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Uncommon and Obscure Combat Patches Being Worn.


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Recalled another oddity: a CPT at HQ AMC, circa 1992-1993, wore the MFO SINAI SSI on his right sleeve. He had been stationed THERE during DESERT STORM. When I asked him about it, he said that he (a QM supply guy) had been ASSIGNED to V Corps and ATTACHED to MFO on orders, BUT then was attached without written orders to a Division (maybe 10th Mt?). He disliked both the V Corps patch and the Corps itself, so went with the MFO one. I told him to go with the Divisional one -- other than on his official personnel file photo -- as no one would ask. IIRC the next time I saw him (in other than a short-sleeved shirt), he had the Div SSI on.

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While deployed there was a CPT on Battalion staff who wore a 43rd MP Brigade patch on the right sleeve, however it was not the standard one. He wore one of the mini patches that the alteration shops sold. I wish I had brought my camera to the chow hall that day for a photo. Next time I saw him was after he was wearing the NATO patch for Afghanistan.

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One of our SGT's transferred from the Corps and wore his combat patch on his sleeve in ACU. Also had a corpsman transfer over but not sure what he chose to wear. I have a uniform downstairs with a US Anti-Aircraft Command Western Defense Command patch as his combat patch, really odd.

 

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Actually, per AR 670-1 members of the U.S. Army that transfer in from another service are not authorized to wear an SSI from their former service as a SSI-FWTS (combat patch). So your former Marine is out of uniform. See below. However, some members of the U.S. Army that were attached to, or OPCON to the USMC in Iraq are authorized to wear the SSI of that formation on their right shoulder. For example, the 1st Marine Division SSI.

 

People may not like it, or may disagree, but that's the regulation. Below are two extracts from AR 670-1 from Feb. 2005. Since then additional USMC shoulder sleeve insignia has been authorized for wear as a SSI-FWTS on the Army uniform, but only for members who were in the U.S. Army during those operations.

 

However, your former Marine is authorized to wear his USMC Combat Action Ribbon on his Army Service Uniform to designate his former wartime service in the USMC for which he should be justifiably proud.

 

 

(3) Other services. The Department of the Navy, the United States Marine Corps (USMC), and the Air Force do not authorize wear of SSI. Therefore, personnel who served in one of the designated areas during one of the specified periods, but who were not members of the U.S. Army, are not authorized to wear the SSI–FWTS on their right shoulder.

 

 

(14) Operation Iraqi Freedom: from 19 March 2003 to a date to be determined, for soldiers assigned to units participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Soldiers must have been deployed in the CENTCOM area of operations, or participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom while deployed in Turkey, Israel, and Aegis cruisers. Soldiers who served with the 1st Marine Division from 19 March 2003 to 21 April 2003 during combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom are authorized to wear the 1st Marine Division shoulder sleeve insignia as their SSI-FWTS.

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My first contribution is this photo.

 

Staff Sergeant David Mitchell, 5th Battalion 6th Infantry ( Mech ) 1st Armored Division, Fort Hood Texas, taken sometime in 1969, possibly the fall. Mitchell formally of C co 1st Battalion 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division was implicated in the My Lai Massacre. ( obviously, will leave out stuff on My Lai as it is way beyond the scope of this topic ).

 

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As we see, Mitchell is wearing the 11th Brigade as a combat patch, and in subdued form, he is wearing full color ranks which due to the thickness of the border on the one we can see is most likely merrowed edge. Typical of this period his tapes and CIB are Subdued, his 1st Armored Division we can not see, but I betting it's full color, it's just the combat patch that he has choosen to wear I,m thinking that is subdued. That he wears the 11th Inf Bde as a combat patch is most uncommon, as the 11th Inf Bde was no longer a seperate organization when Mitchell was in it, and was under the direct command of the Americal, making the Americal Division as far I know the correct combat patch.

 

By 1969 we were no longer wearing gold chevrons....in '67 we switched to black/od cloth chevrons, and then to black pin-on rank in 68.....I can't recall seeing merrowed edge chevrons during that period.

