545th Military Police Company
1st Cavalry Division
Mother Dorsey’s visit to the 545th
MP Co and the
1st Cavalry Division
A Pictorial History
As of January 26, 2012
Anyone who has ever
served in the 1st Cavalry Division knows who Mother
Dorsey is! One of the first things you hear about when you
join the division is Mother Dorsey. There have always been
young men who until they joined the Army, were boys and “a young
boys thoughts often drift back to home, mother and apple pie” as
the saying goes!
being interviewed by Army reporters in Korea, 1961
Mother Dorsey on her favorite horse at Fort Hood, Texas 1921
Photo complements of the 1st Cav Div Association
Mother Dorsey’s Patch
patch of the 1st Cavalry Division has a history as colorful as
its design, reflecting the proud heritage of the United States
Cavalry in a timeless manner.
The insignia selected for the First team patch was designed by
Colonel and Mrs. Ben Dorsey. The colonel was then
commander of the 7th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Mrs. Dorsey related that the combination of the golden sunset at
Fort Bliss and the traditional colors of the Cavalry; blue and
yellow, were a great influence on the background color and the
insignia. The choice of the horse's head for the insignia was
made by the family after they observed a mounted trooper ride by
their home on a beautiful blue-black thoroughbred. Later,
to improve visibility, the color scheme was modified replacing
the blue for black, the symbolic color of iron and armor.
On a "sunset" yellow triangular Norman Shield with rounded
corners 5 1/4 inches in height, a black diagonal stripe
extends over the shield from upper left to the lower right.
In the upper right, a black horse's head cut off diagonally at
the neck, appears within 1/8 inches of an Army Green border. The
traditional Cavalry color of yellow and the horse's head is
symbolic of the original organizational structure of the
Cavalry. The color black is symbolic of iron, alluding to
the organizational transition from mounted horses to tanks and
heavy armor. The black stripe, in heraldry termed a "Sable
Bend", represents a "baldric" (a standard Army issue belt worn
over the right shoulder to the opposite hip - sometimes referred
to as a "Sam Browne belt") which retains either a scabbard which
sheaths the trooper's saber or revolver holster.
During the Vietnam engagements, the yellow background of the
patch for Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) was changed to a subdued
Olive Drab (OD) green in order to minimize targeting of
personnel. The yellow/black patch is retained for Class
"A" uniform dress. Otherwise the patch has not changed
from the original design and shape.
First Cavalry Division Web Site (Sep. 2000)
Another Version to Consider
When the 1st Cavalry was
activated in 1921, a request was made that interested persons
should submit designs for a unit shoulder patch. Among the
designs submitted was the distinctive patch which developed into
the shoulder insigne worn by the men of the 1st Cavalry today.
The original patch was designed by
Colonel and Mrs. Ben H. Dorsey of Fort Bliss, Texas. Mrs.
Dorsey's warm affection for the thousands of troopers who have
worn her patch has earned her the title of "Mother of the 1st
explanation of the design is "it is big, to be worn by big men,
who go places and do big things, and so as to be easily seen
across the wide parade grounds at Fort Bliss".
The gold of the background symbolizes the setting sun of the
Texas prairie; and the wide black stripe is a symbol of
"service", as represented by the trooper’s service stripes.
The shape of the patch represents the shield of the medieval
knight and all he represented in chivalry and valor. The
horse's head symbolizes the love of the cavalryman for his
mount, and is placed on the patch facing forward, symbolic of
-1st Cavalry Division the First team - Prepared by the
Information Section, Headquarters 1st Cavalry Division.
Korea, 1958 (Revised (1960)
We are very fortunate to have a letter
sent to 1LT Kurt A. Meyer who was the 545th
Historical Officer at Ft Hood concerning Mother Dorsey.
The letter is yellow with age and quite fragile, so much so that
I am even afraid to scan it. It was written by LTC George
D. Ish who was the Provost Marshal of the 1st Cavalry
Division in Korea from 1960 - 1961 and tells of him (LTC Ish)
escorting Mother Dorsey to Korea to visit the troops.
Mother Dorsey spent every waking hour
writing to Cavalry troopers and sending them cards and letters
and care packages, so it is not at all unusual that she should
have contacted LTC Ish while he was in the hospital. On
the following page you will see a “True Copy” of the letter
written by LTC Ish to 1Lt Meyer at Ft Hood in 1991 and I know
that you will find it historically interesting.
