You may be a proud infantryman, logistician, or medic, and wear your branch insignia with pride. But do you know the historical lineage of where those insignia come from, and what they symbolize? Join Duffel Blog‘s own Dick Scuttlebutt, our Heraldry Correspondent, as we take you inside the United States Army’s Branch Insignia.
Dick Scuttlebutt is Duffel Blog’s Heraldry Correspondent and has degrees in Heraldry, Husbandry, and Phrenology from East Dickhole State University. Go Manticores!
Acquisition: The constipated hawk is looking to the left, signifying his commie hippie leanings. The ribbons wrapped around the Poison Sumac branches represent the hair ribbons worn by the extremely high-end underage prostitutes sent to Acquisition Corps personnel by various defense industry lobbyists. And the letters Q and A superimposed behind the hawk’s head stand for QUEER ANARCHISTS.
Adjutant General: Consistently voted “Most Boring” by the Army Institute of Heraldry at its annual dining-in, the Adjutant General shield is more complicated than it seems at first glance. Its 13 white stars on a field of blue represent the fabled “Lost 13,” the highest-rated awards and promotions ever lost or misplaced by an S1. These include Medals of Honor which went un-awarded and the fifth star which should have been awarded to James Mattis before he got fired for cock-punching Joe Biden. The blue represent the sorrowful tears of NCOs trying to sign out on leave only to find the admin shop has lost their DA 31. The white stripes represent the reams of paper wasted daily by admin clerks printing out duplicate forms, and the red stripes represent the blood shed from paper cuts.
Air Defense Artillery: The crossed cannon represent the field which all Air Defenders wish they had assessed into, namely Artillery. Over the cannon is the hallowed “Finned Dildo,” or as Air Defenders privately refer to it, the “Homewrecker,” which reminds all Air Defenders that they will spend their entire career being sodomized like a particularly sexy fish. Like a Moorish Idol for instance. Mmmm, I could fuck a Moorish Idol all day long.
Armor: Crossed swords in the background signify the silverware which Armor soldiers use to consume their vast amounts of fatty foods, leading to many of them being nicknamed “Tankles.” Over the swords is a machine which many modern soldiers may not recognize. Thousands of years ago, Armor soldiers rode, slept, ate and even shat without ever leaving a smelly, loud, blind steel deathtrap called a “tank.” Archaeologists studying the remains of these “tanks” left behind by long-dead civilizations (cultures with odd names such as the “First Armoired Displeasion” and the “Seventh Arm-whored Calberry Rashomon”) believe the machines were both domicile and clan deity to their particular inhabitants. Fascinating.
Aviation: A tampon nailed to a pair of yellow wings. The wings represent the aviators’ willingness to flee at first sign that somebody will ask them to perform PT. The yellow represents the pee soaking their flight suits. The feathers are those of the rare and perhaps extinct (no live specimen has been sited since 2005 in Senegal) bird named Semper Fidelis Tyrannosaurus, or in lay terms, the Bloody Shart Peacock. The tampon stands for the womanly whining that emanates constantly from the mouths of aviators. The tampon is unused, which reminds the observer that no aviator has yet achieved puberty.
Army Band: A gold coin, which is the price the band members earned for their immortal souls. Embossed on the coin is something called a lyre, which is an instrument you play by striking it with a hammer. Kind of like everybody wants to do to band members.
Cavalry: Two crossed sabers, in scabbard, cutting edge up. There are two sabers to reflect the dual Core Competencies of cavalrymen: 1) Unshavenness and 2) General Insolence. The sabers are crossed to represent the closedmindedness of cavalry officers, as they insist the answer to every problem, to include economic malaise and rickets, is vigorous application of cavalry. The cutting edges face upward so that cavalry officers can more easily fall on their swords. And the swords remain in their scabbards—impotent—to remind cavalrymen that every single one of their children was sired by another man.
Chemical Corps: Two wriggling spermatozoa crossed over a field of blue, over which is superimposed a blue hexagon. The blue field represents the color that chemical soldiers turn after being exposed to live agent while attempting to perform their stated duties, when they should have just stayed up range and set up the hotline to receive the leak-sealed and packaged ordnance item from the EOD Tech, and then scrubbed his balls for him at the decon station. The hexagon represents the unholy agreement Chemical Corps has made with Moltar, god of atrocity, in order to improbably remain an active branch with its own proponency. The sperms represent the untold, uncountable number of hot loads shot into, and onto, chemical soldiers both in theaters of war and in garrison, as they perform the one duty at which they excel.
