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Rank and Patches on Military Jackets - Might I Offend a Veteran?

scotrace

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Small Town Ohio, USA
While I save my pennies for a nice A2 reproduction, it's a good opportunity to gather information and learn. There's no better place for this than right here, so...

If a fellow were to have insignia, or rank sewn on. Or art painted on the back associated with a specific squadron or group, how would this be perceived among those who actually served? Though my dad fought in WWII (Infantry), and my older brother is retired career Army, I myself did not serve in any of the US armed forces. Any such additions to my new jacket would be made in the spirit of absolute respect, historical interest, and honoring those who served and whose courage I so greatly admire.

I'm not at all sure I could bear having such a beautiful jacket poked full of sewing holes or painted on. But if I did, am I asking for trouble? I don't want to offend or anger the very folk I want to honor.

Thanks for any insight.
 

PrettySquareGal

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scotrace said:
While I save my pennies for a nice A2 reproduction, it's a good opportunity to gather information and learn. There's no better place for this than right here, so...

If a fellow were to have insignia, or rank sewn on. Or art painted on the back associated with a specific squadron or group, how would this be perceived among those who actually served? Though my dad fought in WWII (Infantry), and my older brother is retired career Army, I myself did not serve in any of the US armed forces. Any such additions to my new jacket would be made in the spirit of absolute respect, historical interest, and honoring those who served and whose courage I so greatly admire.

I'm not at all sure I could bear having such a beautiful jacket poked full of sewing holes or painted on. But if I did, am I asking for trouble? I don't want to offend or anger the very folk I want to honor.

Thanks for any insight.

I know that my husband will go out of his way to thank other veterans for their service and would feel misled if someone wore a rank they did not earn. It is my personal belief that the best way to to honor those that have served is through volunteer work with veterans. My husband and I used to go to the local veterans home once a week to play cards, visit, etc. I learned a lot about history that way, too. People love to tell their stories, especially in their later years.
 

scotrace

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Small Town Ohio, USA
PrettySquareGal said:
It is my personal belief that the best way to to honor those that have served is through volunteer work with veterans.


Well, yes, of course. But I still want the jacket. :)
I also try to be sure and thank service people. Being taken for a real vet is something I'd prefer to avoid. Of course, to be an actual qualified wearer of a WWII USAAF A2, I'd be 50 years older!

Good thought, thanks.
 

Rigby Reardon

One of the Regulars
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270
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Near the QM
If you were honoring a family connection, I'd think they'd appreciate it. If you pointed out that you got it because it's similar to something your Dad or your brother wore, they shouldn't hassle you.

Rank insignia is asking for a bit more trouble, though - especially if it's just made up. I wore my uncle's old Korean army greens with his insignia, and since it was REAL and family, no hassle. But if I just went out and picked up some captain's bars and stuck them on, I could see someone giving me grief over that.

But I would think that squadron insignia, or even original-creation art shouldn't be a hassle, if it's done with respect. There was certainly enough variation in nosepaints that you could have something made up and no one would ever know if it was real or not.

J

P.S. If anyone thinks you are 80-90 years old - or thereabouts - old enough to BE an actual veteran of WWII...okay. But I think you can take him, though... ;)
 

bgbdesign

New in Town
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29
Location
midwest USA
These are, of course,merely personal opinions.

I think its a nice way to honor our veterans by painting a flight jacket. For me- I will not wear any rank or qualification/ award insignia that I am not qualified to wear. Many veterans worked hard to earn pilot wings or jump wings, etc. They suffered great risk and hardship and those belong to them.....

Unit insignias are another matter however,as they are not rarely "earned" or awarded. To wear an aircraft and squadron insignia on a jacket today is keeping those tradtions alive. I also think its very important to insignia these jackets correctly. There is nothing worse than seeing a fellow proudly wearing a mall jacket with an army squadron on one side and a navy squadron on the other and have no clue about the item he is wearing or the original members of those units.

Many veterans at reunions I have displayed for told me that most people under 35 are not aware of the second world war. It is rapidly coming to the "last man" club as these folks are almost all well into their 80's.When a younger person is interested in their experiences today its a treat for most of them.

my 2 cents worth
bg
 

Rigby Reardon

One of the Regulars
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Near the QM
Well said, BG. Very well said. That would be the distinction, whether it was something that was earned or just sewn on any private/airman the first day out of boot camp.

