Nonsubdued (silver) pin-on rank insignia for Colonels is worn the shoulder loops of the Army Green Service Uniform (AGSU) Coat, the Blue or Green All-Weather Coat, and the Blue or Green Windbreaker. They are also authorized for wear on the Blue or White Mess Dress Jackets, oriented vertically and placed in the center of the space created by the knot's lower curves and the upper edge of the sleeve braid (see Figures 16-9 and 16-10 in the January 2021 edition of DA PAM 670-1).


While a silver eagle with spread wings has been used for insignia of grade for Colonels since 1832, it isn’t clear when the bundle of arrows and a laurel branch in the eagle’s talons were added to the insignia. But in 1926, the Army began issuing the insignia in pairs, and to ensure that the head of the eagle was facing to the front, the insignia was manufactured so that the two eagles’ heads in the pair were facing different directions.

But because the laurel branch and swords remained in the same talons on both insignias, the result was that one of the eagles would be facing the laurel branch—a sign of peace—and the other a bundle of arrows, obviously a sign of warfare and combat. Consequently, the eagle facing the weapons of combat was dubbed the “war eagle.”

This slight quirk remained unchanged for a quarter century, until a redesign was approved in 1951 that mandated that the eagle’s head faced the laurel branch on both the left and right shoulder insignia, with the arrows facing to the rear on both insignia. Today, the “war eagle” Colonel’s coat rank insignia are collector’s items that range in price from $40 to $125 or more per pair depending upon the condition. The demand for them is strong enough to even justify someone manufacturing reproductions, but it’s unlikely anyone who truly understands what made the original “war eagle” insignias unique would pay even a nominal price for an unabashed replica.

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