CAMP EDWARDS, Mass. – A ceremony to rededicate the 26th Yankee Division Memorial was held on Camp Edwards, Joint Base Cape Cod, on May 2, 2015, here. The event honored the history of the 26th Yankee Division by formally awarding seven battle streamers to the 101st Engineer Battalion from previous campaigns, and then rededicated the Yankee Division memorial, which honors the long and prestigious history of the 26th Infantry Division (Yankee) of the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
“The 26th (Yankee) Infantry Division has a long and proud history.” said Brig. Gen. (MA-Ret.) Frank A. LaBollita, Director of Veterans Affairs, office of the adjutant general-Massachusetts and member of the Yankee Division Veterans Association. “The YD Vets from World War I formed the YD Veterans Association to preserve that history; it was a vibrant organization (that) had chapters around the country.”
The memorial is located at the Camp Edwards Headquarters building and incorporates the garrison flagpole in its design, which flies the huge camp garrison flag daily. The memorial was first dedicated by the 26th YD Veterans Association in December, 1941, barely a year after the camp was constructed in the build-up to World War II, and while the 26th Infantry Division was present on the post.
“This YD patch has been part of my life since I was a child during World War II.” continued LaBollita. “In June of 1956, I joined Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 26th (Yankee) Infantry Division as a private and proudly wore the YD patch for the next 35 years.”
The memorial was just recently repaired by the 181st Engineer Company of the 101st Engineer Battalion, Massachusetts Army National Guard during their annual training. New concrete walkways to the memorial were constructed, repairs were made to the steps and wall, and the memorial received a fresh coat of paint.
The 181st Engineer Company is stationed on base and traces its lineage to the 26th Infantry Division. The four oldest battalions still serving in the U.S. Army trace their lineage to this distinguished division; the 101st Engineer Battalion, the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, and the 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment, all in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. The 101st Engineers and the 182nd Infantry participated in the re-dedication, as did Soldiers from the 26th Maneuver Enhancement (Yankee) Brigade, which officially carries the lineage and honors of the 26th Yankee Division since it was deactivated in 1993.
During the reconstruction, a time capsule was discovered buried in the ground in front of the memorial’s wall. The capsule was opened days before the ceremony and the contents were put on display in the Camp Edwards headquarters building. Most of the items related to the last time the memorial was rededicated in 1991, on the occasion of the 26 h Yankee Division’s 50th anniversary of its activation for World War II. A new, updated time capsule will be re-buried at the memorial at a later date.
LaBollita praised the Soldiers present for their hard work and dedication. “You as Soldiers wearing the YD patch today have an opportunity to continue to write the history of the YD. The obligation to preserve the YD history and add your accomplishments to this memorial is now being passed to you. The battle streamers earned by your efforts should be added to this memorial; the spirit of the YD lives with you.”
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