15 September 2010

The Bull, the Hawk, and the Pike

A quick and visual history lesson today ... File this knowledge under "Know your patches"!

The Red Bull patch was designed by American regionalist painter Marvin Cone. Cone was a National Guard soldier stationed at Camp Cody, N.M. with the 34th Infantry Division (not yet nicknamed the "Red Bull") during World War I. What's a "regionalist" painter? Cone was a friend and colleague of Grant Wood, the latter the artist of such revered works as "American Gothic," "Arbor Day," and "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." Think "guy with pitchfork standing next to his sister in front of house with a church-shaped window," and you'll be close.

The "Hawkeye" patch, which is currently worn by members of the Iowa Army National Guard not otherwise assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division, mirrors the "olla" jug shape in somewhat larger form. The patch was originally designed as the unit crest for the 34th Infantry Division headquarters and separate units of the division, including the 67th Infantry Brigade.

The patch features the profile of a hawk, and blue and gold laurels. The latter evokes the French influence on the state, which was part of the Louisiana Purchase. The former is symbolic of Iowa as the "Hawkeye" state.

Why the Hawkeye? The state's official nickname was partly due to the efforts of two boosters shortly after statehood: Judge David Rorer or Burlington and newspaper publisher James G. Edwards of Fort Madision, and later of Burlington.

Rorer was apparently an enthusiast of James Fenimore Cooper, who wrote "The Last of the Mohicans." In that book, the nickname "Hawkeye" is affixed to the scout Natty Bumppo. Edwards was a friend of Chief Blackhawk, and saw an opportunity to commemorate the Native American in the term "Hawkeye." He re-named his newspaper the "Burlington Hawk-eye and Iowa Patriot." The newspaper continues publication to this day.

The Nebraska National Guard's 67th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade (B.f.S.B.) is a possible successor to the 67th Infantry Brigade, although the Iowa National Guard's administrative 67th Troop Command is perhaps just as likely to be related. Nebraska's 1st Squadron, 134th Cavalry Regiment (1/134th Cavalry), as well as other soldiers of the 67th BfSB, are currently deploying with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (2-34 BCT).

The Nebraskans wear the left-shoulder unit patch depicting a "pike," a heavy pole-arm once wielded by medieval troops. Pikes are like spears on crack: There's the pointy end for skewering your enemies, there's a hook for tripping your enemies, and a smaller pointy bit for bashing your enemies. All it needs is a can opener or a corkscrew attachment.

The 67th BfSB is often referred to as the "Pike" brigade. One should avoid calling Nebraskans "pikers," however, because in some places in the world, that word is defined as "one who does not participate, or who stops participating."

Trust me--they're more than participating.

1 comment:

  1. I like these informative posts, but whether or not I remember the information is a whole new ball game. Throwing the humour in helps a lot, which you must remember if you ever get around to writing a book.
    I particularly enjoyed your description of the pike. "All it needs is a can opener or a corkscrew attachment." Or to be telescoping or foldable so that it can fit neatly into an attache case. Just had a vision of a new comicbook character. I'll get to work on that right away, while you work on your book.


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