The 1st Infantry Division’s official birthday is June 8, 1917. A few days later, units started deployment to Europe, where their bravery in battle became legendary. The 1st Division—the ‘Big Red One’—was the first to cross the Rhine into occupied Germany. The 1st Infantry Division’s shoulder patch, reproduced so proudly on this 1st Infantry Division commemorative coin, is a bright red ‘1’ on a dark green shield in a gold field surrounded by a black circumference with 1st Infantry Division, Duty First.
The 1st Infantry Division entered combat in WWII with the invasion of North Africa, fighting the German ‘Afrika Korps’ to Sicily. On D-Day, June 6, 1944 the ‘Big Red One’ stormed ashore at Omaha Beach and secured the beachhead, then continued to win major battles until the enemy was defeated. Following the war, the 1st Division remained in Germany as occupation troops, returning to Ft. Riley, Kansas in 1955. Then came trouble in Southeast Asia. The ‘Big Red One’ was the first element of an Infantry Division to arrive in Vietnam, where they mastered the use of helicopters as one of the best means of countering the jungle, an inaccessible countryside, and an aggressive enemy. When they returned to Ft. Riley in 1970 they became a mechanized division. As expected, the ‘Big Red One’ spearheaded the armored attack into Iraq in 1991, served with distinction in the Balkans, and returned to the mid-East where they serve as seasoned warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 1st Infantry Division commemorative coin salutes the bravery and courage of all soldiers who displayed such valor under the most extreme combat conditions. Finished in rich enamels, the front of the coin reproduces the 1st Infantry Division badge, the reverse the Great Seal surrounded by United States Army.