And of course, that is just my personal opinion from my experiences. ;)

J
 

Baggers

Practically Family
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861
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Allen, Texas, USA
Rank and qualification badges, along with nose art and squardron or group patches shouldn't get you into any trouble. As long as it's something definitely WW2 related like an A2. Why should it? After all, as someone else as stated, unless you're 80 something years old it should be obvious to all but the most dense that you're not trying to pass yourself off as a veteran. I've got a nametag on my A2 and no one gives it a second look.

Now awards for valor, like the Bronze or Silver Star, are something else entirely. In the reenacting community, it's a general rule that no one wears awards that they didn't earn. In fact, I think it's illegal according to Federal law.

As far as I'm concerned, if you want to add a patch or two and appropriate rank, knock yourself out. All I would ask is do some research and make sure that you're sewing on the correct items, i.e., the correct squadron within the right group and air force. That, and don't go patch crazy.

Finally, make certain that you're willing to accept that you probably won't get top dollar if you ever plan on reselling the jacket at a later date. Once you've painted it or made those holes there's no turning back.

Cheers!
 

PrettySquareGal

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Baggers said:
Rank and qualification badges, along with nose art and squardron or group patches shouldn't get you into any trouble. As long as it's something definitely WW2 related like an A2. Why should it? After all, as someone else as stated, unless you're 80 something years old it should be obvious to all but the most dense that you're not trying to pass yourself off as a veteran. I've got a nametag on my A2 and no one gives it a second look.

Yes, this is true, however I do not know the age of scotrace. I also know elderly people who love chatting on the net. :cool:

To clarify: Not that he looks old in that pic! Well, retro, yes...but it could have been an old pic. Anyway, I was just pointing out that some may have an issue.
 

boomerchop

One of the Regulars
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118
Location
Lynchburg, VA, USA
I think the responses above are correct. Unit insignia is a different case. Many units, ships, squadrons, activities, no longer exist. All three of my ships have been decommissioned. Entire bases have disappeared in the BRAC process. So wearing a unit's insignia keeps the memory alive and honors it for its place in history.

Rank/warfare insignia is a different case. I spent a career earning the rank of Lieutenant Commander, qualified as a submariner, strategic deterrent patrols accomplished, etc. Someone who hasn't earned them but wears them is rather like me claiming to be a PhD, or MD, or something similar. It just doesn't seem right. Now, in terms of re-enactors, in a specific setting, okay. But just general street wear, probably better not to.

Fair winds and following seas,
Paul Webb
LCDR, SC, USN (Ret)
 

The Wingnut

One Too Many
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There's always a fine line that you walk when reenacting. I've seen all manner of 'incidents', if you will, resulting from military insignia / uniforms being used by those who at first glance didn't earn them. I used to dabble in vintage HO scale slot racing, I had a pair of current issue USAF command pilot wings glued to my contoller. I got a good deal of guff one day from a guy who asked me, knowing the answer due to just my age, if I'd actually earned them. A group of friends were at an event in San Francisco(to which they had been invited and encouraged to wear USAAF and RAF uniforms) and were accosted by a retired Royal Navy admiral for being 'fakes, liars and phonies!'.

You can get in trouble even with your friends. For the longest time(6, almost 7 years now) I've worn the rank of major. I was a few years older than a close friend that wore captain's bars, and it was appropriate. When I started wearing them, I was 23 - an 'old man' in WWII terms, especially as a flight officer. I'm now 29 and have been demoted to a lieutenant among my circle of friends (At our last Christmas party, they made quite a public spectacle of cutting me down to size). I'm going for historical accuracy, they want me to 'fit in' with the group. We've got guys in their late 50s wearing captain's bars, and as flight officers. I bit my tounge and knuckled under...then again, I rarely ever do any public events with them, so I'm free to switch back to my gold leaves when I want.

I'm going into the Air Force at the end of next month and will come out as an Airman. Within a year and a half to two years, I'll be a staff sergeant. I've already got an EM Ike jacket, pants, shirt and tie that are waiting for the appropriate number of stripes, mech's qualification badge and ribbons. THAT uniform I'll have most definitely earned...

When it comes to an A-2 jacket that you'll be wearing casually and without context, I'd recommend leaving the rank off. It's also more accurate. Rank was applied to A-2s, but the majority of them were with without decoration of any kind, even nametags. It'll cost you less, as well. In fact, the USAAF 'Hap Arnold' insignia that you see on the left shoulder wasn't common as an addition to flight jackets until very late in the war, so it's overkill to even have that applied. Nametag and squadron patch are enough, and you're flexible if you actually want to put a uniform together - you don't have to match the rank you've sewn or painted on your jacket. Not only that, but you're accurate across the whole span of the war.

