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I found this pic in my grandmother's belongings after her passing. I'm curious as to what branch of the military this soldier was in and the time frame. Maybe even what war, if any he may have been in. By the emblem on paper frame the picture is in I'm assuming U.S. soldier. My maternal side of the family left Germany so I'm thinking this may be my grandfathers side of the family. The first pic is obviously of the soldier:
the second is of the front of the frame it's in:
That appears to me to be a 1914 or 1917 US Army Uniform.
Which means it could be from US involvement in Mexico…
1913-1914. - U.S. troops carried out a skirmish against Huerta's forces in Veracruz.
March 1916 - February 1917 - Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing's expedition of about 10,000 soldiers went into Mexico trying to capture Pancho Villa after he raided into the US. They spent 11 months unsuccessfully chasing him.
April 6, 1917 - November 11, 1918. and WWI of course
1918-1919. Minor clashes with Mexican irregulars, as well as Mexican Federales near Nogalas Az.
I think the uniform is most probably First World War, but I wonder if it could be from the Spanish-American War. See these images:
Soldiers during the Spanish-American War dressed in khaki uniforms based on those worn by the British. These soldiers wait on the field in 1898.
United States Army branch insignia
Branch insignia of the United States Army refers to military emblems that may be worn on the uniform of the United States Army to denote membership in a particular area of expertise and series of functional areas. Army branch insignia is similar to the line officer and staff corps officer devices of the United States Navy as well as to the Navy Enlisted rating badges. Musket Name, Brown Bess
Army branch insignia is separate from Army qualification badges in that qualification badges require completion of a training course or school, whereas branch insignia is issued to a service member upon assignment to a particular area of the Army.
A Brief History of U.S. Military Camouflage Uniforms
Camouflage uniforms in all of their variations are standard issue for each branch of the U.S. military. However, until recently, that wasn’t the case. Although the French pioneered camouflage techniques with vehicles and gun emplacements during World War I and the British made use of Alister Mackenzie’s innovative concealment of trenches, the U.S. Navy employed their own team of camoufluers, including a small group of art students assigned to the Women’s Camouflage Reserve Corps of the National League for Women’s Service. These art students were sometimes called “ hidden women ” for their attempts to understand environments and landscapes similar to the battlefield.
Their experiments inside “rock suits” and “observation suits” were tested at New York’s Van Cortlandt Park before the women deployed to France with other allied units. The suits may not have been considered camo uniforms, but the principles used can be argued as early proponents of makeshift ghillie suits, prevalent concealment tactics employed by sniper teams in every major war since.
World War I may have introduced camouflage, but World War II saw the emergence of camouflage uniforms — though few and far between. In large part, the uniforms were olive drab and plain green, lacking any actual camo. During the invasion of Normandy, select infantry units of U.S. Army soldiers donned HBT camouflage uniforms made from cotton that resembled the uniforms worn by German Waffen-SS soldiers. Since most American soldiers didn’t wear camo uniforms, “ friendly fire ” incidents rose in frequency as a result.
In the Pacific, a few U.S. Marine Corps units, including the Marine Raiders, wore reversible M1942 camouflage uniforms referred to as “ frog suits ” — one side was a greenish camo for jungle warfare, and the other side was tan for the beach environments frequented during the island-hopping campaigns. The Marines adopted a similar design called the frog pattern helmet cover during the Korean War. These camouflage uniforms were also used by Brigade 2506, who were issued the frog suits by the CIA during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
In Vietnam, there was no official camouflage uniform for troops, but in the jungle environment, most soldiers wore an all-green “boonie suit.” The U.S. Army’s Engineer Research and Development Laboratory (ERDL) developed a four-color camo uniform in 1948 that consisted of shades of light green, dark green, brown, and black. The uniforms saw limited usage, but special operations units and reconnaissance platoons requested a need for clothing to adapt to the environment. Most notably, U.S. Army Special Forces, U.S. Navy SEALs, and members of MACV-SOG acquired the universally revered “ tiger stripe ” pattern as they worked deep-penetration operations alongside their South Vietnamese counterparts.
