Military History/Badges


QUESTION: Dear Sir  I am researching my fathers WW II records so that I can make a shadow box. I have a picture of him in uniform with badges. Where can I go to get info. on them? Picture is to blurred to see what they are (taken in 1943 can't zoom. Any help you can give will be appreciated thank you. Kim


First send me a copy of the picture, it would help to see where they are worn on the uniform.

A few things.  There are badges and ribbons.  You don't specifically say what service he was in, but I am assuming the army.  You don't say which branch he was in, Infantry, Artillery or Armor.  This would have an impact.

There were badges worn on the front of the uniform.  Such as the Glider Infantry Badge, the Airborne Infantry Wings and Marksmanship qualification badges.  The CIB or Combat Infantryman's Badge is highly coveted as it can only be worn by those who have actually been in combat.  Today they have another the combat action badge. created in 2001 to distinguish those non infantry soldiers who have served in an area and come under enemy fire.

The CIB is worn above the left pocket, the airborne wings and Glider or Airborne Infantry wings are above that on the breast.  The marksmanship qualification badges would be on the left pocket.  Ribbons are aligned on the top of the pocket seam, centered.

Some ribbons are easy enough to figure out.

Do you have a copy of your dad's service records?  How about when he signed up or was drafted, what unit he served with?

Knowing the Division, Regiment, Battalion, Company and Platoon would be good to know for recreating his service.  You can determine where he was, and what was going on at the time.

Ribbons were awarded for certain things.  The ribbon itself is worn on the Class A and B dress uniforms. The medals themselves were worn only on the dress Blue Uniform.  Today, all the uniforms are blue trousers with white or dark blue jacket.  Gone is the old Green Suite dress uniform.  The Dress blues had never changed.  

With regard to ribbons, There is a distinct hierarchy that dictates in what order they are displayed.  Highest, the Medal of Honor ribbon is put on the ribbon bar in the upper left, then each next lower is placed to its right and so on.  This is the "fruit salad" you see on the Generals chest in the movies.  

Medals were awarded and their corresponding ribbons for various things.  There were campaign ribbons, given to everyone for serving in a specific campaign.  Awards given to specific units, in recognition were also authorized for the members of unit to wear.

One was awarded for WWII Victory Medal, which everyone was authorized to wear at the end of the war.    There was one for Prisoners of War given to those captured.

Next highest after the MOH was the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and so on.  There was one for The European, African, Middle East Campaign, WWII Victory, Army of Occupation, and so on.  

The cloth hanger of the medal has the same pattern as the ribbon.

A note, you will want to replicate the uniform of the day, which in WWII was olive drab khaki.   You might be able to get a blouse from one of the reenactor websites or have one made that consists of just the two front pockets

These are mock ups of current or recent uniforms, but they do not have WWII vintage ones as of yet.

This is the enlisted man's dress uniform.  You could also go with the Eisenhower jacket, which was waist length and preferred by the men due to its racier look.

Here is an example from another WWII vet. (the stars designate he got the award more than once or was in more than one campaign)

Good Conduct with Ribbon 2 stars
ETO with ribbon 3 stars
American Campaign with ribbon
WW2 Victory with ribbon
Army of Occupation with ribbon

French Croix de Guerre with shoulder rope
Presidential Unit Citation with 1 oak leave

3rd Army shoulder patch
ETO Communication Zone Patch
Technician 5th Grade
Ruptured Duck Cloth patch / with pin

Pin – shape is round
Engineer’s Turreted Castle service insignia hat pin
U.S. hat pin

