Important: Be aware that cancellation requests for bullion shoulder straps must be made within 24 hours of placing an order because of the substantial time investment required for the custom hand embroidery process.

Per Department of the Army Pamphlet 670-1, Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, shoulder straps for Commissioned and Warrant Officers in the Signal Corps are manufactured in two sizes, with the larger being worn by male officers (although it is just a half-inch longer than the small size and the same width). Both feature an orange background (the first-named branch color of the Signal Corps) with a white interior border. The straps feature a gold-colored exterior border and the rank insignia of the wearer.

The Signal Corps was a relatively small and exclusive branch for several decades after its establishment through an act of Congress in 1863, but somehow acquired functions and tasks that at first blush seem only peripherally related to the concept of signal communications. In 1870, for instance, it was given the job of establishing a national weather service; in 1907 it was put in charge of the Army’s acquisition and deployment the cutting-edge technology of aeroplanes; and shortly after the start of World War II it began running a movie studio.

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During the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Colonel Melvin Gillette, who commanded the Signal Corps Training Film Production Laboratory, had urged the Army to acquire a shuttered movie studio owned by Paramount Pictures that was located in Astoria, Queens in New York City. Gillette and others were convinced of the need for a facility that could produce educational and information films to expedite the training of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, as well as to product documentaries and other footage to keep the public informed of the war effort. Acquired in late 1942, the studio was originally designated as the Signal Corps Photographic Center; “Pictorial” subsequently replaced “Photographic,” and eventually it became known as the Army Pictorial Center.

Although Paramount had given up production at the studio during the Depression, it was not because the facility was second-rate—far from it. Its main stage could serve as the largest sound stage on the east coast, and numerous smaller stages meant filming on multiple projects could be performed simultaneously. Additional features included office space for producers and writers, screening rooms to review rushes, animation departments, film laboratory—everything you would expect to find at any movie studio of the time. Before the war was over, more than 2500 films had been produced at the studio.

The Army Pictorial Center served as the home for several figures from the entertainment industry—some already well-known when they joined the Army, some who used their time at the studio to hone skills that would make them famous in later years. It was at this studio that Academy-Award-winning director Frank Capra made the seven documentaries that comprised the acclaimed Why We Fight series. Movie producer Darryl F. Zanuck, commissioned as a Colonel in the Signal Corps, was originally stationed at the studio in Queens, but after insisting  on a “riskier” assignment he was sent to work with the British Army’s film unit in London. And Oscar-winning director-actor John Huston earned a Legion of Merit award for his work while in the Signal Corps (although the documentaries he made while serving in the Corps were either heavily edited or simply not released because they did not convey an appropriate wartime message).

Other famous artists who worked at the Center included Theodore Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss, who served as head of the animation Department and worked alongside Looney Tunes’ legends Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng on the “Private Snafu” series; Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee; and actor Tony Randall, most famous for his persnickety character Felix Unger on the hit TV show The Odd Couple.

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