For over three years, since induction into active service on February 3, 1941, the National Guardsmen of the 29th Blue and Gray Division had been preparing for this moment. They were a long way from the families they had left behind in Maryland and Virginia, and about to take their place in history.
It was 0630, June 6, 1944, shortly after low tide, when the first units of the Division landed on Omaha Beach on the Normandy Coast of France. Facing well prepared German positions and making their way through the extensive obstacles known as "Rommel's asparagus," four companies of the 116th Regional Combat Team (RCT) led the way, followed by wave after wave of determined Twenty-Niners.
The going was slow and difficult, with heavy casualties in the early morning hours. The Division battle cry which had become popular during training exercises, "29 Let's Go," could be heard across the beach as leaders urged the Guardsmen forward. First a foothold, then penetration, break through, and move inland. The liberation of Europe had begun. The price was heavy though; more than 500 of the Guardsmen had lost their lives, with many times that number wounded.
The 29th Division would continue to distinguish itself in the sweep across Europe, and after V-E Day, their motto became "29 Let's Go Home!" Mission accomplished, the Guardsmen returned to inactive status on January 11, 1945. Today the 29th Infantry Division remains an integral part of our force structure, still a National Guard Division based in Maryland and Virginia, prepared if ever again America calls out, "29 Let's Go!"
By: James Dietz