ALBANY, N.Y. (July 17, 2012) -- Members of the 42nd Infantry "Rainbow" Division from World War II, the Cold War, Iraq and today, gathered to share stories and military experiences with one another at the 93rd Annual Reunion of the division hosted by the 42nd Rainbow Division Veterans Memorial Foundation.
Veterans and families of the 42nd Infantry Division from all across the country assembled at Hotel Albany to mingle, reminisce, and tour the historic city here, July 11-14, 2012.
What had traditionally been an event attended by World War II era veterans and their families, the annual reunion this year brought in a broader audience by holding a special reception for 42nd veterans who composed Task Force Liberty in Iraq.
The Task Force Liberty reception marked the first official gathering of Iraq war veterans as part of the 42nd Rainbow Division Veterans Memorial Foundation. The event allowed current Soldiers to meet Foundation members and join the Foundation themselves, helping secure the future of the Foundation in the hands of younger Soldiers who will be able to carry on the legacy of the Rainbow for years to come.
The 42nd Division was created in World War I when National Guard units from 26 states were pulled together at Garden City, N.Y., to form a division and deploy quickly to France.
The division was given its nickname by then-Col. Douglas McArthur, who conceived of the idea. The 42nd Division, coming from a number of state National Guard's would be "like a Rainbow" stretching across the United States from one end to another.
In World War II the division was reactivated and fought in France and Germany, liberating the concentration camp at Dachau, taking Munich, and ending the war occupying part of Austria.
The division became part of the New York National Guard in 1947 and in 2005 became the first National Guard division to serve in Iraq, taking command of two active Army brigade and two National Guard Brigades, Feb. 14, 2005.
Once again the division lived up to it's Rainbow nickname: National Guard, Army Reserve, and Army units from 28 statesm Puerto Rico and American Samoa came under the command of the division.
It was great to spend time with today's Soldiers and learn how much they had in common, said World War II Veteran Richard Marowitz.
"I think I see it, I see that little, I think the Rainbow itself is pulling them together, just being in this organization," Marowitz said.
"This year's reunion marks the beginning of a new generation of leadership ready to move our Foundation forward," said retired Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Taluto, the chairman of the 42nd Rainbow Division Veterans Memorial Foundation. "This new leadership has been and will continue to be guided by those World War II-era veterans and their families."
In addition to being chairman of the Foundation, Taluto was the former adjutant general of the New York National Guard and past commander of the 42nd Infantry Division during its deployment to Iraq in 2005. Taluto is one of the first Foundation members to represent the current Rainbow era and serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving history for future generations.
"I am proud to report that many new officers and committee chairpersons have stepped up to take responsibility and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead," said Taluto. "The new Foundation membership will continue to build upon the legacy of the gallant men and women who have served, recognizing their valor, heroism and patriotism, and the sacrifices made by them and their families. "
Reunion events included a visit to the historic New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, an Aqua Duck tour highlighting landmarks along downtown Albany, and a memorial service held at the 42nd ID Headquarters in Troy commemorating fallen Rainbow Soldiers.
"We are eager to see the rich history of the 42nd available in close proximity of the reunion," said Linda Owen, the 42nd Rainbow Division National Auxiliary President. "It is especially gratifying being able to see the Rainbow carrying on the traditions and leadership to new heights."