The 26th Maneuver EnhancementBrigade (MEB), which received its current designation on September 1, 2008, is nicknamed the “Yankee Brigade” and served as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom from April, 2011 to January 2012. The brigade’s ACU Patch, or shoulder sleeve insignia, is a diamond with a black merged Y and D on a gray-scale background to blend in with the camouflage of the ACU. The letters refer to the Special Designation of the unit to which the 26th MEB traces its origins, the 26th Division, and are also found on its Combat Service Identification Badge.

Originally constituted and organized as a National Guard unit, the 26th Division was formed from on July 18, 1917 with troops from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine; these are represented by symbolism on the brigade’s Unit Crest. At a press conference held by the new commanding officer, Major General C.R. Edwards, a reporter suggested the name Yankee as a nickname to commemorate the founding region.

Soon, the “Yankee Division” was on its way to becoming one of the most famous combat division nicknames in WWI. Deploying in September of 1917, the division spent several months being trained by the battle-hardened French before being deployed to the Chemin des Dames sector. In early April, the division relieved the 1st Division near St. Mihiel, and before the month was out had withstood and eventually repulsed a heavy German attack, a feat for which it was awarded a French Croix de Guerre. It was then attached to I Corps at the start of July, and over the next four months it took part in six of the eight official campaigns the U.S. Army conducted during that time, playing an integral part in the major offences that drove the Germans from French soil and led to the signing of the Armistice in November, 1918. At the end of WWI, the 26th Division returned home to the National Guard and was eventually reorganized into a three-regiment format.

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