HISTORY

The start of the 28th Infantry Division Association begins with the story of Col. Boal and his fellow veterans who strived to remain in contact, document their history and remember their fallen in the wake of World War I. 

Boalsburg’s namesake is Col. Theodore Davis Boal, a successful entrepreneur who helped establish the Boal Troop, a Pennsylvania National Guard force.
 
This militia force was raised under the adjutant general of Pennsylvania for the protection of the commonwealth and country. These forces would later become the 28th Infantry Division.

Col. Boal’s Troop would become the 107th Machine Gun Battalion under the 28th Infantry Division. Boal would leave his beloved troop to serve on the 28th Infantry Division staff. Upon the division’s return from World War I, the Society of the 28th Division American Expeditionary Forces was established. This brotherhood was not unlike other veterans’ organizations today. Boal would be involved in this organization and had a clubhouse on the grounds of his estate. He would work to build a shrine in memory of the fallen there as well. 

The following language is from a memorial program, before the outbreak of WW II, at Boalsburg. It pays tribute to Boal, his WW I compatriots and what they built together at Boalsburg:

There is located at Boalsburg, Centre County, Pennsylvania, a piece of land, some twenty-eight acres in area, acquired by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and a portion of it has been set aside for a military cemetery. Within this area there is a wooded grove, crossed by a winding stream, and there is located a Shrine, built by the officers of the old 28th in memory of those comrades who died in France. Before this shrine there is an alter erected to the late Col. Theodore Davis Boal, who personally founded this memorial and who at great personal expense, shipped from the battlefields of France trophies captured by you and your comrades that they might be gathered here for all to see.

There stands also a wayside cross beneath which was found the body of General Edward Sigerfoos, killed in action while commanding the 55th Infantry Brigade. He fell in battle.
And grouped about this Shrine are other monuments, other memorials and we read upon the plaques; Fetzer – Shannon – Miner, ect., and many other names that awaken memories we thought were gone. Here, in this quiet wood they stand, keeping alive the glory that your courage and the courage of your comrades placed upon bright pages of our nation’s history.

Every year in May when spring blossoms are bloom, when trees are fresh with bud and stream banks heavy with growth of an awakening summer your comrades of the 28th gather at Boalsburg to pay tribute to their comrades-in-arms whose sacrifice is here commemorated. It is an impressive ceremony. Assembled in that quiet wood, facing the rugged and eternal stone of which the shrine is built, they live again those years long since passed. Their memory walks the quiet paths and voices speak in the rippling music of the little brook. Won’t you join us there when we come once again?
 
 
Brig. Gen. Edward Sigerfoos, the only American
general to be killed in combat during WW I.
 

By the late 1990's, the Society had all but disappeared due to the deaths of its members. Until the formation of what is now known as the 28th Infantry Division Association, there was no other organization of Division veterans, although there were regimental and battalion organizations.

The first All-Divisional veterans' reunion was organized in 1979 in conjunction with the 100th birthday of the 28th Infantry Division. Housing for veterans returning for the event was made available at Fort Indiantown Gap. This made it convenient for them to witness the ceremonies and events attending the commemoration. No further efforts to assemble Division veterans, nor organize a veteran's organization took place until 1984 when the Signal Battalion organized an "All-Division" reunion at Indiantown Gap that year. This began the custom of holding annual Division reunions at that site.

In 1985, the veterans of the 110th Infantry Regiment directed the reunion. Following this, the Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Harold J. Lavell, directed that annual reunions would continue. Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Fonner was the liaison which led to the organization of the 28th Infantry Division Heritage Association. Brig. Gen. Lawrence L. Hammacher Jr., Pennsylvania National Guard, retired volunteered to lead this new organization. General Hammacher retained leadership until the mid 1990s' when Col. Henry Paul Brown, PNG, retired then became the President and Executive Director of the Association. The Purpose of the Organization is enumerated below. These remain a focus of our Executive Council with an emphasis on our scholarship program, history and the memorial fund.

Founding member, Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Richard Fonner, outlined the purpose of what is now known as the 28th Infantry Division Association. The organization was originally called the 28th Infantry Division Heritage Association, but name was changed because some people interpreted "Heritage Association" with an organization that had only preservation interests and not future goals.
  1. To foster camaraderie with all active Soldiers and veterans of the 28th Infantry Division. This is especially true in our association with the veteran regimental associations.
  2. Conducting annual division conferences and reunions.
  3. Publishing a periodic roster of Association members for distribution during the annual conference/reunion.
  4. To publish a newsletter and other material as needed to keep the membership aware of matters affecting the Association and its members. 
  5. Maintaining a close and cooperative relationship between the Association and the 28th Infantry Division.
  6. Support memorials honoring the 28th Infantry Division and assist in their maintenance.
  7. Collect and preserve historic documents pertaining to the history and heritage of the 28th Infantry Division.
  8. Continue educating the general public on the defense Soldiers in wars, police actions, conflicts, peacekeeping endeavors, and international security; and in defending and protecting the citizens of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in times of domestic disturbances and during natural or man-made disasters.
Since that time, the aging of our WW II veterans has impacted annual events and current leadership is focusing on reengaging with retirees, soldiers and families. Scholarship programs, troops support and preservation/education of history remain the focus or the association.
 
We ask you to join us in the mission of preserving the history of the 28th Infantry Division and caring for its soldiers and families into the future.