9th Air Support Operations Squadron
Heraldic Items
"Follow My Lead"


The original version of A Guide to Air Force Heraldry was written by William M. Russell of the USAF Historical Research Center and published in 1985. During the years that have elapsed since then, several Air Force regulations and instructions have been issued to aid Air Force organizations with the design, submission, and procurement of organizational emblems and flags. Most recently, the governing policy on Air Force heraldry, AFI 84-105, Organizational Lineage, Honors, and Emblems, has been revised with several changes made in Chapter 3, "Air Force Heraldry." Consequently, the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) which receives many requests for assistance and guidance in the creation of emblems, updated this guide to conform to the policy changes and to give the field historian greater guidance. Success will be measured by the user's ability to modify or create emblems meeting current Air Force requirements and the needs of the organization.

Chapter 1: Heraldry Through the Ages

Heraldry as we know it today had its beginning in the early 12th century during the period between the First and Second Crusades. To ensure recognition while wearing armor and a helmet that partially hid the face, enterprising knights began to use identifying symbols and devices called cognizances, which were painted on their shields and embroidered on the pennons (cloth banners) attached to their lances.

For additional information regarding the History of Heraldry, read the full chapter here.

Chapter 2: Organizational Emblems

On 06 May 1918, Brigadier General Foulois established the policy for insignia of aerial units, His declaration requiured that each squadron would have an official insignia painted on the middle of each side of the airplane fuselage. "The squadron will design their own insignia during the period of organizational training. The design must be submitted to the Chief of Air Service, AEF, for approval. The design should be simple enough to be recognizable from a distance."

For additional information regarding the design of Organizational Emblems, read the full chapter here,

Chapter 3: Designing an Air Force Emblem

In designing an emblem for an organization, the most important factors to be considered are the organization's history, its specified mission (such as reconnaissance, airlift, fighter, medical services, security, civil engineering, etc.), the proper symbols to be depicted in the emblem design, the placement of the symbolic elements or "charges" on the design field, and color selection.

For additional information regarding the design of Air Force Emblems, read the full chapter here.

Chapter 4: Processing Air Force Emblems

AFI 84-105, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3.6. should serve as the authoritative guide in the processing of Air Force emblems. The information in this chapter of the "Guide to Air Force Heraldry" supplements the AFI.

For additional information regarding processing of Air Force Emblems, read the full chapter here.

9th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS)
Heraldic Items

Squadron Emblem

  • Emblem
    • Description: On a disc per fess enhanced dovetailed of one Azure and Vert, a barrulet dovetailed of one Gules, overall a cavalry soldier equipped Proper grasping in his dexter hand a sabre bendwise sinister Gray emitting from the tip in chief four lightning bolts arcing to base Or and mounted on a horse courant Sable garnished of the fourth, all within a diminished border of the sixth.

    • Attached above the disc, a Yellow scroll edged with a narrow Black border and inscribed "9TH AIR SUPT OPS SQ" in Black letters.
    • Attached below the disc, a Yellow scroll edged with a narrow Black border and inscribed "FOLLOW MY LEAD" in Black letters.
    • Symbolism
      • Ultramarine blue and Air Force yellow are the Air Force colors. Blue alludes to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The dovetailed divider symbolizes the strong, interlocking relationship between the Army and the Air Force. The mounted cavalry soldier alludes to the joint cooperation and interoperability between those two organizations. The four arced lightning flashes signify speed, agility, swiftness and the courage of Squadron members. They also denote the integrated close air support through ground-to-air and air-to-ground communications throughout the world.

1st Cavalry Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

1st Cavalry Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia Styles

Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
  • Description: On a yellow triangular Norman shield with rounded corners 5 1/4 inches (13.34 cm) 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 (.32 cm) green border.
  • Symbolism: The color 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 Úlan 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 for the 1st Cavalry Division on 03 January 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 11 December 1934, and previous authorization for the variations was cancelled. The insignia was redesignated for the 1st Air Cavalry Division on 05 August 1968. It was redesignated for 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) on 10 September 1968. The insignia was redesignated for the 1st Cavalry Division on 24 May 1971.

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:

  • Full Color (SunSet Gold/Black) - Worn on the Army Dress Uniform (ADU).
  • Jungle Subdued (Green/Black) - Worn on the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU).
  • Desert Subdued (Tan/Brown) - Worn on the Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU).
  • Subdued (Foliage Green/Gray) - Worn on the Army Combat Uniform (ACU).

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

1st Cavalry Division Combat Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

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.

1st CD Shoulder Sleeve Combat Patch
On 04 July 2004 when all of the elements and attached units of the 1st Cavalry Division deployed in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II were recognized for their first 90 days of combat service in a special ceremony, the Division broke tradition, designed and issued a new shoulder patch to be worn on the individuals right sleeve.

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:

1st Cavalry Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia Design

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Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain, or as noted in the bibliography. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means, of the History of the 1st Cavalry Division, the subordinate units or any internal element, is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. The information or content of the material contained herein is subject to change without notice.

Revised 10 Sep '11 SpellChecked