The Battle of the Badge

By Timothy Tangen Minn.-Duluth ’03

You never know where your lost badge might turn up or where you might find one. 

From time to time, non-members contact the Fraternity to ask how to return someone’s lost badge. 

While such phone calls or emails are rarer and rarer these days, as badges get listed on auction sites or traded in for their gold value, they still come. Badges turn up in pockets of clothes donated to second-hand stores, in parks, or even on beaches. 

Badges are even recovered from battlefields (such as the Gettysburg Badge featured in the Summer 2013 ‘From the Archives’), and in one case, a Luxembourg desk from World War II. 

We don’t have a lot of information surrounding how the badge was lost, but here is what we know about it: 

Harold C. Houghton’s Standford 1912 badge was found in a Luxembourg bureau drawer on December 24, 1944. The Battle of the Bulge raged all around, snowfall blanketing Christmas Eve as much as the artillery fire. Allied forces captured Eschdorf, Luxembourg, and Roland D. Gidney Kansas ‘43 happened to serve as a private with the occupying Yankee Division. 

In a letter to the editor of The Shield, excerpted from the May 1945 issue, Brother Gidney’s hopes for the badge were to reunite it with the original owner or his family. “I would like to return it, or if something happened to the boy and the pin was the result of German confiscation or loot, I would like to return it to his parents. Would you mind checking records to see who the boy is . . . and where he is in service, so I can return this coveted possession?” 

Research shows Brother Houghton served in the Navy in World War I and went missing from the Fraternity’s rolls shortly after that. 

Attempts to find Brother Houghton post World War I for a valid mailing address, or knowledge of how he lost his badge, were unsuccessful.