It’s an honor and a privilege to command the 42nd Infantry Division during this challenging and historic time as the division celebrated its rich and decorated history serving our New York Army National Guard and the United States Army for over 100 years.
In August 1917 the 42nd Division was formed in Garden City, Long Island with National Guard units from 26 different states. This inspired Douglas MacArthur, then the Division Chief of Staff to remark, “The division stretches like a rainbow from one end of America to the other.” The Rainbow Division was born.
By the end of World War I, after fighting in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the largest battle in the history of the U.S. Army, the 42nd Division had more days in combat than any other American division.
The 42nd was reactivated again in World War II. By 1945, the 42nd had captured over 130,000 German prisoners while fighting in three major campaigns and culminated by liberating the infamous Dachau concentration camp, freeing over 30,000 victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
In 2004, the 42nd became the first National Guard Division to command and control Army forces in combat since the Korean War. Task Force Liberty commanded four combat elements; two active and two Army National Guard brigades in North Central Iraq.
At home, Soldiers of the 42nd Division responded to the 9/11 attacks in New York City. Rainbow Soldiers provided security at the World Trade Center, New York City bridges and tunnels, and the U.S. Military Academy.
The division and its subordinate brigades in New York would go on to also respond to Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Maria.
Today, the 42nd is one of 18 division headquarters with combat brigades in New York, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Our mission is to man, equip and train to provide mission command for unified land operations in support of federal, state and homeland security missions.
As the Army’s primary tactical warfighting headquarters, divisions must be command multiple brigades in a full spectrum, decisive action environment.
For domestic operations the division must provide both a dual status command and staff structure and serve as the headquarters for the Homeland Response Force in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear related emergency.
In the winter of 2020 the 42nd is scheduled to again mobilize as a complete headquarters. Selected to command U.S. Army forces across the Middle East, the division will be the senior element in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
This is a strategically important, complex mission commanding Active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve brigades operating across the Middle East. This deployment is a great opportunity for Soldiers and officers to be part of a joint, multinational mission. The division is actively seeking volunteers in multiple MOSs to join the Rainbow Division team.
All of this is not possible without our Soldiers and their families.
I want to thank you personally for serving your state and nation, and being part of the strongest military in the world. We all have different reasons why we joined the military, but the fact is you are part of less than one percent of the U.S. population that serves in the military and that makes you a unique American.
You are part of an Army National Guard force that has been on the job since 1636.
Never forget we work for the American people and must have their trust and confidence in order to be successful. Never forget that Soldiers are the Army’s most valuable resource and they deserve and expect leaders of character, competence and commitment.
Being good stewards of the Army profession is our duty. Our center of gravity is an environment of absolute trust and confidence, maintained by upholding the Army ethic and having the courage to act accordingly to prevent misconduct and stop unethical behavior.
Always remember, what you say and how you act, both on and off duty, will influence your fellow Soldiers and the American people. So ensure you always make a positive impact!
Finally, a closing thought on Readiness, which is our number one priority in the New York Army National Guard.
We must embrace a culture of readiness across the force. Leaders at all levels must continuously manage their personnel, equipment and training to ensure units meet readiness objectives.
Your readiness will directly translate to mission success or failure, and failing is not an option for us.
We must continue to build and maintain a resilient force, ensuring Soldiers and families are cared for and supported. We must create an environment free from suicide, harassment of any type, sexual assault, and one in which every individual is valued and respected. We must be committed to foster and mentor a diverse workforce by valuing everyone’s
contributions and creating a climate of trust and confidence.
I wish you all continued success, and thank you and your families for serving and being part of our New York National Guard team.
RAINBOW! NEVER FORGET!
Commentary by Major General Steven Ferrari, Commander, 42nd Infantry Division
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