You'll offend someone eventually, just depends on how you handle it. I've been confronted in the past and told people what I'm wearing is a tribute to my grandfather's generation, and I'm not attmepting to pass myself off as anything I'm not. I'm simply the mannequin upon which the artifacts are hanging.
 

Wild Root

Gone Home
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5,532
Location
Monrovia California.
My opinion....

I do casual reenacting my self. I was given a WWII enlisted class A tunic by a friend. It has the original chevron rank and the original 5th Air Force patch. Also has the original ?¢‚Ǩ?ìruptured duck?¢‚Ǩ? honorable discharge patch on it. I wear it to swing dances or living history events. I haven?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t served Uncle Sam in any capacity my self either but, I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t want to change a thing on it because I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m carrying on a legacy of some one who served long ago. I also have my WWII Officer?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Pinks and Greens, the only original patches on that tunic is the 8th Air Force patch and the blue (rare as I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll get out) combat felt where the wings would be placed. I had to buy the stuff to put on it but, I went with 2nd Lieutenant bars and a pair of authentic WWII silver wings to complete the uniform. I do wish to research the name in the pocket and find out what rank he was and what was on his tunic originally to recreate his uniform. When I bought my WWII Navy Sailor suit, it was blank but, I put a meager rank on it such as 2nd Class Motor Operator and a Sub Service patch. By pure accident, I recreated my next door neighbor?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s suit he wore on the USS Gunnel (a Gato class sub of WWII) he told me. I wore it on Halloween and wanted to show him because I knew he served on subs. He was honored deeply that I picked his rank and position on his sub.

I have seen some guys go and buy a WWII uniform that is blank and they end up putting on all sorts of junk on it to ?¢‚Ǩ?ìMake it look cool?¢‚Ǩ?. I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t believe in that at all! If I found a basic enlisted tunic that had nothing on it, I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d recreate my Grandfather?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s tunic he wore wile with the 8th in WWII. It?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s all about the research and making a uniform or a jacket emulate a real authentic one. That?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s where the respect comes in.

Veterans appreciate some one who knows what they?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re doing. They appreciate the recognition when some one comes up to them and wants to shake their hand and hear stories if they feel like sharing some. If you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re wearing an exact representation of their uniform or some one you knew, it?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s very well received.

Do some research, pick out he patches and the nose art you wish to copy and do a fantastic job on it and you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll see no one will hassle you because of it!

=WR=
 

Baggers

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PrettySquareGal said:
Yes, this is true, however I do not know the age of scotrace. I also know elderly people who love chatting on the net. :cool:

Well, in that case Scotrace can make his own determination based on his actual age. In other words: YMMV.

In any case, I think it all boils down to intent. If there's any intent to deceive, especially in order to gain benefit, then it's flat out wrong. There's probably a time period (from the 1940s to the present) that would get anybody in trouble depending on their age. We just have to use common sense.

But if Scotrace really is a "seasoned citizen" trying to pull a scam on his friends at the assisted living center by pretending to be Jimmy Doolittle's radio operator, then shame on him!

On the other hand, if he's just trying to jazz up his image with the female residents, then maybe he deserves a medal of his own for still having the drive at his age!:clap

Cheers!
 

PrettySquareGal

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Baggers said:
Well, in that case Scotrace can make his own determination based on his actual age. In other words: YMMV.

In any case, I think it all boils down to intent. If there's any intent to deceive, especially in order to gain benefit, then it's flat out wrong. There's probably a time period (from the 1940s to the present) that would get anybody in trouble depending on their age. We just have to use common sense.

But if Scotrace really is a "seasoned citizen" trying to pull a scam on his friends at the assisted living center by pretending to be Jimmy Doolittle's radio operator, then shame on him!

On the other hand, if he's just trying to jazz up his image with the female residents, then maybe he deserves a medal of his own for still having the drive at his age!:clap

Cheers!

Eh, I never said he was trying to scam anyone. However, the seasoned ladies in the home, if it be the case, may hit on him because of it and be mighty ticked off when they found this site and learned the truth! :p
 

Baggers

Practically Family
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PrettySquareGal said:
Eh, I never said he was trying to scam anyone. However, the seasoned ladies in the home, if it be the case, may hit on him because of it and be mighty ticked off when they found this site and learned the truth! :p

I never thought that you did. But in such a case, he's on his own. Hell hath no fury... But to quote the motto of the Special Air Service, ""Who Dares Wins!" ;)

And Biltmore: BINGO!

Cheers!
 

