KABUL, Afghanistan –
Ninety-four years ago, the historic 26th Yankee Infantry Division was formed. Today, the division’s heritage is carried on by the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Currently the brigade is designated as “Task Force Yankee,” commanded by Brig. Gen. John A. Hammond, Massachusetts Army National Guard. Task Force Yankee is deployed in Afghanistan in support of Operating Enduring Freedom.
On Aug. 22, 2011, Soldiers from Task Force Yankee conducted a ceremony at Camp Phoenix celebrating the 94th birthday of the 26th Yankee Division and simulteanously conducting a right shoulder combat ceremony concluding with a YD birthday cake.
Formed in 1917, the division was activated on August 22 of that year in Boston. The division consisted of two brigades comprising of National Guard units from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. The division's commander, Maj. Gen. C.R. Edwards, selected the nickname "Yankee Division" to highlight the division's geographic makeup.
The division approved a shoulder sleeve insignia with a blue "YD" monogram on a diamond of khaki color to depict its composition of Soldiers from New England.
The Yankee Division deployed to World War I and saw extensive combat in France. The division again deployed for World War II, fought through France, advancing into Germany. The Soldiers of the Yankee Division served gallantly in both world wars and fought under Gen. George Patton’s Army where he was quoted as saying to Maj. Gen. Omar Bradley: “Brad, my three best divisions are the 4th Armored, the 80th and the 26th. I’ll concentrate the 4th Armored at Longwy beginning tonight, I’ll start the 80th on Luxembourg tomorrow morning, and I’ll alert the 26th to be ready to move.”
Hammond presented several 21st Century Yankee Soldiers with their YD combat patch on this historic anniversary for their service in Afghanistan.
“Our current YD Soldiers are fighting and serving this Nation with the same patriotic vigor and Yankee pride,” said Hammond. “They have upheld their ancient honors, kept their powder dry and maintained the high standards established by our Yankee Division forbearers nearly 100 years ago,” he said.
These present day Yankee Soldiers will now join two previous generations who have earned the right to proudly wear the YD patch on their right shoulder in recognition of their wartime service. These heroic Soldiers will join the YD Soldiers of the 101st Engineer Battalion, the 101st Field Artillery Regiment, the 181st Infantry Regiment, the 182nd Infantry Regiment and the 26th Brigade Headquarters in adding a new chapter to the rich history of the 26th Yankee Division.
“They (TF Yankee) have truly earned the respect and admiration of their comrades, neighbors, elected officials back in Massachusetts and the Yankee Division Soldiers who have preceded them. I present these greetings to you with respect and admiration,” Hammond said.
The lineage of the Yankee Division continues with the selfless service of our New England Soldiers providing for the defense of our Nation.