Civil Affairs: A globe over which hover an upright torch, a rolled-up Vanity Fair article, and a child’s toy sword. The globe represents the Earth, which is a planet in our solar system. The Vanity Fair article represents the excellent service Civil Affairs provides to the service, such as the article leading to the resignation of Stanley McChrystal. Some old-time CA officers will insist that the rolled piece of paper is actually a letter of recommendation. The toy sword represents the fact that CA insists, adorably, that they are part of SOF. The torch recollects the burning sensation you get in your anus after dealing with CA for long enough.
Electronic Warfare: One of the newest insignia, the EW branch is represented by a bright yellow shield with a black midsection, inside which is a lightning bolt and a key. The shield stands for the protection that will be afforded to soldiers by EW when, at some point in the distant future, their equipment actually functions as promised. The lightning bolt stands for the invisible death rays which permanently render utterly sterile the unlucky soldiers who are forced to ride in the back, right next to the DUKE. The key reminds observers that the NSA is always browsing your phone and email account, looking for terroristic keywords, OPSEC violations, or pictures of ur bewbs.
Engineer: A golden castle. Simple and unimaginative, just like your typical Engineer officer. Only two types of people live in castles. Naïve helpless virgins who constantly need to be rescued; and mean old ugly witches. Again, just like typical Engineer officers. The castle’s crenellations are uneven, which represents the haircuts and teeth of Engineers. The castle’s door is wide open, just like the hopeful buttholes of eager Engineer soldiers. The castle is constructed of Lego blocks, which represents the fact that just like Lego blocks, an Engineer is great when in the proper order but is the worst thing you want to encounter barefoot in the dark.
Artillery: Two crossed cannon. There are two cannon to represent the two “core values” espoused by the Artillery corps: utter deafness, and traumatic brain injury. The cannon are crossed to signify the crossed legs of wives as they refuse sex yet again, which causes the artilleryman’s legendary grumpiness. They are also crossed to remind artillery soldiers to “play swords” as they double up at the piss tubes. The cannon float unaccompanied by a chassis or wheels of any kind, which reminds the observer that the average artillery soldier is going nowhere.
Finance: A parallelogram-shaped fishing net, open and ready to catch fish. The four sides of the shape stand for the four things upon which soldiers will waste the most money: high-interest car loans, alcohol, ridiculous clothing, and loose women. The net represents the barriers hindering the successful electronic transfer of hazard pay, dislocation pay, bonuses and allowances. The net also represents what the IRS will throw over you while chasing you for tax fraud, because a computer at DFAS had a short and accidentally overpaid you by roughly six hundred thousand dollars. Also they will order their attack dogs to bite you right on the dick.
Infantry: A pair of crossed flintlock muskets. The outdated rifles represent the archaic and obsolete tactics still being taught at combat schools, such as airborne operations and barely-disguised Fulda Gap holdover scenarios. The rifles are not cocked, symbolizing the infantry’s long history of being unready to fight and having to rely on Marines or SF to open a theater of war. The rifles are crossed, which indicates the average infantry officer’s inability to conceive of a problem as anything other than a matter of motivation and screaming loudly enough; and their refusal to converse as equals with anybody who hasn’t been to the useless suffer-fest and fat camp known as Ranger School.
Inspector General: A garlanded wreath upon which is embossed DROIT ET AVANT, which is Latin for “Droid You Are Looking For.” The garland is a sprig of hemlock and a tail feather from the Blue Falcon, a bird which infests all Army installations, especially around Headquarters buildings. The wreath symbolizes the flowers laid at the grave of what used to be your reputation. Behind the wreath, crossed, are an unsheathed sword and a long-handled axe. These are the weapons used by executioners as they put your career out of its pathetic misery. The axe is wrapped in a bundle of sticks, called a “fascisti” in Italian, which reminds the observer that IGs are a bunch of fascists.
Judge Advocate General: A pen crossed over a sword, to remind one and all that the pen is the mightier of the two, having ended the careers of many more fine officers in the last twenty years than weapons of the enemy. Behind the crossed pen and sword is a wreath of the extremely poisonous “white snakeroot” plant, bound with a sprig of hair cut from a forsaken orphan child who was dying of dropsy. The pen is a quill pen, which has been made from a vulture’s feather. This symbolizes the carrion-bird nature of your average Army lawyer.
