April 14, 2013

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New commander takes over 42nd Infantry

WEST POINT – The 42nd Infantry, Rainbow, Division of the Army National Guard welcomed their new commander Brigadier General Harry Miller, Jr. Saturday in a ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Brig. Gen. Miller

Nearly 300 active Guardsmen, making up eight brigades, attended the ceremony that also bid farewell to Major General Steven Wickstrom, who had been the division commander for four years. Wickstrom oversaw preparing troops for active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait as well as service stateside in emergencies including Hurricane Irene and superstorm Sandy.

For Wickstrom, his time with the Guard has been very gratifying with soldiers deploying and returning having performed well.

“There’s something special about soldiers and I have been privileged to have been associated with so many great ones,” he said.

The 42nd Rainbow Division was formed during WWI. When General Douglas MacArthur, a colonel at that time, saw the Division at that time made up of soldiers from all across the United States, he said it stretched like a rainbow from one end of America to the other. The name stuck.

World War II veterans Richard Tisch and Harold Melnek, both former presidents of the 42nd Division Veterans, and liberators of Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, spoke with pride of the history of the Rainbow Division, how it got its name, and the meaning of the half rainbow patch.

“The Division lost so many men in WWI that they cut half the patch off in memory of the lost soldiers,” Melnek said.

Miller thanked Wickstrom for his service and for passing on a division that is “combat ready and fully capable in both their war fighting skills and in their abilities to support our civilian authorities here at home,” Miller said.

Miller is in his 33rd year of service; he keeps doing it because he loves being a soldier and he loves his fellow soldiers. “They represent the one percent of our nation’s population who choose to serve. They are all my heroes and they are why I’m here.”


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