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Complete Guide To
The United States Army
Medals, Badges and Insignia
World War II to Present
By
Colonel Frank C. Foster
US Army Ret.
1st Edition
Dedicated to my father Captain Frank
C.
Foster, USAR, a World War II
veteran and my son Captain Lee B. Foster, ANG and all the other
fathers and sons and the mothers and daughters of our great country
who have so unselfishly served their country in the
United States Army.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number - 2004102041
Hardcover Edition ISBN - 1-884452-58-2
Softcover Edition ISBN - 1-884452-59-0
Copyright 2004 by MOA Press
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems or transmitted by any
means, electronic, mechanical or by photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system
without permission from the publishers, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
Published by:
MOA Press (Medals of America Press)
114 Southchase Blvd.· Fountain
Inn,
SC 29644
Telephone: (800) 308-0849
www.moapress.com· www.usmedals.com
 About the Author
Col. Frank
C.
Foster (USA, Ret.), grew
up
in
Greenville, South Carolina and earned
his BS from The Citadel, MBA from the Uni-
versity of Georgia and is a graduate of the
Army's Command and General Staff College
and Army War College. He saw service as a
Battery Commander
in
Germany and served
in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade
and USARV General Staff. In the Adjutant
General's Corps, he served as the Adjutant
General of the Central Army Group, the 4th
Infantry Division and was the Commandant
and Chief of the Army's Adjutant General's
Corps from 1986 to 1990 during which time
he activated the Adjutant General Corps
Regiment. His military service provided him
a unique understanding of the Armed Forces Awards System. He currently operates
Medals ofAmerica Press and is the co author of
A Complete Guide to All United States
Military Medals
1939
to Present
and co author of
The Decorations and Medals ofthe
Republic of Vietnam.
He and his wife Linda, who was decorated with the Army
Commander's Medal for service to the Army, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina.
Colonel Frank
C.
Foster
Grateful Acknowledgments
My deepest appreciation to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions. Without their unselfish efforts, this
book would never have happened.
Authors, Consultants and Reviewers without which this
book would not have been written
Mr.
Lawrence H. Borts .. .for splendid editing and
suggestions.
Mr. Peter Morgan ... for loans of anything I needed and
reviewing the text.
Mr. Jim Thompson for blazing the way with his two
books on the Marines and Navy and checking my azimuth.
Joint StafflPentagon
Cdr. Jerry Mahar, (Retired), DOD Awards
Chief Magic Wands
For making it fit 40 inches all around and dress right dress
and cover down:
Mrs. Bonnie Crocker, P. P. D.
Mrs. Buz Isham-Martin, A.D.
Institute of Heraldry, United States Army
These gentlemen and their talented staff have provided
the material on badges and branch insignia over the past
five years.
Colonel Gerald
T.
Luchino - Former Director,
The Institute of Heraldry
Mr. Thomas B. Profitt - Former Director,
The Institute of Heraldry
Mr. Robert 1. Hopkins and Mr. Stan Haas
The Institute of Heraldry
U. S. Army Awards Branch
Mrs. Arlette King and her fine team at the Army awards
branch.
Vanguard, Inc. America's leading military insignia supplier to
the Armed Forces for unfailing support.
Mr. Bill Gershen, President and CEO
Mr. Michael Harrison, Vice-President
Mr. Gary Duncan, General Manager
Medals ofAmerica, Inc.
For their willingness to provide any help requested:
Mrs. Linda Foster
Lt. Col. Anthony Aldebol, USAF Ret.
Mrs. Lois Owens
Photography
The beautiful photography of these medals, badges and
insignia are the fine work of Mr. Steve Russ.
2
Table of Contents
Introduction, Background and History
4
Hat Badges, Buttons and Lapel Pins
13
Origin of Officer Rank Insignia
16
US Army Commissioned Rank Insignia
17
Full Dress, Mess Dress and Slid-on Officer Rank Insignia
18
WalTant Officer's Insignia of Rank
19
Background and Development of Enlisted Rank
20
Enlisted Rank Insignia
22
Introduction to Branch Insignia
24
Infantry
24
US Army Badges and Tabs
43
Marksmanship Badges
:
52
Identification Badges
54
Army Air Corps, Army Air Force Wings
59
Awards, Insignia and AccoutelTllents
62
Uniforms
64
Aiguillette, FoulTagere, Langyard and Blue Cord
68
Introduction to Color Plates
69
Types of Medals, Ribbons and Attachments
70
Different Forms of Medals
70
Ribbon Devices
72
COlTect Order of Army Ribbon Wear
73
Decorations and Medals
74
Non-US Service Awards
83
Veteran's Military Medals
87
Examples of United States Commemorative Medals
85
How to Determine A Veteran's Militqry Medals
86
Displaying Military Awards
89
Army Badges and Insignia
90
Subdued Insignia
105
Descriptions of Decorations and Medals
106
Ribbon Only Awards
84, 131
Foreign Decorations
132
United States Army Unit Awards
136
Certificates
,
139
United Nations Medals
140
Commemorative Medals
142
Issue of US Medals to Veterans and their Families
143
Bibliography
:
145
Index
145
List of Illustrations
Full Dress, Mess Dress and Slide-on Officer Rank Insignia
18
US Army Enlisted Rank
22
Examples of Correct Badge Wear Today
43
Wear of Marksmanship Badges with Combat and Skill Badges
53
Awards, Insignia and Accounterments
,
62
Uniforms
64
Types of Medals, Ribbons and Attachements
70
Placement of Bronze and Silver Campaign Stars on the Ribbon and Medal
71
Army Ribbon Devices
72
Army Correct Order of Ribbon Wear
73
Decoration and Medals
74
US Personal Decorations
75
Non-US Service Awards
83
Ribbon Only
84
Examples of United States Military Commendation Medals
