CAMP DODGE, Iowa –
The 88th Regional Support Command dedicated a plaque at Camp Dodge, Iowa on May 25, in honor of the 88th Infantry Division's beginning there in 1917.
Maj. Gen. Patrick Reinert, 88th RSC commanding general, and Command Sergeant Major Earl Rocca, 88th RSC command sergeant major, attended the Iowa National Guard Command Retreat hosted by Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, and dedicated the plaque in honor of the Blue Devil's 100 years of serving our Nation.
During the Command Retreat, Iowa National Guard Airmen, Soldiers, and Civilians are recognized for their contributions to the Guard and their communities, state and nation.
Reinert spoke at the event and shared a brief history of the 88th.
“Some of you here may be wondering why an Army Reserve Command is here to dedicate a plaque as part of the Camp Dodge Memorial Day ceremony,” began Reinert.
“A century ago, the 88th Division was born here at Camp Dodge. It is my honor be here today to pay tribute to the men and women of this great division and dedicate this plaque to be displayed here at the Iowa National Guard Library and Museum,” Reinert continued. “In August, we will dedicate a plaque at our headquarters at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.”
The 88th began as an Army Division in August of 1917, at Camp Dodge, Iowa. It was originally composed of National Army draftees from North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.
Reinert went on to talk about how the men who were the first Soldiers of the 88th Division trained at Camp Dodge from August 1917 to summer of 1918.
“Deploying to France in August 1918, the 88th Division along with other US and allied forces on the Meuse-Argonne front, delivered powerful blows right up to the very hour of the armistice agreement,” Reinert said.
The division earned the Alsace campaign streamer in 1918, demobilized at Camp Dodge in June of 1919 and then reconstituted in the Organized Reserve on June 24, 1921, until 1942.
“On July 15, 1942, John S. Quigley, President of the 88th Division Veterans Association, challenged a group of new soldiers gathered around the flagpole of Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, to ‘take up the job we didn’t get done’ in World War I,” Reinert quoted. “In response, Major General John E. Sloan promised: ‘The glory of the colors will never be sullied, as long as one man of the 88th still lives.’"
In February 1944, the 88th Infantry Division deployed to Italy. Upon arrival in Naples, the 88th became the first draftee division to enter a combat zone in World War II.
The division participated in the campaigns of Rome-Arno, North Apennines, and Po Valley until May 2, 1945, when German forces surrendered in Italy. During these campaigns, the German forces nicknamed the Infantry Division the Blue Devils, because they wore a blue patch and fought like devils.
The 88th RSC of today was activated in 2008 and is now headquartered at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. They are responsible for installation support of all Army Reserve property from the Ohio River Valley to the Pacific Northwest, a 19-state region.
Reinert concluded his remarks with a nod to the century ahead.
“The mission of the 88th has changed, however, the spirit of the Blue Devils is still just as strong as it was when Camp Dodge was bustling with young Doughboys,” said Reinert. “It is a privilege to be a Blue Devil!”
“This plaque pays tribute to “A Century of Service” of Blue Devil Soldiers,” Reinert continued, “although it should read our first century of service as we look ahead to future challenges.”
The plaque will be permanently on display at the Iowa Gold Star Museum at Camp Dodge.