Military Special Forces Patches History 1

Page 1 of 4
Information extracted from the book
by Barry Jason Stein

Used by permission

Special forces personnel began serving in the Republic of Vietnam in 1957.  During the early days of the Vietnam military build up, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy sent special forces units to South Vietnam in a special advisory capacity.  In September 1962, United States Special Forces, Vietnam (Provisional) was formed from members of the First Group, stationed on Okinawa, and the Fifth and Seventh Groups from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  The soldiers, operating in small units, created many patch designs, which were locally manufactured and, in many cases, handmade.  The first insignia, of course, was the beret flash, which combined the yellow from the first group, black from the Fifth, and red from the Seventh and incorporated them with a bend with bendlets that represented the flag of the Republic of Vietnam.  This flash, designed by Colonel George Morton, eventually became the insignia of the Fifth Special Forces Group.  Popular among the recon teams known as "Mike Force," which is the universal corruption of "Mobile Strike Force," was the use of state names, some of which appear here.  As state names were used up, names of snakes (for example, the Adder, Anaconda, and Cobra) became popular.  The motto "We Kill For Peace" was almost universally used by these units.  The collector will find that many of the MACV-SOG insignia can be found in hand-sewn and machine-sewn versions and in many variants.  This is due to the fact that many of the insignia were remade "in country" for new arrivals or new recon team members.  It is interesting to note that the Green Berets in many cases wore their patches inside the green beret.  It was placed there in keeping with the covert nature of their missions.  Besides recon teams, MACV-SOG also deployed exploitation teams or "hatchet teams" which were of platoon size and consisted of Americans and indigenous troops.  The most famous area of operations was along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

  Son Tay Raid Air Force Element patch

Son Tay Raid
Air Force Element

Worn from:  21 November 1970.

The patch was worn by air force troops who participated in the raid on the prison camp in North Vietnam.  The inscription "KITD/FOHS" refers to the fact that the air force support elements were not privy to much of the information about the raid; hence, "kept in the dark/fed only horse shit."  This statement is also alluded to in the design of a pair of worried eyes peeking out from under a mushroom.

5th Mike Force Cmd patch

5th Mike
Force Cmd

Worn from:  1966.

The tiger was a popular symbol for special forces' patches of the Vietnam era.

Co A 1St Bn 10Th SF patch
Co A 1st Bn
10th SF

Worn from:  1991.

This design of a pocket patch was created by a sergeant in the United States Army Tenth Special Forces.

10Th SF Europe patch
10th SF Europe

Worn from:  1970's.

Co B5th Bn 19th SFG patch
Co B 5thBn
19th SFG

Worn from:  1980's.

5th SFG Det A-242 patch
5th SFG
Det A-242

Worn from:  1966 - 1967.

"DAKPEK," the inscription on the insignia, was the location of a border surveillance camp in Kontum province.

Mbl Guerrilla Force 957 DetA-303 patch
Mbl Guerrilla
Force 957
Det A-303

Worn from:  1966.

This was the first patch worn by A-303 Mobile Guerrilla Forces at Ho Ngoc Tao.  The numbers nine, five, and seven add up to twenty-one, the black jack numbered operation.

SF LRRP Det A-405 patch
Det A-405

Worn from:  1965.

The LLDB were the Vietnamese special forces.  Vien Tham means "long range recon patrol."

RT Alabama patch
RT Alabama

Worn from:  1966 - 1969.

Many recon teams chose the names of states for their units.

RT Adder CCN patch
RT Adder

Worn from:  1969.

Many recon teams were names after  snakes.

RT Alaska CCN patch
RT Alaska

Worn from: 
1966 - 1969.

"We kill for peace" was a popular, ironic, special forces motto.