Worn by the Coast Guard’s Commissioned and Chief Warrant Officers to display insignia of rank (and specialty in the case of CWOs), shoulder boards are issued in two styles. Hard shoulder boards are worn on coats and jackets with shoulder loops, while Enhanced boards are designed for shirts, sweaters, and coats with epaulettes. Both styles are available in regular (Large) or three-quarter (Small) sizes to ensure Guardsmen with more smaller statures do not have boards that appear disproportionately large (or vice-versa).

The Warrant Officer specialty of Communications, represented by four lighting bolts, was established in 1970 from the Radio Electrician CWO specialty, which in turn had been created in 1924. But the four lightning bolts had been in use as an insignia since 1908, when they were used for Electricians in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service; they then served as the rating mark for First Class Electricians from 1916 to 1920.

From World War II until 2003, the lightning bolts served as the rating mark for Radio Technician, Radioman, and Telecommunications Specialist. But with the dissolution of the Communications CWO specialty in 2005, the iconic image was no longer utilized as Communications Chiefs moved into other specialties such as Information Systems Management or Operations Systems Specialist.

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Communications CWO Collar Device
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