Commonly referred to as unit patches, Shoulder Sleeve Insignia are currently worn on the left shoulder of the Army Combat Uniform and other utility uniforms; prior to 2015, full-color versions were worn on the left shoulder of the Army Class “A” Green uniform. Use the drop-down selector to the right to first choose between these basic types of patches and, if ACU patch is chosen, pick the appropriate camouflage type to match the pattern on the uniform on which it will be worn.

For nearly the first 50 years of its existence, the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was actually a division—first the 45th Division, then the 45th Infantry Division. Up until the late 1930s, the Shoulder Sleeve Insignia was an ancient symbol used not only by Native Americans, but also by peoples and tribes on almost every continent: the swastika. Regardless of the swastika’s provenance, its attractiveness as an insignia began to fall after it became closely associated with the Nazi Party in Germany. For months the Soldiers of the 45th wore no insignia, but finally a solution was proposed: a contest in which Soldiers could submit concepts for a new insignia.

Overseen by a board of Officers, the contest yielded the Thunderbird, a mythological Native American entity described as the “sacred bearer of happiness unlimited” who in the lore of several tribes battles underground or underwater spirits and creates. The Thunderbird insignia was approved for wear in 1939 and thus gave birth to the 45th’s nickname: Thunderbird.

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