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post WWII, 50's & 60's US Air Force uniform photos


Bob Hudson
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And here is a picture of my old man (far left) dated New York, Dec 17, 1948 on leave with some buddies.

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Note two GIs on right : one wearing cut-out prop/wing device, one still with old style AAF insignia.

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Another close-up. Can the right shoulder patches be ID'd? And what is that partly covering the ribbons?

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That does seems very unusual. For comparison, Longevity ribbon seen here with the usual oak leaves ('60s uniform of M/Sgt G.Ellis, USAAF/USAF).

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...Can the right shoulder patches be ID'd? And what is that partly covering the ribbons?

Great pix., Astra! December 1948 takes the prize for early wear the new USAF chevrons.

 

To answer your questions: The Pvt. on the left is wearing a 78th Infantry Division SSI, indicating service in ETO during WWII, and the badge over his ribbons is the Combat Medical Badge (link here for more info on the CMB). The Corp. next to him is wearing a never approved patch borrowed from the Great Seal and Flag of the Territory of Guam, presumably indicating…you guessed it…wartime service on Guam (see below). The Army's postwar Marianas-Bonin Command (aka: MARBO) had an approved SSI (August 1948) that is very similar to this design (see below).

 

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Guam Territorial Flag

 

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MARBO Command SSI

 

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General Carl Spaatz, USAF Chief of Staff, and Lt. Gen. Curtis LeMay, Commanding General, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, meet at plane side in Wiesbaden, Germany, May 12, 1948. Gen. Spaatz would retire soon and this was his last trip to Europe. Gen. LeMay left USAFE later in 1948 to assume command of Strategic Air Command.

 

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Note that Gen. LeMay is wearing the generic USAF SSI whereas Gen. Spaatz also appears to be wearing an SSI on his left sleeve, tantalizingly out of sight because of the camera angle....perhaps it was his trademark patch for U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe, his former wartime command, which was known to wear even as Chief of Staff (link here).

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  • 2 months later...

1955 Airman. Real color, faded; or tinted?

 

Real color! Beautiful era picture !!! I love this era in photos and colors !!!!!!!!!!

 

 

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Interesting to see Gen Spaatz's jacket in #286. We're still in the "pinks/greens" era here but his coat lacks the usual belt. It's dark OD but is tailored like the belt-less khaki TW summer uniform.

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...Interesting to see Gen Spaatz's jacket in #286. We're still in the "pinks/greens" era here but his coat lacks the usual belt...

 

Let’s go easy on Gen. Spaatz: He was simply a man ahead of his times. Well before this picture of Spaatz and LeMay was taken the USAF had decided that its new blue service uniform coat would be without belt. As Gen. Spaatz was Chief of Staff of the Air Force when that decision was made, can we doubt that he approved of the belt-less uniform look? And here he is giving the concept a field test. Modifying the pinks and greens in this fashion was simple: The belt was detachable and adding the fourth brass button to the coat would have been a snap for the General’s orderly. Here is an extract from the USAF directive on the transitional pinks and greens from about the time the picture was made (Air Force Letter Number 35-4, 1 September 1948. Note: This extract exactly matches the specifications for same uniform in Army regulations).

 

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Note that the “…horizontal seam at the waistline…” is clearly visible on Spaatz’s coat and although button details are not visible in the picture, it is possible that Spaatz’s coat buttons were the new pattern gold color Department of the Air Force Seal design, which was officially prescribed in August 1948 (AFL 39-25).

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  • 2 weeks later...
...This is a '60s photo but the longevity ribbon seems to have knots instead of clusters...

This Lieutenant Colonel also wore knots on his Longevity Service Ribbon instead of oak leaf clusters (photo dated August 20, 1959). Perhaps this practice was per USAF regulations of those early times. Legend has it that Air Force Chief of Staff Thomas D. White approved this award in 1957 (he was appointed to the post in August 1957). The Air Officer's Guide (10th edition, 1957) does not mention this ribbon....does anyone have 11th edition (1958)?

 

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Here was the "New Look" for Air Police at SAC Headquarters in 1957. To judge from his ribbons and other insignia, the Airman modeling the new outfit was a veteran of WWII and the Korean War with the Purple Heart, the Navy and Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, and the ROK Presidential Unit Citation, and three each Hershey Bars and hash marks...no rookie this.

 

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Here is a USAF officer with a fascinating backstory. Cornelius J. Mara enlisted in the Army in May 1918 and served as an army field clerk until 1926 when he was converted to the rank of warrant officer, in which capacity he served until 1940 when he was commissioned as a Captain in the Quartermaster Corps Reserve. In 1941 he transferred to the Air Corps Reserve. He served with the Army Air Forces throughout the war, eventually being promoted to Colonel in 1944. He remained on active duty in the Army after the war until he transferred to the USAF in 1947. In May 1949, Col. Mara was appointed Assistant Military Aide to President Truman, a post that he held until January 1953. He was promoted to Brigadier General in September 1952 (link here). Col. Mara is shown in this picture (ca. 1949) wearing an Army style uniform with the lapel insignia for Aide to the President of the United States (1st type, worn ca. 1946 to 1953. Link here).

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@wailuna, Re: post 298. Great pic. What's the deal with light-colored strap on the airman's cap? White, do you think, or silver? I guess at this early date, they hadn't settled on a hat design for APs?

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...I guess at this early date, they hadn't settled on a hat design for APs?

Air Force uniform and insignia directive of those times specified “Special Items of Equipment for Air Police” which included “Black leather trim items…” (AFL 35-46A, dated July 26, 1949) but obviously local use of white chinstraps by Air Policemen occurred in some locations. Here are two place-dated examples of black and white chinstraps in use at two different locations at about the same time.

 

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Air Policemen at Sidi Slimane Air Base, Morocco, ca. 1952

 

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Air Policemen at RAF Upper Heyford, England, ca. 1952

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After poking at this subject some more, it seemed that posting the full text on AP “special items” would be a good idea.

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Note that Air Policemen were to have white cap covers with black chinstraps, which does not appear to have been the case at Sidi Slimane and elsewhere as well. Here is another Upper Heyford AP wearing a blue cover with white chinstrap ca. 1952. Provisional WAG on blue covers with white chinstraps: This was an earlier standard for AP wear that was being supplanted by white covers with black chinstraps in the early 1950s — a mini-transition within the overall OD to Blue transition? (Perhaps someone who specializes in early AP arcana will come to our rescue.)

 

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And here are some other Upper Heyford APs who are wearing what might be the “overcoat, field, long (Army type)” with “white rain hood”:

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Air Force uniform and insignia directive of those times specified “Special Items of Equipment for Air Police” which included “Black leather trim items…” (AFL 35-46A, dated July 26, 1949) but obviously local use of white chinstraps by Air Policemen occurred in some locations. Here are two place-dated examples of black and white chinstraps in use at two different locations at about the same time.

 

 

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Air Policemen at Sidi Slimane Air Base, Morocco, ca. 1952

 

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Air Policemen at RAF Upper Heyford, England, ca. 1952

 

Thank's, hey what is that shoulder patch being worn by the AP in the first group? the group in Khakis, it looks like the 29th Inf Div.

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