U.S. ARMY WARRANT OFFICER CANDIDATE COLLAR DEVICES

The Warrant Officer grade was established in the United States Army at the same time Congress created the Army Mine Planter Service on July 9, 1918. (It was somewhat ironic that the Army’s first Warrant Officers would serve aboard seagoing vessels, since the Navy had had Warrant Officers from its very inception.) These first Warrant Officers wore the branch insignia of the Coast Artillery Corps, but in October 1920 the War Department issued orders stating that Warrant Officer were not to be appointed to branches, but rather serve as “at large” officers; this was followed in November by the approval of an insignia for all Warrant Officers consisting of “an eagle standing on a bundle of arrows, all enclosed in a wreath.” With their own distinct insignia unrelated to a specific branch and the ability to move among the various branches of the service as needed, Warrant Officers became, in effect, a Corps unto themselves.

Following the establishment in the late 1950s of helicopter-training schools at Fort Wolters in Texas and Fort Rucker in Alabama to train Warrant Officers as helicopter pilots, the Warrant Officer Candidate insignia was established for wear while attending these courses. In the 1980s, the Army significantly altered its Warrant Officer program, switching from direct appointment to a system where qualified NCOs would apply to become Warrant Officers. Those who met the basic requirements would attend special candidate schools, and the wear of the “WOC” insignia was authorized for those selected to take part in the training program.

Just when Soldiers may begin wearing the WOC insignia depends on which component of the Army they serve in. Those in the Active Army are allowed to wear it starting on the date of their entry into the resident Warrant Officer course, while Reserve Component Soldiers may wear it on the date that they were selected for the Warrant Officer program. Both Active Army and Reserve Component Warrant Officer candidates may wear the insignia until they have been appointed as a Warrant Office or are removed from Warrant Officer status.

Although the Warrant Officer insignia established in 1920 was abolished for wear by Warrant Officers in 2004, it may still be worn by those attending Warrant Officer Candidate once they reach their program’s senior phase up until they graduate the Warrant Officer Basic Course.
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