Fruitless Searching – The Quest for an Insignificant Patch


After years of searching for a simple uniform accouterment, I am feeling that the possibilities of completing a uniform recreation are far less than I had hoped. When I began my project in 2009, I figured that locating a fairly standard uniform patch would be a simple venture. As I reviewed the photo, seemingly nothing on my uncle’s uniform was rare or would be difficult to source. At the end of four years, I have learned that I may have to place this project on perpetual hold. Where did I go wrong?

It is unfathomable to me that I stand a better chance locating this Merrill’s Marauders shoulder sleeve insignia patch than the overseas service bars/chevrons combination.

It is unfathomable to me that I stand a better chance locating this Merrill’s Marauders shoulder sleeve insignia patch than the overseas service bars/chevrons combination.

When I received a photo (taken in August of 1952) of my uncle receiving an Army Commendation Medal from a colonel, I knew that I wanted to assemble a uniform jacket with his full military decorations. Around the same time I got the photo, an enormous package arrived from the National Archives which contained a large stack of documents that encapsulated my uncle’s service spanning three wars and nearly 20 years.

Here, my uncle receives his Army Commendation Medal. Though he is shown in uniform, he is wearing no other decorations or ribbons. The quest for the overseas stripes/chevrons patch continues after 3 years.

Here, my uncle receives his Army Commendation Medal. Though he is shown in uniform, he is wearing no other decorations or ribbons. The quest for the overseas stripes/chevrons patch continues after 3 years.

Darren McGavin’s wife (in the film A Christmas Story) saw how obviously hideous this lamp was. It was equally apparent that I needed to find the proper patch configuration for my display (source: Warner Brothers).

Darren McGavin’s wife (in the film A Christmas Story) saw how obviously hideous this lamp was. It was equally apparent that I needed to find the proper patch configuration for my display (source: Warner Brothers).

Reviewing the service records and the photo, I decided that I wanted to put together a uniform that was representative of what my uncle wore at the conclusion of his service in the army. Considering that my uncle enlisted to serve in World War One, I figured that the greatest challenge I faced was in locating the period-correct ribbons with the appropriate devices: the correct campaign stars. I already possessed a good portion of my uncle’s metal devices (rank, corps insignia) along with several period-correct ribbons and medals which meant that it shouldn’t take long to acquire what was still needed.

This patch was in my uncle’s possessions but the moth-eaten condition and that it is for a khaki uniform, makes it unsuitable for my display.

This patch was in my uncle’s possessions but the moth-eaten condition and that it is for a khaki uniform, makes it unsuitable for my display.

In possession of the uniform jacket, I began to take stock of each item before I would begin to sew on any of the patches. From the unit insignia (the GHQ patch) to the all of the various devices, I was ready to go…or so I thought. There, glaring at me like Darren McGavin’s sultry major award, gleaming brightly in the window of the front room from A Christmas Story, I was missing the overseas stripes that would be representative a soldier who served overseas for multiple wars.

One might ask, “What is so significant about this uniform item?” The overseas service bar (or chevron for World War I service) was issued for each block of six months served by a soldier in a combat zone. In the case of my uncle’s uniform, the photo shows that he wore three chevrons and five overseas service bars. With each stripe or chevron representing six months, my uncle served in a combat theater for three chevrons and five bars, or a total four years.

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About VetCollector

I have been blogging about Militaria since 2010 when I was hired to write for the A&E/History Channel-funded Collectors Quest (CQ) site. It was strange for me to have been asked as I was not, by any means, an expert on militaria nor had I ever written on a recurring basis beyond my scholastic newspaper experience (many MANY decades ago). After nearly two years, CQ was shut down and I discovered that I was enjoying the work and I had learned a lot about my subject matter over that period of time. I served for a decade in the U.S. Navy and descend from a long line of veterans who helped to forge this nation from its infancy all the way through all of the major conflicts to present day and have done so in every branch of the armed forces (except the USMC). I began to take an interest in militaria when I inherited uniforms, uniform items, decorations from my relatives. I also inherited some militaria of the vanquished of WWII that my relatives brought home, furthering my interest. Before my love of militaria, I was interested in baseball history. Beyond vintage baseball cards (early 1970s and back) and some assorted game-used items and autographs, I had a nominal collecting focus until I connected my militaria collecting with baseball. Since then, I have been selectively growing in each area and these two blogs are the result, Chevrons and Diamonds (https://chevronsanddiamonds.wordpress.com/) The Veterans Collection (https://veteranscollection.org/)

Posted on January 26, 2017, in Insignia and Devices, Shoulder Sleeve Insignia and Patches, U.S. Army, World War I, World War II and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It’s a shame you can’t locate it. I usually find that an association has a quartermaster, can this help in any way? The Links page has a few leads?
    http://marauder.org/associat.htm
    or
    http://www.specialforcesroh.com/browse.php?pageid=merrills_marauders

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