ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on January 29th, 2011 at 5:04 am

Did the 1st Cavalry Division Lose Their Patch Because of the Korean War?

» by in: Korean War

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.

Tags: ,
  • dave
    1:29 am on January 29th, 2011 1

    "colors" are not the same as "patch"

  • Joe
    3:51 am on January 29th, 2011 2

    I hear Cavlary is a condition that can be cleared-up with testosterone shots – :mrgreen:

  • Retired GI
    5:06 am on January 29th, 2011 3

    NOTHING is "put to rest". You will not find anything "official".

    Rumors usually have a cause.;ttMOVINGO

    I served with the CAV in Bosnia. Again in Iraq. Different leadership. Same F—ed up thinking.

    That was one ate the hell up officer in Bosnia. The one in Iraq was not as bad, but still ate up.

    They do something to officers when they arrive at hood. Not sure what. But I've known good officers else where, arrive at hood and lose what made them good.

    Curse of the Patch. It sucks the vital juices from leaders and troops alike. I had a good Troop in 2ID. One year later after wearing the Patch and he was on his way to dirt-bag ville.

    The 1st CAV, Chinese Quartermasters in Korea.

    "The horse that can't be ridden, a road that can't be crossed and the color (yellow) is the reason why." That is the one I heard.

    Another goes like this: "the shield they never used, the line they never held, the horse they never rode and the yellow speaks for itself."

    I don't believe in messing around with history just because you don't like it.

    Not like it applies today. But it likely did apply then and for a reason.

    Stop resurrecting it by trying to disprove it! You can't. Leave it alone and allow it to go away. It belongs to history. Leave it there.

    "If your first duty is the CAV, not likely you will re-up"

  • JoeC
    8:19 am on January 29th, 2011 4

    Similar rumors(?) have also persisted about the 18th TFW in Kadena. Their insignia is a chicken with raised wings on a yellow background. It's officially referred to as a fighting cock. Hmmm? … you decide.

    I've seen where some refer to them as the "Surrendering Chickens", but surrendering wasn't part of the story we were told on my first assignment to Korea in '79. During the Korean War, the aircrew had supposedly abandoned their airbase and left their ground support to be overrun by the enemy. Many of those airmen were then hung from the rafters of aircraft hangers with safetywire. For those who don't know, safteywire is an unsheathed metal alloy wire of varying gauges on spools, used for securing equipment inside aircraft so they don't come loose.

    The 18th TFW aircraft tail letters are also unusual; "ZZ", the last possible letter combination. One interpretation was it indicated they would be last unit allowed to return to the States.

    The running gag played on airmen on their first tour to Korea working in aircraft maintenance was to explain the "dike detail"; dike, as in diagonal wire cutter. The dike detail would occur whenever we went on alert. The junior airmen would be tasked to inventory and account for every spool of safetywire in the shop. If the situation ever got really desperate we should be prepared to cut up (dike) all the safetywire to less than a meter lengths. Hey! Hang me with anything. Just don't hang me with safetywire.

    Maybe the Rumor Doctor can find time to get to the bottom of these stories?

  • vince
    8:37 am on January 29th, 2011 5

    No– you're thinking of the 1st Calvary Division, made up of Baptists. It lost its colors because the men of the famed 1st Cal used their M-50 fifty caliber and sixty cal machine guns against human targets, which violated the Geneva Convention.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    2:15 pm on January 29th, 2011 6

    @#1 – Read the second sentence of the article. That is what I am referring to and is what the legend around the 1st Cav is that the Rumor Doctor was looking into.

  • Retired GI
    2:38 pm on January 29th, 2011 7

    #5 wrong. They were shooting their military Equipment. No violation. (uniforms ARE military equipment) :twisted:

    (M-60—IS—for human targets, by the way)(it did not enter service untill 1957) Could not have been used in Korean war.

    (50 cal—why waste the ammo on little tiny people)

    Sooo, no violation.

    It is CAV, not Cal.

