The 1st Infantry Division

  Two legends have emerged in answer to the question, "how did the Big Red One patch originate ?"
  The first story has it that during World War One, Division supply trucks were of English manufacture so drivers painted a huge figure "1" on each truck to distinguish their vehicles from those of the Allies. Later, Division Engineers carried the measure a step further by sewing a red patch on their sleeves on which was placed the number "1".
  The second more often quoted tale involves a General and a Lieutenant. According to this version, during the build-up and training days of 1917, a general officer decided that the Division needed a suitable shoulder insignia. He proceeded to cut a crude numeral "1" from a ragged suit of his red flannel underwear. He then sewed the number on his uniform sleeve. When a brash young Lieutenant saw the red numeral, he shouted "the General's underwear is showing !" The General shouted back, "all right young man, if you're so smart, come up with something better." The Lieutenant produced a prototype of today's patch, using a piece of cloth (probably grey) from a captured soldier's uniform as a background on hwich he placed the red "1".
  In October 1918, the patch as it is known now, a red "1" on a solid olive green background, was officially approved for wear by members of the Division. In Vietnam, where new camouflage measures forced some other units into revamping their insignia, the Big Red One patched remained unaltered on the left shoulder of each man's uniform. Proudly worn, the patch symbolizes the tradition buiding present members of the "Fighting First" with those who wore the Big Red One in World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Cold War, Gulf War, and in Bosnia.

© 1998- Big Red One Commemorative Unit