During the Cold War, the camouflage pattern that became general issue for the entire U.S. military was the M81 Woodland uniform, also known as the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). Since its authorization in 1981, the black, brown, green, and khaki disruptive-colored design sustained prevalence in forest environments until they were phased out in the early 2000s.
When the U.S. military fought in the Persian Gulf during the Gulf War in the early 1990s, troops wore a six-colored “chocolate chip” pattern that is often associated with General Norman Schwarzkopf , the commander of U.S. Central Command during the campaign against Saddam Hussein.
The “chocolate chip” uniform was replaced in 1992 with a three-color Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU) that had a similar pattern as the woodland BDU’s but in different colors. This uniform was phased out in the early 2000’s as well, alongside it’s BDU counterpart.
For night missions, the military even developed a “desert night uniform,” or Parka Night Camouflage Desert as it was officially called, to be thrown over another uniform. Its goal was to reduce visibility by Soviet infrared cameras and night vision goggles.
Since the woodland and desert uniforms were widely used among all branches of service, the U.S. Marine Corps decided they needed their own unique brand. With the assistance of retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Timothy O’Neill, one of the leading camouflage experts in the world, the MARPAT (Marine Pattern) became the exclusive uniform of the Marines in 2002. The Marine Corps even patented the green-and-tan uniforms, inserted emblems on the pockets, and stitched Marine Corps trademarks on them to reinforce the point that nobody else could wear them.
“’Digital’ camouflage is actually a misnomer, based on the superficial resemblance of these patterns to quantized or coarse digital images,” said O’Neill. “In fact, the patterns of squares (or whatever shape we use) is employed to model the texture of typical backgrounds using a mathematical function. We could use hexagons or shapeless blobs as well, except that it is easier to render complex patterns by computer using squares. It is easy to misunderstand the purpose and mechanisms of this kind of design, which is why so many measures that try to use the approach without insight fall short.”
Since the Marines had adopted their own uniforms, the rest of the branches had to come up with something comparable on the fly. What followed was some questionable decision-making and millions of dollars wasted when it comes to digital patterns of camouflage.
The Army developed the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) in 2004, which was implemented in the new Army Combat Uniform, or ACU. The three-colored pattern consisting of green, tan, and gray was universally disliked by ground combat soldiers in particular throughout it’s use in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). Their displeasure cost $5 billion and is considered a colossal failure as the “universal” camouflage was essentially useless in any environment including arctic, desert, jungle, and urban.
The U.S. Navy decided to join in the mix in 2010 with what is sometimes called “aquaflage” or “the blueberry.” The Type I uniform was a blue-digital pattern that all sailors were authorized to wear — except for Naval Special Warfare — during working hours on battleships, aircraft carriers, and shore duties. The Navy has recently transitioned from the Type I blue pattern to a green MARPAT-style Type III camouflage uniform, only seven years after the initial implementation.
The U.S. Air Force also developed their own camo uniforms to replace old woodland pattern. Largely by following the guidance of the Army, they introduced the Airman’s Battle Uniform (ABU) in 2007.
The gray “tiger stripe” may have looked cool at first glance, but its reputation amongst Special Tactics operators and other Air Force ground units while in theater in the Middle East wasn’t positive.
“Turns out the ABU’s I’d purchased were not authorized for wear outside the wire,” one airman told Time Magazine about his 2011 deployment to Afghanistan. “Instead, the Air Force provided me with an outfit called the ABS-G, which stands for Airman Battle System – Ground. This ‘tactical ensemble’ – not a uniform, the description emphatically insisted – was a set of pants and shirts which matched the Airman Battle Uniform’s camo pattern but were fire resistant, lighter, softer, and slightly different in a handful of other ways (think zippers, Velcro, pockets).”
The Army and Air Force, along with their respective special operations units now use the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP), a Multicam pattern of muted green, light beige, and dark browns. It’s considered a significant upgrade from the digital UCP pattern it replaced.
