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DBDU/DCU badging question

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What color(s) were used for the embroidered badging for the DBDU (6-color) and DCU (coffee stain) uniforms? In looking through some old stuff, I've found c ouple of items which don't match what I recall. Back in the 90s, I was issued with chocolate chips (desert storm) and, a few years later, coffee stains.

 

My recollection was that officer rank was black on tan (2LT and MAJ were brown) and branch insignia/nametapes, and branch were brown on tan.

 

Looking at a few surviving items, I've found nametags/branch in both black on tan and brown on tan and my desert boonie has Captain bars in brown but I have a photo which shows a DCU cap with black.

 

Was there a change somewhere between 1990 and ~1995? I changed branches so was Army and then USAF. Possibly the differences are just between branches?

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Have a look at this facebook group. It's a great collectors resource for all kinds of information on DBDU/DCU's and its setup for a book due out in December which is written by forum members here. It's been one of the most open places to discuss uniforms and its really about knowledge and learning and not being 'right'.

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DesertUniform/

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RedLegGI, Thanks for mention the FB Group for our upcoming book, "Desert Uniforms, Patches, and Insignia of the US Armed Forces" which has been scheduled for release by Schiffer on 28 December. Chapter 15 of the book is devoted to Army Rank, Branch, and Qualification Insignia and the respective Navy/Marine, Air Force and Coast Guard service chapters talk about the insignia unique to those services.

 

FtrPlt, During Desert Storm the Army regulation called for rank, branch, and qualification badge insignia to be pin on black subdued metal. That's why one often encounters 6-color DBDU uniforms without this insignia. However it was not unusual for Soldiers to sew on woodland green insignia to their DBDUs, especially in Somolia.

 

For the Army desert-colored cloth rank, branch, and qualification badge insignia was officially introduced in 1998 and would have been worn on the DCU. However theater and commercially made desert insignia was made for many years before that. With the exception of ranks, generally insignia was spice brown on a tan twill base. For a short period of time after 1998 both the Army and the Air Force wore insignia that was black on a tan base.

 

 


Kevin

 

My book, "Desert Uniforms, Patches, and Insignia of the US Armed Forces" is available on Amazon and other booksellers World-wide: www.amazon.com/Desert-Uniforms-Patches-Insignia-Forces/dp/0764352067

 

Check out our Facebook group on the book and all things Desert Uniform related: http://www.facebook.com/groups/DesertUniform

 

Always looking for:

- Saudi camel tongue rank fobs - DCU Uniforms & Patches - AAFES Pogs - Parachute Rigger Badges - Berlin Brigade Items - Pershing Rifles Items - East German Para Items-



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Thanks for your replies.

 

While I no longer have them, my chocolate chip uniforms were issued very late -- literally just a couple of weeks before shipping home. I think we were allowed to wear them for a brief period but it was back into woodland/green stuff pretty quickly.

 

Made a call to a friend I served with in the early/mid 90s (USAF major). His recollection for the coffee stains are opposite from what I remember (and he's probably right). He says USAF rank, at the time, was brown-on-tan for everyone except 2LT and MAJ -- who wore black on tan. This potentially explains my boonie with the brown-on-tan captain bars?

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Thanks for your replies.

 

While I no longer have them, my chocolate chip uniforms were issued very late -- literally just a couple of weeks before shipping home. I think we were allowed to wear them for a brief period but it was back into woodland/green stuff pretty quickly.

 

Made a call to a friend I served with in the early/mid 90s (USAF major). His recollection for the coffee stains are opposite from what I remember (and he's probably right). He says USAF rank, at the time, was brown-on-tan for everyone except 2LT and MAJ -- who wore black on tan. This potentially explains my boonie with the brown-on-tan captain bars?

 

I believe your friend is incorrect. Black on tan insignia would have been used by 1LTs and LTCs, otherwise 2LTs and MAJs would have been mistake for those higher ranks.

