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12th CAB Aviator BDU with Sapper Tab


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Just got this BDU. CW2 pilot with the 12th CAB who also was a Sapper. Haven’t seen that combo before. Anyone have an experience with how common that was or is? Also it looks like there was a different SSI before the 12th CAB patch was sewn on. Is it likely the Sapper tab was earned with whatever unit that was before the soldier went to the 12th CAB? Look to have been shield or crest shaped. Thanks 

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AFAIK the Sapper tab is only available to soldiers who have a Combat Engineer MOS. 

 

Many aviation warrant officers are prior enlisted (in fact, I'd guess most are.)  So likely this aviator was an enlisted combat engineer before he went to WOCS and flight school. 

 

I don't see how an aviator could (or would) earn a "sapper" tab as an aviator. 

 

Not sure when the Sapper tab was approved, but IIRC it was some time in the late 90's.  It was in the early 2000's that Warrant officers started wearing the branch insignia of their actual branch (prior to that, all Warrant officers wore the Warrant officer branch insignia regardless of their actual branch.)  The right sleeve US flag and aviation branch mark that as a late-issue BDU, 2003 - 2005 or so. 

Martin

Englewood, CO

US Army 1980-2005

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Thanks for the info. Pretty interesting top then. In your experience were uniforms often recycled? Or did guys often have a top like this that they wore for extended periods and through different occupations? I ask because I’m wondering if the other stitching pattern under the patch is from a previous unit this soldier was with or if this top used to belong to someone else. I’d guess it was the soldiers previous unit given that the stitching of the dapper tab is a different color then the 12th CAB patch so it was likely applied at a different time. The 12th CAB patch and the aviator badge both have the black stitching. So it seems the wings and unit insignia were added around the same time 

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In many cases these uniforms are issued to one person and not recycled as in the days of WW2.. Equipment such as helmets and ammo pouches are turned in but not issue uniforms. The ghost stitching you are seeing on the inside is most likely a former unit that the Soldier was in.. Special issue clothing was often reissued, such as Cold weather parkas and extreme weather boots and things as they did not go from installation to installation.. 

 

When I went from unit to unit the uniforms that were still serviceable for garrison wear were reused with the new unit patch sewn on. If the uniform was too faded or worn I usually used it as a field uniform, and when my uniforms got ripped in the field they would be repaired by our post tailor shop (at least they did while I was in Berlin).

 

As far as I know today the uniforms and equipment you are issued at the first duty station you are assigned after basic and AIT, you keep that issue with you throughout your career and upon leaving the service you turn it in at your last duty station. Records of issue and turn in are all computerized now so the issuing/turn-in facility will know what was turned in or exchanged in most cases.. The system does have errors and on occasion the Soldier may have acquired an extra laundry bag or other issue item and in some cases they are allowed to keep it, but on the other hand errors in records also would hold a Soldier responsible for something that was lost (either by fault of the Soldier or the computer and the Soldier would be financially responsible for said missing item)...

 

This is only my experience with the Army. .. (1983-2005) other branches of service may have different policies..

 

I still have most of my initial issue uniforms, I tried to keep one uniform from each duty station with the shoulder patch for that unit as well as badges awarded during those times (EIB, Jungle Expert, Air Assault Wings, etc....

 

Leigh 

 

 

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr  - US Army (Retired)

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I see. Thanks. Never being in the military I obviously was unsure. Kind of a shame that as the uniforms change and more convenient methods of attaching insignia and decorations to uniforms are adopted that in the future the history carried with each uniform will likely be completely lost. All the clean ACUs that are around now compared to the patched BDUs and DCUs of the previous era make that evident. 

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Unless you are able to obtain directly from the veteran an ACU uniform with all insignia I tend to agree..

 

I do have a few fully patched ACUs that belonged to a friend/associate that jumped into Panama with his Ranger Battalion early in his career. On his ACUs are his CIB, jump wings with combat Jump star and some other skill badges, as well as his former wartime service combat patch and current unit insignia... He served 30 years and retired. When he retired he gave me a footlocker full of his uniforms and clothing, so there are some chances of getting ACUs with the story and provenance...

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr  - US Army (Retired)

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That’s awesome. I doubt most people will have that kind of opportunity though unfortunately. Or maybe I’m in the minority being someone fascinated with militaria and military history and yet never having served and having no acquaintances who currently do or have. 

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I concur with Rakkasan.  Unlike WWII when uniforms were often turned in, repaired and then reissued to another GI, in the modern military it's rare that BDU uniforms would be reissued.  So most likely the "ghost" patches you see are patches that this aviator had when he was in a previous unit. 

 

Depending on one's MOS (Military Occupational Specialy - IOW their "job" in the military) uniforms can last for 6 months or 6 years.  My job (intel analyst) had me working in an office in garrison but in the field I was often doing things like stringing concertina wire and camouflage netting.  Typically I would get about 2 - 3 years out of a set of Temperate BDUs.  "Hot weather" BDUs didn't last nearly as long, as the material would get very thin and start to tear, especially on the thighs above the knees.  Even though I didn't go to the field that much, I felt like I was lucky if I got a year out of a set of HWBDUs.  With BDUs the pants almost always wear out first and since the camo material fades, you can't just buy a new set of pants when they wear out (because then you would have a faded top and non-faded pants) so most of the time we'd buy a jacket and pants at the same time.  As a result, a lot of GI's would end up with extra BDU tops because the pants had worn out but the whole uniform had to be replaced. 

 

There's one factor that I believe contributed to the longevity of this uniform:  The owner was an aviator, which meant that his "working" uniform was not the BDU but the aviator's "Bag" flight suit.  Many aviators have pristine BDUs because they are so rarely worn.  About the only time an aviator would wear a BDU would be if he was grounded or had some staff assignment/desk job that precluded him from flying. 

Martin

Englewood, CO

US Army 1980-2005

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Yea I have a bunch of aviator and aviation badges BDUs and DCUs. Decent number around I guess exactly for the reasons you state. I quite like them even though they may have seen little use. 

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Just dug this ACU our of a huge pile of of digi tops at the surplus store near me. Almost all the ACUs were completely unpatched but when I managed to fish this out I figured $5 was a decent price. Aviation, jump wings, and rigger badges. Along with name tape, BOS and rank all sewn on. No shoulder insignia. The collar has a decent amount of discoloration so it appears to have been worn a good bit. So even though this soldier has an aviation badge he must have not been in an MOS that had him wearing an aircrew jacket. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/16/2020 at 8:56 AM, Martinjmpr said:

AFAIK the Sapper tab is only available to soldiers who have a Combat Engineer MOS. 

 

Many aviation warrant officers are prior enlisted (in fact, I'd guess most are.)  So likely this aviator was an enlisted combat engineer before he went to WOCS and flight school. 

 

I don't see how an aviator could (or would) earn a "sapper" tab as an aviator. 

 

Not sure when the Sapper tab was approved, but IIRC it was some time in the late 90's.  It was in the early 2000's that Warrant officers started wearing the branch insignia of their actual branch (prior to that, all Warrant officers wore the Warrant officer branch insignia regardless of their actual branch.)  The right sleeve US flag and aviation branch mark that as a late-issue BDU, 2003 - 2005 or so. 

 

 

The tab wasn't authorized until mid 2004. So anyone with it on BDUs would have been one of the first to get them and last to wear BDUs. 

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