New Section Infantry Mission, Heraldry & Awards

Posted on: November 15th, 2013 by Will Rodriguez 37 Comments

Just posted!  Our latest reference section, Infantry Mission, Heraldry & Awards is loaded with tons of info. 

The mission of the Infantry is pretty straight forward  but there’s tons of history to appreciate about the Infantry’s heraldry and awards.  Heraldry is the system by which coats of arms and other armorial bearings are devised, described, and regulated.

Some interesting history and trivia to be learned is the musket used in today’s Infantry insignia isn’t the Brown Bess and for a while the Infantry’s insignia wasn’t crossed muskets.  The Infantry’s color wasn’t always “Infantry Blue”.   Many know how the CIB is earned but few know how a Guadalcanal Medal of Honor awardee inspired its creation. 

The CIB is likely the most cherished and prestigious award among Infantrymen.  I personally hold it equal to anything I was ever awarded in over two decades of service.  Of the 1.5 mil vets who served in Iraq a little more than 40k CIBs were awarded just to give an idea of while being the largest branch the Infantry remains a minority on the battlefield.

For those interested in any US Infantry Regiment, BDE or Division history, campaign participation, unit decorations and the symbolism behind unit crests I’ve included links to the official Army heraldry center for you to research to your heart’s content.

There are also sections on the blue Infantry cord every Army Infantryman earns after completing his basic training.  The Infantry is the only branch in the Army whose every member is awarded a fourragere.    Finally, I believe GRUNTSandCo has the most detailed summary of the Expert Infantryman’s Badge test.  A test that depending on circumstances, can have an attrition rate equal to the toughest schools (I was party to one iteration where none of 600 light infantrymen in the light infantry craze of the mid 80’s earned the award).

So enjoy.  I look forward to any comments, questions or suggestions to improve it.   

Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • Txazz

    What a great build for this website.  Excellent all the way.  It shouldn’t be long before there will be heavy treadmarks in this road, the road to Grunts and co.  One doesn’t fine this kind of content elsewhere on the net.

  • ArcticWarrior

    Great stuff Major, especially enjoyed the Lineage and Honors link.
    I have seen some rough EIB conditions, but to have 600 bolo? …. do tell

  • It was a bastard of a test. 72 tasks.100% pass requirement w/only two retests. The following year was better.
    12 of 600 passed in the brigade. 2% pass rate. I earned my then. Did the road march, day & night land nav all on the last day. Blister city. CSM almost made me cry when he jerked my chain saying I bolo’d (I passed).
    BDE Cdr slammed the badge so hard into my chest (blood EIB), he bent it. Gave me one of my most memorable complements. “I knew you were good but not this good!”
    It was a different Army where CIBs were rare! So EIBs had to have insane standards.

  • ArcticWarrior

    majrod LOL… the good old blood badge. My toes are still twisted from one particular road march that seemed downhill in the rain the entire time, some toe nails fell off and were dangling in my socks. Your test seems like a ballcrusher.
    I remember some Panthers had CIBs from Panama, but aside from those few and some older NCOs from the RVN era nobody had a CIB, soon enough everyone had them.
    Had a conversation with a kid who just came on the job was with the 4th ID, multiple deployments etc. Were talking about the tab, he bemoaned having to go to RGR school with the mindset that he had been in the grinder so long what was the point. Told me lots of dudes shared that sentiment as Pvts and Jr Enlisted with CIBs that EIBs and Tabs didn’t mean much.

  • What’s old is new. Back in the day many NCOs didn’t want to go to ranger school because they were NCOs now. When you need an excuse any will do. As promotions tighten up they’ll reassess.
    JUST spoke to a CSM and Ranger School had only be doing Opords in bays because that’s what was happening down range. Now they are going back to red lens flashlights under a poncho like the “old” days.
    Same will be seen with EIBs & CIBs. It was also not uncommon for WWII vets to opine that Korea was at times a much tougher experience. There’s always a danger of resting on one’s laurels.

  • ArcticWarrior

    majrod Couldn’t agree more.
    Was rolling through the Heraldry link. 505th pretty much no turbulence, straight 82d
    Now the 501st. Everyone usually associates the 501st with the 101st, as that’s where they earned there reputation. I saw the 501st go from 6th ID to 172d SIB (  501st deployed 2003 as part of 1st BCT 10th MD) to 4th ABCT, 25th ID- Under USARAK control – ( Not counting LRSD, bounced between Cav -MI-and back to Cav ) What exactly is the formula for reflagging?
    Is 506th still being deactivated?

  • ArcticWarrior

    I found this link to be especially informative –

  • ArcticWarrior majrod when the Army does a reorganization and decides what units to keep and which to inactivate no doubt politics is a factor as to who has a “lobby” but there are two primary criteria.  
    One is longevity and second is distinguished history.  That’s why you’ll never see the Old Guard  3rd Inf Reg’t which is the ONLY unit allowed to march in state parades with fixed bayonets (because of bayonet charge in the Mexican American War) next to the 502nd with four presidential unit citations.   
    Brigades are really nothing more than HQ’s and regiments have been assigned them willy nilly since we reactivated prigades after Korea.
    Divisions follow the same approach as regiments.
    The 506th is fighting to keep a BN active.  I’m sure Band of Brothers fame helps their case.