 

 


Kevin

 

My book, "Desert Uniforms, Patches, and Insignia of the US Armed Forces" is available on Amazon and other booksellers World-wide: www.amazon.com/Desert-Uniforms-Patches-Insignia-Forces/dp/0764352067

 

Check out our Facebook group on the book and all things Desert Uniform related: http://www.facebook.com/groups/DesertUniform

 

Always looking for:

- Saudi camel tongue rank fobs - DCU Uniforms & Patches - AAFES Pogs - Parachute Rigger Badges - Berlin Brigade Items - Pershing Rifles Items - East German Para Items-



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However it was not unusual for Soldiers to sew on woodland green insignia to their DBDUs, especially in Somolia.

 

For the Army desert-colored cloth rank, branch, and qualification badge insignia was officially introduced in 1998 and would have been worn on the DCU.

 

Also, in the early days of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was not uncommon for woodland patches to be used on DCUs. I assume due to shortages in the desert patches.

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Also, in the early days of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was not uncommon for woodland patches to be used on DCUs. I assume due to shortages in the desert patches.

 

Indeed very true, we talk about it in "Desert Uniforms, Patches, and Insignia of the US Armed Forces" as well as showing several photos of DCUs with woodland patches.


Kevin

 

My book, "Desert Uniforms, Patches, and Insignia of the US Armed Forces" is available on Amazon and other booksellers World-wide: www.amazon.com/Desert-Uniforms-Patches-Insignia-Forces/dp/0764352067

 

Check out our Facebook group on the book and all things Desert Uniform related: http://www.facebook.com/groups/DesertUniform

 

Always looking for:

- Saudi camel tongue rank fobs - DCU Uniforms & Patches - AAFES Pogs - Parachute Rigger Badges - Berlin Brigade Items - Pershing Rifles Items - East German Para Items-



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I believe your friend is incorrect. Black on tan insignia would have been used by 1LTs and LTCs, otherwise 2LTs and MAJs would have been mistake for those higher ranks.

 

 

 

Logically, I would agree with you since 2LT and MAJ are the only gold-colored ranks and you would think they would be brown and the silver-colored ranks done using black. My question is what color do you use when all the silver-colored rank is done in brown?

 

Admittedly, I didn't pay much attention to stuff like this 20+ years ago so I'm left with a somewhat faulty memory along with the potentially faulty memories of my equally-aged friends!

 

If there are full colonel or general uniforms with brown eagles and stars around, it might account for the reversed colors. In any case, here's my hat. The rank, to me, appears brown and not faded from black.

 

The second photo is via the web and shows Chuck Horner wearing what appears to be brown stars -- which again begs the question as to what color would 2LT and MAJ be wearing if all the silver ranks are in brown?

 

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Found this photo via the above link on FB. Photo credit: Brent Melton

Good example of an early 90s coffee stain with brown bars. Pretty sure that as a bunch of lowly captains, we didn't all just decide on our own to go with brown. I think the same site also had a photo of directly embroidered jacket with brown captain bars.

 

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Quick question -- just to make sure I'm not missing the obvious. In re-reading the above comment by ehrentitle

(1LT and LTC black on tan), is the implication that, early on, all USAF officer ranks were brown-on-tan with the exception of 1LT and LTC? And then, at some later date, all the silver colored ranks become black on tan with just 2LT and MAJ remaining brown-on-tan?

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Quick question -- just to make sure I'm not missing the obvious. In re-reading the above comment by ehrentitle

(1LT and LTC black on tan), is the implication that, early on, all USAF officer ranks were brown-on-tan with the exception of 1LT and LTC? And then, at some later date, all the silver colored ranks become black on tan with just 2LT and MAJ remaining brown-on-tan?

 

Yes, otherwise 2LTs and MAJs would be mistaken for these higher ranks.


