Branch scarves feature a bib-type design and are issued in the appropriate branch color (the first-named color is used if a branch has two colors). They are authorized for wear with both utility and service uniforms, but only when prescribed commander prescribes them for ceremonial occasions. Many of the duties of Army Chaplain Corps members involve direct participation in ceremonies such as funerals, memorials, dedications, and other special events, and a properly worn black scarf is a tasteful complement to the Army Service Uniform.
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Although the Geneva Conventions state that chaplains are “non-combatants” and therefore may not directly participate in hostilities it does not say that they therefore are not allowed to bear arms for use in self-defense. In the military forces of some countries, such as Australia and Sweden, chaplains are permitted to carry weapons for precisely that purpose.

The United States Army, on the other hand, prohibits its Chaplains from carrying weapons, a regulation that is mirrored in the other four branches of the United States Armed Forces. Since 1909, Chaplains have relied upon Chaplain Assistants—who go through the same basic training as soldiers in all the other branches of the Army—for protection against hostiles.

But it wasn’t always that way.

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Chaplain Corps Collar Devices


There are numerous instances of men of the cloth leaving their pulpits to join the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. But it was during the Civil War that Milton L. Haney, Chaplain of the 55th Illinois Infantry, became famous as a “fighting chaplain,” and deservedly so: he was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts in beating back at a desperate Confederate attack during the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864.

Haney likely would not have put into a position where he would have to abandon his Bible in favor of a rifle if it were not for the fact that the Confederate army defending Atlanta was led by General John Bell Hood, who was seemingly always in favor of attacking regardless of the strength or nature of the defenses he was facing. After Hood’s surprise attack on the Union forces faltered, he ordered a second wave led by General Benjamin Cheatham to smash the Union center. Haney’s unit was commandeered by Major General John Logan, who ordered it to reinforce the Union center.

When Chaplain Chaney saw the Rebel troops advancing, he picked up a musket lying on the ground even though his practice was not to carry any weaponry. In this case, however, he quickly reasoned that the Confederates would have no way of knowing he was a Chaplain and would therefore fire on him as if he weren’t. To help beat back the attack, Haney climbed into the trench behind the Union breastworks and fought alongside the same men he normally prayed with.

This was the critical point of the battle—and Haney and his small band of Illinois infantrymen managed to repulse the Confederate attack long enough for sizable reinforcements to arrive. Those soldiers never forgot the leadership and bravery the chaplain had displayed, and lobbied vociferously that he be considered for the nation’s highest military award. Even Union General William Tecumseh Sherman recognized Haney’s courage, saying that “such a chaplain was worth a thousand men.”

Their efforts were finally rewarded on November 3, 1896, when Milton Haney was awarded the Medal of Honor; his citation stated that he “voluntarily carried a musket in the ranks of his regiment and rendered heroic service in retaking the Federal works which had been captured by the enemy."

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