Constituted in November 1917 in the Regular Army as Headquarters, 5th Division and organized on 11 December 1917, the 5th Infantry Division arrived in France in May of 1918 and saw its first action in August with the capture of the town of Frapelle. It was during early November, however, that the Division earned its nickname of “Meuse Division” with a crossing of the river on November 3 by a battalion that established a foothold on the eastern bank, paving the way for two of the Division’s regiments to launch an assault on November 5th that secured the bridgehead in action that General John J. Pershing called “one of the most brilliant military feats in the history of the American Army in France.” It would go on to earn credit for participation in four campaigns in World War I.

But the 5th Infantry Division was also known as the Red Diamond Division thanks to its Shoulder Sleeve Insignia, or unit patch, which was adopted after World War I. The Division had proven just how seriously they took the unit motto of “We Will” with the Meuse River crossing; in mulling an appropriate insignia, they noticed that a popular ad slogan of the day—“It Never Runs,” popularized by a company named Diamond Dyes—concisely expressed their determination to never yield in the face of enemy pressure. The “ace of diamonds” shape was chosen in recognition of the company for its inadvertent martial inspiration; the color red was chosen to honor 5th Division General John McMahon, commander of the Division during World War I and a member of the Field Artillery Corps (the color of Field Artillery is scarlet).

Learn more about the 5th Infantry Division on our pages devoted to the unit’s Combat Service ID Badge and Distinctive Unit Insignia, or unit crest.

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