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AMERICAN MILITARY PATCH GUIDE (Army - Army Air Force - Marine Corps - Navy - Civil Air Patrol National Guard)

General Outline of Army Organization

XXXXX - Army groups consist of two or more Armies.

XXXX - Armies consist of two or more Corps.

XXX - Corps consist of two or more Divisions.

XX - Divisions consist of two or more Regiments or Brigades.

X - Brigades may be separate units.

III - Regiments consist of two or more Battalions.

II - Battalions consist of two or more Companies.

I - Companies consist of two or more Platoons.

• • • - Platoons consist of two or more Squads.

• • - Squads consist of nine individuals.


Reasons why some patches are designed the way they are.

Third Army

At the end of WW I, the U.S. Third Army was assigned as "The Watch on the Rhine" in the Army of Occupation in Germany. When a request for a patch design was made, it was decided that they would incorporate the letters "A" and "O" (Army of Occupation) in the design along with the national colors of red, white and blue.

During the American Civil War, Corps in the Union army were indicated by a series of geometric shapes in order to simplify identification in battle. These shapes were usually cut from a piece of flannel and attached to the top of the kepi or to the front of the brimmed hat. The different divisions in the corps were indicated by the shape in different colors - red, white and blue for the First, Second and Third Divisions respectively. Some of these designs have survived to the present day in the forms of the I Corps and XXIV Corps.

XXIV Corps

The Fourth Division uses a rebus as a basis for their design. The four leaves of ivy indicating the division number and the Roman numeral IV, Pronounced "I-V".

The Fifth Division has a red diamond which was originally used as a baggage and vehicle marker during WW I.

The Seventh Division has 2 "7s" - one in the regular position and the other inverted making the familiar hourglass design.

4th Division

The 27th Division uses a pun on the name of its' commander, MG O'Ryan, by making the stars in the patch form the constellation Orion.

Since the 28th Division was formed with men from Pennsylvania, the keystone, which is the state symbol, was adopted for their design.

27th Division

The 38th "Cyclone" division was so named because while in training in Mississippi during WW I, a storm leveled the units encampment. They promptly adopted the motto and used the letters CY to indicate the name.

38th Division

When America entered WW I, the War Department wanted a division made up of National Guard troops from many states to fight in France. The 42nd Division was formed with men from 26 states and the District of Columbia and was called the "Rainbow" division because of the variety of origins of the troop.

Perhaps the best known example of a division changing designs for political correctness belongs to the 45th Division. From its' beginnings as an Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado National Guard division, they had used the ancient indian symbol of the swastika. With the rise of the Nazis, this emblem fell into disrepute. So, in 1939, the division changed from the swastika to the more popular.

(OLD) (NEW) 45th Division Indian symbol of the Thunderbird.

The 82th Division patch is based on the red square and blue circle used to mark the baggage and vehicles during WW I. When troops were added from six widely separated army posts, the name "All American" was coined and the initials "AA" were added to the insignia. It became an Airborne division in 1942.

Since most of the troops in the 83th Division during WW I were from Ohio, the patch design is an anagram of the letters O-H-I-O.

Originally called the "Texas and Oklahoma' Division, during WW I the 90th was composed of troops primarily from the two states. Therefore, the initials "T and O" in the patch design.

The 92 Division patch design and name originated from the fact that the Indians called the Negro soldiers "Black Buffalos" when the troops dressed in the heavy buffalo robes in winter.

102d Division

Because most of the troops constituting the organization came from Missouri and Arkansas, an ingenious use of both an anagram and a rebus in patch design is the 102d "Ozark" Division. When worn correctly, the letters "O" and "Z" are quite apparent and under the "Z" is an arc. Thereby: O+Z+Arc - OZARK.

1st SSF

The First Special Service Force is a unique international organization which consisted of troops from both Canada and the US. who originally were destined for winter operations behind enemy lines. The patch used the words "USA" and CANADA" in white on a red arrowhead and was worn by both U.S. and Canadian troops.

99th Inf. Bn. (SEP)

74th Regt. Combat Team

Originally, the allied planners in WW II made provisions for the invasion and liberation of Norway. To this end the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) was formed in 1942. The concept was to enlist only Norwegian nationals. After mountain training at Camp Hale, Colorado the battalion was sent to England and finished the war fighting on the continent. The patch design was that of a Viking sailing ship which indicated the units native background. The colors, red white and blue are the same for both the U.S. and Norway. When the 99th Infantry Battalion and the First Special Service Force (which included former Rangers) were inactivated, the 474th Infantry Regiment was born, which later became the 74th Regimental Combat Team. This new unit was designated to go to Norway to assist in the immediate post-hostilities repatriation of Axis forces. The patch was a composite of the red arrowhead from the First SSF, the Viking ship from the 99th and the Ranger scroll. This patch is also encountered with a blue arrowhead. There is no evidence that this was ever authorized so it exists as a novelty and was quite possibly a manufacturers' error.


1st "Big Red One" 161826573233111170111
2nd "Indian Head"9233812153738222270222
3rd "Rock of the Marne"71530910394110333370333
4th "Ivy Division"8122220294244444470444
5th "Red Diamond"2101119214650755570555
6th "Sight Seein' Sixth"120631515380666670666
7th "Bayonet"1732184314851531377770777
8th "Pathfinders"1328121284345561288870888
9th "Octofoil"394760263460841599970999
10th "Mountain"858687604605616-12610101107101010
11th Airborne187188511457472674675127-221511711408-
13th Airborne326515517458460676677129-222513713409-
17th Airborne194507513464466680681139-224517717411-
23rd "Americal"132164182245245247221572112126721125182
24th "Victory"1921341113526332424247242424
25th "Tropic Lightning"27351618648990652525257252525
26th "Yankee"10110432810110218026310126114397262626
27th "New York"10510616510410510624910227102277272727
28th "Keystone"10911011210710810922910328103287282828
29th "Blue & Gray"11511617511011122422712129104297292929
30th "Old Hickory"11711912011311819723010530105307303030
31st "Dixie"12415516711411611714910631106317313131
32nd "Red Arrow"12612712812012112612911432107327323232
33rd "Illinois"12313013612212312421010833108337333333
34th "Red Bull"13313516812515117518510934109347343434
35th "Santa Fe"1341373201271612162196035110357353535

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