MDFrench

A-List Customer
I have met MANY veterans - I interview them in my spare time on video. I have a bomber jacket outfitted with 8th Air Force patches and 91st Bomb Group insignia - I have met many WWII flyers and they always enjoy seeing a young person wearing their insignia. I have gotten nothing but thanks and compliments for keeping such history alive amongst young people by wearing it on my person.

I wore that jacket in the presence of the pilot of the Memphis Belle, the pilot of the original Aluminium Overcast, bomber gunners of all types - I have never been scoffed, scolded or insulted - only given words of thanks and impressed looks by veterans who think that everyone under 35 doesn't have a clue what WWII is, and in many instances, they'd be right.

Granted, I don't wear any rank insignia - so I can't give an opinion about that one way or the other. However, I just cannot wear a plain A-2 - I like wearing a bit of "conversation" with it.

Mike
 

scotrace

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Small Town Ohio, USA
Always great advice

Well. I look pretty hot for 108.

I think to pass oneself off as a vet of Vietnam, or the Gulf Wars (in the US) with rank & etc, would be asking for a well-deserved punch in the nose.

Sadly, the WWII years are getting more and more distant, (farther from us now than the US Civil War was in 1906). Wearing the uniforms and insignia of the second world war is becoming much like being a Civil War re-enactor. But there are still plenty of vets from WWII alive, and their sons and daughters are protective of their service record and memory. The last thing I want to do is wear a really beautiful new jacket out and promptly tick someone off due to disrespect. The average guy on the street gets the Biltmore Bob reaction - so what? But insult a veteran? No way.

Sharpetoys helped clarify my thoughts on this (with a size 12 boot) :)

In the end, I don't think I could bear to let someone jab holes in or paint on a jacket like that.

Now, my dad did serve as a mechanic in the early war years in Florida before going to the front. If I can find out exactly where and what he did, I will probably try and find a patch that signifies and honors his specific service. I'm just not sure if he was a vehicle or ground crew mechanic. I'd love to learn how to trace his service record.

For the record, I'll be 43 next week. Too young to be a WWII vet. When I get to the nursing home, I plan to earn my Nurse Pinching bars honestly.
 

airfrogusmc

Suspended
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752
Location
Oak Park Illinois
I would say no wings or rank. Both of those things (wings and rank) come with a price that if you didn't pay that price don't wear them. I've always felt if you don't rate it don't wear it...
S/F
Allen
 

Wild Root

Gone Home
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5,532
Location
Monrovia California.
Now, there are things to be said about that too. I wear WWII uniforms that have been put together that are accurate to veteran?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s uniforms. They always love to see it. I have told them I'm wearing it to commemorate their service and it's always been well received. I have a pair of silver wings on my WWII
8th Air force tunic, it also has the original blue combat felt patch over the top left pocket. If I didn't have some type of wings there it would be naked and bare and look like crap. I see nothing wrong about putting on original wings from WWII on a uniform to recreate it. Now, I don't wear my Pinks and Greens all over town and parade like I'm an Officer of the 8th Air Force but, I do wear it to dances and WWII events. I have talked to several people who have had Fathers or Grandfathers that served in the Air Forces in WWII and they tell me how nice it is to see some one wear the uniform correctly. And they'll tell me stories about their family member?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s experiences. Always a positive reception. I don't know how to fly but, when I put on that uniform, I do it with the utmost respect for what it is and I wear it the way it's supposed to be. I'm a living historian and people look at it as just that. The uniforms of WWII are very different then those of today and so when you put on those old uniforms, people use YOU as a time machine and remember their past through you. Now, I have seen some kids wear WWII uniforms with General stars and decoration who have long hippy hair and wear their Nike?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s with it. I ask them about their uniform, they say: Ummm, duh, I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t know man, I just rented it to wear for this dance. To those guys I say they deserve any crap any Vet has to give them! Since I know a thing or two about WWII, I can wear a uniform of the period and talk about it and what it means.

If any one comes up to you and says: You didn't earn that on your uniform I say: No, I didn't but I'm wearing it to remember those who did and I'm carrying on their legacy. If that don't work, that means they have issues and shouldn't be bothered.

Now, since it?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s a jacket you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll wear around many places, I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d pick out a high scoring ace that most vets would recognize and mock it up as say Richard Bong?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s A-2 or Maybe another Ace or Bomber Pilot?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s jacket. It?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s really up to you seeing that most Vet?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s kids don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t know much about the war to really get up set over anything. Most don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t even know about the Army Air Corps or what we flew during WWII. Trust me, you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll be fine.

=WR=
 

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