The Division’s history has an honored past reaching back to its antecedents:the fighters of the Blackhawk War; the volunteers who marched off to defend the Union in the Civil War, including the famous ‘Iron Brigade’; and the Governor’s Guards who mobilized for the Spanish American War.
Almost all of the Michigan and Wisconsin National Guard units which would be combined to form the 32nd Division had served on the Mexican Border in 1916-17.
The 32nd Division was organized under War Dept. orders of 18 July 1917 of National Guard Units from both Wisconsin and Michigan.Units began leaving state camps in Wisconsin and Michigan bound for Camp MacArthur, near Waco, Texas, in early August 1917. The last units arrived at Camp MacArthur by late September 1917.
The Division served on the front line during World War I from 18 May 1918 until the end of the War on 11 November 1918.It was the first American Division to pierce the famed Hindenburg Line, fought in 4 major offensives and earned the name “Les Terribles” from the French.
The Division served with the Army of Occupation in Germany until 18 April 1919and began its return to the U.S.on 1 May 1919.
Returning home the Division was demobilized in May 1919 and returned to National Guard status about a year later.
On 15 October 1940,the 32nd Division, Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard, was again called to Active Duty.
In August and September of 1941, the 32nd Division participated in the ‘Louisiana Maneuvers,’ the greatest peacetime maneuver in the history of the United States Army.
On 22 April 1942,the 32nd Division sailed from San Francisco,bound for the war in the South Pacific. They arrived in Port Adelaide, South Australia on 14 May 1942.
On 15 September 1942 the first elements of the Division were flown from Australia to Port Moresby, New Guinea.
The 32nd Division was the first U.S. Division to fight an offensive action against the Japanese in the Southwest Pacific. The Division fought in six major engagements in four Campaigns involving 654 days of combat, more than any other American Division. Many firsts were accredited to the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division: Eleven Medals of Honor, 157 Distinguished Service Crosses, 49 Legion of Merit, 845 Silver Stars, 1854 Bronze Stars, 98 Air Medals, 78 Soldiers Medals and 11,500 Purple Hearts were awarded its heroes.
On 2 September 1945 General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Highest Commander of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines,surrendered to the 32nd Infantry Division on Luzon.
On 4 September 1945,an advance detachment of the 32nd Division (1st Battalion, 127th Infantry) was flown to Kyushu (southern most of the four main Japanese islands) for occupation duty, only 5 days behind the earliest troop landings anywhere in Japan.The remainder of the Division arrived in Japan by 14 October 1945.
The 32nd Division was inactivated at Fukuoka, Japan on 28 February 1946.
On 8 November 1946 the Division was again Federally recognized as the 32nd Infantry Division, Wisconsin National Guard.
On 15 October 1961,the 32nd “Red Arrow” Infantry Division, Wisconsin National Guard, was ordered to active duty because of the Berlin Crisis. The Division, after 13 weeks of intensive training, was pronounced STRAC and ready for deployment, if necessary.
In August 1962, the 32nd Division returned home to assume its peacetime role.
The 32nd Division was reorganized on 27 December 1967 and on that date ceased to exist as a full Division. However, the 32nd “Red Arrow” Infantry Brigade (Separate), Wisconsin National Guard, was created to carry the lineage and heritage of the famous 32nd “Red Arrow” Division.
In April 1971 the Brigade was converted to a mechanized brigade and became the 32nd “Red Arrow” Infantry Brigade (Separate) (Mechanized), Wisconsin National Guard.
In October 1996 the 32nd “Red Arrow” Infantry Brigade (M), Wisconsin National Guard, was assigned to the 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division (the 34th Div. is headquartered in Minnesota).
On 1 October 2001 was reorganized as the 32nd “Red Arrow” Infantry Brigade (Separate) (Light), Wisconsin National Guard. The 32nd Brigade is no longer attached to the 34th ID.