The history of Military Shoulder Patches began during World War 1. in 1918 an army unit, the 81st Division, based in Fort Jackson, South Carolina was sent to France. On their uniform, worn on the left shoulder was a drab olive colored felt patch of a wildcat. On the circle shaped patch, black outlined the edges. Olive green filled the background and a black wildcat was centered. The Army unit’s patch featured a wildcat because of Wildcat Creek, a creek flowing swiftly back at their home base in South Carolina. other soldiers in fighting units that were different from the Wildcats challenged their right to wear the drab olive patch on their uniforms. Finally, it was ruled by General John J. Pershing that not only could the 81st division wildcats keep their beloved patch, he not only encouraged but suggested that all divisions should have their own patches made. The wildcat patch of the 81st division became the first official patch of the U.S. Army on October 19, 1918.
During World War II all major Army commands had distinctive Shoulder Service Insignias of their own. this included divisions, field army, and corps. The 82nd Airborne Division had AA on their patch because it contained soldiers from every state. The AA on the patch meant All- American. The 29th Infantry Division’s patch was blue and gray because the soldiers that fought in this division were on both the North and the South sides of the American Civil War.
The history of the military shoulder patch changed again during the Vietnam War when a subdued military shoulder patch was made. they became a mandatory part of the field uniform on July 1, 1970. these changes were made so that they would not stand out against the uniform itself. It was believed that the bright color of the patches would stand out if a soldier was in hiding or during combat missions.
The history of most military shoulder patches varied in color, size and general design. The exception is the United States Armored divisions. all armored divisions have the same military shoulder patch on their uniforms. The armored military shoulder patch is a triangle that is colored red, blue and yellow and has the symbol for armor in the center. The number of their brigade or department was placed in the yellow part, located near the top. The military shoulder patches of the divisions that served in the cold War were pentagons that were irregular in size with a rectangle near the bottom. these military patches had the division name or U.S. Armor Center.
The military patch was also redesigned for desert camouflage uniform. these unique military shoulder patches were light brown or tan to match the camouflage colors of the Desert Camouflage uniform. this uniform was replaced by the Army Combat uniform. Military Shoulder Patches for the Army Combat uniform are green, tan and black and have a Velcro backing to be attached to the Velcro pocket on the shoulder of the uniform. a military shoulder patch that is in full color is only own on a Class a uniform which a soldier wears when not engaged in combat.
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