Soldiers from 2nd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division happened to be on a nine-month rotation to South Korea during this year’s festivities, when the unit sets fire to its own flag in a re-eanactment of the actions by Lt. Col. Alarich Zacherle, who burned his battalion’s flag rather than have it taken as a trophy by overrunning Chinese forces.
“To think that Lt. Col. Zacherle made that ultimate decision 68 years ago to burn his colors rather than allow them to be captured," Lt. Col. Michael Loftus, the battalion’s current commander, said in a Monday release from the 2nd Infantry Division. "I can’t imagine what it would take to have the presence of mind to make that decision today in a similar situation.”
In 1950, the Sapper Steel Battalion was part of the 2nd Infantry Division, fighting and defending a U.N. position at Kunu-ri, allowing other American forces to flee. Before his battalion departed, Zacharle ordered all of their equipment ― including their colors ― destroyed.
“What this ceremony demonstrates to us and these soldiers is that just because you face difficult odds, you still have a chance to gain honor and win,” Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Stevenson, the battalion operations sergeant, said in the release. “We continued to fight and still fought until the end of this war and fought in other wars afterwards.”