Air Force Berets
The use of berets in the Air Force began in the 1970s. In 1979, enlisted personnel in the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) AFSC (job) were authorized to wear the black beret. In 1984, two airmen from Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina submitted a design for the flash and crest design, which was approved for all TACP airman in 1985. Air Liaison Officers (ALOs) were also authorized to wear the black beret after they graduated from the Joint Firepower Control Course, conducted at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Instead of the crest, they wear their rank insignia on the beret. Air Mobility Liaison Officers (AMLOs) were authorized to wear the black beret in the Air Force, as well. Now, every Air Force Battlefield Airmen (AF Special Ops) were a beret to signify their job.
Berets in civilian organizations
Aside from armed forces, berets are associated with a variety of other different organizations.
- Berets are worn by some scout groups, notably in Hong Kong and Britain, where green berets are worn. The Hong Kong Air Scouts wear blue berets. Canadian Scouts eliminated their navy blue beret in the late 1990s, but it is slowly making a comeback among the older members in various forms, such as red for Rover Scouts in British Columbia.
- In Britain, berets are worn by the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC), Army Cadet Force (ACF), Air Training Corps (ATC) and Combined Cadet Force (CCF). These are in the appropriate service color, with ACF and CCF Army Section units wearing the beret of the regiment or corps to which they are affiliated.
- Berets are worn by the Royal Canadian Army Cadets. They wear the same color as their affiliated regular force unit, unless there is no affiliated unit, in which case a black beret is worn.
- Navy blue berets have been the standard headdress of the Royal Canadian Legion as well as other veterans' groups in Canada.
- The Guardian Angels have adopted a red beret as a recognizable item of clothing
- Some security companies in Hong Kong such as Securicor wear berets.
- Members of the youth committee of the Mexican Red Cross used to wear a red beret, and black berets were worn by parachutists of the same institution. These were phased out in 2006, when a new uniform was issued.
- Members of the Civil Air Patrol who attend National Blue Beret (NBB) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin during the EAA AirVenture Airshow can earn blue berets along with the Saint Alban's Cross, and the title of Blue Beret. Members of the Indiana Wing who achieve the classification of Ground Team Member level 2 (GTM2) are also awarded blue berets. CAP members who attend Hawk Mountain Ranger School and achieve the Advanced Ranger level are awarded black berets.
This is Not an Official WebSite & does not reflect the views or opinions of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol or the National Blue Beret Program.
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Current and recent service uniforms [ edit | edit source ]
Green Service Uniform [ edit | edit source ]
The main current service uniform is known as the green service uniform or "class A's." The Army reviewed various ideas in the late 1940s in order to create a distinctive uniform. Many civilian workers were mistaken for Army personnel, due to massive use of army surplus clothing after World War II. Η]
US Army green service uniform for officers, as worn by former Army Chief of Staff General Peter J. Schoomaker.
Army commissions reviewed various factors of design, durability and appearance. Blue was considered because of its acceptance in men's clothing, but it would then have been too difficult to distinguish it from Air Force and Navy service uniforms and the Marine Corps and Navy dress uniforms. Several colors were reviewed, and finally green (shade 44) was designated the basic color for new dress uniforms. ⎖] The distinctive green color of the uniform led to its being referred to pejoratively by troops as the "pickle suit." ⎗] The green uniform has been worn with minor variations since its official adoption in 1954. The green color was adopted in order to provide a color which was more military, and distinct from various uniforms of civilian service workers. Δ] It is scheduled to be discontinued in 2014. It features a jacket with four buttons. Enlisted soldiers wear insignia denoting their branch of service on their collars. Officers wear two sets of insignia consisting of the letters "US" on their collars and their branch on their lapels.
Proficiency badges, such as the marksman's badge, are worn on the upper left pocket flap. Above this are the ribbons for medals and commendations which have been earned for various actions, duties and training. Above the ribbons are qualification badges, such as the parachutist badges and combat action badge. A nametag is worn on the upper right pocket flap. Unit awards and foreign awards are worn above the pocket, with a regimental insignia above both. Special duty badges, such as the recruiter badge, are worn on the upper two pockets of the jacket the side on which they are worn varies by badge. Ώ]
US Army green service uniforms for enlisted personnel. Note shoulder patches denoting various units.
