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Lo var Lachland

Operation Just Cause Insignia Regulation?

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Hey all, first post here. There is an absolute maze of subforums so if I posted this in the wrong place, I invite a moderator to kindly re-locate it. 

 

I am currently working on finishing up an impression kit for the 7th ID attached to Operation Just Cause in Panama, 1989. What confuses me, however, are the different ways that shoulder insignia is worn by soldiers in the multiple images I have looked over. Some have division insignia, while others do not. In addition to this, I also see some men (particularly the light-fighters) with what appears to be a slip-on reversed American flag on their left arm, while others have sewn-on flags that are not reversed on their right sleeve.

 

Just wondering if there was an SOP or official guideline on how insignia was supposed to be worn. Some annotated images are included below. 

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7th ID NCO Reenactor, Operation Just Cause 1989.

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The flags you are seeing on the soldier's left arms are indeed a slip on patch. The flag that you see sewn on to the soldier's BDU top makes me think he was assigned to a SOCOM unit in Panama, Honduras, etc. There were some units serving outside of the continental US that wore an American flag on their BDUs all of the time. The 509th at Vincenza, Italy did as an example.

 

Your ranger with the two AK's appears to be a Grenada vet. I can't think of anywhere else he could have served at his apparent age and have had a ranger combat patch.

 

Allan 


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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5 minutes ago, Allan H. said:

The flags you are seeing on the soldier's left arms are indeed a slip on patch. The flag that you see sewn on to the soldier's BDU top makes me think he was assigned to a SOCOM unit in Panama, Honduras, etc. There were some units serving outside of the continental US that wore an American flag on their BDUs all of the time. The 509th at Vincenza, Italy did as an example.

 

Your ranger with the two AK's appears to be a Grenada vet. I can't think of anywhere else he could have served at his apparent age and have had a ranger combat patch.

 

Allan 

So was SOP for the 7th ID no flag but a division patch on the left arm? In the second image down that I annotated, the only soldier wearing a division insignia appears to be an officer due to the lack of M16 magazine pouches and his M12 holster. This leads me to believe that officers and NCOs primarily wore insignia while "grunts" did not.

 

I appreciate the help but I am still wondering who wore what during the conflict. All of the airborne units I see have division insignia, although the lightfighters do not. 


7th ID NCO Reenactor, Operation Just Cause 1989.

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My recollection is that the 7th ID was wearing a shoulder patch on their left shoulders. The top photo looks to me like the soldier on the left has an SSI under the American Flag patch. One thing you have to remember about Panama, is that the Panamanian camo looks a LOT like US BDU. I'd imagine that the flags were a necessity. Obviously, the raghead helmet covers (which are also widely worn by the 82nd A/B, would definitely let a US trooper know that it was a friendly wearing that helmet.

 

Allan


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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2 hours ago, Allan H. said:

I'd imagine that the flags were a necessity.

Right, but if they were a necessity, why are there so few images of soldiers wearing them? It is my apparent understanding that the SOP was to use slip-on flags on the soldiers' left sleeve. The only images I see of sewn-on flags are in the SOCOM units like you pointed out. I suppose infantry units didn't have sewn-flags? 

 

2 hours ago, Allan H. said:

The top photo looks to me like the soldier on the left has an SSI under the American Flag patch.

I zoomed in a bit more and yes, they both have 7th ID unit SSIs. I'm not sure why I didn't notice that earlier. 

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7th ID NCO Reenactor, Operation Just Cause 1989.

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The first time that I ever saw the American flag sewn on the right sleeve with the field forward (which looks "backward" to the casual observer) was right after Desert Storm. The patches came in boxes to the units and supply handed them out with instructions to sew them on the right sleeve, midway between the shoulder and the elbow. All of the troops had quite a fit about the flags being "backwards" and a lot of explanations had to be given that the soldiers were to think of their arms as the flag staff and the flag was blowing backward in the wind.

