History of the U.S.
Army Parachute Badge
The first Parachute
badge was designed during World War II by Captain (later
Lieutenant General) William P. Yarborough of the 501st Parachute
Battalion. A memorandum of record written by Captain Yarborough
on April 22, 1941, tells the story of the birth of the parachute
"On March 3, 1941, I was ordered to
Washington to report to the Adjutant General for temporary duty
in the Office of the Chief of Infantry. My mission was the
procurement of a suitable parachutist badge with would meet with
the approval both of the War Department and the Commanding
Officer of the 501st Parachute Battalion. Major Miley
(commander of the 501st), before my departure, gave me full
authority to approve any design that I considered acceptable,
and to do so in his name. The same authority was delegated
to me in the name of the Chief of Infantry.
"I drew the original sketch in the office
of Lieutenant Colonel Beuchner, G-3; a finished copy of my
original sketch was prepared in the office of the Quartermaster
General. Through the help of Mr. A.E. Dubois, in the
Quartermaster General's office, 350 of the badges were procured
from the Bailey, Banks & Biddle Company in Philadelphia and
were in the hands of the Commanding Officer of the 501st
Parachute Battalion by March 14, 1941. This is believed to
have been an all time speed record for War Department
||"I personally took the
correspondence relative to the badge's approval from one
office to another until the transaction was complete.
This operation took me one entire week, eight hours a
Image to left shows Copy of
original line drawing for the Parachutist Badge.
Captain Yarborough even
applied for a patent to protect the design from unauthorized
reproduction. On February 2, 1943, Patent #134963 was granted
for "A Parachutist's Badge" for a period of three and
The Parachutist Badge was
formally approved on 10 March 1941. The senior and master
parachutists badges were authorized by Headquarters, Department
of the Army in 1949 and were announced by Change 4, Army
Regulation 600-70, dated 24 January 1950.
An oxidized silver badge 1 13/64 inches in height and 1 1/2
inches in width, consisting of an open parachute on and over a
pair of stylized wings displayed and curving inward. A star and
wreath are added above the parachute canopy to indicate the
degree of qualification. A star above the canopy indicates a
Senior Parachutist; the star surrounded by a laurel wreath
indicates a Master Parachutist.
The wings suggest flight and, together with the open parachute,
symbolize individual proficiency and parachute qualifications.
|Basic Parachutist: Awarded to
any individual who has satisfactorily completed the
prescribed proficiency tests while assigned or attached
to an airborne unit or the Airborne Department of the
Infantry School; or participated in at least one combat
Participated in a minimum of 30 jumps to include 15
jumps with combat equipment; two night jumps, one of
which is as jumpmaster of a stick; two mass tactical
jumps which culminate in an airborne assault problem;
graduated from the Jumpmaster Course; and served on jump
status with an airborne unit or other organization
authorized parachutists for a total of at least 24
Participated in 65 jumps to include 25 jumps with combat
equipment; four night jumps, one of which is as a
jumpmaster of a stick; five mass tactical jumps which
culminate in an airborne assault problem with a unit
equivalent to a battalion or larger; separate
company/battery or organic staff of a regiment size or
larger; graduated from the Jumpmaster Course; and served
in jump status with an airborne unit or other
organization authorized parachutists for a total of at
least 36 months.
participation in combat jumps had been worn unofficially on
parachute wings during and after World War II. This practice did
not gain official sanction until after the 1983 invasion of
Grenada, Operation Urgent Fury. On October 25, 1983 over 500
Army Rangers from the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions made a
combat jump into Point Salines Airport, Grenada. The
addition of stars to the basic, senior and master parachute
wings for each combat jump were approved by Headquarters,
Department of the Army on December 14, 1983.
Small stars are superimposed
on the appropriate badge to indicate combat jumps as follows:
One Combat Jump
jump: A bronze star centered on the shroud
lines 3/16 inch below the canopy.
Two Combat Jumps
jumps: A bronze star on the base of each wing.
Three Combat Jumps
combat jumps: A bronze star on the base of each
wing and one star centered on the shroud lines 3/16 inch
below the canopy.
Four Combat Jumps
combat jumps: Two bronze stars on the base of
Five Combat Jumps
jumps: A gold star centered on the shroud lines
5/16 inch below the canopy.
Subdued badges are authorized in metal and cloth. The metal
badge is black. The cloth badge is of olive green base cloth
with the wings, parachute, star and wreath embroidered in black.
Dress miniature badges are authorized in the following sizes:
Master - 13/16 inch in height and 7/8 inch in width; Senior -
5/8 inch in height and 7/8 inch in width; Parachutist - 15/32
inch in height and 7/8 inch in width.
Insignia Descriptions provided by the U.S. Army
Institute of Heraldry.
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unofficial document and does not represent information
endorsed by the United States Government, the United
States Special Operations Command or the United States
Army Special Operations Command. However, most
information is derived from those sources and has been
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