Table of Contents
1 – Introduction
Members of the 2nd Infantry Division has been the wearers of the famed Indian Head Patch in five different wars around the planet. This insignia had its origin during World War One as the identifying insignia on the vehicles of the Division Supply Trains.
The Commanding Officer of the trains held a contest in March 1918, to select a distinctive identifying symbol for use upon the vehicles after he had seen the vehicles of adjacent French units decorated in this manner. Through his adjutant, he sent out a memorandum authorizing prizes for the best designs submitted, with the first prize of forty francs.
The winning insignia, which obtained the final approval of Division Headquarters for use upon supply train vehicles in April 1918, was the striking red and blue Indian head, superimposed upon a white star. The head covered the re-entrant angles of the star and exposed only the points. Maj Gen Omar Bundy, the Division Commander, and his Chief of Staff, Col Preston Brown, later Maj Gen Preston Brown, were riding in a command car one day in April when Gen Bundy’s eye was caught by the insignia emblazoned on a truck.
According to a letter from Maj Gen Brown written some time later, Gen Bundy stopped the driver, asked the meaning of the device, and was told by the driver that it enabled him to find his vehicle in the dark. The letter does not bring out that the insignia had been authorized and was probably coming into use on all the vehicles of the trains but at that time and at any rate, the Gen and his Chief of Staff promptly sent their cars to the area to have the insignia painted upon them. In this manner, the Indian Head became associated with the 2nd Division as its identifying insignia sometime before it became the standard shoulder patch so proudly worn by men of the Division.
In October 1918, the Commanding General of the American Expeditionary Force (CG-AEF), Gen John J. Pershing, requested units to furnish insignia for approval. Maj Gen John A. Lejeune, USMC, in reply to the request, submitted the red and blue Indian head upon a white star as the insignia of the 2nd Marine Division. The head was contained within the re-entrant angles of the star in this design, the whole contained within a circle three and one-half inches in diameter. As the Indian head in the representation was somewhat crudely constructed, it was designated that the Saint-Gaudens Indian, in use on the five-dollar gold piece, be substituted.
On November 14 1918, an order was published by Headquarters 2nd Division announcing that the insignia as described had been made official for the Division.
The cloth background for the insignia was of varying shapes and colors, designating the major unit to which the individual wearer belonged and the subordinate unit. The background chosen for the Division’s Headquarters was the black shield. In April 1933, Maj Gen Preston Brown, taking command of the Division, abolished the differentiation of all the backgrounds in use and made the black shield official for all elements of the 2nd Division.
With proud traditions and wearing the Fourragère of the Croix de Guerre won at Soissons and Mont Blanc during World War One, the 2nd Infantry Division entered the War in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) with the incomparable esprit which comes from a notable heritage.
In the Normandy Peninsula, at the Siege of Brest, on the Siegfried Line, racing across Central Europe, and in the last days of the Wehrmacht’s disintegrating power in Czechoslovakia, the Division for the second time proved itself Second to None in upholding it’s country’s finest military traditions.
Its operations and achievements reflect credit upon the army of which it was a part and upon the men who fought its battles through the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland (Germany), the Ardennes, and Central Europe. The impressive array of battle honors and individual citations won can only indicate the untold acts of gallantry and great fighting spirit which marked eleven months of combat in German-held Europe.