By the spring of 1918, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division and several others had already been bloodied during rotations into generally quiet sectors to gain experience, or in support roles with the British Army as the latter sought to contain the Imperial German Army’s Michael offensives. In the last week of April, the 1st Division made the move into the sector that would in a month’s time earn the division national acclaim: Picardy, in northern France, in which province stood the village of Cantigny. The Battle of Cantigny is regarded as the first distinctly American victory of the war.
June 19, 1942, is not a familiar date to most. But members of the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment know it well; it’s the date of activation of the 1st Ranger Battalion, under the command of Lt. Col. William Darby. Colloquially known as “Darby’s Rangers,” 1st Battalion and several subsequent Ranger battalions formed during World War II represented the genesis of the modern Ranger role of performing large-scale objective raids and direct-action missions.