“Battle Babies,” the story of the 99th Infantry Division in World War II is on display in a new art exhibit at the United States Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC), in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The exhibit features the artwork and story of Robert (Robbie) S. Robison who enlisted in the Army on November 21, 1942 and served in Europe with the 99th Infantry Division as a writer and artist on the division newspaper called the Checkerboard. Robison's comic strip artwork in the Checkerboard featured the escapades of Private Van Dorn, affectionately known as "Dornie." Utilizing Private Van Dorn, Robison illustrated the story of a new Soldier while using gentle sarcasm and a keen sense of observation of what it was like to grow up as a Soldier in the United States Army. Using the military exploits of Private Van Dorn, Robison’s humor representing the common place happenings of Soldier life during training and war helped lift the morale of the American troops.
The Checkerboard title referenced the division’s distinctive checkerboard shoulder patch which represented 99th’s lineage in Western Pennsylvania. The patch consisted of a black shield, the black representing Pittsburgh's iron industry, with 9 blue and 9 white squares. The blue and white were from William Pitt's coat of arms. Pittsburgh was named for William Pitt in 1758.
Artist Robison, was trained at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and after the war served as an instructor and later department Chairman of the commercial Art Department at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
All of USAHEC’s exhibits are free and open to the public Monday thru Friday, but is closed on Sundays. For more information on the USAHEC or other exhibits, please visit www.usahec.org.