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US Army - Shoulder Patches

The Database - US Army - Shoulder Patches

The Database The Vietnam Resource

US Army
Shoulder & Pocket Patches
Rank & Insignia
Special Patches
Medals & Awards

1st Cavalry

1st Infantry

4th Infantry

5th Infantry

9th Infantry


23rd Infantry

25th Infantry





These notes are compiled from the
Perscom Military Website

1st Cavalry Division

Description: This is the biggest of all the shoulder patches. On a yellow triangular Norman shield with rounded corners 5 1/4 inches in height overall, a black diagonal stripe extending over the shield from upper left to lower right and in the upper right a black horse's head cut off diagonally at the neck all within a 1/8 inch green border.
Symbolism: Yellow, the traditional cavalry color, and the horse's head refer to the division's original cavalry structure. Black, symbolic of iron, alludes to the transition to tanks and armor. The black diagonal stripe represents a sword baldric and is a mark of military honor; it also implies movement "up the field" and thus symbolizes aggressive elan and attack. The one diagonal bend, as well as the one horse's head, also alludes to the division's numerical designation.
Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved January 3, 1921 with several variations in colors of the bend and horse's head to reflect the subordinate elements of the division. The current design was authorized for wear by all subordinate elements of the division on December 11, 1934 and previous authorization for the variations was cancelled.

1st Infantry Division

Description: On an olive drab shield, 2 1/2 inches in width and 3 3/4 inches in height overall (the parallel sides 2 1/2 inches in length with a 90 degree angle pointed base) a red Arabic numeral "1" (1 3/4 inches in height overall).
Symbolism: The numeral identifies the division's designation.
Background: Originally approved on 31 Oct 1918 as a red number "1" for the 1st Division and amended on 31 Mar 1927 to include the background of the insignia in the design. It was redesignated for the 1st Infantry Division on August 19, 1942. Also known as the "Big Red One, the "Bloody One," "Bloody Red One," or "Big Dead One."

4th Infantry Division

Description: On a light khaki square, each side two inches in width overall and with one angle up, four green ivy leaves arranged per cross issuing from a small open circle (one leaf in each angle of the square and the vertical and horizontal axis each 2 11/32 inches in length).
Symbolism: The four leaves allude to the numerical designation of the Division while the word "I-VY" as pronounced, suggests the characters used in the formation of the Roman numeral "IV." Ivy leaves are also symbolic of fidelity and tenacity. This led to the nickname"The Ivy Division", also known as"The Famous Forth".
Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved on October 30, 1918 for the 4th Division without any background specified for the ivy leaf design. The design was embroidered on a square olive background (color of the uniform). On July 2, 1958, the design was changed to reflect the light khaki color background. It was redesignated for the 4th Infantry Division effective August 4, 1943.

5th Infantry Division

Description: A red diamond (a rhombus) with vertical axis 2 1/2 inches (6.35cm) and horizontal axis 1 1/2 inches (3.81cm).
Symbolism: The insignia was adopted by the Division upon its arrival in France. The color red was selected as a compliment to the then Commanding General whose branch of the service was the Artillery. The "ace of diamonds" was selected from the trade name "Diamond dye - it never runs." The red diamond represents a well-known problem in bridge building, it is made up of two adjacent isosceles triangles which made for the greatest strength. The Division's nickname is "Red Diamond." It is reported that the Division was latterly known among the Germans opposed to it as the "Red Tigers" and the "Red Devils."
Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for 5th Division on 20 Oct 1918. It was amended on 11 Oct 1922 to correct the wording of the description. On 25 May 1943 the insignia was redesignated for the 5th Infantry Division and amended to include the symbolism of the design.

