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August 15, 2004

Shoulder Patches


Click the pic for hi-res.

As I mentioned in some previous posts, I have a shoulder-patch collection that was passed on to me by my father, who had gotten it from someone who thought he would appreciate it (and know what to do with it) while he was in his last job before retiring from active duty. It gathered dust, and got in the way, so he tried to give it to museums - but all various museums wanted to do was cherry-pick various themes, and not take the whole thing. Not wanting to deal with all the eaches, he passed it on to me.

I found out the same thing. The Cavalry Museum at Fort Riley would be happy to take the Cav stuff, the Patton Museum at Fort Knox the armor stuff, etc. Well, I didn't want to deal with the eaches, either. So, the two boxes of patches on manila folders continued to gather dust and take up space.

Since current finances dictate not adding much to the Arsenal while Son & Friend are in college, and cars need replacing, etc, I decided to pull out the boxes and assess what was really there.

Pretty neat, if you are into that sort of thing.

Hundreds of patches. Army, AAF/AF, Marine, Navy, ROTC, State Guard HQs. Not just shoulder patches, but chevrons, service/wound stripes, skill badges, etc, including some WWI examples. Amazingly complete grouping of WWII Army patches (less the Infantry Divisions, more on that later).

I've decided I'm going to start posting these in bits and drabs. And, seeing as how the reference books are going for $100 used, and the new one recently out at $56, I'm contemplating an e-book. One you could print the pages out to take with you to shows, if you are a collector, saving wear and tear on these expensive books. I dunno. Just thinking. I kinda got inspired by the Old Fart patch thing.

Let's take a look at that, for example. Many people don't realize that the Marines have flirted with shoulder patches off and on during WWII and beyond. I think they dropped the idea as just too, well, 'Army'. But that didn't stop 'em from developing a full set when they were thinking about it. As near as I can tell, I've got a pretty complete gathering of the WWII/early post-war designs.

For example, here is a sheet that contains the genesis for the Recon Bn patch. It's the one on the lower left - originally designed for the Raider Battalions, which are the predecessors of today's Marine Recon. The others, clockwise, are the Defense Battalions, Paratroops, and Service & Supply.

Here are two examples of designs for the 1st Marine Div, 2nd MARDIV, Marine Barracks, Londonderry, and 5th Marine Brigade, WWI.

I'll post more as the mood seizes me (well, some right away in my next post, actually!)