The Shoulder Sleeve Insignia (unit patch) for the 28th Infantry Division is simply a keystone, inspired by the division’s “Keystone” nickname which in turn is a reference to is originating state of Pennsylvania. On the division’s CSIB (Combat Service Identification Badge) it is colored red, in contrast to the gray-scale version for wear on combat camouflage. While the unit retains an official designation as “Keystone,” General John Pershing described the division’s troops as “men of iron” after repulsing a ferocious German assault in July, 1918, and he subsequently dubbed the unit the “Iron Division.”

The 28th Infantry Division is the oldest continuously serving military division in the U.S. Army, even older than the United States itself. Though redesignated the 28th Division before deploying to Europe in World War I, its true history predates the Revolutionary War with the 1747 creation of the militia assembled by Benjamin Franklin known as the “Associators.” (In fact, the division’s Unit Crest, or Distinctive Unit Insignia, was designed by Franklin.) Its age is evident by the fact that one of its units—the 56th Brigade—was given official credit for participation in Civil War Campaigns dating back to 1862.

Officially, the division was first created on March 12, 1879 as the Pennsylvania National Guard, and under that appellation fought in the Spanish-American War. As the 7th Division, it deployed to El Paso, Texas in 1916 as part of the U.S. response to the activities of Pancho Villa.

Returning from Texas, the unit was inducted into Federal service on August 5, 1917 and redesignated the 28th Division. In May of the next year, the division had arrived in France, it was two months later that it made the valiant stand along the Marne River during the Battle of Chateau-Thierry that inspired General Pershing to laud the troops as “men or iron.”

Demobilized in 1919, the 28th was reorganized and received Federal recognition in the Pennsylvania National Guard on December 22, 1921.

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