Logistics Corps: A golden ship’s wheel to represent buggery. Inscribed on the wheel are the words SUSTINENDUM VICTORIUM, which is Latin for “Drawing Sustinence From Our Victims,” a motto which harkens back to the branch’s Vampiric origins. Behind the wheel, crossed, are a cannon and a key. Together, the wheel, cannon and key represent the three sub-branches of Logistics. The cannon represents Napoleon, a tiny one-testicled French artilleryman who built a world-spanning empire out of penis envy, and would ask his wife to stop bathing when he came back from war because he liked his women smelly. So clearly the cannon represents the Ordnance Corps. The key represents Quartermaster Corps because of their tendency to hoard and stash any and all unsecured supply items they come across, in order to barter and trade them away for favors at a later date. The wheel represents Transportation Corps, because transporters are round, and if not properly directed by a grown-up, will cause the entire ship to capsize. For some reason each sub-branch still has its own separate insignia.
Medical Corps: One of the few branches which openly celebrates its death-cult past, the insignia for Medical Corps and all its sub-branches (Dental Corps, Veterinary Corps, etcetera) is the caduceus. A caduceus is a tall Staff of Ra with outstretched wings, wrapped with two snakes hissing at each other. The Staff of Ra represents the unholy alliance the branch has struck with various demons, evil spirits, Dark Old Ones, djinn, naga, and golems. The staff is also often borne by an Insect Shaman, and as every thaumaturgist knows, insect shamans are just, like, the worst. The wings represent a patient’s soul exiting its body and flying off to the great police call in the sky, as he finally succumbs to his various illnesses which have been wildly misdiagnosed by the befuddled doctor. The two snakes wound around the staff represent the two fleeting, ever-elusive goals of the Medical Corps: competence and timeliness. The fact that they hiss at one another signifies the vicious brutality which the medical administrative system will visit upon the soldier and his dependents. Some whisper that the snakes are actually joined at the tail and that it is actually one snake with two heads. Those insane psychopaths are immediately fast-tracked to become Surgeon General of the Army.
Military Intelligence: This insignia is a five-pointed gold heraldic rose imposed over a four-pointed gold sun, further imposed over a gold sword. The rose represents the flowers which all intel analysts send to the grieving families of soldiers killed because they were using bad intel. The sun signifies the blinding light of knowledge, and also the sunburn-esque rash you got on your donger after messing around with that E5 from the MI company over in the BSTB that one time. She was such a whore. The sword stands for melee weaponry in World of Warcraft, which every MI soldier is required to play incessantly or he/she will never rise above junior enlisted rank.
Military Police: Crossed flintlock dueling pistols. These pistols are actually historically accurate, as they are a direct representation of the pistols wielded by MPs at the Battle Of San Luis Obispo, which took place when MPs attempted to roust a platoon of infantrymen who were just trying to enjoy their one god dam day of liberty by taking in an exotic dance recital. As the story goes, the infantrymen were none too enthusiastic about abandoning their nipple-viewing activities, and so they resisted physically, which forced the MPs to resort to more extreme methods. One thing led to another, and soon the whole area was bathed in napalm, packs of rabid cannibals roamed a debris-strewn wasteland, and Richard Nixon had to personally parachute in and use his superpowers to–well, you know the rest.
Ordnance Corps: A golden flaming bomb. The bomb reminds us that everything Ordnance Corps touches blows up in their face. The flames remind us that anybody who loudly declares that he is proud to be in the Ordnance Corps is a flamer. The bomb is lacking a fuse, which means the bomb is ready to detonate—symbolizing every Ordnance soldier’s lifelong problem with Premature Ejaculation. Please give.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal: A point-down bomb, behind which are lightning bolts, all of which are imposed over a shield from which are outstretched, feathered wings. The bomb indicates the severe damage which all EOD Techs will do to any working toilet. The lightning bolts symbolize the digital network which any bomb tech will use to download bootleg movies and squirter porn. The shield represents the tendency of any bomb tech to use the “fuck you, that’s not my job” excuse in any and all situations, including when they’ve been directly ordered to do something by a three-star general who is now commandant at West Point. The wings are there just because.
Psychological Operations: A golden horse head, behind which are a pair of crossed daggers which have turned into lightning at the tips. The horse head is a direct visual metaphor for the famous scene from The Godfather where the Don leaves the horse head in the bed of the movie producer. This symbolizes the way Psy Ops will mindfuck you—indeed, in their doctrinal corps competencies, the first one listed is “Mindfuck.” The two daggers represent the two Principles of Psychological Operations, which are brashness and unapologeticality. The daggers turning into lightning at the tip signifies Psy Ops capitalizing on the new frontier of social media, where they will post photoshopped pictures of you being taken to pound town by your own father in order to discredit you.
