Interestingly, what the Air Force now designates as a Flight Cap was originally introduced by French troops to Soldiers and Marines in the American Expeditionary Forces stationed in France during World War I as a way to reduce the storage space taken up by Campaign Hats and Service Caps. These “overseas caps” could be folded for easy storage and ran no risk of being crushed or damaged when stowed away.

For the most part, the Army abandoned use of the overseas cap following the end of the First World War, but did begin issuing them to officers in the Army Air Corps, who wore it with piping reflecting their branch of service and an Air Corps insignia. With the outbreak of World War II, the same issues that led to the adoption of the overseas caps over two decades earlier were back in full force, but this time around the Army began issuing the overseas caps—now called garrison caps—with authorization for officers to wear rank insignia on the wearer’s left front.

When the Quartermaster Corps issued caps throughout the Army during World War II and the Korean War, it did so without any type of braid or piping reflecting branch of service; instead, enlisted men sewed on the appropriately colored cord-edge braid. The garrison cap was one of the items the Air Force brought with it from its parent service when it was established in 1947, but in the new service they became known as Flight Caps; today, their wear is authorized with service uniforms, the service dress uniform, flight-duty uniforms, and the uniforms worn by personnel in Air Force Food Services.

The Army, on the other hand, replaced its garrison cap with the black beret in 2001, a decision that was essentially reversed with the announced introduction of the Army Green Service Uniform in November 2018, which made a new Garrison Cap a clothing-bag issue item.

The Flight Cap for Enlisted Airmen is plain blue, with no colored braids or piping.

More Insignia and Devices for Enlisted Airmen

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