    The CAV was all Muslim back then, since you want to bring religion into it. :grin:

    You must be a Korean College Student Vince. ;-)

  • vince
    2:49 pm on January 29th, 2011 8

    No- just repeating the horrible horse manure which was and still is passed as gospel, usually prefaced with an "I heard that…."

    - Hearing the M-60 get referred to as the "sixty cal". Heard it even in infantry units. Oh, the humanity!

    - Hearing the M-2 .50 caliber machine gun referred to as an "M-50". By a master sergeant. Vietnam vet. Oy vey!

    - Hearing, time after time, that one cannot engage human targets with a .50 caliber machine gun because it is a violation of the Geneva Convention. Horse. Sh!t. Passed as truth to young troops by people who should know better. You can whack an enemy with a tank main gun if that's all you have. You can kill an enemy with any means at hand. The American combatant is not restricted in any way in his own self defense. Granted, using a tank round to take out one bad guy might go outside the bounds of good logistical sense, but, again, if that is all you have…

    Audie Murphy was awarded his Medal of Honor for actions which included killing Germans with the cupola mounted M-2 .50 caliber machine gun atop a burning tank (or maybe a tank destroyer- I'd have to look it up). Violations of the law of armed conflict are usually covered under the Hague Conventions versus the Geneva Conventions which address conditions for prisoners of war, retained personnel, non-combatant internees, etc.

    - Calling the 1st Cavalry Division (or any cav unit) "Calvary"– only repeating to drive a point home that words do indeed mean things; I can't count how many times I have seen "Cavalry" spelled out as "Calvary" in publications whose editors should have known better, or by Soldiers who should go to BSEP.

    I need a drink…

  • Retired GI
    2:52 pm on January 29th, 2011 9

    So it is about the colors (that they didn't have in country). But your second sentence is about the (patch).

    The legend is about the design of the patch and it's symbolism. That is the one I have heard. Nothing about the "colors", until now.

    I guess having one rumor was not enough.

    So he never addressed the symbolism of the Patch. Which is what the legend is about. At least among the Troops.

  • vince
    5:51 pm on January 29th, 2011 10

    It's actually a pretty neat patch- disclaimer, I have never been in any cav outfit.

  • Teadrinker
    6:15 pm on January 29th, 2011 11


    Thanks for fixing those mistakes. It was eating me.

    PS. Not to alarm you, but I've seen here in Korea an M-60 and an M-16 in an exhibit of the weapons supposedly used by UN Forces during the Korean War. :roll:

  • vince
    9:05 pm on January 29th, 2011 12

    I think I have seen that, too- or others like it!

    We need an emoticon for "angels weeping"…

  • Leon LaPorte
    9:28 pm on January 29th, 2011 13

    #10 The monstrosity was so big you had to relocate the rank on class A's to make room for it. It really dorked up your uniform to enter, then leave 1CAV (aka "Dishonored Cav").

  • Hot Stuff
    11:14 pm on February 2nd, 2011 14

    @13, yeah, I was in 1st Cav and had to move my stripes down to fit the patch in the proper location. Of course at that point I'm in violation of AR 670-1 because my rank is not centered properly. Whatchoo gonna do?

  • Thomas Lee
    1:00 am on February 3rd, 2011 15

    The m60 and the m16 have been used in the Korean War…. considering the fact that the war is not technically over…..

  • Dragonfly
    1:34 am on February 3rd, 2011 16

    Good point Thomas. And technically correct. I know a lot of M-16 rounds were fired up on the Z in the late 60's/early 70's.

  • Kane
    11:04 pm on February 25th, 2012 17

    What the shit. I have never seen so much dogging of the First Team. First off, I’ve met more ate-ups in 2ID than I did in the Cav.
    Also, #8, just hearing someone pronounce “Cal-” makes my blood pressure go up.

  • Vince
    12:42 am on February 26th, 2012 18


RSS feed for comments on this post | TrackBack URI

By submitting a comment here you grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution.

Bad Behavior has blocked 31976 access attempts in the last 7 days.