85
Veteran's Military Medals
87
Displaying Military Awards
88
Badges
90
Identification Badges
93
Examples of Marksmanship Badges Authorized For Wear
94
Officer Insignia
95
Officer Branch Insignia
96
Enlisted Branch Insignia
97
US Army Commissioned Rank Insignia
98
US Army Enlisted Rank Insignia
99
US Army Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
100
Ribbons, Miniatures and Full Size Medals Examples
104
Examples of Subdued Pin -On Badges
105
Samples of United States Army
&
Foreign Award Certificates
139
3
Seals and Emblems
14
Introduction
Background of United States Army
Medals, Badges and Insignia
Growing up in a southern family that has seen military ser-
vice since the Cherokee Uprising in 1756, the Army has long
been a part ofour family heritage. After retirement from the Army,
I looked for some way to express my appreciation to all the men
and women who have so unselfishly served our country for the
past 225 years. The decision is to honor them with a book which
explores the honors and rewards our grateful country has used to
recognize her soldier. I hope that future generations will under-
stand the significance of these unique symbols of service. These
honors, in the form of decorations, medals, ribbons, badges and
insignia, symbolize the valor, bravery, dedication, patriotism,
skills and devotion to duty that millions of loyal Americans have
so nobly demonstrated while protecting their nation and their
fellow countrymen.
World War II represented the United States Army's greatest
victory.
It
also saw the major expansion of the Army's current
system of awards, for service and development of most of the uni-
form insignia we know today. This clearly makes World War II
the place to begin the narrative.
Of the millions ofAmerican citizens who have served in the
Armed Forces of the United States since World War II, the major-
ity served in the United States Army. This book tells the story of
the honors they won, the skills they developed and the military
symbols they served under.
The book is not only for veterans of World War II, Korea,
Vietnam, the Gulf War, Kosovo, the Liberation ofIraq and dozens
of other skirmishes and expeditions, but also for veterans' fami-
lies.
It
is probably more important for a soldier's family to read
this book and gain an appreciation for the dedication and skill
which goes into earning these awards.
I am trying to tell the story ofour Army over the past 70 years
through its symbols ofvalor, professional skill and esprit de corps.
Every effort has been made to provide the criteria and background
for each emblem. However, when it came to the area of shoulder
sleeve insignia or patches, it soon became clear that we could
only try to address the major units involved in each war (for the
enthusiast, Major Peter Morgan has done a superb job of cover-
ing the wide variety of shoulder sleeve insignia in his book,
The
American Military Patch Guide).
Additionally, the area of unit
crest and distinctive unit insignia is so vast that it could only be
touched upon very briefly.
Finally, as hard as we try, we know there will be mistakes in
this book. We therefore invite all readers to send their comments,
suggestions and corrections in care of the publisher. Thank you
for using this book for, in so doing, you honor the memory of
those great Americans, our Army veterans.
Silver
_____
Epaulette
'"'''' ,r' ...,.,.....
for
Officers
AMERICAN REVOLUTION
At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, 'the uniforms and
insignia of the Army were basically the same as the Colonial regi-
ments that fought in the French and Indian Wars. Pennsylvania
troops wore green uniforms, New Jersey troops and South Carolina
troops wore blue uniforms, while Connecticut soldiers wore red
uniform coats. In 1775, Congress ordered all continental troops to
wear brown uniforms but, by 1779 the standard was blue with dif-
ferent colored facings for New England, the southern and the central
states.
Aside from uniform color, during the early years of the Revo-
lution the only real distinctive United States Army insignia were
pewter buttons with the initials U. S.
A.
intertwined. Later, towards
the end of the war, some officers began to wear a small pewter or
silver eagle in the center oftheir hat's black COCkade@
Insignia of rank was a green epaulette on the
~
-
right shoulder for a corporal and a
'A
. red epaulette .for a sergeant. Offic-
ers often wore gold lace on their hats
or silver epaulettes, Generals wore
gold epaulettes on both shoulders, sometimes with a
star to indicate Brigadier General or Major General.
General Washington also directed that key officers
wear colored ribbons across their chests for identification.
Early in the American Revolution, Congress voted to award
gold medals to outstanding military leaders. The first such medal
was struck to honor George Washington for his service in driving
the British from Boston in 1776. Similar medals were bestowed
upon General Horatio Gates for his victory at the Battle of Saratoga
and Captain John Paul Jones after his famous naval engagement
with the
Serapis
in 1779. Unlike present practice, however, these
were large, presentation medals not designed to be worn on the
military uniform although General Gates por-
trait shows the medal hanging on a neck rib-
bon. Interestingly, once the dies were cut for
these medals, many copies were manufac-
tured and distributed by the mint as com-
memorative medals to instill patriotic ,
pride in the new country's victories.;\f·
Many ofthese early commemorative me-k"
dallions are still being struck and
offered~,
for sale by the U. S. Mint.
Colonel Frank Foster,
U.S. Army, Retired
1
"
4
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