On each shoulder of the uniform are unit patches. The left side will have the patch of the soldier's current unit assignment. The right shoulder may have the patch of a unit to which the soldier has previously been assigned while deployed to a combat zone soldiers with multiple previous combat assignments may choose which patch to wear. Tabs indicating ranger, special forces, or sapper qualification, if applicable, are worn above the unit patch on the left shoulder. A similar "airborne" tab is worn immediately above the unit patch if the command is designated as airborne, irrespective of whether the individual soldier is qualified as a paratrooper. As the shoulder sleeve insignia generally indicates merely the general-officer command to which the soldier is assigned, the soldier's immediate battalion or intermediate-level command may be indicated by distinctive unit insignia of metal and enamel, on the soldier's epaulets. Ώ]
The Army green service uniform ceased to be issued in the fall of 2010. Only the new blue ASU is now being issued. The Army green service uniform will be withdrawn after July 2014.
White service uniform [ edit | edit source ]
Another uniform, the Army white uniform, was the army's equivalent to the dress white uniform worn by officers in the U.S. Navy, but unlike the navy, which mandates the owning and wearing of the white uniform throughout the summer months (year round in tropical locations) by all ranks (E-1 to O-10), the Army white uniform is an optional uniform, and is only required to be purchased by officers and sergeants major assigned to posts in the tropics and the southern United States.
White service uniform for officers, as worn by General Sam S. Walker
Introduced in 1902 as a summer undress uniform, its wearing, along with the dress and undress blue, was suspended during World War I and was reintroduced in its present form, along with the modern-day dress blue uniform, in 1938. ⎘] In its original (1902) form the white uniform included a standing collar and white flat braid trimming the coat edges. ⎙] The 1938 model substituted a white coat without braid and with an open-fronted peak lapel worn with a white shirt and black tie.
With the impending hostilities of World War II, production of both the blue and white dress uniforms were suspended, but the Army white uniform itself served as a model for the class "A" Army tan uniform, which was introduced in 1942 (replacing a belted version designed around the Sam Browne Belt) and discontinued in 1968 (the shirt & trousers "class B" uniform was replaced with the Army green class "B" uniform in 1985), the post-war belt-less Army blue uniform, and the present-day Army green uniform, which replaced the World War II "Pinks & Greens" and "Ike Jacket" uniforms in 1956. Like the Army green uniform, the Army white uniform features a main jacket with four buttons, worn with matching white trousers and service cap, but unlike the Army green uniform, no unit patches, specialty tabs, or the black beret are worn. Officers wear their silver or gold-colored rank insignia pinned onto the shoulder epaulets, while enlisted personnel wear gold-on-white rank insignia and service stripes on both sleeves as that on the Army blue uniform. A white dress shirt and either a black bow tie or four-in-hand necktie, for formal and semi-formal functions, is worn.
The Army white service uniform will be withdrawn after July 2014.
The irresponsibly stupid and dangerous camouflage patterns of the U.S. military
When the Marine Corps selected a digital pattern for its combat uniform in 2002, the U.S. military as a whole seemed to fracture, with each branch wandering aimlessly in a bizarre search for sartorial identity. It's been a long, strange trip since. So let's take a brief look at the camouflage patterns of the U.S. military, and the sorry stories of their adoptions.
Universal Camouflage Pattern (U.S. Army)The only other country that uses the Universal Camouflage Pattern (see the photos here) for its military is Kazakhstan. That's pretty much everything you need to know about its effectiveness. Make no mistake — it looks nice. The problem is, everybody can tell, because it doesn't actually blend into anything. The pattern was designed to work in urban areas, forested areas, and desert environments. Such a perfect camouflage would save a fortune, as the Army wouldn't have to issue a new pattern every time it went to war. Of course, there was actually a war going on at the time — two, in fact — and the universal pattern didn't work adequately in either of them. The Army's solution? To issue specially-patterned "MultiCam" combat uniforms to soldiers in Afghanistan, but to also continue issuing universal pattern combat uniforms to soldiers coming out of basic training. Combat uniforms, in other words, that would be used everywhere except combat.
Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force)To its credit, MultiCam actually is an effective pattern — and the Army knew that in 2004, when the military branch passed over MultiCam in favor of the universal print. Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern, as it is officially know, is characterized by the transition colors on each of its splotches (which are themselves smaller and more refined than those of the old woodland pattern). (See the photos here.) The shades vary from brown to light tan, with vague fields of green. It has found great success in militaries the world over, from the Russian Federal Security Service to the Australian Special Air Service.
MARPAT (U.S. Marine Corps)As the acronym suggests, MARPAT is the Marine camouflage pattern. (See the photos here.) It marked the U.S. military's first run at a digital uniform, and is (perhaps unexpectedly, given operations tempo and budgetary differences) based on the research of the Canadian Armed Forces. Unlike the Army's effort, MARPAT makes no attempt at being a universal camouflage, and there are two sets of colors used: For wooded areas, green, tan, brown, and black, and for desert environments, various shades of sand. (Though an urban variety was developed, it was not approved. Likewise, there is no arctic variation the Marines use a different pattern entirely for snowy terrain.)
What makes the Marines' digital camouflage unique is also its greatest weakness for the military as a whole. MARPAT is patented, and the Corps has proven an aggressive defender of its intellectual property. While it makes sense for the Marine Corps to stop other countries from adopting such an effective camouflage, it does not make sense for the Marines to withhold permission from other branches of the U.S. military. In recent years, it has resisted efforts by the Army and Navy to derive uniforms from MARPAT and its colors. This is an intellectually indefensible position made entirely for purposes of marketing and recruiting.
Special Warfare units are the only members of the Navy who are authorized to wear the desert variant of MARPAT. The Navy as a whole wears an inexplicably blue digital print, which looks not unlike that of rushing, turbulent water — precisely the colors you wouldn't want to be wearing if you fell overboard.
Military Army Air Forces Patches
The insignia design was approved in 1944. The wave scrolls are representative of the South Atlantic Ocean, and the colors are those of Brazil. The projection above the wave scrolls is representative of Ascension Island. The five stars on the field of blue simulate the Southern Cross.
Kagnew Station A
Eritrea, E. Africa
The shape of the insignia was determined by the greater kudu horns. Both the kudu and the gazelle are native to the area surrounding Kagnew. The gazelle in particular became a part of the life of the station.
This patch was created for personnel assigned to the Army War Show, a fund raiser that used live weapons and ammunition to demonstrate the military might of the United States Army. The design uses the letter "V" for "Victory" and the Morse code symbol for "V" (dot, dot, dot, dash). Apparently the color red had no other significance than to attract attention.
The insignia was adopted by the Trust Command in May 1947 and worn by officers and enlisted men to identify American troops in Trieste, a deep water port city of northeastern Italy. This command had a mission to uphold the principles of the Free Territory of Trieste in line with policies sent down by the Council of the United Nations. The occupation of Trieste by elements of the Eighty-eighth Infantry Division is represented by the four-leaf clover, which was adapted from the division's insignia. The white fleur-de-lys, set upon a red shield, is adapted from the coat of arms of Triest
During the 1970's the Aggressor Forces within the United States Army were soldiers assigned to aid in training troops. They were the forerunners of today's opposing forces (OPFOR). All troops of the Aggressor Forces wore a white circle enclosing a green triangle on the left breast pocket. It is the emblem of the Circle Trigon Party. Soldiers assigned to an artillery missile unit wore a white triangle with a green missile superimposed on it. The aggressor concept emerged after World War II, when the Fifteenth United States Army was directed to prepare analytical studies of operations in the European theater. One of the resulting recommendations was that the army adopt more realistic means of training. To meet this requirement, the concept of a fictitious "maneuver enemy," complete with a national background, history, government, military establishment, language, and political philosophy, was adopted. The concept instills awareness in the United States soldier that any future enemy will differ from ourselves in language, uniform, weapons, military organization, tactics, and ideology. The Aggressor Center was originally located at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Authorized in January of 1966 for wear by United States troops serving as members of the Inter-American Peace Force. FIP is an abbreviation of a Spanish phrase that means "Inter-American Peace Force," and OEA stands for Organization of the American States. An olive branch, held point upwards, represents the forces' desire for peace. A map of the western hemisphere indicates the geographical location of the Dominican Republic. A sword pointing down indicates fighting ability. From April 1965 to September 1966, the Eighty-second Airborne Division was a participant in this peace force.
