“The crusade on which we embarked in the early summer of 1944 has reached its glorious conclusion. Full victory in Europe has been attained.” - General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, from his “Victory Order of the Day” memo, dated May 8, 1945.
May 8 marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, or V-E, Day. The 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley both played significant roles in World War II.
America’s First Division fought in North Africa and Sicily, before leading the invasion of France on D-Day. From its first battle in 1942 to V-E Day, the 1st Infantry Division suffered more than 21,000 casualties, earned eight campaign streamers, and added 17 Medal of Honor winners to the roll of heroes. Following the war, the Big Red One served in occupied Germany, and the division’s 26th Infantry Regiment provided security at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.
Fort Riley became an important training center during World War II, with the formation of the 2nd Cavalry Division in 1940 and later the creation of the 9th Armored Division. Approximately 125,000 Soldiers trained at Fort Riley. Camp Funston would eventually become a prisoner of war camp.
V-E Day and later, V-J Day, marked the end of Fort Riley’s role in preparing troops to fight in World War II. Following the war, the cavalry school was closed and efforts turned to training officers in basic military subjects and later training Soldiers for infantry combat. Fort Riley became the home of the Big Red One in 1955.