WWII-era 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division Insignia.
Current 32D ‘Red Arrow’ IBCT Insignia.
The ‘Red Arrow’ is the insignia of the 32D Infantry Division, and now the 32D Infantry Brigade. The 32D Division was created in 1917, comprised of National Guard units from Wisconsin and Michigan, to take part in “The Great War” or “The World War,” now referred to as World War I (WWI).
The insignia consists of a red arrow piercing a horizontal line. This is to symbolize the fact that the 32D Division penetrated every German line of defense that it faced during WWI, or, in the words of the Division’s WWI history, the division “shot through every line the Boche put before them.” In essence the insignia is simply the combination of two military map symbols, the arrow to denote the axis of advance, and the horizontal line to denote the front line of the enemy. The ‘Red Arrow’ insignia was officially approved for the 32D Division on 11 November of 1918.
Maj. Gen. William G. Haan, Commander of the 32D Division for most of its WWI service, felt that 14 October 1918 was the day that the Division earned the title of the ‘Red Arrow’ Division. That is the day the Division completed its penetration of the vaunted Kriemhilde Stellung, a massive, seemingly impenetrable, German trench system. The Division pierced this line near the town of Romagne during the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. After the war he wrote “Perhaps most of you have been told why the barred arrow was adopted as the Division insignia. Here [Romagne] is an example of how the Division made an arrow of itself and shot forward always at the critical moment. This was by no means the only time; it did the same thing in the two other battles in which it fought: the Second Battle of the Marne and the Battle of Juvigny. In the first it arrowed forward and captured the town of Fismes; with the Tenth French Army in the same way it captured the strong position of Juvigny, in both cases sticking its point forward arrow-like and exposing its flanks to get these positions.”
The first ‘Red Arrow’ insignias were hand-made by the Soldiers themselves. They used whatever red cloth they could find, so there were many slight variations in the size and shape of the ‘Red Arrow’ at the end of WWI.
After WWI, the ‘Red Arrow’ insignia was standardized and resembled the WWII-era ‘Red Arrow’ pictured above left. The same ‘Red Arrow’ worn by the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard Soldiers who mobilized with the Division on 15 October 1940 for WWII, where they again demonstrated that the 32D Division was one of America’s best.
When the Division was reactivated and reorganized in 1946, it was comprised entirely of Wisconsin National Guard units.
The 32D Division also wore the ‘Red Arrow’ insignia when it was activated, on 15 October 1961, for Federal service during the Berlin Crisis, where it also was determined to be among America’s best. This time, however, it was comprised entirely of Wisconsin National Guard units.
On 30 December 1967, the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division was deactivated and the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Brigade (Separate) was created to take its place. The Brigade inherited the insignia and lineage of the Division. The Brigade was comprised entirely of Wisconsin National Guard units.
The current version of the ‘Red Arrow’ insignia, pictured above right, was adopted ca. 1986. For some reason, the rounded corners became pointed and a rectangular green background was added.
On 1 October 2007, the Brigade was reorganized and renamed to become the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT). The 32D IBCT was still comprised entirely of Wisconsin National Guard units, until circa January 2017, when the 3D Battalion, 126TH Infantry, Michigan National Guard, was once again assigned to the ‘Red Arrow.’ The 32D IBCT continues the lineage of the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Division and continues to add to its proud, distinguished heritage. Soldiers of the 32D IBCT proudly wear the ‘Red Arrow’ on their shoulder today.
revised 26 April 2020
created 30 March 1998