Know Your Uniform: Badges

Military badges are a special type of award. They show someone's rating, qualifications,  achievements or position. Some branches share a handful of badges, but most are unique to their service. Some badges have disappeared from use while others came into use.

Scroll through the page to learn more about the different badges included in the exhibit.

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11. USMC Sharpshooter Badge (Top)

Albert Curtis Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

Marksmanship badges recognize service members who meet specific marksmanship standards. The Marine Corps began awarding these badges before the First World War. The original badges were those used by the Army. The badge came in three different grades, expert, sharpshooter, and marksman. The Marine Corps discontinued this style of badge in 1924 but brought it back in 1937.

 

The Marine Corps awarded the marksmanship badge in our exhibit to Private Albert Curtis. Curtis served in the 2nd Armored Amphibious Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division during World War II. He participated in landings at Cavutu, Tulagi, Guadalcanal, Saipan, and Iwo Jima.

USMC Marksmanship Qualification Badge (Bottom)

Albert Curtis Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

Marksmanship badges recognize proficiency in other weapon systems besides rifles and pistols. Many badges use claps or hangers to show someone's proficiencies. In the past, soldiers and marines could earn clasps for swords, field artillery, and chemical weapons, among others.

 

The Marine Corps Marksmanship Qualification badge on exhibit also belongs to the Albert Curtis Collection. It shows that Curtis qualified with both the rifle and automatic rifle. The "SS" on each clasp indicates he received the requirements for the "sharpshooter" grade.

12. USN Seabee Chief Master at Arms Badge

Porter Davis Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Master-At-Arms is a naval law enforcement officer. For the Navy, they are the equivalent to Army Military Police or Air Force Security Forces. They provide security and policing aboard ships and shore stations. The Master-At-Arms rating dates to the Revolutionary War, making it one of the oldest jobs in the Navy. However, the Master-At-Arms rating did not exist, officially, between 1921 and 1973. So the badge on display is not an official military badge. It was likely ordered and personalized by members of the 9th Construction Battalion.

 

The badge on display is from the Porter A. Davis Collection. Davis served in the Navy during World War II. He was part of the 9th Naval Construction Battalion, a Seabee. During his wartime service, he deployed to Iceland and later to the Pacific.

13. Army Combat Infantryman Badge with Second Award

William Binger, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Combat Infantryman Badge is a special skills badge awarded to Infantry and Special Forces soldiers. The Army created the CIB in 1943 to increase visibility and improve the morale of infantry soldiers. The badge features the image of Model 1789 Springfield Musket on a blue rectangular bar. The bar rests on an oak-leaf wreath. The Army presents the CIB to soldiers below the rank of colonel who served during a qualifying period and met three specific requirements. These requirements are:

 

  • Be an infantryman satisfactorily performing infantry duties

  • Assigned to an infantry unit during such time as the unit is engaged in active ground combat

  • Actively participate in such ground combat

It is possible to receive the CIB multiple times. The CIB in the exhibit is a double award, showing that the infantryman met the requirements during two qualifying periods. Sadly, we have little information about this badge’s recipient.

14. Air Force Missile Operator Badge

Harry Strohecker Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Air Force’s Missile Operations Badge recognizes officers and enlisted serving in missiles and space systems. The Air Force presents it to personnel after completing their technical training. Missile systems included strategic missiles, like ICBMs and ground-launched missiles. Unlike the Air Force's Missile Badge, the MOB is not presented to officers or enlisted service in a maintenance role. It comes in three grades: basic, senior, and master.

 

The Missile Operations Badge in the exhibit belonged to Colonel Harry Strohecker. Strohecker served in the Air Force from 1954 through 1974 in various roles, including as a navigator and missile officer.

15. Space Force Command Space Operations Badge

Education Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Space Force’s Space Operations Badge is an occupational rating badge inherited from the Air Force. The Air Force introduced the design in 2004 as a replacement for the older Space and Missile Badge. The badge identifies airmen and guardians in space-related careers. The design of the badge features an image of Earth with lines of latitude and longitude. Thrust and vector lines are behind the globe. A deltoid shape is superimposed over the Earth with a pair of satellites represented as stars and their orbits as lines. The Space Operations Badge comes in three grades, Basic, Senior, and Command. Due to its design, its commonly referred to as “space wings.”

