National Geographic : 1943 Jun
United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Insignia IDENTIFICATION insignia of the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, like Army insignia, show rank or grade of the individual within his organiza tion, and indicate certain specialties in which he excels. Other insignia, such as aiguillettes and brassards, are evidences of special assign ments. On the uniform of enlisted men also are worn devices revealing length of service. As in the Army, insignia are worn upon shoulders, sleeves, caps, breasts, collars, and lapels. Detailed descriptions of designs and wear refer to the illustrations on Plates XIV through XXIV.* United States Navy insignia are similar, in many respects, to those of navies of other countries. Some are similar to insignia of the United States Army. Thus Army insignia for Signal Corps, Quartermaster Corps, and Chaplains (Plates II and III) may be com pared with Navy insignia for Signalman, Quartermaster, and Chaplains (Plates XV and XVIII). Similarity in insignia does not necessarily mean similar functions. The Quartermaster Corps of the Army, for example, provides food, shelter, and clothing. A quartermaster in the Navy steers a ship. One dissimilarity is that Army chevrons (Plate I) point up, while Navy chevrons (Plate XVII) point down. Rank of Navy officers is shown in two forms: stripes (on sleeves and shoulder marks, Plate XIV) and miniature pin-on rank de vices (on collars and garrison caps, Plate XVI). The Navy pin-on rank devices and the Army grade insignia are similar in de sign. Distinctions in wear are given in text for Plates I and XVI. Marine Corps usage in indicating rank of officers follows Army custom. The Coast Guard follows the Navy. The United States Marine Corps employs only a fraction as many identification in signia as the Army or Navy. The service is smaller, and it has fewer subdivisions. How ever, the individual marine, especially if he wears the marksmanship badges which many marines win, may display as many insignia as soldiers and sailors. Chief and most definitely distinctive of Marine Corps insignia is the ornament worn on caps and collars-the well-known combi nation of American eagle, anchor, and globe. The Marine Corps is a permanent com ponent of the Naval Establishment. Coast Guard and Navy uniforms are the same; so only by differences in insignia may members of the two services be told apart. Slate-gray working and fighting uniforms, with blue-black plastic buttons and flexible slate-gray shoulder marks (braid and insig nia in black), will gradually replace khaki uniforms during the coming months. Slate gray will blend with the "battleship gray" of the Navy's warships. The chief distinction for the Coast Guard is use of the Coast Guard Shield on shoulder marks and on sleeves in positions occupied on Navy uniforms by the line officer's star or by the staff officer's corps device. The enlisted man wears the shield on the right sleeve above the cuff. In peacetime the Coast Guard is under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury. In wartime, since 1799, it is under the direc tion of the Secretary of the Navy. There is a tendency to refer to the Coast Guard in time of war as a corps of the Navy and to regard the Coast Guard Shield as a Navy corps device. "Service" is the better designa tion, because this takes into account the sep arate entity of the Coast Guard in peacetime. The present Executive order transferring di rection of the Coast Guard to the Navy was signed November 1, 1941. World War II has developed a trend within the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard to extend their insignia toward the type represented in the Army by the new Specialists' insignia (page 691). One new device already has been approved for the Marine Corps. This is the "blaze" illustrated in black and white on page 708. On a quasi-official basis the Marine Corps is permitting men of certain organizations, particularly within the Fleet Marine Force, to wear cloth insignia designed in the field. Some of these are being seen on uniforms of * Text and illustrations covering insignia for the Navy. Marine Corps, and Coast Guard were com piled by Gerard Hubbard and Elizabeth W. King of the editorial staff of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, with cooperation of officer and civilian personnel of the services. Special acknowledgment is made to Lt. H. A . Lamar, former recorder of the Navy Department Permanent Uniform Board, now at sea; Lt. C. A . Appleby, present recorder of the Navy Department Permanent Uniform Board; Wil liam E. Springer, chief clerk of the Quartermaster's Department of the Marine Corps and recorder of the Marine Corps Uniform Board; and Ralph Clifton Smith, assistant to the Public Relations Officer of the Coast Guard.-Editor.