Officially designated subdued grade insignia, the embroidered sew-on insignia attached to Utility uniforms and headgear often goes by the shorthand name “ACU rank” or “ACU insignia” because it is worn on the Army Combat Uniform, introduced in 2004. The reason for the close association actually has more to do with the insignia’s hook-and-loop fastener system, popularly known by the trade name Velcro, that the Army introduced at the same time as the ACU.

We offer three types of subdued cloth grade insignia in two camouflage patterns that you may choose from using the selection boxes to the right based upon your uniform need. All three types of insignia come in either Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) or Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP); the latter was introduced in Julye 2015, and the former has a wear-out date of 30 Setpember 2019. Choose Rank with Velcro for insignia backed with the hook-and-loop fasteners used to attach them to Velcro pads on Utility uniforms and the ECWCS jacket. Select Cap Rank for insignia embroidered onto cloth without the Velcro backing; these are usually sewn onto the Patrol Cap or Sun Hat. Pick “GorTex” for a cloth rank insignia tab that slides over the front tab of ECWCS parka, referred to by the Army as the “Gore-Tex® parka.”

The Army rank of “Major” is derived from the term “Sergeant Major,” but it is only peripherally related to that Noncommissioned Officer rank. According Raymond Oliver, curator of the McClellan Aviation Museum at McClellan Air Force Base outside Sacramento, the rank of Sergeant Major arose in the 15th or 16th century to describe the second or third in command of a large unit, such as a regiment. This was because when the French formed regiments, they would combine several companies, each led by Captains, into a single column commanded by a Colonel. In some instances, writes Oliver, the Captains of the companies would themselves name one of their own as the column’s Colonel, naming another as Lieutenant Colonel (second in command) and another as Sergeant, while each of the still maintained command of their own companies—but these three would be recognized as the

This is straightforward enough, but during that time in history military commanders were frequently involved in political intrigues, and head Colonels would often be absent from their troops as they sought political favor and support for their troops at the courts of rulers. This made the Lieutenant Colonel the de facto commander of the regiment and the Sergeant Major essentially the second in command (and senior to the other Captains). One of the key duties that fell upon the Sergeant Major was aligning the various companies into regimental formations and keeping them in during marches or in battle.

Ultimately, and for reasons left unexplained by Oliver or any historians, the “Sergeant” part of the title fell away (Oliver speculates that junior Captains resented reporting to a Sergeant when they had Sergeants reporting to them!), and the Major became the regimental staff officer—a role that Majors still fill to this day.

About us

As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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Salute Industries Inc, proud maker of The Salute Uniforms.
105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263.