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42ID patch"The 42nd Division stretches like a Rainbow from one end of America to the other."
--General Douglas MacArthur--

The 42nd Infantry (RAINBOW) Division received the name "Rainbow Division" in 1917 during its organization at Camp Mills, Long Island, New York. The Chief of Staff of the Division at that time was Colonel Douglas MacArthur, As they were discussing the organization of the Division and reviewing the National Guard units from 26 states that would make up the Division, Colonel Douglas MacArthur commented that "The 42nd Division stretches like a Rainbow from one end of America to the other." The comment caught the interest of those present and they decided to call it the "Rainbow Division".

After a few weeks of training had past, it was decided to create a patch for the Division, Local seamstresses in Hempstead were contacted and a Rainbow patch was created out of strips of felt on squares of brown wool uniform cloth. The three primary colors of the Rainbow; Red, Gold, and Blue were selected. The soldiers immediately adopted the design. Since there was no method for the government to provide the patches, seamstresses on Long Island and later in France, were kept busy throughout the war sewing Rainbow Patches.

One of the original patches is on display in the World War I section of the historical display at the Division Headquarters, in Troy, New York.


The 4th quadrant of a rainbow of three bands red, yellow and blue, each 3/8 inch (.95cm) in width, outer radius 2 inches (5.08cm); all within a 1/8 inch (.32cm) Army green border.
The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally authorized by telegram on 29 Oct 1918 for the 42nd Division. It was officially authorized for wear on 27 May 1922. On 8 Sept 1947 it was authorized for the 42nd Infantry Division.


A gold color metal and enamel device 1 3/16 inches (3.02cm) in height overall consisting of an arc of three concentric red, gold metal and blue bands, the ends curving downwards and terminating behind a vertical white enamel fleur-de-lis on either side above in base a yellow enamel demi-sun with gold rays on a light blue background, all above a red scroll, the ends curving behind the lower area of each fleur-de-lis, inscribed “RAINBOW” in gold letters.
Blue is the color used for Infantry. The rainbow alludes to the shoulder sleeve insignia of the Division and spanning across two fleurs-de-lis symbolize their combat service in France during both World War I and World War II. The sun, adapted from the seal of the State of New York, refers to the location and home area of the 42nd Infantry Division.
The distinctive unit insignia was authorized on 3 Jun 1976.
Webmaster | © NYS DMNA: NYARNG: 42d Infantry Division: Story of the Rainbow Patch