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Red Arrow Park, Marinette Wisconsin

Red Arrow Park is a memorial park and beach located in Marinette Wisconsin on the coast of Green Bay. The Park was named in 1945 in honor of the Marinette national guard Unit, Co. A, 127th Infantry Regiment, which served as part of the 32nd Division, nicknamed the “Red Arrow”. The Red Arrow Division served in multiple major conflicts, including World War I, World War II, The Berlin Crisis, Operation Desert Storm, and the war in Afghanistan.

Image of the 127th infantry regiment Coat of arms
127th Infantry Regiment Coat of Arms (United States Army)

The Red Arrow Division is a distinguished and famed division that made its name on the front lines in world war 1. The Red Arrow title and patch of an arrow with a line through it was earned by the division for piercing the Hindenburg line trench system, and the divisions unfailing ability to penetrate enemy lines. The division also earned the nickname “Les Terribles”, or “The Terrible ones” by the commander of the French 38th Corps, General De Mondesir when the 127th regiment and a battalion of the 128th endured in eight days of near-continuous fighting to secure a crossing on the Vesle River [1] [5]. They were the first allied unit to pierce the Hindenburg line. From the middle of May until the November Armistice, the Red Arrow was in the thick of every major campaign on the western front and suffered just over 13,000 casualties by the wars end on November 11th [6].

In world war 2, the Red Arrow fought in the south pacific. The division logged 654 days of continuous combat, more than any other US division in any war [3]. The Red Arrow was the first US army division to directly enter combat with the Japanese in the southwest pacific in the Papuan Campaign, and would continue to see combat New Guinea, the Southern Philippines, and Luzon. During the Papuan campaign, the Red Arrow, along with the help of Australian units, was able to capture Buna and force the Japanese to retreat to Sanananda. The 127th regiment was able to break through the lines at Government Gardens, which allowed for advancement to and fall of Buna Government Station into allied hands.

During the New Guinea campaign, the Red Arrow 127th regiment participated in the landing of at Aitape and set up an inland defensive perimeter around the newly captured Tadji airstrip on April 16th. In the month of July, the Red Arrow repelled and destroyed a Japanese counter-attack to take back the airstrip. The capture of the airstrip was important to provide for heavy bomber bases for the push to the Philippines [1] [4].   

Once New Guinea was under American control, the Red Arrow was sent to recapture the Philippines and remove it from Japanese hands.  Their first of many contributions to liberating the Philippines happened along the Pinamapoon-Ormoc Highway against the Japanese First Division in an eight-day long battle. As the Red Arrow moved towards Carigara Bay, the Japanese were pushed north into the path of the 126th and 127th regiments. Weeks later, the 127th reached its objective of Antipolo point. Along with the Red Arrow, the Filipino guerrillas also fought against the Japanese, further stressing their lines and will to fight in the Philippines.

Following the start of the recapturing of Philippines, the Red Arrows’ next task was to invade and conquer Luzon, the Philippines largest island. Not wanting to let the recapturing of their land to fall solely to the American, Filipinos were not afraid to aid the 32nd in any way they could. As told by one Michigan solider, the 127th regiment even let a Filipino into their ranks [2].

“Alex just joined up with “Easy” Company of the 127th Infantry Regiment. From some reason Alex didn’t want to fight with the Filipino guerrillas. For reasons of his own, Alex hated the guerrillas. But Alex was a first-class fighting man. The GI’s gave him a Garand a dead Yank would never use again and fitted him out as a GI combat solider.”
“All throughout the Villa Verde campaign this little Filipino, about 5 feet 2 inches in height and 125 pounds in weight, has fought with the Yanks. Twice wounded, he twice went AWOL from evacuation hospitals in the rear, hitch-hiking back to “Easy” Company.”

 The division was tasked to advance along the 24-mile Villa Verde Trail through the mountains to the other side. The Japanese had the trail heavily fortified in preparation for American troops landing. Armored Bulldozers were used to push back the foliage along the trail to allow support vehicles and supplies to follow up behind . The fighting along the trail lasted a grueling 119 days and ended with the surrender of General Yamashito.

128th infantry entrenched on a hill on the Villa Verde Trail
128th Infantry
( U.S. Army Signal Corps )

          After World War 2, the Red Arrow Division was demobilized and reorganized. Before the reorganization, the Division comprised of both Wisconsin and Michigan counter parts and troops, fighting alongside each other throughout World War I and II. After the reorganization tough, the Badgers and the Wolverines were separated into their own state organizations, with Wisconsin keeping the 32nd.

The Red Arrow was reactivated in 1961 to 1962 for the Berlin Crisis after the free movement between allied controlled parts of Berlin as abolished by the erection of the Berlin Wall. It, and the Texas 49th Armored were the first to be called upon September 6th, 1961 [1]. In the short span of a few months, the division was moved to Washington State to begin their years training to be prepared to be sent overseas.

The 32nd can be traced back to the Iron Brigade in the American Civil war, which was primarily made up of Wisconsin and Michigan Volunteer units. The Iron Brigade was the only large unit from the western states during the civil war that saw action in the army of Potomac. The Iron Brigade lasted until the end of the civil war but was nearly destroyed in 1864 during Grant’s Virginia Campaign [1]. The Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard units that made up the 32nd Division were formed in 1889 and can trace their first deployment to 1898 for the Spanish-American war.

Picture of Red Arrow park and the red arrow monument
Red Arrow Park ( Angljt28 )

Red Arrow Park was name in 1945 in honor of the 32nd division, the Red Arrow. In July of 2000, a red granite boulder monument was donated to the park with a plaque informing park users about the reasoning behind the Red Arrow name. The park also contains a nautical memorial, which is dedicated to members within the community who lost their lives out on the lake or played a big role in shaping the community.

USS Fort Worth LCS3 & Fishermens' Memorial at Red Arrow Park in Marinette, WI
USS Fort Worth LCS3 & Fishermens’ Memorial (mjsfotoart)

Primary sources

Secondary Sources

Additional Reading

  1. 32nd Infantry Division (United States).
  2. Pike, J. (n.d.). 32nd Infantry Brigade (Light) (Separate) “Red Arrow”.