1st Cavalry Division
Artillery Command
Heraldic Items
"The Red Team"

Heraldic Activity

Military heraldic symbols have been used in the US military since the American Revolution. But it was not until 1919 that the heraldry activity was established as a separate function within the Army. This action, was in response to a 17 June 1918 letter from President Woodrow Wilson, requesting a higher quality of design and workmanship in new military medals. Colonel Robert E. Wyllie, was made responsible for military heraldry. He established general rules and regulations that governed design of heraldic items.

Coat of Arms

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.

QM Corps Assumes Responsibility

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.

World War II

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."

Post World War II

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.

Institute of Heraldry is Born

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.

1st Cavalry Division Artillery
Heraldic Items

Division Distinctive Unit Insignia

Distinctive Unit Insignia.

  • Policy: The Distinctive Unit Insignia (DUI) of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, Artillery Command, 1st Cavalry Division shall be the same design approved and as worn by all the other non color bearing direct subordinate units of the Division.
  • Description: A metal and enameled device 1 inch (2.54 cm) in height overall consisting of a gold colored Norman shield with a black horse's head couped in sinister chief, and a black bend charged with two five-pointed stars.
  • Symbolism: The device is a miniature reproduction of the 1st Cavalry Division's shoulder sleeve insignia with the addition of two five-pointed stars. The Division Commander and the Division Staff wore the distinctive insignia design from 1922 to 1934 as a shoulder sleeve insignia.
  • Background: The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 1st Cavalry Division on 25 August 1965. It was redesignated for the 1st Air Cavalry Division on 05 August 1968. It was redesignated for the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) on 10 September 1968. The insignia was redesignated for the 1st Cavalry Division on 24 May 1971.

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 01 Nov '12 SpellChecked