U.S. ARMY DRIVER AND MECHANIC BADGE

By the time of its entry into World War II, the United States Army had almost completely eliminated the use of horses in terms of operational maneuvers, replacing them with trucks, cars, and tracked vehicles. To recognize superior performance by the drivers behind the wheels of these vehicles and the mechanics who kept them running, the War Department authorized the Motor Vehicle Driver and Mechanic Award on July 28, 1942, with recipients of the honor being given the Driver and Mechanic Badge.

The award was somewhat unique in that it could be awarded by officers at the Lieutenant Colonel and provided they were commanders. Six versions of the badge are issued: Four Driver badges with alphabetic prefixes indicating vehicle types, one Mechanic badge, and one for operators of Special Mechanical Equipment. These are indicated by Qualification Bars attached to the main badge, which is a cross pattée with a wheel in the center; examples of inscriptions on the qualification bars include “Driver-A” for amphibious vehicles, “Operator-S” for Special Mechanical Equipment, and the self-explanatory “Mechanic.”

Qualification Bars associated with driving require the recipient to have logged a certain number of driving miles or consecutive months of duty while assigned duty as a driver or assistant driver of a Government vehicle (minimum of 8,000 miles or twelve consecutive months with no accident or traffic violations); a Soldier can also garner the award with satisfactory performance as a motor-vehicle driver examiner or qualified driver instructor. Special Mechanical Equipment Operators (these may be civilians) must be serving in positions where the primary duty involves operating materials-handling or other equipment for twelve consecutive months or 500 hours of operation (whichever takes the longest) without an accident or a formal reprimand.

Mechanics are required to pass aptitude tests with a rating of “skilled” or demonstrate to the issuing authority that they have enough experience and knowledge because of previous experience as a mechanic working on automobiles or engineering equipment that such a rating is justified.
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