Although the Signal Corps was made a branch of the United States Army through an act of Congress on 3 March 1863, the Corps points to 21 June 1860 as its official birthday. It was on that day that Congress issued the appointment of a single Signal Officer in the Army, which was followed six days later by a War Department order declaring “Assistant Surgeon Albert J. Meyer to be Signal Officer, with the rank of Major, June 27, 1860, to fill an original vacancy.”

Besides being the only branch of the U.S. Army that was established with only one person serving in it, the Signal Corps is also the branch of Adolphus Greely, a one-time Chief Signal Officer of the Army and the only person to win the Medal of Honor for a “life of splendid public service” rather than a single act of bravery or courage above and beyond the call of duty.

The Signal Corps Regimental Distinctive Insignia, referred to by many as a “unit crest,” was born out of an 1865 meeting of top officers in the Signal Corps that included Albert Meyer. The motto of “Pro Patria Vigilan,” Latin for “Watchful for the Country, was taken from the insignia of the Signal School. Beneath the motto is a gold eagle clutching a Signal flag with a white square on a red field, one of just two flags used in Meyer’s “wig-wag” system of flag communications (the other flag has a white background and red square). A battle star in the center of the laurel wreath stands both for the work of Signal Corps units in combat operations and the inextricable bond between Signal Corps personnel and combined arms units.

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