Jump to content

Regulations on USN Combat Air Crew Wings


QED4
 Share

Recommended Posts

Dose any one have the actual regulations or specs on the Navy Combat Air Crew Wings. I am trying to figure out just exactly what the purpose and meaning of the stars is. I know conventional wisdom says they are for combat missions but when you think about it this dose not make sense. Why would they design a wing that would leave large gaping holes until you have four missions and no way to show five. I am not interested in what this book or that book says or "I talked to a vet and he said" I want to go straight to the horses mouth (or I guess in this case sea horse) and see what the Navy says about them. It may well be true they are mission stars, it would not be the first time military logic did not make sense but I would like to find out for sure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dose any one have the actual regulations or specs on the Navy Combat Air Crew Wings. I am trying to figure out just exactly what the purpose and meaning of the stars is. I know conventional wisdom says they are for combat missions but when you think about it this dose not make sense. Why would they design a wing that would leave large gaping holes until you have four missions and no way to show five. I am not interested in what this book or that book says or "I talked to a vet and he said" I want to go straight to the horses mouth (or I guess in this case sea horse) and see what the Navy says about them. It may well be true they are mission stars, it would not be the first time military logic did not make sense but I would like to find out for sure.

 

 

Does this help?

 

For those who have participated in actual combat missions, gold service stars are worn pinned to the top of the decoration. A maximum of three such stars may be displayed, one for every 20 hours of logged flight in a designated combat zone, in addition to the 20 for initially being awarded the Combat Aircrew Badge.

 

what wiki says but I am at work and dont have access to my books on the subject.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does this help?

 

For those who have participated in actual combat missions, gold service stars are worn pinned to the top of the decoration. A maximum of three such stars may be displayed, one for every 20 hours of logged flight in a designated combat zone, in addition to the 20 for initially being awarded the Combat Aircrew Badge.

 

what wiki says but I am at work and dont have access to my books on the subject.

 

If I recall correctly, the stars worn above the combat aircrew badge were to be awarded for participating in different types of combat, (1) actions against an enemy plane (ie aerial combat), (2) action against an enemy ship and (3) action against an enemy land station. Or something very much like that. I would have to check my reference books to be 100% sure.

 

In regards to the submarine combat badge, the first combat tour got you the badge, then a star was awarded for up to the next 3 missions.

 

I think that the sailors just filled in the wholes in the badge as they saw fit, as it was unlikely that anyone would really have checked. I suspect that they just filled in the wholes in the badge because it would have looked silly with empty spaces.

 

Patrick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I recall correctly, the stars worn above the combat aircrew badge were to be awarded for participating in different types of combat, (1) actions against an enemy plane (ie aerial combat), (2) action against an enemy ship and (3) action against an enemy land station. Or something very much like that. I would have to check my reference books to be 100% sure.

 

In regards to the submarine combat badge, the first combat tour got you the badge, then a star was awarded for up to the next 3 missions.

 

I think that the sailors just filled in the wholes in the badge as they saw fit, as it was unlikely that anyone would really have checked. I suspect that they just filled in the wholes in the badge because it would have looked silly with empty spaces.

 

Patrick

Patrick,

In the Navy, you don't "just fill in the holes", with those combat stars cause it looks "silly", with empty spaces. An old collector buddy who happens to be a retired Navy Combat Air Crewman told me once that getting the 3 stars for those wings was VERY hard. I do not remember the exact qualifications but the story about air-to-air, air-to-ship and air-to-ground does ring a bell.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patrick,

In the Navy, you don't "just fill in the holes", with those combat stars cause it looks "silly", with empty spaces. An old collector buddy who happens to be a retired Navy Combat Air Crewman told me once that getting the 3 stars for those wings was VERY hard. I do not remember the exact qualifications but the story about air-to-air, air-to-ship and air-to-ground does ring a bell.