16. Army Combat Medical Badge (Top)

Rick Ketchum Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Combat Medical Badge is a special skills badge awarded to members of the Army Medical Department. The Army created the CMB in 1945. The Army awards the CMB to medical personnel who engage in medical duties while engaging with the enemy. Originally it was intended for medic attached to infantry or Special Forces units. However, eligibility for the CMB includes soldiers assigned to aviation units.

  

The badge features the image of a winged caduceus with coil serpents and cross on top of a stretcher. A wreath of oak leaves surrounds the badge. It is presented to soldiers below the rank of colonel who served during a qualifying period and met the eligibility requirements.

It is possible to receive the CMB multiple times, but rare. The Army Medical Department recognizes only two double recipients.

Army Combat Action Badge (Bottom)

Educational Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Combat Action Badge is a special skills badge for non-infantry and Special Forces soldiers. It recognizes individuals who have performed their duties satisfactorily while engaged with enemy forces. The Army created the CAB in 2005. The badge shows a bayonet's image surmounting a grenade on top of a metal rectangle bordered with an oak leaf wreath. The Army presents the CAB to soldiers of all ranks, along with members of foreign allied forces, who serve during a qualifying period and meet three requirements. These requirements are:

 

  • Perform assigned duties in an area where hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay is authorized.

  • Be personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy, and perform satisfactorily according to the prescribed rules of engagement.

  • Soldiers must not be assigned/attached to a unit that would qualify the soldier for the CIB/CMB

It is possible to receive the CAB multiple times.

17. Navy Surface Warfare Officer Insignia

Educational Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Navy Surface Warfare Officer Insignia is a specialized badge identifying naval officers qualified in surface warfare. Similar to the Navy’s Submarine Warfare Insignia, the SWO pin notes that an officer has met a basic set of qualifications. These qualifications include officer of the deck, small boat officer, and combat information center watch officer. Junior officers typically receive their SWO pins within two years of their first sea tour. The insignia features waves breaking before a ship's bow overlaid with a pair of officer's swords. There are several classes of SWO pins representing different career paths, including line officer, supply, medical corps, nurse corps, and medical services. The Navy presents a similar badge, the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist insignia, to enlisted personnel.

18. Army Air Assault Badge, Original Design (Left)

William Binger Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Army Air Assault Badge is a special skills badge recognizing soldiers who have completed the Army Air Assault School at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The modern badge resembles both Army's WWII Glider Badge and modern Parachutist Badge. However, the original design looks much different. The original air assault badge featured a crossed rifle and lightning bolt behind the shield from the US Coat of Arms. The wings sprout from either side of the shield. The original design was a divisional award for members of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test). More a small unit than division, it tested the potential for air assault and airmobile operations. It became part of the 1st Cavalry Division in 1965. The Army introduced the modern air assault badge in 1978.

 

The original Air Assault Badge on exhibit belongs to the William Binger Collection. Binger served in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division and may have been part of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test). However, we know very little about this service beyond basic information.

Army Basic Parachutist Badge (Right)

William Binger Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Army Basic Parachutist Badge, commonly called "Jump Wings," is a special skills badge issued by the Army to graduates of the Basic Airborne Course. The badge, designed by Captain (later LTG) William P. Yarborough. It features a parachute canopy with shroud lines encircled by a pair of wings. The badge comes in three grades, basic, senior, and master. Receiving the senior and master grades includes participating in a set number of airborne jumps, participating in different types of jumps, and completing additional training. Soldiers jumping into combat zones also receive combat jump devices. Displayed on the badge as small bronze stars, they show the number of combat jumps.

 

The Basic Parachutist Badge on exhibit belongs to the William Binger Collections. Binger served in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division. However, we know very little about this service beyond basic information.

Army Glider Badge (Bottom)

Charles Morrison Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

 

The Army Glider Badge was a special skills badge issued by the Army for glider infantry. It is an obsolete badge, only issued between 1944 and 1961. The badge shows the image of a glider encircled by a pair of wings. It is very similar to the Army's Parachutist Badge. To receive the Glider Badge, soldiers assigned or attached to a glider or airborne unit and completed glider training. The Army's last glider unit ceased to exist in 1948, and training ended the following year. Until 1949, students at the Army's Airborne School received glider training.

 

The glider badge on exhibit is from the Charles M. Morrison Collection. Morrison served as an infantryman during World War II in Europe. It’s unknown if he received or participated in glider operations.

