On 6 August 1944, a newspaper in the Nation's Capital published a report from a war correspondent with the 2d Infantry Division in Normandy. The first statement made in his column went as follows: Perhaps the most coveted shoulder flash of the AEF in the last war (World War I) was the Indian Head of the 2d Division. . ." Seven years later, on 29 May 1951, another military writer, for a different Washington newspaper, wrote as follows: "With an outstanding record of achievement in two World Wars, the INDIANHEAD DIVISION five times has matched its valor against Red numbers in Korea to win improbable victories. . ."

The history of the "most coveted shoulder flash of the AEF is also a history of the Divisional nickname "Indianhead." The two are synonymous. The insignia portrays the All-American traditions of the Division as well as its place of origin.

Prior to approval of the Indianhead, combat elements of the Division went into fights wearing battle blazes similar to those of the British forces. The cloth blazes were usually worn on the left sleeve near the shoulder and were of different colors and sizes to denote the different battalions. For example, when the 3d Battalion, 9th Infantry, was selected to be one of the two attacking Battalions in the St Mihiel offensive, (September 1918) a conference of officers decided on battle blazes. They were to be three inches square on each shoulder, in red for the 3d Battalion or attacking echelon, white for the 2d Battalion in the next wave, and blue for the 1st Battalion or third wave. At least that was the idea. Many men at first thought the blazes would draw enemy fire and smeared mud on them or cut the center out. The 3d Battalion followed the directive to the letter and had three inch red squares on each arm just below the shoulder; but the 1st Battalion, afraid of the fire they would draw, cut their white patches down to one inch and placed them in rear of the left shoulder only. The 9th Infantry Machine Gun Company, attached to the 3d Battalion used small red circles, Headquarters Company a red triangle, and Regimental Headquarters and Staff, a three inch square divided into two triangles, one red and one white. A few days later other divisional units selected battle blazes.

Now let us see how the Indianhead insignia got started. In mid-March 1918 when the 2d Division was occupying trenches in the Toulon-Troyon sectors, Lieutenant Samuel T. Swift, 2d Supply Trains, was ordered to proceed to the 26th Division's sector for the purpose of bringing back some light Ford delivery trucks. Upon his return he reported to the Trains Commander, Colonel Herringshaw, and told him of insignia seen on trains in the Allied Army. They both agreed that the 2d Supply Trains certainly should have one. Weren't they the best outfit in the best damn Division in Europe?

Colonel Herringshaw wasted no time. Setting the wheels in motion by assessing each of his officers five francs for prize money, on 28 March he had the following memorandum published to his force:

A design is desired for use on our trucks similar to those used on truck trains of other armies. Designs should be simple, easily distinguishable and should not be liable of confusion with other markings, and should have some special significance. Only one design will be used but there will be three prizes awarded as follows:

  • 1st Prize-40 Francs
  • 2d Prize-25 Francs
  • 3d Prize-l0 Francs
  • Designs will be passed on by a board appointed later. Suggestions with a rough sketch should be submitted to Headquarters by noon March 31st.

    Thus began the search for an emblem which, in the days to come, would become known and feared by the enemy. Sketches began to pour in from the five companies of the Trains and from MSTU #303 which was attached. The board was swamped.

    After some debate, an Indian Head submitted by Sergeant Louis B. Lundy, Company A, as an all-American symbol, was chosen as 1st prize winner; a star designed by Sergeant John Kenny of Company B, indicative of the fact that they came out of Mexico during the border trouble in 1916 into Texas, was declared 2d prize winner. The 3d place winner was lost in the shuffle.

    Fortunately, Colonel Herringshaw was not satisfied with the winning designs, otherwise one of the most distinctive shoulder sleeve insignia in the Army would not have come into existence. For posterity's sake we will have to assume the Colonel's next move. He simply laid the pair on his desk and pondered a while. After some hesitation, he placed the Indian Head on the Star and decided the combination of the two made the best and most pleasing design. Thus the "Star and Indian Head" became the official insignia of the 2d Supply Trains, 2d Division. Sergeants Lundy and Kenny then split the prize money. History doesn't recall what the two soldier-designers did with their fortune, but. soldiers are soldiers the world over and, in all probability, they managed to have a good time with it.

    On 12 April the Colonel requested permission to stencil the design on all the vehicles of his command. The points of the star to be white, the face red, and the war bonnet blue. Permission was granted and as quick as paint could be procured the "Star and Indian Head" appeared on the equipment. Two months later, Major General Omar Bundy, commanding the Division, had his car taken into the repair shops during the Division's stay at La Ferte sous J ouarre, near Chateau Thierry, for some minor repairs. At this time he ordered the striking emblem to be painted on it.

    Towards the end of the year General Headquarters, AEF, sent a telegram to Commanding Generals of all combat divisions in France and directed that they select a distinctive design to be used as a Divisional patch. On the 21st of October, Major General John A. LeJeune, U.S. Marine Corps, then commanding the 2d Division, selected the Star and Indian Head as the Division insignia. He admitted at the time that it had already been generally accepted and put into use. There was only one improvement on the old design. The crudely drawn Indian Head then in use was refined by using the head sculptured by Augustus St.

    Gauden, then shown on the American five dollar gold piece. When the Division officially adopted the Star and Indian Head for its insignia, the fun began. Eventually it appeared in the most unlikely places and in almost as many shapes and sizes as there were men in the Division. An order of November 1918 directed that the background of the insignia would be cut in various shapes with different colors to designate the many divi- sional components. Among other things, it specified that the shapes would be: a shield, haxagon, oval, projectile, castle, cross, pentagon, circle, square, and oblong. The colors would be black, yellow, red, blue, purple, and green. All in all, collectors know of 44 variations of this fine insignia.

    A year after the armistice, when it was thought that Divisional insignia would be done away with, Colonel Harry A. Eaton, 23d Infantry, wrote to The Adjutant General as follows:

    . . . The insignia used by the Second Division has become of great sentimental value to the men of the Division. In fact, men have removed this insignia from their shoulders with great reluctance. They have expressed themselves as being bitterly hurt that they are required to take it off.

    Because of the great usefulness of the system of identification used overseas by the Second Division, it is believed that always in time of active operations it will be used. . . . . . . it is therefore requested and urgently recommended, that the Second Division be authorized to wear permanently, as a part of the uniform of the Division, the shoulder insignia adopted and worn by the Division during its active services in the World War...

    In June 1920 the insignia was made permanent part of the uniform and worn by all men of the Division. However, it was no longer displayed in varied shapes and colors. It was directed that the insignia, a black shield with a white star and Indian Head would be the official insignia worn by all personnel.

    Today, soldiers of the 2d Infantry Division wear with pride the results of that early contest. Soldiers of other nations have worn, and are still wearing, this design while serving with the Division in Korea. They too, wear it with the prideful knowledge that it symbolizes a well knit fighting outfit that has shown its worth against the best the enemy has ever been able to throw against it.