 

Hi Lee,

 

You are right, I was a bit flippant. But in my experience you either find these wings with no stars or all 3 stars--rarely with just one or two stars. If you think about it, alot of the big PBY anti-submarine squadrons would likley have never or rarely engaged in air to air combat with enemy planes, whereas carrier based torpedo or dive bomber squadrons would have rarely attacked shore installations. By the end of WWII, the chances a navy aircrewman participating in air to air or air to ship combat would have decreased significantly--even during the war in korean and vietnam. Finally, with the extra-specialization of squarons and personell, it is very hard to imagine a sailor getting all 3 stars based on combat experience alone. This badge is still being used in the USN, but the chances of an enlisted aircrewman actually engaging in aerial combat is almost nill, so it is hard to imagine that one of those spots can never be filled.

 

In my defense, I do recall reading in a couple of places that frequently the wings were worn with all 3 stars despite the initial regulations stating that a star was to be awarded for any one specific combat situation. I am racking my brains where I read that.

 

Also, if you look at the other thread on aircrew wings, you can see that all the wings shown have either 0 or 3 stars, and some of the wings seem to have had stars installed in the factory. So, not that I disagree with you, but I think that there maybe some validity to the idea that the stars ended up being added has some truth.

 

ON THE OTHER HAND, here is a very nice named wing to a fellow who flew anti-submarine patrols in a VPB squadron in the Atlantic and Med--he clearly only had 2 stars on his wings.

 

Still, I didnt mean to be flippant.

 

Patrick

post-1519-1213046206.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a better synopsis of the requirements of the badge as authorized in about 1943. From my readings, these requirements may have been changed over time to reflect the changes in naval aviation warfare. (from wikipedia)

 

 

The initial requirements (May 1943) were: a. Having served, subsequent to 7 Decemger 1941, for a total of three months as a regularly assigned member of the Air Crew of a combatant craft. 1. "Combatant aircraft" shall be considered as all operating aircraft of the Fleet or Frontier Forces. 2. The term "regularly assigned member of the Air Crew" shall be interpreted literally, and shall be substantiated the the battle station bill of the unit. b. Having suffered injuries or other physical impairment, while engaged in combatant operations since 7 December 1941, as a regularly assigned member of a combatant aircraft, which precludes the possibility of fulfillment of the time requirements . . . and is recommended by the Commanding Officer of the Unit . . . c. Individual combat stars will be authorized by Unit Commanders, in conformance with instructions issued by C-in-C, United States Fleet, to those members of Air Crews who: 1) Engage enemy aircraft, singly or in formation. 2) Engage armed enemy combatant vessels with bombs, torpedoes, or machine guns. 3) Engage in bombing offensive operations agains enemy fortified positions. 4) A maximum of three combat stars shall be awarded for display on the Air Crew Insignia; combat operations reports in excess of three will be credited only in the record of the in individual concerned. d. Personnel qualified by provisions of subparagraphs A and B above may wear the Air Crew Insignia permanently.

 

Here is more information on the badge:www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/APP20.PDF

 

Finally, I recall finding an article in the US Naval Academy Proceedings magazine that discussed the history of the combat aircrew badge and that is where I believe I read the statement that the original meaning of the individual stars had lost some of its meaning and it was sometimes common practice to "fill in the holes" as it were. I cant find that article right now, and I may be recalling it incorrectly, but I believe that is where I read it.

 

Patrick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It appears the regulations for the award of the Air Crew wing were contained in BuPers Circular Letter 174-44 , I do not have a copy of it.

 

Here are a couple of scans of original award letters from WWII.

 

Kurt

 

AC1.jpg

AC2.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is some info I found on the Navy Historical Center's website.

 

The initial requirements for insignia were:

a. Having served, subsequent to 7 December 1941, for a total of three months as a regularly assigned

member of the Air Crew of a combatant craft.

