Since the dawn of the 20th century, the moral patch has become part of the American military uniform in combat that ranges from trench warfare conditions in France in World War I up to the modern military era. They represent an esprit de corps and demonstration of the heart and perseverance of military personnel in all types of combat conditions.
Today, moral patches have become highly popular collector’s items as well as being used in law enforcement. Even the general population has taken interest in modern morale patches such as the Velcro morale patch and those produced by F-Bomb Morale Gear.
What are Morale Patches?
A morale patch consists of a small strip of fabric that has an insignia, logo, letters, design or quote that is sewn into the uniform of the soldier. They are primarily used as identification with a particular unit, such as a division or brigade and are designed to build an esprit de corps with each soldier or military personnel within that particular group.
The morale patch is generally less formal and more personal form of identification that those who wear them take pride in their unit and association.
History of the Morale Patch
Before the advent of World War I, American military uniforms did not have identification beyond rank that was featured on the sleeves. Although Union forage caps from the Civil War era did sport brigade or division identification, there was little in the way to identify the soldier with a particular command.
That all changed during World War I when the US Army 81st Division Wildcats put in the formal request for a patch to honor their division. It was approved and soon it was ordered that all divisions create and wear patches that honored their division. The most famous from that era was the patch created by the 1st Division of the US Army. The “Big Red 1” is currently the oldest surviving insignia for any division. After the war, the famous Screaming Eagle Badge of the 101st Airborne was created using the “Old Abe” eagle head mascot of the Wisconsin Infantry Regiment that served during the Civil War.
During World War II, morale patches were widely promoted added a unique sense of identification for the units serving in the field. Insignia designs were created by the Army Quartermaster Corps until 1962. The Vietnam War introduced non-sanctioned patches that were handmade and would indicate participation in battle or unofficial units or associations that were inside the unit itself.
Today, morale patches are just as widespread as ever and the current designs owe their origins to US Navy pilots who in 1981 shot down two Libyan Su-22s that had engaged them over the Gulf of Sidra. The “Anytime Baby…!” patch for the flight suit commemorated the event.
Today, both the military and law enforcement uses a plethora of patches that signify special units and associations that have become part of the popular culture as well. Online stores such as F-Bomb Morale Gear offers a myriad of morale patch designs that can be attached onto clothing or equipment with Velcro allowing them to be applied and removed when needed.