Quartermaster Corps: An eagle perched on top of a wheel, with a key and a sword crossed behind them. This insignia, voted “Most Frenetic” by the Army Institute of Heraldry at its annual dining-in, is difficult to decipher. The wheel represents the GOV van that supply sergeants use to go “to the SSA” to “pick up parts,” when in fact they stop at the shoppette for two hours to read every page of the latest low-rider magazines (“They got the chicks with the boobs on there.”) and try to flirt with the bored sixteen-year-old girl who works at Charley’s Subs. The thirteen stars represent the unluckiest number, 13, which symbolizes the curse of every company commander who’s ever had to deal with a shitty, sneaky, backbiting supply sergeant. The eagle stands for the dirty, rotten, borderline-felonious scavenging nature of supply sergeants the Army over. Yeah, eagles are carrion birds. You didn’t know that?
Signal Corps: A pair of crossed semaphore flags, one white with a red center, and one red with a white center. These are crossed behind a flaming gold torch. The red-on-white flag, at left, symbolizes the blood of Signal Officers spilled when the battalion commander finally got tired of their excuses and just shot them in their fat fucking faces. The white-on-red flag, at right, symbolizes the purity of the signal, surrounded by the filth of all that which is not digital. The flaming torch would stand for the illumination of the human mind via communication if any commo network ever worked satisfactorily; instead, it stands for the numeral “1,” which represents the single solitary competent, reliable SigO in the entire army. He’s currently in Small Group 26F at the CGSC at Fort Leavenworth, and no, you can’t have him for your unit.
Special Forces: Officially a pair of crossed “arrows,” in reality they are far too short to be arrows, and are actually crossbow bolts. Considering that the crossbow for much of the Middle Ages was a tool for bandits and assassins (indeed, crossbows were banned for “all civillised [sic] men wheresoever they maye be found” by the Vatican for much of the 15th through 19th centuries), the crossed bolts symbolize the deceitful-yet-vicious nature of the typical SF officer. The heads of the bolts are broad, signifying the wildly non-doctrinal range of missions that SF will claim is rightfully theirs in lean times. The heads are also sharp, signifying the unpleasant knowledge in the back of every combatant commander’s mind that if an SF commander in their COCOM feels slighted, the butthurt party will just run to his patron Senator and pretty soon that general will be getting an angry phone call from some idiot who happens to be on the Armed Services Committee. The fletching on the arrows is fourteen, each, feathers, which symbolize the fourteen “key avenues of execution” for Special Forces: beards; ballcaps; hands in pockets; first-name basis; flip-flops; fucking all the females on the FOB; steroids; larceny; blatant disregard for no-alcohol policies; hiking boots instead of issue uniform boots while in uniform; long, flowing hair; more beards; skateboard helmets instead of MICHs; and mandatory wear of the green beret even when it would be much more convenient to wear a PC like a normal human being.
Transportation Corps: Often called the “flying torch wheel” by that one instructor I had years ago, this is a ship’s wheel, over which is a shield, over which is a Detroit Redwings logo. The ship’s wheel symbolizes rum, sodomy, and the lash. The four spokes of the wheel symbolize the touchstones of transportation doctrine: lateness; incompleteness; disrespect; and unwarranted pride. The shield represents the vigorous defense which any Transporter will present should anybody point out that his branch is basically a bunch of glorified truckers. The Detroit Redwings logo is a reference to hockey, which, like the Transportation Corps, is something which should have been phased out long ago to make room for something that Americans give a shit about.
Chaplain: There are multiple insignia for the Chaplain Corps, depending on which faith the particular clergymen practice. However, it is incumbent upon us to note that there do not exist insigniae for the “miscellaneous” religions, such as Tribalistic Animism, Shintoism, Aum Shinkriko, EKENCAR, rootwork, Santeria, voodoo, “climate change,” or Mormons. This is clearly a huge infringement upon the rights of the minorities, and DB insists that this inequality is remedied at once.
Tune in next time as Duffel Blog explains the heraldric origins of all the Army’s divisional patches!
Can you help us? We aren't some gigantic media corporation. Duffel Blog is literally just one guy editing a bunch of articles written by military contributors — all on a shoestring budget. If you love what we do, please donate a few bucks to keep our doors open. Even the smallest amount is a big help.