What Is the Significance of the Shoulder Patches on Army Unit Uniforms?


Quick Answer

Patches on the shoulders of army unit uniforms signify the soldier's membership in a particular unit and the unit's type of military service. Army shoulder patches vary in shape, color and design depending on the particular unit.

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Army shoulder patches have different significance depending on the location of the patch. For example, if a soldier wears a patch on his left shoulder, it identifies the soldier's membership in a particular unit. If the solder wears a patch on his right shoulder, it signifies that the soldier served in a combat zone while a member of a particular unit. When worn on the right side, a patch is a significant designation of honor.

In 1918, a U.S. Army division first wore unit identifying patches into battle during World War I. Other units soon followed suit, and the shoulder patch designation became a common and important unit identifier in the U.S. Army. Many army division unit patches use the letter A to signify the soldier's membership in the army. Other units, such as the fourth army division, use other designs. The fourth army division uses a white, four-leaf clover set against a red background.

The third U.S. Army division organized in 1918. Its purpose was to advance into Germany and protect critical infrastructure. Third division army members wore a patch with a blue background, white lettering and a red circle around the edge of the patch. The sixth army division uses a red background with a white, six-sided star. The sixth army's color designations of red and white signify that the division is that of a field army.

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