In 1920 the Army officially adopted heraldic coats of arms for units. This originated the use of distinctive unit insignia (more commonly called unit crests) to identify an individual soldier with his regiment. The purpose was to foster Army tradition and esprit de corps. The first unit to wear such an insignia was the 51st Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps which received approval from the War Department on 18 March 1922.
By 1924, heraldic responsibility was delegated to the Quartermaster General. The Heraldic Section of the Office of the Quartermaster General was made responsible for the research, design and development of distinctive unit insignia, shoulder sleeve insignia (patches), flags, medals, seals, coats of arms and other heraldic items for the Army.
The Heraldic Section painstakingly performed historical research of unit histories to determine design and redesign of coats of arms and distinctive unit insignia. It was also responsible for ensuring quality control of the manufacture of the insignia that it had designed. The Heraldic Section assisted the manufacturer in meeting its stringent specifications by inspecting all models and dies and requiring samples of completed work. Before final acceptance, the design and prototype were approved by the Quartermaster General.
Under the direction of its chief, Mr. Arthur E. Du Bois, the Heraldic Section created hundreds of new insignia and several medals to meet the requirements of a quickly expanding of the Army in World War II. Du Bois simply stated the reason for military insignia in a 1943 National Geographic article, "These devices are sources of pride in oneself and in one's organization. From this pride springs discipline; not discipline born of necessity and fear, but that which essentially is self-discipline, the essence of respect for self, for service, for country."
In 1949, the Munitions Board, acting for the Army, Navy and Air Force, directed that the Army provide heraldic services to the military departments and other branches of the federal government. Staffing of the Heraldic Section and later the Institute of Heraldry, was (and still is) almost exclusively civilian.
On 10 August 1960, Army General Order Number 29 established the US Army Institute of Heraldry under the control of the Quartermaster General. The Institute of Heraldry became the only organization within the government devoted to the science and art of military heraldry and other official symbolism. It provides heraldic services to the Department of Defense and other government agencies.
In 1987, the US Total Army Personnel Command became custodian of the Institute of Heraldry. In April 1994, the Institute of Heraldry moved from Cameron Station to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a military installation within the metropolitan area of Washington, DC.
Regimental Coat Of Arms
Regimental Distinctive Unit Insignia
1st Cavalry Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
The United States Army Shoulder Sleeve Insignia (SSI) or shoulder patch is a cloth heraldic device that uniquely identifies each major US Army formation. The Shoulder Sleeve Insignia is worn on the left upper arm, just below the shoulder seam of the uniform on all but the Army Combat Uniform (ACU). On the Army Combat Uniform the Shoulder Sleeve Insignia is attached to a Velcro backing and is then attached, centered on a rectangle of Velcro on the arm.
Those soldiers who are combat veterans are authorized permanent wear of their Shoulder Sleeve Insignia, earned during combat, on their right shoulder. This shoulder sleeve insignia recognizes "former wartime service" and is frequently called a "combat patch". The Shoulder Sleeve Insignia currently issued in four basic color combinations:
The Shoulder Sleeve Insignia (SSI) of the 1st Cavalry Division has a history as colorful as its design, reflecting the proud heritage of the United States Cavalry in a timeless manner.
The insignia selected for the First Team patch was designed by Colonel and Mrs. Ben Dorcy. The Colonel was then commander of the 7th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Bliss, Texas. Mrs. Dorcy related that the combination of the golden sunset at Fort Bliss and the traditional colors of the Cavalry; blue and yellow, were a great influence on the background color and the insignia. The choice of the horse's head for the insignia was made by the family after they observed a mounted trooper ride by their home on a beautiful blue-black thoroughbred. Later, to improve visibility, the color scheme was modified replacing the blue for black, the symbolic color of iron and armor.
On a "sunset" yellow triangular Norman Shield with rounded corners 5 1/4 inches in height, a black diagonal stripe extends over the shield from upper left to the lower right. In the upper right, a black horse's head cut off diagonally at the neck, appears within 1/8 inches of an Army Green border. The traditional Cavalry color of yellow and the horse's head is symbolic of the original organizational structure of the Cavalry. The color black is symbolic of iron, alluding to the organizational transition from mounted horses to tanks and heavy armor. The black stripe, in heraldry termed a "Sable Bend", represents a "baldric" (a standard Army issue belt worn over the right shoulder to the opposite hip - sometimes referred to as a "Sam Browne belt") which retains either a scabbard which sheaths the trooper's saber or revolver holster.
1st Cavalry Division Combat Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
During the Vietnam engagements, the "sunset yellow" field of the patch
was changed to a subdued Olive Drab (OD) green/black for the Battle
Dress Uniform (BDU) in order to minimize targeting of personnel. For
operations in desert environments, the field of the patch was again
changed to a tan (Khaki) color and the emblazoned, "Sable" black
charge elements was changed to saddle brown (Spice) so that the
contrast against the Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU) was minimized.
More recently, in the deployment to Iraq and with the introduction of
new Army Combat Uniform (ACU), field of the patch was changed to
"Foliage/Green" and the charge elements were changed to Gray.
The 1st Cavalry Division Combat Patch is a "mirror image" of the Division patch in that the silhouette of the horse head and diagonal line across the gold background was reversed so it points forward when worn on the right arm of the uniform. It is the same concept as utilized to display the US flag when worn on the right arm, in that the field of stars of the flag is positioned in the upper right-hand corner of the patch. It may look backwards, but the flag billowing toward the back of a soldier indicates he is always advancing, never retreating.
1st Cavalry Division Combat Distinctive Service Identification Badge
Recently, the official status of the "reversed patch" has come into
question and currently the combat patch has reverted to the original
patch design (not reversed). Meantime, those who were issued the
"reversed design", proudly wear them on their uniforms.
Description: The new insignia design currently authorized by the Institute of Heraldry is a gold color metal and enamel device 2 inches (5.08 cm) in height embodying a design similar to that of the shoulder sleeve insignia.
1st Cavalry Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia Design
Otherwise, other than the mirrored (reversed) image for combat
operations the patch has not changed in way from the original design
and shape. Occasionally, an unauthorized supplier of the 1st Cavalry
patch makes a design that does not conform with the geometry of the
patch design and measures are taken to remove it from the market. The
design, as authorized by the Institute of Heraldry, is shown below:
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Revised 20 Sep '11 SpellChecked