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MARK R. HENRY, MIKE CHAPPELLTHE
US ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. NORTH-WEST EUROPE

ARMY OF OCCUPATION, 1945

Three veterans celebrate victory, out on the town in their spiffiest uniforms, displaying all the badges and decorations which they have richly earned. Note that one of them is still of an age which might make it hard for him to buy a beer in some states of the USA without showing identification.

1: Warrant Officer glider pilot, 61st Troop Carrier Group, US 9th Army Air Force

As was common among flying officers, his cap and jacket are of officers' quality and, apart from his specific rank bar in gilt and brown enamel on the epaulettes, he wears officers' style badges. This aviator has a '50 mission crush' service cap, an officers' M1944 OD wool field jacket ('Ike' jacket) and matching trousers in a dark 'chocolate' shade, and an officers' chocolate shirt set off with a pale necktie. On his left chest the silver glider pilot's wings are distinguished by a 'G' - they used to say this stood for 'Guts'. Below are a typical array of ribbons; NB on most of these plates these naturally reproduce too small for identification, but representative selections are listed - here, the Bronze Star, Air Medal (with two oakleaf clusters marking three awards), Purple Heart, American Service, and ETO Medal with an invasion arrowhead and two campaign stars; on the right chest is the blue Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC). His four overseas service bars mark two years abroad. Late in the war glider pilots added Airborne tabs to their Air Force patches on the left shoulder. His polaroid aviator sunglasses became very popular among GIs.

While not illustrated here, in 1945 combat officers in command positions were authorised green 'leadership tabs' to be worn looped over their epaulettes.

2: T/5, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division

This paratrooper wears the overseas cap and an enlisted man's 'Ike' jacket, with the earlier drab wool trousers common throughout the war bloused into spit-shined jump boots. The cap bears the 505th PIR enamelled metal crest at right front, because the left is occupied by the combined parachute/glider patch of the Airborne. His rank is marked by the new issue green-on-black stripes. Having served 18 months' overseas in the infantry, he has transferred into the Signal Corps - a fact shown only by the crossed flags on his left collar disc. On the lower collars are enamelled versions of the divisional patch of the 82nd Airborne as worn on his left shoulder; the right shoulder patch denotes his combat service under the 1st Allied Airborne Army. He wears parachute wings on the regimentally coloured backing of the 505th, the Combat Infantryman's Badge and the DUC. His ribbons are for the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, ETO Medal with arrowhead and three stars, and American Campaign Medal. The lanyards - fourragères - mark collective awards to his unit by the Allied nations which the 82nd helped to liberate: on his right shoulder the Belgian Croix de Guerre, on his left the French Croix de Guerre and the orange cord of Holland's Wilhelm Order. His expert marksmanship badge sports three 'shingles' for rifle, bayonet and grenade.

(Inset right) Parachutist's qualification wings, on the blue and red oval backing adopted by the 505th PIR. Stars or arrowheads were sometimes fixed to the badge to represent combat jumps.

3: 1st Sergeant, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

This long service first sergeant in his late 30s wears the overseas cap, 'Ike' jacket and trousers in slightly differing shades of OD, and a pair of 'buckle boots', which he has painstakingly shaved and waxed to a shine. (In 1947 the Army were obliged to convert their footwear to universal Department of Defense black; World War II veterans would boast of having served in the old 'brown shoe Army'.) His cap is piped infantry light blue and bears the 26th Infantry's enamelled crest. His rank is shown by early-style silver-on-black chevrons and rockers. The shoulder patch of the 'Big Red One' marks one of the most battle-experienced formations in the ETO, and his left chest identifies a soldier highly decorated for valour in combat. Beneath the CIB, here a version in silver embroidery on blue, might be seen the ribbons for the Silver Star and Bronze Star (with oakleaf clusters marking repeat awards); the Purple Heart (also with clusters); the Good Conduct Medal with one 'tie'; the American Campaign Medal; and the ETO Medal with the arrowhead marking participation in at least one amphibious (or airborne) invasion, and one silver and three bronze stars for eight distinct campaigns. He too will soon be authorised the French and Belgian Croix de Guerre lanyards. This 'top sergeant' also sports the marksman's badge with two 'shingles'.

(Inset left) The 'Ruptured Duck'. Ex-servicemen were allowed to wear their uniforms for 60 days after mustering out, but had to sew this patch over the right pocket of their uniform tunic to show their status.

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