Combat Infantry badge
Army Sharpshooter with Rifle Qualification Bar

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Mr. Patton here is the info you ask for hope it will help.Also can't get picture to attach but there are 2 badges on left pocket flap badge, both have 4 bars attached to them.Thank you for all your help. Am weighting other documents from St. Louis that might help again thank you   1. Last Name-first Name-Middle Initial         2. Army Serial No.      3. Grade   4. Arm Or Service      5. Component          
Russell Harold R         36 869 258      TEC 4   CAV      AUS          
6. organization      7. Date of Separation   8. Place of Separation         9. Permanent Address          
5th Cavalry      7-Jan-46   Fort Sheriden, Illinois         19986 Irvington,Detroit,Michigan          
10. Date of Birth      11. Place of Birth   13. Color Eyes      14. Color Hair      15. Height      16. Weight         
25-Jun-23      West sandwich,Ontario,Canada   Brown      Blond      5'-10"      153 lbs.         
17. No. Depend.      18. Race   19. Marital Status      20. U S Citizen          
1      White   Married      Yes          
21. Civilian Occupation and No.          22. Date of Induction      24. date of Entry into Active service          
Machinist Apprentice Tool & Die 4-15.010         19 Jul. 1943      9 Aug. 1943          
25. Place of Entry into Active service         26. Registered      27. Local S.S. Board No.         28. County and State          
Fort Custer Michigan         Yes      5         Oakland Co. Michigan          
30. Military Occupational Specialty and No.         31. Military qualifications and dates          
Machine Gunner 605          Combat Infantryman Badge          
32. Battles and Campaigns          
New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Southern Philippines, Luzon          
33. Decorations and Citations          34. Wounds      36. Service outside U S and return          
Victory Medal, Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon W/ 4 Bronze battle Stars          None      Date of Departure      Destination      Date of Arrival   
Philippines Liberation Ribbon W/ 2 Bronze Battle Stars          9-Feb-44      PTO      10 Mar. 44   
4 Overseas Service Bars, Good Conduct Medal          12 Dec. 1945      USA      27-Dec-45   
37. Continental Service      Overseas  Service   Highest  Grade          
0 -6 -10      1 10 19    TEC 4          
40. Seperation          
Convn of Govt RR1-1 Demobilization AR 615 365 15 Dec 44          
55. Remarks          
Lapel Button Issued          
ASR Score #2 SEP. 45# 64          
Inactive status ERC 19 Jul. To 8 Aug. 43 or 46 or 48 # not sure damage to paper#


You have all the info right there, you just need to decode it.  There was only one cavalry Division in the US Army in WWII.  The Ist Cavalry Division.  It was made up of the 5th, 7th, 8th and 12th Cavalry Regiments.  Yep, its the one with the big yellow shield with the cross bar and horses head that you see in all the movies especially the Viet Nam movies: We were Soldiers Once with Mel Gibson comes to mind.

Your Father was in the 5th Regiment 1st Brigade of the 1st Cavalry.  

This division was made up of 3-4 regiments.  Organization changed along with Army Doctrine. Doctrine is how an army plans to fight, and it governs the structure of its units which is stipulated in the TOE or the tables of organization and equipment.  Which stipulates everything: how many men are in a squad, the ranks of the men, what guns they get and how many, how many jeeps, mortars, machine guns, etc each unit gets.  In WWII there were 12 men in a squad, later reduced to 9.  They were given one BAR Browning Automatic rifle, and 11 M1 Garand semi-auto rifles, or a submachine gun or two replacing a like number of rifles.  There were three squads in a platoon.  Three platoons in a company and 3 companies in a battalion, and three battalions in a regiment, three regiments in a Divison. These were called triangular divisions.  The doctrine was that one unit would be on the attack to fix the enemy in place, the second would be the maneuver unit to attack the enemies flank, and the third would be in reserve for reenforcement to reenforce success or to fight off an enemy counter attack in the event of failure.   The 1st Cavalry was a throwback to a different day and time, specifically WWI where we used square divisions. 4 of everything since the doctrine was different.  The divisions four regiments were organized into 2 brigades of 2 regiments each.  Back in the day, the army needed more men in a division, since they were using the straight line attack formations so you needed more men to accomplish a successful attack.  There were no tanks and few machine guns, at least for a while.  

Since the division kept its old cavalry designations, the battalions were called Squadrons, and Companies were called Troops.  He would have been in either the 1st or second squadron.  They later had a Weapons Troop or company.  That is where he would have been in 1944 but prior to that he would have been in the weapons platoon of one of the squadrons where all the heavy weapons would have been grouped and then assigned out.

It is one of the most famous and most decorated of the US Army divisions.  It was formed in 1921 and served during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, with the Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the Iraq War, and in the War in Afghanistan (2001-present).

It was organized as the Army's permanent Cavalry Division at a time of big changes in army doctrine.  At the time it was established it was authorized as a square division organization of 7,463 officers and men, organized as follows:
Headquarters Element (34 men)
Two Cavalry Brigades (2,803 men each)
Field Artillery Battalion (790 men)
Engineer Battalion (357 men)
Division Quartermaster Trains Command (276 men)
Special Troops Command (337 men)
Ambulance Company (63 men)

With the outbreak of WWII the Divsion stayed square with modifications.  So did a few other divisions such as National guard units, and for various reasons, inability to change them in the face of the looming conflict etc.  All new divisions were built triangular.

