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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!

 

Mother Dorsey 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

     The 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.

 
Source: The 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 Cavalry Division".

     Mrs. Dorsey's 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 the charge.

Source: Book -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   75545

 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 1961.

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 Day 1961.

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.

/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/End of True Copy/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/x/

 

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.

 

 

LTC George D. Ish

Provost Marshal

1st Cavalry Division

Korea

1960 – 1961

 

Mother Dorsey in front of the 1st Cavalry Division Chapel in Korea

Mother’s Day 1961

 

 

 

This document prepared by:

Sam Reinert

CPT MP USAR (Ret)

Founder

545th Military Police Company Association

626 1/2 South 9th Street

Richmond, Indiana   47374  USA

(765) 962 4627 phone & FAX

http://545thmpassn.com/