The design of the insignia is adapted from the emblem of the United Nations, a general international organization established at the end of World War II to promote international peace and security. The insignia is worn by military personnel of the headquarters of the command located near Seoul, Korea. For nearly fifty years, the United States has participated in multinational operations under the direction of the United Nations. In a rare departure from the federal law that prohibits any soldier from accepting any :badge or insignia" from a foreign government without the consent of Congress, the United States has authorized the wear of the familiar blue-and-white patches and light-blue headgear. In recent times, the wearing of United Nations' accouterments by United States military personnel has sparked a major debate in this country over its legality.
Force 0f ETO
Red is for artillery and the lightning suggests firepower. Blue is the color of infantry and yellow represents cavalry. The letter "C" represents "constabulary."
Kiska Task Force
Approved for local wear only.
The origin of the design is unknown, but the knife, symbolic for covert operations, indicates that the task the Eighty-second Airborne Division was a participant in this peace force.
Re-designated: Allied Control Council Hungary -- United States Army. Worn from: May 1945 - 1949 (Unauthorized).
The shield represents the United States. "Magyarorszag" is Hungarian for "The Republic of Hungry." The gold letters in the center are for United States Allied Control Council.
While no definitive information is available on the meaning of the design, the green hill would represent the guerrilla nature of the forces, and the parachute would have been used for infiltration missions. The Partisan Forces in Korea were a band of anti-North Korean guerrillas whose homes lay in the enemy's territory but whose historic ties were with Seoul. Their story appeared in an issue of Army magazine in November 1984 and gives an impressive account of the patriotic spirit of an enslaved people who refuse to accept defeat.
The design appears to be an embroidered replica of a distinctive insignia.
The original Confederate uniforms from all branches of the military closely followed the lines of the Union’s uniforms. Near the beginning of the war, some Confederate units wore dark blue outfits that were often mistaken at the field of battle for the enemy, conversely, many Union units which were originally militia units went to war wearing grey. By 1863, all troops were asked to obey the Regulations for the Army of the Confederacy and have cadet grey uniforms. The Confederates' frock coat that was to be hung to mid thigh, was given to the officers and enlisted men of the infantry. The coats were also double breasted. Buttons, insignias, and chevrons were not as richly decorated as those used by the Union Army. They were also more diverse in shape, especially in the Deep South and out West. While hats had to match the specified color, the lack of materials meant soldiers often wore what hats they could find, and the continued need for fabric after the war means that relatively few Confederates hats have survived. Ώ]
Cavalrymen, artillerists, and infantry followed the same designations and insignia, but cavalrymen and artillerists wore waist-length jackets. The ankle-high "Jefferson Boot" was supposed to be supplied to all officers and men of the army. Overcoats were also cadet grey and followed the lines of the design of the Union overcoats. Confederate naval uniforms had few differences from those of the Union. The prescribed color of grey was the predominant color. During the summer months, white was accepted for tropical wear. At the end of the war even grey dyes were hard to come by. This forced even officers to wear "butternut" colored uniforms. ΐ]
Confederate Infantry Uniform, private
Confederate Navy Uniform, lieutenant
Confederate Cavalry Uniform, sergeant
Confederate Artillery Uniform, corporal
Design [ edit | edit source ]
The use of wool in the uniform meant that the uniforms were not suited to the warm climates that were common in the South. This helped contribute to the fact that many Confederate soldiers suffered from heatstroke on long marches. Α]
The grey was not the best choice as a camouflage, although at the time the usefulness of camouflage was not generally recognized. It was not until the Spanish-American War that the United States Army instituted a khaki uniform. Grey was chosen for Confederate uniforms because grey dye could be made relatively cheaply. Β]
History of the 1st Cavalry Division
While Cavalry is not the oldest branch in the Army, it is a branch steeped in history, tradition and colorful tales of daring. The flash of a saber in the sunlight, the bugler sounding the charge, a red and white guidon flapping in the breeze and the thunder of horses hooves pounding the ground come to mind when one thinks of Cavalry. The tales of Cavalry Troopers told in books and movies and the brisk tune of Garry Owen remind us of the dust covered Troopers on horseback and the dashing officers with bold ideas and tactics that turned the tide of battle. In all of these things the Cav Trooper with his Cavalry Hat (Stetson) and Spurs stands out as the epitome of excellence. An heroic figure with ties to the history of our nation and a focus on the future greatness yet to come.