9th Infantry Division

Description: An olive drab disc 2 5/8 inches (6.67cm) in diameter overall charged with a double quatrefoil horizontally divided into two equal halves red uppermost and blue, with a white center.
Symbolism: The double quatrefoil, which is an heraldic mark of cadency for the ninth son, has been made red and blue, the designating colors of an Infantry Division headquarters flag; the white center is in the color of the numerals for divisional flags.
Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for the 9th Division on 18 Nov 1925. It was redesignated for the 9th Infantry Division on 1 Aug 1942. On 27 Feb 1970 the description was amended to revise the dimensions of the design.
In Vietnam the patch was referred to as "The Psychedelic Cookie". The division is known as
"The Old Reliables" (Lyles, 1996: 8)

23rd Infantry Division

Description: On a blue norman shield 2 5/8 inches (6.67cm) high and 2 1/8 inches (5.40cm) wide, four white stars of varying sizes all slightly tipped to the dexter, arranged to represent the Southern Cross.
Symbolism: The four white stars on the blue field are symbolic of the Southern Cross under which the organization has served.
Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for the Americal Division on 20 Dec 1943. It was redesignated for the 23d Infantry Division on 4 Nov 1954.
The name Americal comes from the words American and Caledonia from where the unit was originally formed (Lyles, 1996:9).

25th Infantry Division

Description: On a red taro leaf, 2 7/8 inches (7.30cm) in height, and 2 inches (5.08cm) in width at the widest point, with stem up, surrounded by a 1/8 inch (.32cm) yellow border, a yellow lightning flash per pale 1-13/16 inches (4.60cm) in height.
Symbolism: The taro leaf is indicative of the descent of the 25th Division from the Hawaiian Division, while the lightning flash is representative of the manner in which the Division performs its allotted assignments.
Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was authorized on 25 Sep 1944.
Known as "Tropic Lightning". The shoulder patch reflects the divisions tropical heritage, depicting a lightning bolt super-imposed on a palm leaf. In Vietnam it was referred to as the
"Electric Strawberry" (Lyles, 1996: 10)

82nd Airborne

Description: Upon a red square 2 3/8 inches on a side a blue disc 1 3/4 inches in diameter with the letters AA in white. The inner elements of the two A’s vertical lines and the outer elements arcs of a circle 1 3/8 inches in diameter, elements of the letters 1/8 inch in width. Attached immediately above the square is a blue tab with the word "AIRBORNE" in white.
Symbolism: The double "A" refers to the nickname "All American Division" adopted by the organization in France during World War I.
Background: The insignia was approved for the 82d Division by the Adjutant General, American Expeditionary Forces on October 21, 1918 and was confirmed by the Adjutant general, War Department on July 8, 1922. The insignia was redesignated for the 82d Airborne Division and an "Airborne" tab authorized on August 31, 1942. Authorization for the tab was rescinded on October 16, 1946 and subsequently restored on December 23, 1948 and announced in later March 1, 1949.

101st Airborne

Description: On a shield 2-1/2 inches in height overall, sable the head of a bald eagle proper. A black and yellow airborne tab is attached above the insignia.
Symbolism: The design is based on one of the Civil War traditions of the State of Wisconsin, this State being the territory of the original 101st Division. The black shield recalls the old "Iron Brigade" one of whose regiments possessed "Old Abe", the famous war eagle.
Background: The insignia was originally approved for the 101st Division on 23 May 1923. It was redesignated for the 101st Airborne Division on 28 August 1942, then redesignated for the 101st Air Cavalry Division on 5 August 1968, and on 10 September 1968 it was redesignated for the 101st Airborne Division.

173rd Airborne

Description: On a blue silhouetted right cylinder 3 inches in height and 2 inches in width over-all within a 1/8 inch white border a vertical white wing in flight, the ulna (lower end) extended and hooked around a red bayonet. Attached above the insignia is a blue tab inscribed "AIRBORNE" in white.
Symbolism: The bayonet is used to refer to the brigade and being borne by the wing alludes to the brigade's airborne status. Red, white and blue are the national colors.
Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was approved on 13 May 1963.


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