By Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar
Wisconsin adjutant general
This year marks the centennial of the armistice that ended the Great War – thought at the time to be the “war to end all wars.” Sadly it wasn’t to be. Just 20 years later the world again found itself in another cataclysmic war that claimed the lives of millions.
Veterans of our great state played starring roles in both of those conflicts and conflicts before and since from the Civil War to Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, Wisconsin has a noble legacy of service to our country.
In World War I, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s famed 32nd “Red Arrow” Division smashed its way into history as it broke through every German line it encountered on the battlefields of France, including the vaunted Hindenburg Line in the war’s closing weeks. In the Second World War, the Red Arrow once again distinguished itself in the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines as it spent more days in combat – 654 – than any other American division in the war.
In the earliest days of statehood during the Civil War, the state of Wisconsin sent more than 90,000 of its sons to war to preserve the Union, where the state etched its name into American military lore with ferocious fighting units like the famed Iron Brigade, which earned distinction on the battlefield at places like Gettysburg and Antietam.
In more recent history, our National Guard has continued this heroic legacy. After the formation of the Air National Guard following World War II, Airmen from the Wisconsin Air Guard fought in the skies over Korea, including 1st Lt. Jerome Volk who lost his life in the war and became the namesake for Volk Combat Readiness Training Center. Thousands of other Airmen from the Air National Guard went on to become veterans during the Gulf War and again in the years following Sept. 11, 2001.
What a privilege it is to serve as Wisconsin’s adjutant general. The legacy of our veterans, past and present, who have served state and nation in the Wisconsin National Guard is exceptional. It’s an honor to where the uniform and serve alongside you.
Thank you to all America’s veterans for all that has been sacrificed for our nation and thank you to those who continue to serve and keep the torch of freedom lit. May God continue to bless the United States of America.
PHOTO: Soldiers from the 32nd Division’s 64th Brigade advance in support of the first line Oct. 18, 1918 near Romagne-Sous-Montfaucon, in Meuse, France.
U.S. Signal Corps photo by Sgt. 1st Class Frank Wallock