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USMA cadet ranks

Started by maddog1129 , Jan 11 2010 09:18 PM

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#1 maddog1129

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:18 PM

West Point cadets wear collar rank insignia with their class uniforms. Plebes (Fourth Classmen or freshmen) have no collar insignia. I'm given to understand that the ceremony of Recognition (by the upperclassmen) which used to take place right after the graduation parade has now been moved to a date earlier in the spring term; after recognition, Plebes wear U.S. collar insignia.

Third classmen (sophomores, called yearlings or yuks) wear a gold collar shield on their class uniforms and shoulder marks for the white-over-gray uniform, as well as on their overseas caps. In the 50's and 60's, there were many fewer ranks for cadets to hold, so Plebes, Yearlings and most Cows (Second classmen, or juniors) had no rank. Even some Firsties (First classmen or seniors) graduated clean-sleeved (Dwight Eisenhower was one) with no cadet NCO or officer rank. The only corporals were Second classmen, while Firsties filled all the sergeant and cadet officer posts. Nowadays, and I don't know when this began, all Yearlings are promoted en masse to the rank of corporal, and all Cows are promoted to sergeant. The senior NCO and the officer ranks (cadet lieutenants and captains) are filled by Firsties. There are a lot more specialized ranks than there used to be!

Cadet corporal is signified by a double chevron on the lower sleeve of the full dress and dress gray coats, as well as the long and short overcoat (short overcoat is no longer issued). Cadet sergeant is a double chevron on the upper sleeve, with different devices for first sergeant (lozenge) supply (horizontal bar) etc. Cadet lieutenant has three chevrons. There is no rank higher than cadet captain, but there are different levels of captains. Company commander has four chevrons, battalion commander has five chevrons, and regimental and brigade commanders have six chevrons. The brigade commander, the First Captain, now receives a distinguishing star below the six chevrons, but this is again a relatively new innovation.

For informal unforms, the ranks are represented by metal bars: 1 bar = cadet corporal, 2 bars = cadet sergeant, 3 bars = cadet lieutenant, 4 bars = cadet captain, 5 bars = battalion commander, 6 bars = regimental and brigade commander. These collar ranks come in enameled black and silver for the class uniform, and subdued ranks for BDU/ACU.

Attached Images

  • cadet_collar_rank_insignia_Bugle_Notes.jpg
  • cadet_collar_rank_insignia_Bugle_Notes_more.jpg


#2 maddog1129

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:21 PM

Finding West Point cadet collar ranks can be pretty hard. These are fairly rare.

You can see here some cadet corporal ranks (1 bar) in small (newer) and large (older) sizes, as well as subdued ranks for BDU's. A cadet without rank will wear his class shield (if any) on one collar, and U.S. on the other (Plebes wear the U.S. only after recognition, with no class shield). The 2-bar ranks are for cadet sergeant. As indicated in the excerpts from Bugle Notes (the "plebe bible" issued to new cadets, who have memorize what's in it), different added devices can distinguish a First Sergeant (diamond) from a color sergeant (flag), for example. The battalion command sergeant major wears a black star with his/her 2 bars. The 3-bar ranks are cadet lieutenant, and can have a flag for cadet color lieutenant. Cadet lieutenants generally function as platoon leaders, except that some can be appointed supportive battalion administrative positions, such as supply officer, athletic officer, adjutant, etc. The gold colored bars are the older large size, and I'm informed that they were formerly used only at Camp Buckner, where the cadets spend their third class summer in field training. Third classmen formerly did not generally hold any ranks, but while the class was all together in field training, they would be appointed acting ranks for the summer.

The four bars are for cadet captains. They generally serve as cadet company commanders, except that some serve as battalion XO's and nowadays are given cadet captain rank for being a varsity sports captain. One of the 4-bar ranks I have is the older large size. Five bars are for battalion commander, or subordinate posts in regimental and brigade staffs. 4 bars with a gray star is regimental command sergeant major, and 5 bars with gray star is brigade command sergeant major, the highest ranking noncom in the corps of cadets. I have one 5-bar ladder in the older large size. 6 bars are for brigade and regimental commanders; the Bugle Notes says that the brigade commander's collar insignia is distinguished by a gold star. I'm not certain the gold star shown here is proper, because it is not the same style as the black and gray stars for the senior noncoms. I would expect the gold star to be a similar enameled yellow star, rather like the enameled gold collar shield of a third classman. This faux embroidered gold star is a different size from the enameled black and gray stars, and the faux embroidered gold star also exists independently as an academic award. I don't have any subdued 6-bar ladders, or the older large size either.

Attached Images

  • cadet_collar_rank_insignia_1_2_3_bar.jpg
  • cadet_collar_rank_insignia_4_5_6_bar_001.jpg

Edited by maddog1129, 11 January 2010 - 09:39 PM.


#3 maddog1129

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:41 PM

Here's a 5-bar subdued ladder still in its box. Front and back of the box

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  • cadet_collar_rank_insignia_5_bar_subdued_in_package.jpg
  • cadet_collar_rank_insignia_5_bar_subdued_in_package_back.jpg


#4 maddog1129

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:42 PM

I have most often found cadet ranks in complete sets like this one. Perhaps they are sold to the cadets that way.

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  • cadet_collar_rank_insignia_set_of_6.jpg


#5 maddog1129

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:46 PM

this isnt' exactly a rank, or west point, but it is a metal collar title for USMAPS, the US Military Academy Prep School.

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  • USMAPS_collar_title.jpg


#6 Jason G

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 05:18 AM

A VERY interesting article!

#7 mars&thunder

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 02:45 PM

In addition to the subdued collar rank, cadets also wear (used to wear?) subdued class shields on their field uniforms. The subdued class shield was color coded to reflect the class of the cadet. Here is a picture of one shield. I think this is for a yearling but I am not positive.

IMG_0496c.JPG

#8 maddog1129

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 02:50 PM

In addition to the subdued collar rank, cadets also wear (used to wear?) subdued class shields on their field uniforms. The subdued class shield was color coded to reflect the class of the cadet. Here is a picture of one shield. I think this is for a yearling but I am not positive.

IMG_0496c.JPG

I think you are right, mars, but since it isn't strictly "rank" I was going to post the collar and other insignia in a different thread in the insignia and DUI forum. :) Great closeup, though. :thumbsup:


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