100 years of Rainbow Division Marked by Long Island Ceremony

Retired MG Joseph Taluto, commander of the 42nd Infantry Division in Iraq in 2005.Retired MG Joseph Taluto, commander of the 42nd Infantry Division in Iraq in 2005.

New York National Guard
By Eric Durr,

Veterans and current leaders of the 42nd Infantry Division and the New York Army National Guard marked the 100th anniversary of the Rainbow Division with a Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, ceremony in Garden City, N.Y., where the division first organized in 1917.

In an effort to organize and deploy combat units quickly as the United States entered World War 1, the division was formed by assembling the most ready National Guard units of 26 States and the District of Columbia.

Because it would take in units from many States, MAJ Douglas MacArthur, the officer who came up with the idea, said it would stretch across the country “like a rainbow.”

Before it even acquired the number 42, the division became known as the Rainbow Division.

With active service in both world wars, the division has been a part of the New York Army National Guard since 1947. National Guard units in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New Jersey are aligned with the division today, which is headquartered in Troy, N.Y.

“It’s a great day to see our comrades and honor our World War I founders,” said retired MG Joseph Taluto, who commanded the division in Iraq in 2005 and now serves as director of the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation.

The short ceremony featured remarks from MG Taluto, the mayor of Garden City, the French Deputy Consul General in New York City, a member of the national World War I Centennial Commission and MG Steven Ferrari, the current commander of the 42nd Infantry Division.

The ceremony took place at the monument, erected by Rainbow Division veterans in 1940, which marks the site of Camp Mills and commemorates the division’s World War I service.

A number of famous Soldiers served in the 42nd Infantry Division during World War I, including LTC William “Wild Bill” Donovan, who won the Medal of Honor; SGT Joyce Kilmer, who wrote the poem “Trees”; and Father Francis Duffy, the fighting Catholic priest.

“It is a privilege and it is an honor to lead the 42nd Division,” MG Ferrari said.

Ryan Hegg, representative of the World War I Centennial Committee, reminded those present that the American Soldiers were known for their energy and enthusiasm. They turned the tide of the war in favor of the Allies.

“They ended the war. They saved lives. No Soldier could ask for more,” Hegg said.

About 100 people attended the event, including Bill Vorlick, a New York Army National Guard Veteran from Queens, N.Y.

“It felt great that their service was not forgotten,” Vorlick said.

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