2nd ID Warriors form 'living insignia' for 2nd time in division history
May 29, 2009
CAMP CASEY, South Korea -- Approximately 5,000 Warriors from the 2nd Infantry Division created a human version of the division's distinctive Indian-Head patch for only the second time in an organizational history dating from World War I May 21 at Indian-Head Stage Field here.
A steady drizzle that persisted throughout the event may have dampened the Warriors' wet weather gear and dress uniforms but it didn't dampen the Soldiers' resolve to take part in an historic event.
Organizers placed the first human elements of the division patch around 6 a.m. and continued to build the insignia throughout the early morning, adding Soldiers to the massive formation as they marched onto the field as companies, platoons and detachments. Various dress uniforms replicated the insignia color scheme.
The insignia was built from the middle out, with the most intricate portions of the pattern established first and the masses of Soldiers replicating the exterior placed last. The division's commanding general, command sergeant major and senior staff stood at the base of the insignia.
Around 9:25 the assembled Soldiers looked up and a small army of division photographers - several mounted 35 feet high in mechanical "cherry pickers" - commenced snapping shots.
Maj. Gen. John W. Morgan III, the commanding general, addressed his Soldiers after the second-of-its kind "photo op" in division history.
"Great job," he told them. "You are part of history and part of the great 2nd Infantry Division. I'm proud of each and every one of you. Thank you for your service to the nation and to this great division."
Warriors of all ranks, roles and career fields from organizations and installations across the division's footprint in Korea joined their leaders in the "patch."
According to 2nd Lt. Michael Nuclo, the division engineer operations officer and a key event organizer, leaders made a conscious effort to include all division units and ranks. "We'll have Soldiers from every significant division hub," he said before the event. "They're coming from (camps) Hovey, Casey, Camp Red Cloud, Humphrey and K-16."
Participants expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to play a unique role in division history.
"When I first got to Korea they took us to the 2nd ID Museum and showed us the original patch picture and said if we were here long enough we might get a chance to recreate it," said Pfc. Isaac Buckman of Company F, 333rd Target Acquisition Battery, 210th Fires Brigade. "I thought that was really cool, and it's great that I really had an opportunity to do it."
"This will go down in history and will always be remembered," added Pvt. Jeremiah Heard of Battery E, 143rd Air Defense Artillery, 210th Fires Brigade. Other Soldiers, he predicted, "will love it and they will wish they could do it just the same way that we did."
Event organizers seemed equally inspired by their achievement and relieved it came off without a hitch.
"This was a deliberate operation like everything else we do in this division," said Lt. Col. Michael Anastasia, the division G-3 (operations officer) and the primary figure in the planning and execution of the living insignia. "The event was meticulously planned and executed precisely according to that plan."
"Everything went very well," said Lt. Col. Leroy Sharpe, the division engineer. "We knew it was going to rain and we planned for it. I'm glad it all came together so well. It was an honor and privilege to be part of history today."
"I think it went very well," added Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Roberts, the NCOIC of the division engineer shop. "It feels pretty good to be part of an event like this that hopefully will last another 84 years."
The ceremony recreated an event conducted 84 years ago at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, which served as division headquarters during the period between the World Wars.
"It's the first time this has been accomplished since 1925," said William M. Alexander, the 2nd ID museum director and division historian. Organizational pride, heritage and esprit de corps, the retired Army colonel added, motivated both "living insignia" ceremonies.
"Living insignia" formations, Alexander noted, "were widely popular during the '20s - that was probably the high point of their popularity. Maj. Gen. Morgan had the vision to do this again."
Alexander said he plans to display the new living insignia photo alongside the 1925 image in the museum foyer.
Event organizers confronted daunting engineering, mechanical and logistical challenges. Conducting a 5,000-Soldier formation, with all its inherent transportation and scheduling difficulties, represents a significant feat in itself. Event and unit leaders worked tirelessly to ensure consistency in uniform and precision in placement.
Division engineers faced a particularly daunting task: determining and implementing the proper configuration and dimensions. This required engineers to establish models projecting the likely appearance of the Soldiers from a vantage point 35 feet high and to the front of the formation, and arranging 5,000 Warriors in accordance with that vision.
"We used computer models - there are mathematical equations we used based on the patch design and adjusting for the slope of the angle from 35 feet," Nuclo said.
"For all our technological advantages I'm not sure what we did was a lot different from what they did in 1925," he added with a smile. "That was a generation of Americans that built a lot of amazing things."
Organizers and observers described the present as an ideal time for the division to recreate the insignia.
"Service on the Korean Peninsula is so important a part of the division's heritage it's only appropriate they do this on the peninsula," Alexander said. "The division suffered the highest number and proportion of casualties during the war and its members received the highest number of awards. Over half of the division's service has been in Korea. It's due to that Korean War legacy Gen. Douglas MacArthur said, 'No division I've ever commanded is better than the 2nd ID.'"
"This is a time in the history of the division when the camaraderie and esprit de corps have never been higher," Anastasia said. "In my 21 years of service I've never been part of an organization with such a spirit of brotherhood, so this was an ideal time to take the picture."
Nuclo drew an historical parallel between the generations of Warriors pictured in the past and present living insignia photographs.
"The older guys in that picture would have served in World War I, and most of the younger guys would serve later in World War II," Nuclo said of the 1925 photo. "So you had a unique moment when most of the participants served in one of the two greatest wars of their era. Now our Soldiers are either on their way from or eventually going to Iraq or Afghanistan - the two wars of our era."
For more information about the 2nd Infantry Division's history and more please visit www.2ID.korea.army.mil