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Pair of US Army 70th Infantry shoulder sleeve patches with a white axe head worn by a soldier

Object | Accession Number: 2012.302.2 a-b

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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Shoulder sleeve insignia of the 70th Infantry Division, known as the Trailblazers, worn by Master Sergeant Harold Alden Hornbeck during his service in the United States Army in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. On March 5, 1941, Harold enlisted in the Army and was assigned to the 883rd Field Artillery Battalion, 70th Infantry Division. In December 1941, the United States entered World War II. In January 1945, Harold’s Division was deployed to France as part of the Seventh Army. The 70th advanced through France and on March 20, took Saarbrucken, Germany. In April, the Division joined the Third Army. On April 11, US soldiers liberated Buchenwald concentration camp. Harold was among those soldiers at Buchenwald, and wrote about the terrible conditions there in a censored letter to his family On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered and the 70th Infantry Division remained on occupational duty until deactivation in October 1945.
    Date
    use:  1943-1945
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Meda F. Hornbeck
    Contributor
    Subject: Harold A. Hornbeck
    Biography
    Harold Alden Hornbeck was born on February 13, 1917, in Stockton, Missouri, to Clarence and Nellie Keith Hornbeck. Both of his parents were born in 1889 in Missouri. On June 20, 1915, Clarence and Nellie married and settled in Stockton, Missouri, where Clarence was a farmer. In fall 1918, their second son, Paul was born. In early 1919, the family moved to Las Animas, Colorado, and Clarence continued farming. On July 27, 1926, Harold’s twin sisters Mildred and Meda were born. In 1927, Harold's father died. His brother Paul died in 1934. Harold completed high school and became a company foreman. In late 1940, Harold married Joyce Bigham (1923-2005) of Maricopa, Arizona.
    On March 5, 1941, Harold enlisted in the US Army. He was assigned to the 883rd Field Artillery Battalion, 70th Infantry Division, nicknamed the Trailblazers, and rose to the rank of Master Sergeant. On December 7, 1941, folowing the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered World War II. In January 1945, the 70th Infantry was deployed to the European Theater of Operations and landed in France as part of the Seventh Army, 6th Army Group. In January and February, the Division advanced across France and into southwestern Germany. On March 20, 1945, the 70th took Saarbrucken, Germany. In April, the Division became part of the Third Army, 12th Army Group, and pushed deeper into Germany. On April 11, 1945, Buchenwald concentration camp was liberated by US soldiers. Harold was among those present to see the horrible conditions first hand. He took photographs, and in a letter to his family about the camp, he wrote “believe everything you read, it’s true.” The remaining portion of the letter was censored. The Division continued to advance through the region until May 7, 1945, when Germany surrendered.
    The 70th remained on occupational duty in Germany until early fall. The Division arrived in the United States on October 10, 1945, was deactivated the following day. Harold and Joyce settled just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Harold did not speak of his wartime experiences to his family after his return. Harold, age 78, died on December 6, 1995, in Phoenix, Arizona.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Military Insignia
    Category
    Badges
    Physical Description
    a. Rectangular axe-head shaped military patch with a curved, slightly flared top edge machine embroidered on white net backing. The field and embroidered border are red. A white axe descends from the upper right corner and hangs over a white mountain with jagged sides. At the base of the mountain and along the bottom of the patch is an uneven line of green that extends into an evergreen tree on the right side of the patch.
    b. Rectangular axe-head shaped military patch with a curved, slightly flared top edge machine embroidered on white net backing. The field and embroidered border are red. A white axe descends from the upper right corner and hangs over a white mountain with jagged sides. At the base of the mountain and along the bottom of the patch is an uneven line of green that extends into an evergreen tree on the right side of the patch.
    Dimensions
    a: Height: 3.125 inches (7.938 cm) | Width: 2.250 inches (5.715 cm)
    b: Height: 3.125 inches (7.938 cm) | Width: 2.250 inches (5.715 cm)
    Materials
    a : thread, net
    b : thread, net

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The patches were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Meda F. Hornbeck, the sister of Harold Alden Hornbeck.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-25 17:19:56
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn50595

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