It might come as a surprise that the Army’s most senior enlisted member and top Noncommissioned Officer (NCO), the Sergeant Major of the Army, is authorized to wear only subdued (black) pin-on metal insignia. Regulations dictate that only NCOs serving in the Culinary or Medical fields who may wear anodized the 22K gold-plated rank insignia that Specialists and below in all other ranks wear on the collars of service uniform shirts, the black all-weather coat, and the black windbreaker. In fact, Culinary and Medical NCOs can wear the gold pin-on insignia only with certain types of smocks.

The Sergeant Major of the Army may wear the black pin-on rank insignia with Utility uniforms, the Gore-Tex parka, and with the Patrol Cap and Sun Hat (as well as on the camouflage cover of the helmet). Pin-on rank insignia is worn centered on the hook-and-loop pads normally used to attach “Velcro” insignia; they may also be worn centered on the tab on the front of the parka where the cloth rank insignia slides into place.

It wasn’t until December 1967 that the U.S. Army first permitted the wear of black metal pin-on rank insignia on the collars of work uniforms. The change was announced Department of the Army Message 292128Z, which unfortunately is not readily available online for reference. We do know that the decision to allow black metal rank insignia was likely related to the threats posed by the use of brightly colored chevrons in a jungle-combat environment.

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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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