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@e19 I understand, but that was only in South Vietnam, and the subdued sleeve ranks first appeared a little earlier say in mid 1966 in the RVN. Full color shoulder patches and EM sleeve ranks to include officers ranks and branch of service continued to be worn outside of Vietnam well into 1970, they were worn first in late 1966 with only the name tape subdued, then sometime in 1967 both the name and U.S.ARMY subdued tapes, with either full color qualification and skill badges or towards late 1967 subdued ones, however both types of Q badges and S badges color and subdued were seen in lateish 1967 though 1969. Full color merrowed edge shoulder patches and rank patches were indeed believe it or not used on fatique items after the became avaiable in around the late summer of 1968, one could see sometimes a combination of flat edge and merrowed edge insignia being worn on the same shirt, even on some of your 101 and 82nd Abn Div patches IN Vietnam, ie flat edge patch but with a merrowed edge Airborne tab or visa versa. However by late 1968 more and more officers and men started to wear the new regulation subdued shoulder patches and collor ranks whether they were the EM or Officers Rank and Branch of Service badges, but in that period late 1968-mid 1970 the all subdued shirt and or field jacket was the more standard as 1969 was ending and 1970 was starting, one of the other mrembers gives the cut off date for full color shoulder patches and ranks as July 1970

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By 1969 we were no longer wearing gold chevrons....in '67 we switched to black/od cloth chevrons, and then to black pin-on rank in 68.....I can't recall seeing merrowed edge chevrons during that period.

Here's a shot of my father in Vietnam December 1968/January 1969 wearing what I'm pretty sure are merrowed edge full color sergeant chevrons. The 82nd never officially wore subdued division patches so that is not unusual other than the fact that this particular version appears to be theater made.

 

And this was not a uniform worn in some office in a base camp. He was a combat infantryman and this shot was taken on patrol.

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As we see, Mitchell is wearing the 11th Brigade as a combat patch, and in subdued form, he is wearing full color ranks which due to the thickness of the border on the one we can see is most likely merrowed edge. Typical of this period his tapes and CIB are Subdued, his 1st Armored Division we can not see, but I betting it's full color, it's just the combat patch that he has choosen to wear I,m thinking that is subdued. That he wears the 11th Inf Bde as a combat patch is most uncommon, as the 11th Inf Bde was no longer a seperate organization when Mitchell was in it, and was under the direct command of the Americal, making the Americal Division as far I know the correct combat patch.

Here is a photo from page 230 of Shelby Stanton's U. S. Army Uniforms Of The Cold War 1948-1973. It shows a typical combination of full color and subdued insignia being worn on a stateside uniform during the transitional period. The caption below the photo says it was January 1969. Notice that the CIB is subdued but it looks like the jump wings are full color but have been muted somehow. Also note the full color Staff Sergeant chevrons on the sleeves of the field jacket while he's wearing the new pin on rank on the collars of his shirt underneath. The 82nd Airborne SSI also appears to be full color which was not that unusual for the 82nd at the time.

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Regarding the proper wear of the Americal or one of its subordinate brigade's SSI as a combat patch, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. Or more accurately, I believe the wear of either was authorized.

 

During the Vietnam war, the Americal was unique among all combat divisions in the Army in that some of its subordinate units (11th, 196th and 198th Infantry Brigades) had been organized as separate units with their own distinct lineages and authorized SSI. Much like it had been in WWII, and probably the reason Americal was chosen to begin with, the division was basically created in the field from several independent units to form an ad hoc division sized force. Shelby Stanton's Vietnam Order Of Battle has a section that shows that the subordinate units of the division were created in some cases by redesignating the subordinate units of the separate brigades while in other cases they came from units outside the separate brigades. For example, Companies A, B and C of the Americal's 26th Engineer Battalion were the engineer companies of the three separate brigades redesignated. However, the same battalion apparently also had Companies D and E which were formed from two totally separate engineer companies.

 

In theory, what the Army should have done is redesignate the 11th, 196th and 198th as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Brigades of the 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division. Then all units of the division would simply be authorized the Americal SSI. But we all know how much the Army loves tradition and the thought of simply disposing of existing numbered units, especially the 196th that had already seen quite a bit of combat on its own over the previous year and a half, probably bothered somebody higher up, so the separate brigades kept their own designations.

