This is a rumor that has persisted that I have long known wasn’t true, but Jeff Schogol over at the Stars & Stripes has debunked this myth once and for all:
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.” [Stars & Stripes]
Read the rest at the link, but I think Jeff’s article should put this myth finally to rest. Now if only the mythology surrounding the 1st Cavalry Division’s involvement in the tragedy at No Gun Ri could be put to rest as well.