A TRUE COPY
26 August 1991
1LT Kurt A. Meyer
545th MP Co. 1CD
Fort Hood, Texas
Dear Lieutenant Meyer:
The purpose of this letter is to respond to
the announcement in the SABER July – August edition.
I was Provost Marshal of the Division during
the period of July 1960 – August 1961. The Division was
then assigned to a 240 square mile area which was bordered on
the north by the Imjin River.
One of the highlights of this tour of duty
was to have been appointed as the action officer for the visit
of the Mother of the First Cavalry Division for Mother’s Day
As the story goes, Mother Dorsey, the wife of
Colonel Ben Dorsey, was assigned to the Division when it was
located at Fort Bliss, Texas --- probably right after WW I.
Apparently, the Division was seeking an appropriate shoulder
patch for identification purposes. Mrs. Dorsey, who was a
young bride at the time, while joining her husband and watching
the sun set in the west at Fort Bliss, decided to try her hand
at designing a patch that would appropriately identify the First
Teams Finest. I have personally heard her describe herself
as a heraldry expert.
In brief, she decided to cut the yellow
lining of her husband’s cape and to use this as the backdrop of
the current patch. She said that “it represents the
setting of the sun at Fort Bliss”. Also she stated that
“the patch had to be large to represent the strength of the
Cavalry Trooper”. The black stripe signified “the ladder
rungs used to breach medieval castle walls during early European
warfare”. Further “the head of the horse should ALWAYS
face forward signifying the charge”. Note: As you
know many troopers to day wear the patch on their right
shoulders and as such the horse’s head is facing rearward.
This thoroughly defies the significance of Mother Dorsey’s patch
design. The patch as she identified it was sent to the War
Department and was approved. Today, that patch is still
our Division symbol.
At the time I received Department of the Army
orders for assignment to the First Cavalry Division as its’ PM,
I was assigned to ROTC duty at UCLA. It happened that I
was a patient at the old Fort Mac Arthur Hospital temporarily.
It was during this brief illness that I met Mrs. Dorsey.
She was a resident of San Pedro, CA, where the hospital was
located and had heard that “one f her sons” was in the hospital
so she paid me a visit.
I was moved by the story of the patch.
She said that she had been trying to get an invitation to visit
her “boys in the field” for many years but had not succeeded in
her many attempts.
I was also quite impressed with her as a
person and her story of the patch and her identification with
its conception, really “reached me”. Several weeks passed
before I joined the division on the DMZ in that I had been
assigned as the transport commander on the MSTS vessel.
However, one of the first things I did upon reaching MG Charles
Dodge, the First Team’s CG, was to outline the Dorsey patch
story. He reacted rather coolly about bringing her to
Korea because he said that he was familiar with her carious
attempts to visit the Division through his predecessors.
He thought that we would be asking for problems, especially in
Korea at that time. Finally after more discussion he
consented that I would become the action officer for the
project. He authorized me to try and get the job done
cheaply and that I could try for Christmas of 1960 and if the
planning time was too short that I could target upon Mother’s
Then the pressure began to mount. White
House approval was sought and granted. Mrs. Dorsey
suddenly became a VIP of the highest order. Her arrival
date in the Division area was agreed upon and before long every
step of the way was greased and approved without question.
I will overlook the details and flaps that occurred during the
project planning and development period.
She traveled on DA orders and was VIP treated
from Hawaii to Tokyo. I was ordered to meet Mrs. Dorsey
when her plane touched down in Tokyo and I escorted her to
Eighth Army Headquarters in Seoul arriving on Saturday evening,
the day before Mother’s Day. After a needed nights rest we
headed north through South Check Security. From this point
forward, Division Troopers lined the road way in single line
formation, at present arms, until she reached the Division
Chapel, where the filled congregation awaited her arrival
precisely on time for the beginning of the service. Very
dramatic and memorable to say the least.
The last paragraph and the LTC’s signature have been
damaged by either a coffee or cola spill and are illegible.
This is first hand written history of the
woman who actually saw the old horse Cavalry at Fort Bliss,
Texas and who lived to see her beloved “boys” in the Korean War.
This great woman who was living history herself and who designed
the patch all cavalrymen and women wear to this day and who gave
of herself on a daily basis by writing cards and letters to as
many Cavalry units and troopers as she could. She will be
remembered always by the troopers of the First Team.
George D. Ish
1960 – 1961
Mother Dorsey in front of the 1st Cavalry Division
Chapel in Korea
Mother’s Day 1961
This document prepared by:
CPT MP USAR (Ret)
545th Military Police Company
626 1/2 South 9th Street
(765) 962 4627 phone & FAX