 

(1) “Combat aircraft” shall be considered as all operating aircraft of the Fleet or Frontier

Forces, and excepts utility aircraft which are neither designed nor fitted out for offensive

(or defensive) operations. (2) The term “regularly assigned member of the

Air Crew” shall be interpreted literally, and shall be substantiated by the battle station bill

of the unit, under such instructions that may be approved and promulgated by the Bureau

of Naval Personnel.

b. Having suffered injuries or other physical impairment, while engaged in combatant operations since 7

December 1941, as a regularly assigned member of a combatant aircraft, which precludes the possibility of

fulfillment of the time requirements, stated in subparagraph (a) above, and is recommended by the

Commanding Officer of the Unit in which injury or physical impairment was received.

c. Individual combat stars will be authorized by Unit Commanders, in conformance with instructions issued

by Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet, to those members of Air Crews who:

(1) Engage enemy aircraft, singly or in formation.

(2) Engage armed enemy combatant vessels with bombs, torpedoes, or machine guns.

(3) Engage in bombing offensive operations against enemy fortified positions.

(4) A maximum of three combat stars shall be awarded for display on the Air Crew Insignia;

combat actions reports in excess of three will be credited only in the record of the individual concerned.

d. Personnel qualified by provisions of subparagraphs A and B above may wear the Air Crew Insignia permanently.

 

The above set of requirements for qualification to wear the Air Crew Insignia were modified several

times. BuPers Circular Letter Numbers 173-43 of 8 September 1943, 22-44 of 29 January 1944 and 174-44

of 16 June 1944 all make modifications to the qualifications but do not give a detailed description of the

insignia.

 

BuPers Circular Letter Number 395-44, dated 30 December 1944, provided a comprehensive description

of the Aircrew Insignia: “The Aircrew Insignia is a silver-plated or silver-color, winged, metal, pin, with

gold-color circular shield with surcharged foul anchor, superimposed on wing roots, with words “AIRCREW”

below circular shield; a silver-color bar over the circular shield with three threaded holes to receive three

gold-color combat stars when officially awarded. The insignia will measure two inches from tip to tip of the

wings: circle on shield 5⁄160; total depth of the shield from the top of the circle to the bottom of the shield

9⁄160. The Uniform Regulations of 2 May 1947 provided the following description of the Aircrew wings: “A silver-

plated or silver color, winged, metal pin, with gold circular shield surcharged with foul anchor, superimposed

on wing roots, with word ‘AIRCREW’ in raised letters on a silver-color background below the circular

shield; above the shield there shall be a silver-color scroll; the insignia to measure 20 from tip to tip of the

wings; circle on shield 5⁄160 in diameter; total height of the shield and silver background beneath the shield

9⁄160. The scroll shall be 1⁄80 wide and 3⁄40 long and shall be centered over the wings. Gold stars to a total of

three, as merited, shall be mounted on the scroll, necessary holes being pierced to receive them. A silver

star may be worn in lieu of three gold stars.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patrick,

Regarding your post number 5. Carrier based Dive bombers and torpedo bombers (serving as horizontal bombers), often attacked ground targets all thru WWII. Former President George H.W. Bush was shot down during a ground attack mission while flying an Avenger as a glide (or horizontal) bomber. Carrier based bombers didn't just operate against Japanese ships. As to PBY's not being engaged in combat with fighters, well thats just not true. Navy partol bombers often engaged in aerial combat with opposing fighters.

I'm not trying to pick your arguments apart, just shed some light on how these aircraft were used. My information is from nearly 50 years of reading about this subject and having talked to former crew menbers of this type aircraft.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great, that is exactly what I was looking for, thanks a lot. Books are good but there is nothing like the Regulations to make sure you have it right. It is interesting to see the badge itself did not actually require any combat missions only being assigned to a combat crew. I would imagine that during the war by the time you were in a combat unit for three months you would have at least three missions under you belt and get the badge with the stars there. Of course this also raises more questions, since the requirement for the badge was three months in a combat unit could it be earned after the war or was there a cut off date for eligibility when the war ended? Also when did the the Navy stop using this badge, only the Marines use it now?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 years later...
Patchcollector

Old thread I know but while doing some research I found some info to supplement this thread.

