The 28th Infantry Division is the oldest division in the United States armed forces. Also known as Keystone Division, this primal division has units that date back to the 1770s. Though it was established in the late 1870s, it did not become designated the 28th Infantry division until the early 1910s, after which it fought in World War I. It currently forms part of the Army Nation Guard of four states. These states include New Jersey, Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
The 28th Infantry Division (ID) is nicknamed Keystone Division because it was constituted by several units in the Pennsylvania National Guard. The name was fitting since Pennsylvania is the Keystone State. Over the years, the 28th Infantry Division has acquired several other nicknames, prominent among which are “Iron Division” and “Bloody Bucket”. It earned the title “Bloody Bucket” from the Germans as a result of its red emblem. The title “Iron Division” was given to the 28th Infantry Division by General Pershing during the First World War. Aside from being the oldest division sized unit in the US armed forces, it is also the most decorated.
The 28th ID participated in the First World War, and its entry into this war was the Battle of Chateau-Thierry. This war started with fierce artillery bombing until the division met with the German offensive and the battle disintegrated to hand-to-hand combat. Even though the division was able to defeat the German forces, they suffered heavy losses that day. When General John Pershing visited the battle scene in the aftermath, he declared the soldiers as “Men of Iron” and thereafter named the 28th Infantry Division the “Iron Division”. The Iron Division was involved in several other operations during the First World War and suffered well more than 12,000 casualties, which included more than 2,000 men killed.
The 28th ID was also operational during the Second World War under the command of Major General Lloyd Brown. It partook in the Normandy Landings, though seven weeks after D-Day, and joined in Operation Cobra. One month after landing on the French Coast, the men of the 28th ID entered Paris. They were honored by a celebration which would come to be called the Liberation of Paris. This involved a march down the Champs-Elysees. This occurred on the 29th of August, 1944.
In recent times the 28th Infantry Division led a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. The NATO organized mission lasted nine months. As part of the efforts of the US to fight terrorism following the 9/11 attacks, the 28th ID was involved in several operations, including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, to which it provided thousands of troops.
The 28th ID has been portrayed several times in popular culture. The movie, When Trumpets Fade, captured the brilliant efforts of the 28th ID at the Battle of Huertgen Forest. The movie J’accuse also acknowledged the 28th ID as being featured. They also appear in Dawn of the Dead and The Happening.