Kevin

 

My book, "Desert Uniforms, Patches, and Insignia of the US Armed Forces" is available on Amazon and other booksellers World-wide: www.amazon.com/Desert-Uniforms-Patches-Insignia-Forces/dp/0764352067

 

Check out our Facebook group on the book and all things Desert Uniform related: http://www.facebook.com/groups/DesertUniform

 

Always looking for:

- Saudi camel tongue rank fobs - DCU Uniforms & Patches - AAFES Pogs - Parachute Rigger Badges - Berlin Brigade Items - Pershing Rifles Items - East German Para Items-



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The Army has also used brown-on-tan ranks for general officers, as is commonly seen with sewn-on insignia during Desert Storm. You can find pictures of several officers in the general ranks, and while they typically wear the pin-on black subdued general stars, those that chose to have desert subdued sewn-on insignia have the brown-on-tan stars.

 

Army Lt.Gen. Calvin Waller is shown in several pictures I've seen sporting the brown-on-tan stars.

 

During Desert Storm, the regulations concerning insignia color on field uniforms doesn't seem to have been strongly enforced or strictly adhered to. I've seen uniforms with a mix of desert subdued, OD subdued, and pin-on black subdued insignia. In fact, I currently have such a uniform that came from an 89th ARCOM nurse. Her uniform has the pin-on black collar insignia, desert subdued brown-on-tan rank/name tapes, an OD green 89th ARCOM shoulder patch, and a full color non-reversed US flag on the right sleeve.


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The Army has also used brown-on-tan ranks for general officers, as is commonly seen with sewn-on insignia during Desert Storm. You can find pictures of several officers in the general ranks, and while they typically wear the pin-on black subdued general stars, those that chose to have desert subdued sewn-on insignia have the brown-on-tan stars.

 

Army Lt.Gen. Calvin Waller is shown in several pictures I've seen sporting the brown-on-tan stars.

 

During Desert Storm, the regulations concerning insignia color on field uniforms doesn't seem to have been strongly enforced or strictly adhered to. I've seen uniforms with a mix of desert subdued, OD subdued, and pin-on black subdued insignia. In fact, I currently have such a uniform that came from an 89th ARCOM nurse. Her uniform has the pin-on black collar insignia, desert subdued brown-on-tan rank/name tapes, an OD green 89th ARCOM shoulder patch, and a full color non-reversed US flag on the right sleeve.

 

Yes, spice brown general's stars were often seen during Desert Storm. LTG Waller and others wore them, while GEN Schwarzkopf and GEN Powell preferred the regulation pin on black stars during the war. Marine and Navy generals/admirals wore the pin silver stars.

 

Brown general's stars continued to be worn on the BDU in OIF and OEF. We have photos in "Desert Uniforms, Patches, and Insignia of the US Armed Forces" showing general officers wear both the black and the spice brown stars in Iraq. Sometimes two generals in the same photo are wearing different colored stars.

 

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Kevin

 

My book, "Desert Uniforms, Patches, and Insignia of the US Armed Forces" is available on Amazon and other booksellers World-wide: www.amazon.com/Desert-Uniforms-Patches-Insignia-Forces/dp/0764352067

 

Check out our Facebook group on the book and all things Desert Uniform related: http://www.facebook.com/groups/DesertUniform

 

Always looking for:

- Saudi camel tongue rank fobs - DCU Uniforms & Patches - AAFES Pogs - Parachute Rigger Badges - Berlin Brigade Items - Pershing Rifles Items - East German Para Items-



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Thanks for everyone's replies. Interesting (and a bit scary) to see how little I remember about these uniforms.

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Also, in the early days of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was not uncommon for woodland patches to be used on DCUs. I assume due to shortages in the desert patches.

Were you with the Rakkasans during the invasion? I was under impression the Rakkasans had woodland patches because of they were the first in the 101st to be issued DCUs for their deployment in Afghanistan 2001-02. The new guys in the brigade who weren't deployed to Afghanistan had woodland patches on their DCUs as well to match the rest of veterans? Unless I am mistaken, the rest of brigades in the 101st had desert patches. Just curious why the Rakkasans were unique.


ALWAYS ON A LOOK-OUT FOR OEF/OIF ITEMS.