The Cav Hat
LTC John B. Stockton Commander, 1-9th Cavalry wearing Stetson and Spurs 1965
The tradition of the “Cav Hat” began in the early days before the Vietnam War. The 11th Air Assault Division cavalry scout pilots were looking to distinguish themselves from other troops when they adopted the Model 1876 campaign hat for wear. They felt a need to return to the traditions of the Cavalry so long forgotten. LTC John B. Stockton, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 17th Cavalry Regiment, is given credit for establishing the tradition of wearing the Cavalry Stetson, much to the chagrin of the Division command group. By the time the 11th Air Assault Division was redesignated the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) the members of his unit, the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, were wearing the hat.
LTC Stockton transferred the “Cav Hat” tradition to the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam. By the end of the Vietnam War, many air and ground units were wearing the hat. The tradition was continued after Vietnam and has become the standard for all cavalry units in the Army.
The Cav Hat is not an issued item and is not covered in any of the uniform regulations but it is worn by the Troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division and many other cavalry units for ceremonies and special cavalry events. The type and number of items worn on the “Cav Hat” vary greatly and demonstrate the individuality and style of the wearer. The 1st Cavalry Division has published a Memorandum of Instruction (MOI) that covers the wearing of the “Cav Hat” and spurs for those currently serving with the First Team but for Veterans the MOI is only a guideline of what right looks like. A link to the MOI is provided on this web page.
The “Cav Hat” is a standard black Cavalry hat, Stetson or other appropriate brand, with a 3 inch brim and a black leather chin strap. The chin strap is fastened to the hat cord and goes through the brim. The chin strap is worn behind the wearer’s head unless mounted. When mounted the chinstrap may be worn under the chin to maintain the hat’s position on your head and keep it from falling off. If your “Cav Hat” does not have a chin strap, it is just a black hat commonly referred to as a “cowboy hat”.
Hat cords are worn and represent the rank of the wearer. General officers wear solid gold cords, field and company grade officers wear black and gold hat cords, warrant officers wear black and silver hat cords and enlisted Troopers wear Cavalry yellow hat cords. The hat cords should be adjusted so that the acorn on the ends of the cord comes to the edge of the brim. Cords may be knotted if the wearer wishes. While many refer to the knots in the cords as “combat knots” there is no documentation available to support this idea. The Division MOI prohibits any other type of hat cords for those Troopers currently on active duty with the 1st Cavalry Division.
Normally the branch insignia of the Cavalry, crossed sabers, are worn on the front along with the rank of the wearer. The rank is worn above the branch insignia evenly spaced. Both are centered on the front of the hat. Regular sized Distinctive Unit Insignia (DUI), commonly referred to as unit crests, or miniatures of your unit are traditionally put on the back of the “Cav Hat”. Additional items like a CIB or CMB may also be placed on the “Cav Hat” along with reunion pins or other items if you are a Veteran. Some of the “Cav Hats” worn by our Veterans are festooned with numerous pins, miniature medals and other items. Active Duty Troopers assigned to the First Team must follow the guidelines of the MOI.
When Is a Cav Hat appropriate for wear?
The answer to that question is always – unless you are presently an active duty Trooper. Active duty Troopers are bound by uniform policies and wear of the “Cav Hat” is covered in the MOI. All former Cav Troopers may wear their “Cav Hat” at their own pleasure but are encouraged to wear them to all gatherings of Cavalry Veterans and unit reunions. The “Cav Hat” is always appropriate at patriotic observances like Veterans Day, Independence Day and Memorial Day. Of course, never wear your “Cav Hat” in circumstances that would bring discredit to the Cavalry or your unit.
