Aug 10, 2020
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How to Tell Military Patches Apart

With the 4th of July recently behind us, we have all had time to reflect upon how important and incredible the US Army is at providing such a wonderful life to citizens of the United States of America.

This band of brothers is one in which no individual is at glory. Rather, it is the collection of the military men and women together who form a strong team together. It is not easy to tell them apart when they gather in unison.

But one way in which the US army distinguishes their servicemen and women is through giving them a range of military decorations and honors—in which no two people will have the same collection.

US army patches are a great way to showcase the different experiences and accomplishments a servicemember has accomplished and are an incredible way to honor that person’s legacy. There is an array of patches that a US army member can wear, and we are going to break them down so you know how to recognize and tell them all apart!

1.   Insignia Patches

This patch defines what branch of the military the service member is a part of. So for those that are in the US army, their Branch Insignia patch will have “US ARMY” inscribed on the patch. This is always worn on the left-hand side of the outer pocket of a US Army uniform, right over the heart. This way it can be easily identified that that individual is part of the US army.

2.   Name Patches

Each member of the US army will have their own unique name patch given to them. On this patch, their last name is embroidered on. It is always worn on the right-hand side of the uniform, parallel to the branch insignia patch.

3.   Unit Patches

Did you know that all US army soldiers must wear a unit patch? This patch signifies what unit that person is assigned to and is always placed on the left shoulder of the uniform or on a beret. Oftentimes, service members who have already served in combat will have other unit patches on the left shoulder of the uniform as well!

4.   Rank Patches

One of the most defining parts of a US army soldier’s career is their current rank. This is always ever-changing, dependent on a long list of factors such as time served, training and combat experience, and any other niche factors. You can figure out the rank of a solider by looking at what type of patch they have on the left sleeve of their uniform.

5.   The United States of America Flag Patch

Every single member of the US army has the American Flag patch during their current assignment as a way to remember what they are fighting for. It is always worn on the left arm of the uniform and—a little known fact—is backward! This is done on purpose, as a way for whoever is looking at the patch to view the flag as if it is actually being held by that individual soldier. What a patriotic fun fact!

6.   Tabs Patches

And then there are the special patches that soldiers can earn. This can be through a range of accomplishments, such as becoming a Ranger, being selected for the Special Forces, or being given an Airborne qualification. You can always identify a tabs patch as it will sit directly above the unit patch that proudly sticks on the left shoulder of the US army uniform.

So there you go! There are six different patches that US army servicemembers can have. Each patch is required to be located in a specific place on the uniform and each represents a unique piece of that person’s military story. 

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