The division lost all of its horses, but retained its role as the repository of all the previous cavalry units lineage and traditions.

The 1st Cav shipped out as an Augmented light infantry Division. The 5th Cavalry Regiment  shipped out on Jun 20 1943 from Camp Stoneman California enroute to Australia and arrived on July 24th.

The 1st Cavalry Division arrived in Australia, continued its training at Strathpine, Queensland, until 26 July, then moved to New Guinea to stage for the Admiralties campaign 22–27 February 1944. The division experienced its first combat in the Admiralty Islands, units landing at Los Negros on 29 February 1944. Momote airstrip was secured against great odds. Attacks by fanatical Japanese were thrown back, and the enemy force surrounded by the end of March. Nearby islands were taken in April and May. The division next took part in the invasion of Leyte, 20 October 1944, captured Tacloban and the adjacent airstrip, advanced along the north coast, and secured Leyte Valley, elements landing on and securing Samar Island. Moving down Ormoc Valley (in Leyte) and across the Ormoc plain, the division reached the west coast of Leyte 1 January 1945. The division then invaded Luzon, landing in the Lingayen Gulf area 27 January 1945, and fought its way as a "flying column" to Manila by 3 February 1945. More than 3,000 civilian prisoners at the University of Santo Tomas, including more than 60 US Army nurses (some of the "Angels of Bataan and Corregidor") were liberated,[5] and the 1st Cavalry then advanced east of Manila by the middle of February before the city was cleared. On 20 February the division was assigned the mission of seizing and securing crossings over the Marikina River and securing the Tagaytay-Antipolo Line. After being relieved 12 March in the Antipolo area, elements pushed south into Batangas and provinces of Bicol Region and aiding Filipino forces under the Philippine Commonwealth Army and Philippine Constabulary together with the recognized guerrillas. They mopped up remaining pockets of resistance in these areas in small unit actions. Resistance was officially declared at an end 1 July 1945. The division left Luzon 25 August 1945 for occupation duty in Japan, arriving in Yokohama 2 September 1945 and entering Tokyo 8 September, the first United States division to enter the Japanese capital.

I would venture that the badges are a rifleman's badge:

The top part the cross, would have the bars hanging under it for whatever the qualification was. A soldier could qualify for any of the following and have a bar under it for that weapon.

Rifle, Pistol, AA Artillery, Auto Rifle(BAR) Machine Gun, Field Artillery, Tank Weapon, Flame Thrower, Sub Machine Gun and so on..

What specifically he qualified on would probably be the rifle, pistol, and machine gun, since he was a machine gunner.  Since there were two, badges, he might have qualified as Expert, Sharpshooter and or Marksman on three each.  I would say he probably qualified as an expert on the rifle, machine gun and BAR and something else maybe Sharpshooter or Marksman on four others.  The badges were a way to show his bonifides as a warrior.  If you can zoom in on the picture and use a filter to sharpen it, you might be able to make out the shape.  The rounder one is the Expert, the other two are maltese cross shaped.  See here:

The campaign ribbons are also laid out in the info:

CIB Combat Infantryman's Badge  He came face to face with the enemy in combat.
Victory Medal,
Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon W/ 4 Bronze battle Stars
4 overseas service bars on the right sleeve of his uniform Each bar indicates a six month period.  So your father was overseas for two years.
Good conduct medal
Rank of Technical Sergeant 4 (He had 3  stripes, three on with a T underneath.  Meaning he was a technical specialist.

The lapel button reference is the "ruptured duck" honorable service lapel pin. give to all honorable discharged vets from WWII

It was worn on the civilian cloths and a cloth version was worn above their right pocket while traveling in military uniform after discharge.

The ASR score is the "Points" system used for determining discharge time.  Since he served in 4 campaigns and had been over seas for two years, his score earned him a discharge earlier than most and he came home in 1944.

Last note.  Since he was a machine gunner that would have placed him in a heavy weapons platoon at any of a number of unit levels.  That means he might possibly attained expert, sharpshooter, or marksman in machine gun, mortar, flame throwe, or rocket launcher sicne these were all in the heavy weapons platoon.  

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Keith H. Patton


I can answer questions pertaining to weapons and tactics, personalities, battles, and strategies in european and U.S. history.


I was a history major, and had done extensive research in the subject area. I have designed and tested numerous computer games for various
historical periods.

B.A History M.S. Science
I have had the opportunity to live abroad and walk numerous battlefields both in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific.

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