SSD2 Module 2 Notes

Topics: United States Army, United States armed forces, Non-commissioned officer Pages: 65 (23329 words) Published: June 17, 2015
History of the NCO
Evolution of the NCO Insignia
The NCO insignia evolved through the years from a variety of shapes, styles, and colors to the chevrons worn today. Sometimes changes in uniform style and colors dictated changes in the style and color of the chevrons. The history of the insignia is complex and often confusing. In some cases, no official records survived to document the use of certain insignia. Many times, the vagueness of official records resulted in conflicting interpretations by individual NCOs, which led to a variety of insignia designs for the same official rank. In still other cases, NCOs wore unauthorized grade insignia, leaving little if any documentation. The Year - 1775

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army did not have consistent uniforms, and the problem of distinguishing rank was often difficult. To solve this problem, in July 1775, General George Washington ordered designations of grade for officers and noncommissioned officers. All sergeants were to be distinguished by a red epaulette or a strip of red cloth sewn on the right shoulder and corporals by a green epaulette or strip. Epaulettes continued to distinguish NCOs for years to come. In 1779, Washington authorized sergeants to wear two silk epaulettes, and corporals would wear one from worsted (a smooth compact yarn from long wool fibers used especially for firm napless fabrics) on the right shoulder. White epaulettes designated infantry NCOs, yellow the artillery, and blue the cavalry. The Year - 1821

When regulations in 1821 directed the wearing of uniforms with cloth wings (wool worsted wings trimmed in the branch color on, which generally fell over the shoulders), the Army had to find another way to distinguish rank besides epaulettes. It adopted a stripe, or chevron, for officers and NCOs to wear on the arm of the uniform, with the points up. Colors identified the two branches: yellow for artillery and white for infantry. When the Army discontinued the use of wings in 1832, epaulettes and cuff slash flaps replaced chevrons. One year later, however, Congress authorized a regiment of dragoons with a distinctive uniform. Because the dragoon uniforms used metal shoulder scales to protect against saber cuts, the Army authorized yellow chevrons, with points down to distinguish noncommissioned officer rank. In 1845, one battery of horse artillery received dragoon-type uniforms with NCOs wearing red chevrons. During the Mexican War, the Army authorized yellow or white chevrons with points up for all branches to wear on fatigue uniforms. The Years - 1851 and 1873

In 1851, a new uniform established a system of branch colors and chevrons reverted to points down. By 1872, 11 grades of NCO existed in the Army, seven with distinctive chevrons. The Year - 1902
As the Army became more specialized, it established many new ranks. In 1902, when the Army retained 20 distinctive NCO chevrons, the insignia returned to the point-up position. The Year - 1902
During World War I, the Army established temporary branches of service and authorized new chevrons for each pay grade in the new system. Eventually, it instituted over a hundred distinctive chevrons, including ones for the tank corps, aviation service, and two different transportation services. The cost and confusion became too much, and in 1920, Congress ended the practice of using the chevron to show a specific job or position among enlisted men The Year - 1920

The Army consolidated all enlisted ranks into seven pay grades, five of which were for noncommissioned officers. During World War II, the Army differentiated between technical and combat grades, although the three technician grades adopted were dropped by the postwar Army. The Year - 1948

For a time, the Army reduced the size of its chevrons. To save material, the War Department introduced a smaller, two-inch wide chevron in 1948. With the smaller size came changes in color to...
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