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The First Year Of A New Century Of Serving
by U.S. Army Reserve Catherine Carroll
October 21, 2018

August 5, 2018, marks the first year of a new century of serving for the 88th Readiness Division Blue Devils. With a new name and a transforming mission, we have begun this next chapter of our history at an astounding pace.

The 88th Readiness Division's headquarters building at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, reflects its new designation as a Readiness Division, August 1, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Catherine Carroll)
The 88th Readiness Division's headquarters building at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, reflects its new designation as a Readiness Division, August 1, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Catherine Carroll)
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“These are interesting times with interesting challenges,” MG Patrick J. Reinert, 88th Readiness Division commanding general states.

Our adversaries’ ambitions and the accelerating pace of technological change will create opportunities and challenges for the coming century. AMERICA’S ARMY RESERVE has one focus: Create CAPABLE, COMBAT-READY, LETHAL Soldiers and units to win our Nation’s wars.

The 88th RD forges ahead with smart, innovative and inspiring approaches to increasing the Army’s operational effectiveness from the tactical, on the ground fight to the highest strategic level.

“WE ARE, BLUE DEVILS” ... The best is yet to come!

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THE LEGACY AND LINAGE OF THE CLOVERLEAF DIVISION

The history - and ever adapting lineage - of the 88th Division began in August of 1917. The men who were the first Soldiers of the 88th Division trained at Camp Dodge from August 1917 to the summer of 1918.

Deploying to France in August 1918, the 88th Division, along with other US and allied forces on the Meuse-Argonne front, delivered powerful blows right up to the very hour of the Armistice Agreement, earning the Alsace 1918 campaign streamer.

The 88th Division was then demobilized at Camp Dodge in June of 1919 and reconstituted in the Organized Reserve on June 24, 1921, until 1942.

On July 15, 1942, John S. Quigley, President of the 88th Division Veterans Association, challenged a group of new soldiers gathered around the flagpole of Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, to “take up the job we didn’t get done” in World War I. In response, Major General John E. Sloan promised: “The glory of the colors will never be sullied, as long as one man of the 88th still lives.”

In February 1944, the 88th Infantry Division deployed to Italy. Upon arrival in Naples, the 88th became the first draftee division to enter a combat zone in World War II. The division went on to participate in the campaigns of Rome-Arno, North Apennines, and Po Valley until May 2, 1945, when German forces surrendered in Italy.

During these campaigns, 88th Soldiers earned 522 Silver Stars and had three Medals of Honor recipients: CPT Robert E. Roeder, SSG Charles W. Shea, and Manuel Mendoza. We also earned the nickname “Blue Devils”, because our patch was blue and, as the Germans said, we fought like Devils.

In the booklet “WE WERE THERE”, published by the 88th Division during the last months of the war, the Soldier’s story was recorded with a powerful introduction that reads, in part:

“This is a story of thousands of men -- of clerks and salesmen and bakers and students and gas station attendants -- of men from every walk of life who suddenly were called upon to drop their peaceful pursuits and go off to war. This is the story those men wrote with their hearts and minds and courage -- and many, with their lives -- as they walked and ached and fought across more mountains than they ever thought existed."

Following World War II, the 351st Infantry Regiment was removed from the 88th Infantry Division and used to create The Trieste United States Troops in May 1947.

Due to a disagreement between Italy and Yugoslavia concerning their borders, Trieste became the Free City of Trieste and the TRUST Soldiers stayed to carry on the mission of defense.

Although, the entire 88th Infantry Division was not needed so all but the 351st Infantry Regiment was inactivated at Leghorn, Italy in October 1947. The Last commander of the 88th Infantry Division, Major General Bryant Moore, became the commander of the TRUST.

The TRUST was inactivated in 1954 when Italy and Yugoslavia agreed that Trieste should become part of Italy.

The 88th Division was again called to active duty in the late 50’s to support NATO operations. In December 1967 the 88th was activated as an Army Reserve Command in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 88th ARCOM, (later Regional Readiness Command and Regional Support Command) mobilized units to serve in the Republic of Vietnam, Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and all contingency operations since.

The 88th Regional Support Command was activated in 2008 and while once located at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and later moved to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

The 88th began its transformation into a Readiness Division in 2017, just after commemorating its 100 year anniversary, continuing a long and illustrious legacy of evolving to meet the needs of America's Army Reserve!

The name, mission and location of the 88th has changed many times over the course of a century, however, the spirit of the Blue Devils is still just as strong as it was when Camp Dodge was bustling with young Doughboys.

World War II commander, Major General John E. Sloan, commander of the Blue Devils in 1944, said in his departure speech:

“We have buried our dead, bound our wounds and trained our replacements and we are now ready to achieve even greater deeds. You are enduring discomfort, danger and separation from your families; but in later life you will find that the memory of these months of battle will be your most cherished. You are here achieving the measure of a man in a way that no amount of riches or high station in life could equal. By leaving your loved ones, you will have seen much of the world and will have helped make history. Your children and grandchildren will recite your deeds with pride.”

It is a privilege to be a Blue Devil!

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