BY BLAKE STILWELL - WEARETHEMIGHTY.COM
Morale patches are patches troops wear on their uniforms designed to be a funny inside joke, applicable only to their specific unit or military career field. They are usually worn during deployments, but the wear of morale patches is at the discretion of the unit’s commander. The patches often (not always) make fun of a depressing, boring, or otherwise specific part of the job.
These patches have been around since the military began to wear patches. They are collected and traded by people, both military and civilians, who come across them. Some are more popular than others but they are still a lot of fun.
The “Morale Stops Here” patch is pretty popular and is actually repeated by units the world over. It’s really funny the first time you see it.
This is an old one, a throwback to the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command days. “To forgive is not SAC policy” is widely attributed to famed SAC commander Curtis LeMay.
For the benefit of the uninitiated, CSAR stands for Combat Search And Rescue.
Having the Kool-Aid Man as you unofficial mascot is funny enough, but making his hand the lightning-shooting gauntlet in the old SAC emblem is clever.
The JSTARS (or Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System) have a descriptive patch here – as they operate out of trailers at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar (in the military, being deployed here is also known as “doing the Deid”).
This is a U.S. Navy patch from Vietnam. The yacht depicted is a junk – a historically widespread type of ship used in China and around Southeast Asia. The Tonkin Gulf is where the Vietnam War (or more specifically, the U.S. involvement in it) really ignited.
More from Vietnam. By the end of the 1960’s the rift between those who served in Vietnam and the perception of the war back home hit its peak.
As the Cold War intensified and the threat of nuclear war seemed more and more unavoidable, the young enlisted and officers whose role in the annihilation of Earth’s population probably felt more than a little stressed.
The air war of First Gulf War lasted nearly 40 days in 1991, where the U.S. and coalition aircraft launched 100,000 sorties (air missions) and dropped 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraqi targets.
The tradition continues.
Blake Stilwell is a traveler, writer, and adventurer with degrees in design, television & film, and international relations. He is a veteran US Air Force Combat Photojournalist who has worked for ABC News, NBC, and HBO. Blake is based in New York, but often found elsewhere.
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