 

The Navy stopped using the badge in 1978.Marines are still authorized to wear it.However,in 1994 Naval personnel who flew as Aircrew with Marine Corps units in Combat were again authorized to wear it.

 

Here is a live link to the excellent PDF that Patrick pointed to:

 

http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/APP20.PDF

 

It is an excellent illustrated reference that shows the "Evolution of Naval Wings".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Old thread I know but while doing some research I found some info to supplement this thread.

 

The Navy stopped using the badge in 1978.Marines are still authorized to wear it.However,in 1994 Naval personnel who flew as Aircrew with Marine Corps units in Combat were again authorized to wear it.

 

Here is a live link to the excellent PDF that Patrick pointed to:

 

http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/APP20.PDF

 

It is an excellent illustrated reference that shows the "Evolution of Naval Wings".

thank you for that link!!!

 

-Brian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patchcollector

thank you for that link!!!

 

-Brian

 

 

You are welcome!Thanks to Patrick for initially pointing me to it!

 

It is a great reference.I saved a copy of it onto my Computer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
BrownshoeSailor

Having read this thread from a Google search, I joined your forums to update the discussion.
Here's what I have to add: In 2000, the Marine Commandant authorized aircrew who served in Navy ASW helicopter squadrons HS-2, HS-4, HS-6 and HS-8 between Oct 65 to Mar 68, and participated in qualifying combat SAR flights, to wear the CAI.

I served in all but HS-4, but my combat SAR time was in HS-6 during the Fall of 1966. Those of us who have received them wear the three gold stars. In my case at least, I have 3 strike/flight air medals (20 hours flight time in combat zone for each one - a "being there" medal, not a combat V Air Medal), and made four flights to an area 25 to 30 miles inside North Vietnam, in the mountains east of Thanh Hoa; the rest of the time was on North SAR station of Haiphong.

Here's the skinny on the authorization:

*/From: CDR L.L. Parthemer USN (Ret.)/**/
/**/
/**/To: ALCON/**/
/**//**/
/**/Subj: USMC COMBAT AIRCREW INSIGNIA, ELIGIBILITY FOR/**/
/**//**/
/**/
/**/The Commandant of the Marine Corps (ASM), in response to Chief of Naval Personnel letter 1650 dated 29 Nov 00 has approved, the eligibility for the USMC Combat Aircrew Insignia with three stars, for all qualifying personnel as follows:/**/
/**//**/
/**/All Enlisted Aircrewmen that participated in CSAR operations, and met the requirements delineated in paragraph 3310 of MCO 1000.6g, while attached to and serving in HS-2, HS-4, HS-6 and HS-8 from October 1965 to March 1968, HU-1/HC-1 from January 1966 to September 1967 and HC-7 from September 1967 to February 1973./**/
/**//**/
/**/
/**//**/
/**/Eligibility must be confirmed and basically requires that you and or your crew fired upon the enemy or were fired upon while conducting CSAR operations./**/
/**//**/
/**/This approval came about through the efforts of Captain Jeff Wiant USN (Ret.) and RADM Bill Terry USN (Ret.) and has resulted in a most fitting tribute to those crewmen that went in harms way on many occasions as a matter of routine. Not all endings were successful for the potential rescuee or the crew./**/
/**//**/
/**/We must now go about identifying, locating and confirming qualifications of Aircrewmen as rapidly as possible in preparation for an awarding ceremony to be held in San Diego, California at a time and place to be determined./**/
/**//**/
/**/It is expected that each squadron or squadron alumni would take appropriate action to identify and locate their qualified former aircrews providing that information to HC-7 Alumni at P.O. Box 974, Bonita, CA 91908-0974 or Via E-mail to hc7csar@cox.net/**/
/**//**/
/**/All inputs, questions and comments are welcome./**/
/**//**/
/**/Most Sincerely, //s// L.L. Parthemer