Where can I purchase my Cav Hat?
Troopers may purchase a Cav Hat anywhere that sells them but we strongly recommend that you purchase your Cav Hat (Stetson) from the Crossed Sabers Chapter Souvenir Shop located in the 1st Cavalry Division Museum at Fort Hood, Texas. For those of you that live elsewhere, the Souvenir Shop has an on-line catalog and you can order your Stetson from them and have it shipped to your home. The Crossed Sabers Souvenir Shop sells the official Cav Stetson made by Stetson Hat Company in Garland, Texas. The Cav Stetson’s sold at the Souvenir Shop come with the chin strap but the hat cord and other accoutrements must be purchased separately.
The Order of the Spur
“The tradition of awarding spurs has its roots in knighthood, where the awarding of spurs symbolized entry into the ranks – and fraternity – of mounted warriors. Usually the squire aspiring to knighthood had to perform some task or deed on the battlefield or tournament field (tournaments were considered like our training maneuvers) to “win their spurs”. The spurs themselves where buckled on during the investiture to knighthood usually during a Mass or some other religious ceremony (Knighthood itself was considered sacramental, if not a sacrament itself). Thereafter, it was the spurs that symbolized that a man was a knight – not his sword, horse, or armor. No matter how financially destitute, a poor knight would part with everything else before his spurs. The primary act of degradation (removing someone from the knightly class) was to have another knight cut off the offending knight’s spurs. So much for the mists of time. It is not known when the ceremony for awarding spurs for outstanding performance started in the U.S. Cavalry.
“Today the Order of the Spur recognizes individual qualifications for those in a Cavalry unit. The privilege of being awarded spurs in any Cavalry unit comes with hard work and challenges. For an individual to qualify and compete for the Order of the Spur within the unit, the Cavalry Soldier must first meet or exceed established standards of performance.
“Once documented as having achieved the performance objectives, the candidate is designated to participate in the Spur Ride exercise. This exercise requires completion of numerous additional tasks.
“Upon successful accomplishment of the requirements the senior officer awards the spurs to be proudly worn throughout the Trooper’s Cavalry career.” Source -The cover liner of the book, 1st Cavalry Division – A Spur Ride Through the 20th Century, “From Horses to the Digital Battlefield”.
The same MOI that covers the “Cav Hat” covers the qualifications required for the present Troopers of the First Team to “earn their spurs” and also describes the spurs authorized for wear and how to wear them. Many Veterans of the First Team will have no remembrance of earning their spurs since most of the unit spur programs came into being after the Division arrived at Fort Hood. Those Troopers that rode horses in West Texas with the Division and rode horses earned their spurs learning to be a horse cavalry Trooper. Those Troopers that have been fortunate enough to serve in the Horse Cavalry Detachment have been earning the right to wear spurs for many years.
The Division’s MOI states, “The ‘Order of the Spur’ will not be awarded to any Trooper based on arbitrary or meritless criteria such as rank, time in service, branch, and ability to endure hazing or other degrading behavior. Rather, Troopers must be in good standing within their formation (i.e. have no incidents of misconduct, record of adverse actions, or failures in obtaining basic Army standards) and then ‘earn’ the right to wear Cavalry Spurs through their demonstrated proficiency at both technical and tactical skills expected of Troopers assigned to the Division.” Troopers may lose their right to wear spurs if they “fail to remain in good standing such as demonstrating an act of indiscipline.” The Troopers are awarded a certificate and are able to wear ‘Silver Spurs’ once they have completed the Spur Ride (test) and been approved.
The Gold Spurs, often referred to as “Combat Spurs” are awarded to Troopers during their combat deployments. It is encouraged that Troopers participate in a “Spur Ride”, earning the right to wear Spurs regardless of color. Brigades may modify the “Spur Ride” during their deployments based on available resources and time constraints, however, discipline is a must. Neither the Silver or Gold Spur are more prestigious than the other. The wearer may wear either color but the spurs being worn must match.
The Prince of Wales Spur, pictured above is the standard spur worn with either a black or tan strap. The 1859 Cavalry Spur, pictured below, is an alternate style of spur that may be worn.