 

Then somebody probably asked the obvious question of which SSI are the soldiers supposed to wear. Technically either would have been appropriate but the Vietnam jungle jacket provided the perfect means for wearing both and thus promoting esprit for both one's brigade and division as a whole. Voila, simply wear the Americal SSI where it would normally go on the left shoulder and the brigade SSI on the right pocket. Somewhere in the National Archives there is probably even a local directive from the Americal commanding general reflecting this.

 

However, when a soldier left Vietnam and had the need or desire to wear a patch stateside reflecting his Vietnam service on his right sleeve, which should he wear? He couldn't wear both. Since technically he was authorized by regulations to wear the division or the brigade patch, the choice was his. Ultimately, I guess it was a matter of personal taste. However, the My Lai incident and images of Lt. Calley wearing the Americal patch probably made it more likely someone entitled to wear one of the separate infantry brigade patches would do so simply out of a desire not to be associated with that whole situation.

 

Ironically, in some ways the Army has transformed its force structure since 2001 along the lines of how the Americal operated in Vietnam. Over the last decade or so, the Army has replaced the division with the brigade combat team as its basic maneuver element. In most cases, the brigades are still numbered numerically (1st, 2nd, 3rd and now 4th) as brigades of their division headquarters (for example, 3rd Brigade Combat Team 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Brigade Combat Team 101st Airborne Division). However, in the case of some divisions, particularly those of the National Guard, the subordinate units are distinct brigades with their own lineages and SSI. For example, the 29th Infantry Division is currently composed of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team from North Carolina, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Florida and 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Virginia, each of which is composed of its own infantry, recon, artillery and support troops to allow it to operate independently of the division.

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And one more photo of the two types worn at the same time in Vietnam itself. Taken sometime in 1968 at Dong Ba Thin II Corps, subdued U.S. or South Vietnamese made sleeve rank insignia, in this case S/Sgt with a full color MACV shoulder patch, origin unknown, most likey U.S. made.

 

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I know this is getting a little off topic, but here are some photos of the Americal/Brigade patch combos being worn in-country. Particularly note the first one with a full color Americal patch on left sleeve, full color 196th patch on pocket and possible full color officer rank and BOS, all on a second pattern jungle jacket.

 

The second picture has subdued twill Americal and 198th LIB SSI and nylon U.S. Army and name tapes.

 

Third picture appears to show merrowed edge U.S. produced SSI on the sleeves and possibly the pockets.

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The following is not really a rare or obscure combat patch (101st Airborne Division). However, what is a little unusual is the wearing of a subdued 101st SSI in Vietnam. However, the soldier is assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, so wearing subdued 101st when assigned to a different unit may not have been that big a deal.

 

Also not one of the guys in the second row is wearing a full color 1st Cav SSI on his ERDL's.

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Finally, here's an interesting shot of a scout dog handler assigned to the 1st Cav wearing a scroll and full color 9th Infantry Division SSI as a combat patch on an ERDL uniform. The 1st Cav SSI also looks full color but it could just be the way it has faded.

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Here is a photo from page 230 of Shelby Stanton's U. S. Army Uniforms Of The Cold War 1948-1973. It shows a typical combination of full color and subdued insignia being worn on a stateside uniform during the transitional period. The caption below the photo says it was January 1969. Notice that the CIB is subdued but it looks like the jump wings are full color but have been muted somehow. Also note the full color Staff Sergeant chevrons on the sleeves of the field jacket while he's wearing the new pin on rank on the collars of his shirt underneath. The 82nd Airborne SSI also appears to be full color which was not that unusual for the 82nd at the time.

 

My guess is we're seeing the flash shine off of some seriously starched, subdued jump wings. While the mixing of full color stripes with subdued name tapes was done, I don't think mixing subdued and color of the same type of skill/combat badges passed the NCO tolerance tests, but I'd love to see a uniform with that if someone has an original set.

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Re Post #111: Brigades (namely, Brigade HQ and HQ Cos) do not LOSE or change their histories or lineages when they transfer out from one Div to another, or transfer IN from separate status.This applies to the AC as well as the NG.

 

The current scheme for Div organizational essentially treats ALL Brigades (combat maneuver type) as what used to be SEPARATE Brigades.