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Were you with the Rakkasans during the invasion? I was under impression the Rakkasans had woodland patches because of they were the first in the 101st to be issued DCUs for their deployment in Afghanistan 2001-02. The new guys in the brigade who weren't deployed to Afghanistan had woodland patches on their DCUs as well to match the rest of veterans? Unless I am mistaken, the rest of brigades in the 101st had desert patches. Just curious why the Rakkasans were unique.

 

My 2 cents/ recollections:

 

There was a mix of woodland and DCU patches-- based on availability. I wasn't on the initial deployment, but joined the Rakkasans in theater and remember questioning some folks about it.

 

Guys who didn't deploy weren't issued DCUs and continued to wear BDUs. After redeployment, we were allowed to wear our DCUs for several weeks/ maybe a month total and then everyone went back to BDUs.

 

When the prep for OIF began, desert patches were more readily available and those with BDU patches changed out their patches. I don't recall seeing BDU patches anymore.

 

Scott

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Were you with the Rakkasans during the invasion? I was under impression the Rakkasans had woodland patches because of they were the first in the 101st to be issued DCUs for their deployment in Afghanistan 2001-02. The new guys in the brigade who weren't deployed to Afghanistan had woodland patches on their DCUs as well to match the rest of veterans? Unless I am mistaken, the rest of brigades in the 101st had desert patches. Just curious why the Rakkasans were unique.

 

My 2 cents/ recollections:

 

There was a mix of woodland and DCU patches-- based on availability. I wasn't on the initial deployment, but joined the Rakkasans in theater and remember questioning some folks about it.

 

Guys who didn't deploy weren't issued DCUs and continued to wear BDUs. After redeployment, we were allowed to wear our DCUs for several weeks/ maybe a month total and then everyone went back to BDUs.

 

When the prep for OIF began, desert patches were more readily available and those with BDU patches changed out their patches. I don't recall seeing BDU patches anymore.

 

Scott

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Guys who didn't deploy weren't issued DCUs and continued to wear BDUs. After redeployment, we were allowed to wear our DCUs for several weeks/ maybe a month total and then everyone went back to BDUs.

 

Scott,

 

Thanks for your response. I would like to clarify on part where I said new guys get woodland patches on DCUs. I meant for deployment to Iraq, Rakkasans who weren't deployed to Afghanistan earlier got OD patches for their DCUs because Afghanistan Veterans already had woodland patches on their DCUs. I did not mean non-deployed soldiers getting DCUs stateside.


ALWAYS ON A LOOK-OUT FOR OEF/OIF ITEMS.

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Scott,

 

Thanks for your response. I would like to clarify on part where I said new guys get woodland patches on DCUs. I meant for deployment to Iraq, Rakkasans who weren't deployed to Afghanistan earlier got OD patches for their DCUs because Afghanistan Veterans already had woodland patches on their DCUs. I did not mean non-deployed soldiers getting DCUs stateside.

 

 

Sorry, I read it wrong.

 

We went through the Iraq issue after everyone had returned from Afghanistan. The standard at that point was desert patches-- I don't recall anyone wearing OD patches to Iraq. From my recollection it was specifically directed that OD patches would NOT be worn to Iraq.

 

It wouldn't surprise me if someone slipped through with OD patches for Iraq, but it was NOT the Rakkasan standard.

 

Scott

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Were you with the Rakkasans during the invasion? I was under impression the Rakkasans had woodland patches because of they were the first in the 101st to be issued DCUs for their deployment in Afghanistan 2001-02. The new guys in the brigade who weren't deployed to Afghanistan had woodland patches on their DCUs as well to match the rest of veterans? Unless I am mistaken, the rest of brigades in the 101st had desert patches. Just curious why the Rakkasans were unique.

 

Yes, I was with the Rakkasans for the Iraq invasion. We actually all had desert patches; at least, the "high speed" front line infantry units did. I honestly don't remember who from the 101st would have gotten woodland patches, but I know I saw them around. Maybe some support units had them? Or replacement guys who joined us later on in the deployment? Other divisions entirely? Don't know...

