Heritage & Reunion Patches

Two special types of reproductions with quasi-official status also exist, called Heritage and Reunion patches.  Heritage patches are reproductions of earlier patches that were worn by a unit, usually during its World War II era, whose wear on the uniform has been sanctioned, and often even encouraged, by commanders (for example on Fridays).  Heritage patches are ordered by the unit or a unit member.  Closely-related Reunion patches are similar creations, but differ from Heritage patches in that they have been ordered by a veterans' organization of unit alumni rather than by the an active unit.  Visually, there is nothing that differentiates a Heritage from a Reunion patch (unless the reunion patch has a tab added containing the reunion location and/or year).  In fact, both are often made to mirror, as closely as possible, an original unit patch (exact same size and colors), so the only clues one might have as to their recent origin are the differences in the weave and type of backing.  Because Heritage patches originated in the unit, I have included them in the Gallery (and have tried to remember to always label them "Heritage"). Reunion patches are omitted because, generally speaking, they aren't worn by active-duty members.

I should mention that if you're an individual who's considering having your old unit patch reproduced, be advised that official U.S. Air Force emblems are protected by federal law; reproduction for commercial use or for profit is not permitted without express permission from the individual unit commander.  And if you're thinking it's okay because your unit was inactivated years ago so there's no one to ask, remember that many units are reactivated later on with different designations (the old 381 SMW at McConnell AFB, which is now the 381 TRG at Vandenberg AFB, is but one example), and even when that's not the case, it could be at some future date because of the USAF's Lineage and Honors system.  For emblems from inactive units, the appropriate thing to do would be to ask permission from the Air Force Historical Research Agency, custodian of such emblems.

By the way, unless you need them in quantity, it's easier, and often less expensive, to obtain vintage originals from auction houses, patch dealers, and/or collectors than to have old patches remade.  Nevertheless, "Knock-off Kings" will continue to reproduce any patches for which they think there's a market, even when doing so is illegal.  As I said before, buyer beware.  If you've already used the Gallery for comparison purposes and are still unsure whether a patch you're considering is an original or a reproduction, I'll be happy to provide my opinion.  Just forward a scan to patches@afmissileers.org and I'll get back to you. 

Greg Ogletree


Mailing address:

PO Box 652

Johnstown, Colorado 80534 

The Association of Air Force Missileers is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 

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