Each one has a Special Troops Bn (MP, Eng, Sig, MI, Cml) and a Brigade (ex-Forward) Spt Bn (Admin and Log), so that they can deploy and operate "separately", i.e. without dependence on the Div base back home. The scheme also DID envision up to FIVE such Brigades subordinated to a Statetside and/or peacetime Div HQ/Base. Last I saw, the first three Brigades would keep their old, organic-style numbers, like 1st, 2nd and 3rd, unchanged. The rub came in with a fourth or fifth.....I don't know if any 4th Brigades have stood (as "4th") or if any fourths are separate-like (i.e. 177th, 197th, etc.) I have now heard that, with the personnel/budget cuts there will be no FIFTHs and very few FOURTHs. I was told the 1st Armd Div, now at Bliss, was to have five bdes, and maybe the 1st Cav at Hood.

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Two examples of jungles jackets with the Americal/Brigade combos.

I think I owned these two jackets for a while before selling them to other French collectors.

"One law for them, another one for us !"

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Opitical elusion? To me it looks kinda like a patch with a tab over it, I know it's real hard to tell, but in the close up above it seems to be a gap, the gap seeming to be the light khaki color of the shirt.

 

Yes, coming back and looking at it with "fresh eyes" today, even before reading your post, I thought, "that could be a tab above a shield or point-down triangular patch. The top edge of the tab/shield also looks much more irregular-shaped to me today in the blow-up, not a 3-point top like I mentioned before.

 

The other thing which strikes me today, is the scale. The Sgt's chevrons below are about right in scale to the lower patch, but what we're contemplating is possibly a tab is rather huge in scale to the chevrons. At least to my eyes today...

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Yes, coming back and looking at it with "fresh eyes" today, even before reading your post, I thought, "that could be a tab above a shield or point-down triangular patch. The top edge of the tab/shield also looks much more irregular-shaped to me today in the blow-up, not a 3-point top like I mentioned before.

 

The other thing which strikes me today, is the scale. The Sgt's chevrons below are about right in scale to the lower patch, but what we're contemplating is possibly a tab is rather huge in scale to the chevrons. At least to my eyes today...

 

 

Well I,m certainly bedeviled by it, I can't for the life of me figure out what that patch is.

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My guess is we're seeing the flash shine off of some seriously starched, subdued jump wings. While the mixing of full color stripes with subdued name tapes was done, I don't think mixing subdued and color of the same type of skill/combat badges passed the NCO tolerance tests, but I'd love to see a uniform with that if someone has an original set.

That was my first thought too, but notice there is no similar shine on the CIB patch above it even though both patches lay the exact same way on the uniform. It could simply be the angle or even different bases materials and thread used in the embroidery, perhaps one being cotton and the other synthetic, but it also looks like full color skill badges I have seen where the wearer attempted to subdue it by rubbing graphite or something similar on it.

 

I have seen such a mixing of full color and subdued skill badges on Vietnam jungle jackets, but to your point, such uniforms probably didn't get the same scrutiny as a stateside garrison uniform.

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Yep, that's WW2. The patch is now used for United States European Command HQ-- My posting was with regards to a Desert Storm use.

Sorry, I didn't get the reference to the modern wearing of the patch. Were there subdued or desert subdued versions for wear on his BDU or Desert BDU?

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Here a re a couple of shots of Company D (Ranger) 151st of the Indiana National Guard returning home in 1969 after its tour in Vietnam.

 

The first picture shows the wearing of a subdued II Field Force, Vietnam SSI with an Airborne tab and Long Range Patrol scroll as his combat patch.

 

In the second picture In the first picture, the soldier on the right is wearing a full color Vietnamese made company scroll. The guy in the center is wearing a subdued II Field Force, Vietnam SSI with an Airborne tab and Long Range Patrol scroll as his combat patch.

 

The third picture shows a full color II Field Force, Vietnam SSI with an Airborne tab and Long Range Patrol scroll as a combat patch.

 

The fourth picture also shows the wear of the subdued IIFFV SSI/Airborne tab/scroll combo as a combat patch.

 

The fifth picture shows a member of the same unit wearing a generic Ranger Infantry Company scroll as a combat patch.

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