CAMP HUMPHRYS, South Korea — A box of patches and medals sits on a dusty shelf in a family’s study. An older man wearing a veteran’s cap salutes a new officer, while a young man accepts the iron bar placed on the lieutenant’s shoulders. The brothers stand shoulder to shoulder, the name plates on their matching dress uniforms glinting in the sunlight.
Military service is more than just a job, it is also a profession that sometimes carries a deep family legacy. For one family, the Benedicts, that sentiment is embodied in a black-and-white Indian head patch that now hangs encased in glass at the 2nd Infantry Korean-American Combined Division headquarters at Camp Humphreys. This is the story of that patch, and the story of generations of journeys around the world in pursuit of the unit it represents.
Like the U.S. Army’s unit patch, the 2nd Infantry Division’s shield-shaped epaulettes are very large, with only the 1st Cavalry Division’s yellow and black triangular shoulder logo larger. This patch is one of the most famous military emblems, featuring the profile of a Native American wearing a white star and a feathered headdress on a black background, and includes the “Screaming Eagle” of the 101st Airborne Division and the 1st Armored Division. It is as famous as “Hell’s Wheels.” triangle. In recent years, the 2nd Infantry Division has become the Army’s only joint division, so a tab has been added to the top of the patch that reads “Joint Division” in English and Korean.
Our story begins in Europe during World War II with Sergeant Benedict, a tank commander from Vermont. Sergeant Benedict decides to exchange patches with every unit he encounters. In December 1944, the Germans launched the Ardennes Offensive, known to Americans as the Battle of the Bulge, and Benedict found himself and his tankers fighting alongside elements of the 2nd Infantry Division. Benedict was presented with an Indian head patch, in keeping with the tradition of private patch trading. Benedict carried Patch from the frozen Belgian forests for the remainder of the war. Returning to his hometown in Vermont, he packed up the patch collection he had amassed and continued his service until he reached the rank of sergeant major.
The Indian head patches collected by Benedict remained in Vermont while the next generation of Benedicts grew up and served in the U.S. Army. Benedict’s son, William Benedict, now a master sergeant, was commissioned as an engineer officer from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he served for ten years. Sergeant Major Benedict’s grandson, Keith Benedict, followed in his father’s footsteps and graduated from West Point as an infantry officer.
Twenty years later, Col. Keith Benedict assumed command of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, also known as the “Mountain Warriors.” In May 2023, the Mountain Warriors deployed to South Korea and assumed responsibility as the Korean Rotation Force, organized under the 2nd Infantry Korean-American Combined Division.
Our story ends on a crisp Korean fall day when William Benedict travels to Korea with an Indian head patch in his luggage. Sergeant Benedict’s patch was placed under glass, and in a short, intimate ceremony at the modern-day 2nd Infantry Division headquarters, Col. Benedict presented a relic of a long-gone battlefield to current 2nd Infantry Division Commander William “Hank” Presented to Major General Taylor. infantry division. After 75 years and thousands of miles, Patch is back with the warriors of the 2nd Infantry Division.
|December 15, 2023
|Pyeongtaek, 41, South Korea
|Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
This work, Lineage and Legacy: A Unit Patch Journey from Belgium to Pyeongtaekby CPT William Romineidentified by DVIDSsubject to the restrictions set forth at https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.