 

I would assume that the flags being worn in Panama (I wasn't there during Just Cause, but was there after), were more or less an afterthought with a piece of elastic being added to the flag to allow it to be worn as an armband. As I mentioned before, the Panamanian and BDU camo looks fairly similar, so the flag could have been added to help to tell friend from potential foe. You need to remember that not all of Panama's military was behind Noriega. Those that did support Noriega were the ones shooting at Americans and being shot back at. In a tactical situation, any quick means of identifying friendly forces is a good thing.

 

Allan


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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On 6/16/2020 at 9:12 AM, Allan H. said:

The first time that I ever saw the American flag sewn on the right sleeve with the field forward (which looks "backward" to the casual observer) was right after Desert Storm. The patches came in boxes to the units and supply handed them out with instructions to sew them on the right sleeve, midway between the shoulder and the elbow. All of the troops had quite a fit about the flags being "backwards" and a lot of explanations had to be given that the soldiers were to think of their arms as the flag staff and the flag was blowing backward in the wind.

 

I would assume that the flags being worn in Panama (I wasn't there during Just Cause, but was there after), were more or less an afterthought with a piece of elastic being added to the flag to allow it to be worn as an armband. As I mentioned before, the Panamanian and BDU camo looks fairly similar, so the flag could have been added to help to tell friend from potential foe. You need to remember that not all of Panama's military was behind Noriega. Those that did support Noriega were the ones shooting at Americans and being shot back at. In a tactical situation, any quick means of identifying friendly forces is a good thing.

 

Allan

Alright, thank you for your input. It is much appreciated. 


7th ID NCO Reenactor, Operation Just Cause 1989.

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The 3" flag I wore in Haiti for Operation Restore Democracy in 1994.  The 3.25" flag I wore on my return trip to Haiti for Uphold Democracy four months after returning to Bragg after the first deployment there.  The 2.50" flag was worn by US Forces in Italy in the 80s when I was there.  All of the other NATO nations wore their countries flag so we could tell each other apart in Joint Exercises was the rational back then.  I am not sure why we changed from the left shoulder to the right shoulder with our flag in the span of 4 months but it was a Yes Sir, Yes Sir, three bags full Sir experience.   IMG_0979.jpg.6252f5861e7b2cefb6a287866619ea3b.jpg1943314860_IMG_098015_37_23.jpg.643fa7559eabd6730044fd85341e090f.jpgIMG_0978.jpg.01e079140e9f8eb50dc9a346fa30507b.jpg


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On 6/20/2020 at 4:09 PM, greendevilsix said:

The 3" flag I wore in Haiti for Operation Restore Democracy in 1994

I think the practice of wearing flags consistently for American soldiers started in the mid 1990s. I can't really find any information about soldiers actively wearing shoulder flags until around that time. Even soldiers in Operation Desert Storm did not always wear flags. 

 

On 6/20/2020 at 4:09 PM, greendevilsix said:

All of the other NATO nations wore their countries flag so we could tell each other apart in Joint Exercises was the rational back then.

I can understand that, of course. 


7th ID NCO Reenactor, Operation Just Cause 1989.

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On 6/20/2020 at 4:09 PM, greendevilsix said:

I am not sure why we changed from the left shoulder to the right shoulder with our flag in the span of 4 months but it was a Yes Sir, Yes Sir, three bags full Sir experience.   

That's something I won't understand either. I've been researching it for some time now. 


7th ID NCO Reenactor, Operation Just Cause 1989.

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The Regulation that covers WEAR AND APPEARANCE OF ARMY UNIFORMS AND INSIGNIA  was once upon a time Army Regulation 670-1 but recently it was changed to Army Pamphlet 670–1 - Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia in 25 MAY 2017.  I have provided several backdated versions to include the most current policy on arm flags.  I hope this helps you in your quest.  On second thought, I wore an American Flag on my MP Brassard (left side) while in Honduras in 1987.  

 

 

Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia.jpg


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This was supposed to be 4 pages but I see that it is not so, let me sort this out and add the other 3.

 


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