A Brief History of Military Patches 

We all know that different branches of the military wear different uniforms and each uniform is decorated with medals, ribbons and patches that mean a variety of different things. Read ahead for a very brief history of military patches and learn about some of the patches we find most interesting. 

History Time

Military patches were first worn in the 1800’s. They were embroidered and only worn by British soldiers that were officers. The patches were used to indicate their rank which, of course, was a higher rank than regular soldiers. The patches became a way to easily differentiate between the divisions. The idea was apparently so good, America soon started incorporating the concept as well.  

Our best guess is that during times of war, it was much easier to narrow down who a wounded or deceased soldier might be if they were wearing the correct patches on their uniforms. Of course, around the Civil War era, bookkeeping probably wasn’t as prevalent and even if the soldier was wearing the correct patches it would more than likely still take weeks to identify him…if he was ever even identified at all. 

Today, these patches are worn during times of war so that the patch matches the unique formation of the soldier. Also, once the soldier is no longer in active duty, these patches can be worn as an ornamental decoration on their uniforms…still, as a way to identify which branch/rank they had been part of. 

Ranks

Even the lowest rank of the military gets patches. The lowest rank represented on USAMM.com is E-2 Private First Class for the United States Marine Corps. The sizing also matters when it comes to patches and these particular patches measure 1 ¾” tall x 2 ¼” wide. 

Next are the Specialists. One particular badge you could get is the Navy E-4/5/6 Intelligence Specialist Rating badges. These are worn by Intelligence Specialists. They can rank from Petty Officer 3rd Class to Petty Officer 1st Class. These Intelligence Specialists are in charge of collecting and interpreting intelligence information. The information is usually secret and includes information about enemies or potential enemies. An Intelligence Specialist analyzes photos and reports and prepares charts, maps, and reports that detail strategic situations. 

Corporal is next on the list. Corporals wear United States Army Epaulets on their uniforms. These come in male and female sizes. 

The Sergeant Major Academy Class A Patch is interesting. This is a full-color patch that was designed for the Sergeants Major Academy. The academy began on July 1, 1972, in Fort Bliss, TX. The first instruction was in January of 1973. 

There are 6 current creditable courses available:

  • Basic Leaders Course
  • Advanced Leaders Course
  • Senior Leaders Course
  • Master Leaders Course
  • Sergeants Major Course
  • Executive Leaders Course

These patches are worn on the Army’s Service Green uniform and are 2 ¼” wide by 3 ¼” tall. 

There are multiple patches for sergeant because there are multiple levels you can be at. There’s a uniqueness in the patches in that some are attached with velcro for easy removal and reattachment to different uniforms if necessary. A lot of them are put on with a hook and loop method which keeps them on during all events but also makes them easy to remove. A common method is also to sew the patch on and is probably mostly used when you receive a patch that never needs to be removed from your uniform. 

We’re nowhere near being history buffs, but the history of patches and all the different patches you can earn in the military is so interesting. 

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