/*

You can find information on this, and on my own experiences at the following URLs:

http://raunchyredskins.us/ (HS-6 unofficial squadron site)

http://raunchyredskins.us/Past%20Reunions/Pensacola09/Aircrew/CombatWings.htm

http://raunchyredskins.us/Operations/Combat%20SAR.htm

- in particular see this entry on that page:

bullet *_12-16 October 1966_ -*

Lcdr Dave Murphy <http://raunchyredskins.us/Squadronmates/Dave%20Murphy.htm>/Ens Ed Marsyla <http://raunchyredskins.us/Squadronmates/Ed%20Marsyla.htm>/ADJ1 "Vic" Vicari <http://raunchyredskins.us/Squadronmates/Vic_Vicari.htm>/AX2 Steve Caple <http://raunchyredskins.us/Squadronmates/Steve%20Caple.htm> participate in the multi-day/multi-sortie "Shining Brass" Special Ops effort to rescue Lt Deane Woods shot down on 12 October after being hit by ground fire. While hovering to extract the "Shining Brass" on 16 October, Indian Gal 69 has the #1 engine shot out by enemy fire after boarding only six team members - the crew successfully flies out of the hover on a single-engine and heads toward the beach - the helo is again heavily damaged by AAA fire as it goes "feet wet" - the tail rotor flight controls are severely damaged but crew manages to reach the open sea and successfully ditches. During the egress to the safety of the sea, all crewmembers and "Shining Brass" teams members are wounded. Read rescue synopsis <http://raunchyredskins.us/Operations/Awards/HS-6%20Awards%2066-18.pdf>. View pictures of Indian Gal 69's emergency water landing <http://raunchyredskins.us/Operations/IG%2069%20Down/IG_69_Down.htm>, crew rescue and subsequent sinking of the helo. Read Steve Caple's recollection <http://raunchyredskins.us/Operations/IG%2069%20Down/IG_69_Down_Caple.htm> of the rescue attempt. Read excerpt <http://raunchyredskins.us/LNMB%20Rescues/Woods.pdf> from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.


http://raunchyredskins.us/Operations/IG%2069%20Down/IG_69_Down_Caple.htm
- correction: later learned the big (over 500 feet) frigate was the USS Halsey,
then listed as DLG-23, later reclassed as CG-23

http://raunchyredskins.us/Squadronmates/Steve%20Caple.htm

 

I'm not sure where "Shining Brass" came from. At the time I thought I heard it called a "White Rabbit" mission, a name I thought particularly apt. Other sources refer to the general class of rescue ops as "Bright Light".

From further reading I discovered that the leader of the Bright Light team was Dick Meadows, a special forces legend, who had already led Recon Team Iowa on several missions into North Vietnam and Laos - later direct commissioned as a captain, retired as major; there's a bronze statue of him at Fort Bragg.

Sincerely, Steve Caple

 

PS: the hole in the bottom of the "9" was the (37mm?) shell that came in and blew up less than 5 ft from me, kneeling in the back of the cargo door with an M-60

 

post-157675-0-00477100-1424310799.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

Not sure but I think USMC Warrant Officer Observers in AH-1J and OV-10 aircraft may have qualified for the combat aircrew wing. Have a photo of a retired CWO4 wearing one with Para wing on his ball cap.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 years later...
Blueduster

I enjoyed this tread. My father was awarded the Combat Aircrew Medal sometime in 1944. He told me the stars represented combat air to air, air to sea, and air to land. 

 

He recounted one time over Japan, in a dive, both he and the pilot passed out with the pilot coming to just in time to pull up.

 

Over 3 conflicts and 29 years of service he amassed over 65 medals and awards. His most cherished were the Air Crew Medal and the CIB. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

rathbonemuseum.com

After reading this thread and noting Patrick's observation about "you only see zero or three stars", i have a theory. Looking at the award document from Kurt and the award notification from Steve Caple, the stars are essentially awarded "upon later review" and therefore are awarded in a collective announcement. Therefore they are not awarded "as we go". So in sum, most combat crew after a tour did qualify for the max three stars and they were awarded at once. It was probably relatively rare for a person on an active combat tour to not receive the max. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...