The 29th Infantry Division (29th ID), also known as the “Blue and Gray Division“, is an infantry division of the United States Army based in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. It is currently a formation of the U.S. Army National Guard and contains units from Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.
Formed in 1917, the division deployed to France as a part of the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. Called up for service again in World War II, the division’s 116th Regiment, attached to the First Infantry Division, was in the first wave of troops ashore during Operation Neptune, the landings in Normandy, France. It supported a special Ranger unit tasked with clearing strong points at Omaha Beach. The rest of the 29th ID came ashore later, then advanced to Saint-Lô, and eventually through France and into Germany.
Following the end of World War II, the division saw frequent reorganizations and deactivations. Although the 29th did not see combat through most of the next 50 years, it participated in numerous training exercises throughout the world. It eventually saw deployments to Bosnia (SFOR10) and Kosovo (KFOR) as command elements, and units of the division continue to deploy to locations such as Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and to the War in Afghanistan as a part of the Global War on Terrorism‘s Operation Enduring Freedom, and also to the Iraq War, as a part of its Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
In 2016, two separate elements of the 29th deployed overseas. In July more than 80 soldiers deployed in support of anti-ISIL operations (dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve by the U.S. government). In October, more than 450 29th soldiers deployed in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
The 29th Division was first constituted on paper 18 July 1917, three months after the American entry into World War I, in the U.S. Army National Guard.:319 The division’s infantry units were the 57th Infantry Brigade, made up of the 113th and 114th Infantry Regiments, both from New Jersey, and the 58th Infantry Brigade, made up of the 115th Infantry Regiment from Maryland and 116th Infantry Regiment from Virginia. Its artillery units were Maryland’s 110th Artillery Regiment; Virginia’s 111th Field Artillery Regiment; and New Jersey’s 112th Field Artillery Regiment. As the division was composed of men from states that had units that fought for both the North and South during the Civil War, it was nicknamed the “Blue and Gray” division, after the blue uniforms of the Union and the gray uniforms of the Confederate armies during the American Civil War. The division was organized as a unit on 25 August 1917 at Camp McClellan, Alabama.