National Geographic : 1945 Feb
Insignia and Decorations of the United States Armed Forces BY GILBERT GROSVENOR President, National Geographic Society THE National Geographic Society has just completed the revision of its Insig nia and Decorations of the United States Armed Forces. In the revision the number of insignia shown in full color has been increased from 1,701 to 2,476, and new data have been added, record ing official additions and changes up to De cember, 1944. In the 208 pages are reproduc tions of 159 photographs.* Any one possessing a copy of the revised book will be able to answer all questions concerning the meaning of any form of mili tary and naval insignia and decorations, in cluding those of women's organizations. In addition are shown the insignia of agen cies officially cooperating with the armed forces, such as the Maritime Service, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Public Health Serv ice, the Red Cross, United Service Organiza tions (USO), etc. "E" and other awards granted to civilians for outstanding war effort are also included. Never before have all these insignia been presented with full description. Not even the services themselves have printed them in color. Work on the tremendous task of compiling these data and illustrations for the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE was begun in Jan uary, 1941, by Gerard F. Hubbard and Mrs. Elizabeth W. King, of the National Geo graphic Society staff, under the supervision of Arthur E. Du Bois, Chief of Heraldic Section, Office of the Quartermaster General, United States War Department, and J. R. Hildebrand, assistant editor of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE. In October, 1943, Mr. Hubbard died, and since that time Mrs. King has carried on the work. Officials of the United States Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard gen erously cooperated with the National Geo graphic staff in supplying insignia and deco rations of their services. In December, 1943, The Society combined in a single volume the articles on insignia and decorations which had been published in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE in the is sues of June, October, and December, 1943, and added to the reprint an 8-page supplement to make the material complete to the end of that year. Demands by the services and ci vilians alike for this publication soon ex- hausted the supply of copies. Meanwhile, many insignia had been changed and hundreds added for new Armies, new Air Forces, and new units of the Fleet Marine Force, etc. For instance, in September, 1944, the aviation badges of Flight Surgeon and Flight Nurse were changed from gold to silver at their re quest, to conform with the silver badges used by all other members of Army aviation. Rather than reprint the 1943 book, The Society undertook the present complete up to-date revision and expansion. Sixty of the 72 color pages of this revision are new plates; only 12 of the 56 of the first edition could be used. Some striking new features include the article, "Silver Wings," by Robert D. Ewin, which presents the chronological development of aviation badges from the first one for "Mili tary Aviator," established May 27, 1913, and given to 14 officers qualified as pilots. When this badge was designed, 25 were ordered, and this estimate was supposed to take care of all the men who would qualify for some time to come. Today more than 250,000 aviation badges are in use. General H. H. Arnold still proudly wears this badge. Of the original recipients he is the only one now on active flying duty. Our revision shows for the first time in colors the insignia of the 20th Army Air Force, which is equipped with B-29 Super fortresses for bombing Japan. Another section included for the first time in the book is the one for the Navy's Motor Torpedo Boat insignia. These insignia com pare in function with the aircraft markings used by all services on their planes. The gay, carefree spirit shown in the aircraft insignia is apparent again in this group. The National Guard was called into Federal service, beginning September 16, 1940, and the State Guard now performs many of its functions. For the first time in color a com plete set of the State Guard shoulder sleeve insignia is presented. * Copies of this timely book, "Insignia and Deco rations of the United States Armed Forces," may be obtained only from the National Geographic Society, Washington 6, D. C. It will be ready for mailing early this year. Prices: $1 per copy in United States and Possessions, including APO addresses; elsewhere $1.25 . Remittances should accompany orders and should be payable in U. S . funds. Postage is prepaid.