Rumor Doctor blog archive
Did the 1st Cavalry Division lose its colors?
By Jeff Schogol
Stars and Stripes
Published: January 26, 2011
The 1st Cavalry Division’s combat patch stands out from its peers: Its silhouetted horse and line on a yellow field is recognizable from far away. But urban legend has it that there was a time when soldiers in the unit were not allowed to wear the patch in the United States.
“Story is that the division lost its colors in Korea and since the division was ‘disgraced’ the patch could not be worn in the US,” one reader wrote in an e-mail to The Rumor Doctor. “During Vietnam the division ‘regained’ its honor, ending the ban.”
Considering the 1st Cavalry Division kept The Rumor Doctor alive when he got sick during his last trip to Iraq, The Doctor is happy to consign this myth to the scrap heap of urban legends – along with the one about eating Pop Rocks and drinking soda.
The story stems from a battle in November 1950 at Unsan, in modern-day North Korea, when the 1st Cavalry Division fought Chinese troops for the first time, according to the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pa.
“Elements of the division's 8th Cavalry Regt became cut off, resulting in the capture of numerous personnel and much equipment,” according to the center’s website. “Worse hit was the regiment's 3d Battalion, with its command post overrun. Rumors of losing its colors have haunted the 8th ever since.”
But the battalion was not carrying 1st Cavalry division or regimental colors when it was overrun, said Steven C. Draper, director of the division museum at Fort Hood, Texas, which has a brochure and exhibit on this subject.
While the 1st Cavalry Division did not lose its colors, the Chinese captured another unit’s colors, which are on display in a military museum in Beijing, experts said.
The 1st Cavalry Division remained in Japan and South Korea after the war until June 1965, when its colors were transferred to Fort Benning, Ga., and the unit was dispatched to Vietnam, said Richard L. Baker, of the U.S. Army Military History Institute in Carlisle.
“Until 1965 the division simply wasn't located in the U.S. proper, so few if any individuals would have been seen wearing the patch,” Baker said in an e-mail.
Unfortunately, the rumor about the 1st Cavalry Division losing its colors gave rise to disgraceful sayings about the division's combat patch, including, “The horse they never rode, the line they never held, the color running down their back,” said Rob Dalessandro, of the U.S. Army Center for Military History at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. Rumor Doctor blog archive
May 18 · Edited
AIR ASSAULT BADGE CLARIFICATION
I just talked with 2 people at The Institute Of Heraldry (TIOH) which handles distribution of all awards and Medals to servicemen. I called in regards to the mention of the award at our reunion and who should receive it and if there were any updates as was mentioned at our reunion. This is what I was told:
Short and sweet ... the answer was NO. I talked with the man in charge and he said that award is ONLY given by the school that trains personnel for such assaults in Ft. Campbell, KY. It's for the 101st Airborne. It was begun in 1974 and it is NOT retroactive. There have been NO updates giving this award retroactively to anyone taking part in Combat Assaults in Vietnam.
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