 

Everything else was a mish-mash, too... we had woodland rucks, TA-50, and flak vests, and our trucks were still woodland at that point, too, with no armor. We were barely prepared for that war, equipment-wise...haha...

 

As far as the Rakkasans in Afghanistan in '02, I barely missed that deployment, so I don't know what the patch situation was.

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I believe 3rd Brigade soldiers from the 101st continued to wear BDU on their uniforms to make them easily distinguishable from others late in to the DCU wear phase. Had a uniform come up that required research and after finding plenty of examples, it was traced to them. I think Nkomo has a similar uniform as well from 3rd Brigade. I'll see if I can get him to comment.

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I believe 3rd Brigade soldiers from the 101st continued to wear BDU on their uniforms to make them easily distinguishable from others late in to the DCU wear phase. Had a uniform come up that required research and after finding plenty of examples, it was traced to them. I think Nkomo has a similar uniform as well from 3rd Brigade. I'll see if I can get him to comment.

 

 

May have been OEF uniforms.

 

There was no desire or intent to be distinguished from others.

 

I was in the Rakkasans for both deployments and have a strong memory of being directed to put on desert badges after OEF, so that we would look like the rest of the Division.

 

 

Scott

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I believe 3rd Brigade soldiers from the 101st continued to wear BDU on their uniforms to make them easily distinguishable from others late in to the DCU wear phase. Had a uniform come up that required research and after finding plenty of examples, it was traced to them. I think Nkomo has a similar uniform as well from 3rd Brigade. I'll see if I can get him to comment.

 

 

May have been OEF uniforms.

 

There was no desire or intent to be distinguished from others.

 

I was in the Rakkasans for both deployments and have a strong memory of being directed to put on desert badges after OEF, so that we would look like the rest of the Division.

 

 

Scott

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Thanks Scott and Turko for your inputs. It is great to hear testimony from veterans who were in Rakkasans around this time period.

 

Brent, I remember that DCU you talked about.


ALWAYS ON A LOOK-OUT FOR OEF/OIF ITEMS.

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When DBDUs were first issued in the 80s there weren't any brown subdued insignias, nametapes or other uniform items so it was common to put woodland subdued (black/green) patches, rank and other accoutrements. DBDUs were generally "organizational issue" rather than "individual issue", iow it was issued by the Central Issue Facility (CIF) along with field gear. SInce it was organizational issue the only things that were supposed to be on it were the "bare minimum" requirements for an army field uniform, which would be name tape, US Army tape, and SSI (Shoulder Sleeve Insignia) of the current unit (left sleeve.) Everything else including rank and BOS (for officers), qualification badges, etc, was supposed to be pin on.

 

Of course, soldiers who want to look sharp will always push the limits on the regs - so sew on rank (which not only looked better but was easier to maintain), sew on qualification badges, right sleeve patches, etc, soon found their way onto the DBDUs.

 

By the time the 3 color DCU came out in the early 90's some units were on more or less permanent rotation to the sandbox and so they would get issued DCUs and put all their regular patches and badges on them. It was in the late 90's that the Army finally started making name tapes, badges, etc in desert tan so they would look correct on DCUs (though there had been "locally made" variations of these since at least Desert Shield in 1990.)

 

After 9/11 and OEF began in 2001, the Army accelerated the availability of DCU-subdued insignia. However, some units still didn't have desert-subdued insignia when they deployed.

 

When my Wyoming NG unit deployed to Kuwait in January of 2004 for OIF, we still only had our woodland (green) subdued patches, so we had those sewn onto our DCUs. About halfway into the deployment, we finally got our desert subdued patches and the CSM (Command Sergeant Major) made it his personal mission to deliver patches to every soldier and to ensure that they took them down to the sewing shop to have them sewn on.


Martin

Englewood, CO

US Army 1980-2005

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