The Importance of Unit Insignia

Through the ages, the lineage and honors of military units have been reflected in their insignia, which are considered heraldry. The term “heraldry” is explained in more detail at: http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/Catalog/HeraldryIntro.aspx

In the case of two of the primary Fil-Am military units that participated in the Bataan Campaign and distinguished themselves on the battlefield, their insignia reveal a proud lineage going back to the American Civil War in the early 1860’s.

This heritage of the 45th Infantry regiment (Philippine Scout) and 57th Infantry regiment (PS) is explained by Chris Kolakowski in his 15 October 2015 web log posting, carried in Facebook on the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society (official) page. His post is titled “Civil War Echoes: Philippine Scouts” and you can read the full posting on his web log at: http://emergingcivilwar.com/2015/10/15/civil-war-echoes-philippine-scouts/

The lineage and honors of a military unit represented in insignia are so important that in 1919 the US Army created The Institute of Heraldry. Initially an Army-dedicated functional office, its responsibility has grown now to provide heraldic services to the Office of the President of the US, US government agencies and all branches of the US armed services. To learn more about The Institute of Heraldry, see the official website at: http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/

As one example of what information one can find at TIOH website, let’s examine the 45th Infantry Regiment (PS). Under the tab “Search Heraldry” a 15 October 2015 search for “45th Infantry Regiment” yielded two results, “Coat of Arms” and “Distinctive Unit Insignia” which describe in detail the unit’s distinctive emblem.

The distinctive insignia of the US Army's 45th Infantry Regiment.  (Courtesy US Army)

The distinctive insignia of the US Army’s 45th Infantry Regiment. (Courtesy US Army)

The explanation of the Coat of Arms of the 45th Infantry Regiment (PS) is as follows:

Description/Blazon

Shield
Azure in sinister chief an abaca tree (Manila hemp plant) Proper in base a mullet of the field fimbriated Argent, on a canton of the last the Roman numeral X of the first behind which paleways a Roman sword in sheath Gules (for the 10th Infantry).

Crest
From a wreath Argent and Azure a demi-lion Or grasping in his dexter paw a burning torch Argent, fire Proper.

Motto
STRONG TO ENDURE.

Symbolism

Shield
The Regiment was organized in 1917 at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, by transfer of personnel from the 10th Infantry. The shield is blue for the Infantry and the parentage of the Regiment is shown by the canton. The early station of the Regiment was the Philippines; this is indicated by the abaca tree which is a source of great wealth in the Islands and which grows native in no other place. The star in the base of the shield is the blue star of the old First Philippine Infantry.

Crest
The crest of the Harrison family, General and President William Henry and General and President Benjamin Harrison, is a lion. This is also the upper body of the crest of the Philippines, a sea lion. The device of the State of Indiana is a torch. These are combined to form the crest of the Regiment.

Background
The coat of arms was approved on 10 April 1922. It was rescinded on 19 August 1975.

//BREAK TO NEXT HERALDRY ELEMENT//

The explanation of the Distinctive Unit Insignia of the 45th Infantry Regiment (PS) is as follows:

Description/Blazon

A Gold color metal and enamel device 1 1/4 inches (3.18 cm) in height consisting of a shield blazoned: Azure in sinister chief an abaca tree (Manila hemp plant) Proper in base a mullet of the field fimbriated Argent, on a canton of the last the Roman numeral X of the first behind which paleways a Roman sword in sheath Gules (for the 10th Infantry). Attached above the shield from a wreath Argent and Azure a demi-lion Or grasping in his dexter paw a burning torch Argent, fire Proper.

Symbolism
The Regiment was organized in 1917 at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, by transfer of personnel from the 10th Infantry. The shield is blue for the Infantry and the parentage of the Regiment is shown by the canton. The early station of the Regiment was the Philippines; this is indicated by the abaca tree which is a source of great wealth in the Islands and which grows native in no other place. The star in the base of the shield is the blue star of the old First Philippine Infantry. The crest of the Harrison family, General and President William Henry and General and President Benjamin Harrison, is a lion. This is also the upper body of the crest of the Philippines, a sea lion. The device of the State of Indiana is a torch. These are combined to form the crest of the Regiment.

Background
The distinctive unit insignia was approved on 12 September 1923. It was rescinded on 19 August 1975.

Every member of a given military unit should be familiar with their unit’s insignia and the heritage which it represents. Family members of unit personnel who are proud of their military member’s service can take pride in the unit as well when they learn of this lineage and honors. The Institute of Heraldry offers a great resource which can help people learn about the heraldry of American military units, which includes units that fought in the Bataan Campaign.
Reference

45th Infantry Regiment (Philippine Scouts), Philippine Scouts Heritage Society website, at: http://www.philippine-scouts.org/the-scouts/regiments-units-bases/45th-infantry-ps.html

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