Military Collectibles Wanted
The Victory Task Force The Unit behind the Patch
Since American military patch collectors first began putting patches in their collections, their interest in not only what the symbolism of the patch represented but also information about the unit that wore the patch has made patch collecting the fun that it is.
Many patch stories are well known and easy to determine. Examples include the 3rd Infantry Division – “The Rock of the Marne”, 2nd Armored division – “Hell on Wheels”, and of course the 1st Infantry Division “the Big Red One”. Other patch stories are not as easy to determine and some are just downright obscure. One patch that falls into the this latter category is the “Victory Task Force” patch.
This red shield shaped patch had a “V” at its center. It is referred to in many books on patches simply as “Task Force”. This patch represents one of the most unusual units in the history of the United States Army.
With the entry of the US into World War 2, the War Department determined that the parents, sweethearts and families of the thousand and thousands of soldiers undergoing training could not visit a training camp and therefore had no idea of what their loved ones training was like nor what the equipment they were training on was capable of. The idea for a giant “traveling” military show was decided upon by the bureau of Public Relations of the War Department. Over 1200 soldiers were selected to participate in this unit that became known as “The Victory Task Force”. With the help of ex-members of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circuses now in the Army, a plan was set up to move this exhibition task force from city to city in the USA by railroad just like a traveling circus.
Starting in June of 1942, the Victory Task Force traveled to and performed as “The Army War Show” in such cities as Cleveland, Baltimore, Omaha, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas & Akron.
The show was view by over 4,000,000 people and raised $1,000,000 for the war effort-specifically the Army Emergency Relief Fund.
The show appeared in great outdoor auditoriums or stadiums and combined military precision with colorful and exciting action. The tanks, artillery, horse cavalry, tank destroyers and soldiers of the Task. Force exhibited maneuvering skills, tactical formations and fired blanks in their weapons. The show also had stationary exhibits of a soldier’s camp life and daily training., aircraft of the air force, Engineer Bridges, field kitchens and more.
The proud soldiers wearing the red Victory Task Force patch included an Air Force Component, a band, Horse Calvary, Mechanized Cavalry, Chemical, Coast Artillery, Military Police, Engineers, Field Artillery, Quartermasters, Riflemen, Signalmen, Tankers, Tank Destroyers, Medics and also a Headquarters Detachment.
The task force was organized into a Headquarters Battalion, 1st Battalion, 2nd Battalion and the Air Force Component. Of particular note was the inclusion of members of the 9th Cavalry Regiment from Fort Riley, Kansas. These soldiers were the famous African-American “Buffalo Soldiers”. One individual who performed in the “The Army War Show” was Bert Parks. As an NCO in the Victory Task Force, he did radio broadcasts about the show and instructed the audience how Walkie Talkies worked. You remember him as the long time emcee of the Miss America Pageant.
The scheduling, loading, movement and safe performances of the Victory Task Force are a tribute to American organizations skills, spirit and savvy.
The task force was in existence from June 1942 until September 1942 when, its mission completed the task force was disbanded and its members sent back to their original units.
This patch represents a very unusual and colorful chapter in US Army history. An information filled yearbook style souvenir book was made available. It was filled with action photos of the performances, a history of the unit to include its organization and photos and names of all soldiers who were in the task force.