all right young man, if you're so smart, come up with something better." The lieutenant produced a prototype of today's patch, using a piece of cloth (probably grey) from a captured soldier's uniform on which he placed the red "1".
In October 1918, the patch as it is now known, a red "1" on a solid olive green background, was officially approved for wear by members of the Division. Proudly worn, the patch symbolizes the legacy and tradition that binds all generations of those who have worn the Big Red One.
If you're gonna be one, be a big red one!
KS LOVES BIG RED ONE!!!
You're the first *real* 26th Regiment vet I've seen. I did basic training in Alpha 2-26 back in the late 80s. For many years I thought that the 26th was a TRADOC unit, not a unit with a long and proud history.
Little did I know...
yep, I'm a real Blue Spader.....Dobol. Alexander Haig commanded it till just before I got there.....he got his Bird and took command of the 3rd Bde at Di An (We were 1st Bde, Phuoc Vinh, then to Quan Loi).
Welcome home, soldiers.
I spent about an hour at Di An back in June 1967, waiting for a ride back to Tan Son Nhut from Nui Ba Den.
we could almost always see NBD from sorties, but the 25th Div owned it, LOL. Good landmark, tho, plus the electronics.
PS....the shack you probably waited in was directly in front of the gate of 1st Admin Co, yes?
All I can remember was a big room with a platoon of soldiers, all wearing red bandanas, waiting for the helicopters to come. There was a big box, about the size of a refrigerator box, full of comic books. And it was across the street from Graves Registration. Weird the things you remember after almost 40 years.
When my unit arrived in-country in July 65, we temporarily used an area just north of the Tan Son Nhut runway for our motor pool. We parked in the areas between the ammo bunkers and there was an access road that went around the east end of the runway. One morning as I was driving around the end of the runway, I saw an aircraft coming in very low directly at me. It was a VNAF A1E Skyraider that was on fire and the pilot was trying to make the runway. The road was muddy and I was smoking the tires but managed to get out of his path before he touched down short and skidded down the runway. On Google Earth, you can still see the unpaved road that skirts the east end of the runway.