19. Air Force Flight Surgeon Rating Badge (Top)

Frank Archer Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Air Force Flight Surgeon Badge identifies medical personnel serving as primary care physicians for flight personnel. Besides being qualified doctors, they have received specialized training in aviation medicine. Flight surgeons treat and prevent conditions only found in aviation or spaceflight. To qualify as a flight surgeon, physicians undergo initial training at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Afterward, they go through a three-year residence program or enter the pilot-physician program.

 

The Air Force inherited its Flight Surgeon Badge from the Army Air Force. The badge features a pair of wings with a caduceus on a shield. Like other Air Force badges, there are three grades, basic, senior, and chief flight surgeon. The badge in our collection belonged to Colonel Frank Archer. Archer served in the First Gulf War.

Air Force Air Traffic Control Badge

Rick Nyquist Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Air Force Air Traffic Control Badge is one of several occupational badges. Like a pilot's "wings," they identify an officer or airman's job. The ATCB recognizes individuals who have completed air traffic control technical school. The badge features the image of a control tower on a shield surrounded by a wreath. The badge comes in three grades, basic, senior, and master. The badge shown in the exhibit is for the basic rating. The senior grade has a star above the shield. The master grade has a star wreathed by leaves above the shield. Officers receive the senior and master grades after years of service. Enlisted personnel receives the senior and master grade badges after reaching certain skill levels and rank.

 

The Air Force ATCB on exhibit is from the Rick Nyquist Collection. SSgt Nyquist served during the Cold War.

20. Navy Submarine Warfare Officer Insignia (Top)

Cecil Rhodes Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Navy's Submarine Qualification badge recognized naval officers and enlisted sailors who have met the demanding qualification for undersea service. Proposed initially by Captain Ernest King, the Navy introduced them in 1924. The badge shows a submarine's conning tower rising from the waves flanked by a pair of stylized dolphins. The enlisted version is silver plated, while the officer version is gold plated. To receive their "dolphins," new submariners had to complete a qualification program aboard their new boat. This program ensures everyone has a basic knowledge of all the submarine's systems and can operate them during stressful situations.

 

The Officer’s Submarine Qualification badge on exhibit belonged to Lieutenant Cecil "Dusty" Rhodes. A World War II veteran, Rhodes served on destroyers, destroyer escorts, and submarines. He served aboard the U.S.S. Plunger, a Porpoise class submarine.

Navy Submarine Combat Patrol Badge with Patrol Star (Top)

Cecil Rhodes Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Navy's Submarine Combat Patrol Insignia recognizes officers and sailors who have completed combat patrols during wartime. While it is still an active badge, the Navy hasn't issued one since World War II. The badge shows the broadside of a Gato class submarine. A scroll underneath holds places for service stars. The badge is presented for the first successful patrol. A gold star represents each subsequent patrol, with a silver star representing five patrols.

 

The Submarine Combat Patrol Badge on exhibit belonged to Lieutenant Cecil "Dusty" Rhodes. With a single service start, the badge recognizes Rhodes completed two combat submarine patrols.

21. Air Force Command Navigator Rating Badge

Harry Strohecker Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

Often called "wings," Air Force aeronautical rating badges recognize both an airman's specialty and their level of experience. There are badges for a range of specialties and three different grades; basic, senior, and command/master. The Air Force inherited the basic designs for these badges from the Army when it became a separate service in 1947. The Master Navigator badge recognizes 15 years as a rated navigator, 3000 hours of flight time, and receiving the senior navigator badge.

 

The Master Navigator badge on exhibit belonged to Colonel Harry F. Strohecker. Strohecker served in the Air Force from 1954 to 1974. He served on aircrews flying KB-50 aerial tankers and C-130 transports. He also served as an Air Force missile officer.

22. Air Force Missile Maintenance Badge

Harry Strohecker Collection, Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum

The Air Force’s Missile Maintenance Badge recognizes officers and enlisted personnel who serve in a missile maintenance role. The badge has its roots in the early Cold War. The Air Force introduced it in 1958 to recognize those who had a direct role in the development, maintenance, and operation of guided missiles. At the time, the Air Force maintained both ICBMs and shorter-range guided missile systems. It was remained the "Missileman Badge" in 1963 with a basic, senior, and master grade system. The badge was remained again in the late 1970s to "Missile Badge." With the creation of the Missile Operator Badge in 1988, the badge became exclusive to maintenance personnel.

 

The Missile Maintenance Badge in the exhibit belonged to Colonel Harry Strohecker. Strohecker served in the Air Force from 1954 through 1974 in various roles, including as a navigator and missile officer.