  • ArcticWarrior

    majrod ArcticWarrior 502 was in the grinder at Karbala….
    Figured politics played into it with reflagging.

  • ArcticWarrior majrod   Yep, that’s why the 101st came off jump status even though it has the more distinguished history.

  • ArcticWarrior  What specifically did you find useful?

  • ArcticWarrior

    majrod ArcticWarrior Pretty much all of it, but especially Ch 6 and 7. We tend to forget how the Continental Army slowly evolved into a professional fighting force, of course with help from Europe. Lafayette coming over as an unpaid advisor. Pulaski died for the cause. Its good stuff. The old organizational charts are interesting, some things have changed radically, others look the same.
    Home in NYC I used to wonder about all the foreign names for avenues etc , wasn’t until later I learned the importance of a lot of those guys.
    That link is a good review of what the Continental Army was.

  • ArcticWarrior

    majrod ArcticWarrior I see where your heart lies ……
    The 501st’s Division association is with the 101st and the 505th bleeds All American so Im torn.
    Maybe an article on how the 101st came off jump status and morphed into Air Assault. No Air Assault is common everywhere but back in the day that was heady stuff, radical stuff. The Pathfinders and the LRSD kept the Airborne pulse barely beating for the 101st, but still beating.

  • YankeePapa

    “…every member is awarded a fourragere…”
    …For those not familiar with the Marine Corps, two regiments, the 5th and the 6th wear the French Fourragere.  The award was made to the Marines of those two regiments who served (along side two veteran Army regiments in the 2nd Division) at the Belleau Wood battle in WWI.  Even when tranferred the individuals continued to wear it.  But the award was also to the units themselves… so it is worn by the lads in those regiments today.
    …Other regiments sometimes tried to make fun of the fourragere… referring to the tip as a “Pogey bait whistle…”  (Pogey is a girl… pogey bait is candy…)  Sometimes in WWII Marines from other regiments would advise the local girls that it was a “VD braid…”  More than a few lost teeth over that comment…


  • YankeePapa

    majrod ArcticWarrior,

    …There are units in the American military that trade annual messages with foreign unit who were with them at the sharp end.  The Marine Corps exchanges annual greetings with a British regiment that was by their side in the Boxer Rebellion.  
    …T.R. Feherenbach in writing about Korea, spoke about an American tank unit that helped a British infantry unit in extremis… Every year the Brits would send a message to the unit.  The Pentagon could only file the message.  The unit had been disbanded.  

    ….In later years many British regiments have been combined… in theory carrying on the legacy of both units.  Unfortunately, sometimes the units loathed each other for centuries before the melding.  
    …U.S. Army Reserve battalion at Fort Lawton, Washington in the early 1970s… Pretty small… mostly drill sergeants… In formation companies carried two guidons… one for their own unit (infantry guidon) and one artillery guidon relating to some other unit… Other than the guidon you would have had to have looked it up to find out anything about the unit…

  • ArcticWarrior

    YankeePapa majrod ArcticWarrior Battle streamers and guidons that’s an article right there.

  • YankeePapa

    …Website mentions Army Infantry borrowing from the European tradition… hunting horn on uniform caps. 
    … Re the Marine Corps… “…By the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865), a hunting
    horn with a Germanic letter ‘M’ (for Marine) replaced earlier
    devices. Full dress insignia used a hunting horn attached to
    this U.S. shield with a laurel wreath, mounted separately underneath.”

  • 5000area375

    I lucked out and passed the EIB on my first time through in 88. It actual is more coveted by me than my CIB. Even though my CIB was earned by being under fire the EIB Challenged and tested me. I may have felt different if the Iraqis had put up a good fight and fought like men.
    Great article and great historical details.

  • 5000area375   What unit were you with?  My experience was very different.

  • 5000area375

    For my EIB I was with B co. 3rd Ranger Batt. For my CIB I was with HHC 2/18 INF. The oddly one of the easiest parts of EIB gave me trouble. The disassemble, reassemble the M16A2 and perform a function check after the 12 miler. The road march was the easy part was the road march but it was cold and my hands were so numb they had very limited dexterity.
    I am proud of both the EIB was just rougher. The training we received and lack of fight in the Iraqi Republican Guard Commando Brigade made the actual fights easier than training. I was surprised by their lack of fight especially considering there perimeter has very few bomb craters. So that wasn’t what broke them.
    I got a bad ass camo jump suit they wanted for the infantry museum that I should have donated since it is in a chest. It has a barb wire chocolate chip pattern with the red shoulder boards and star of a 2nd Lt. the commando brigade patch and the Red triangle of the Republican guard and a red t-shirt that oddly says Iraqi commando in English with the Commando insignia.

  • 5000area375

    I seem to remember which could be wrong that you needed a score of 85% on the SQT for your skill level to qualify to test for the EIB. Of course that could have just been the minimum we were told was the platoon standard and had nothing to do with the EIB. Gotta forgive me has been a while.

  • ArcticWarrior

    YankeePapa Seems like we always borrowed heavily from our European brethren, I was always under the impression our CIB was modeled after the one the SS awarded to troops.

  • ArcticWarrior

    5000area375 If 100 passed out 600 it was considered an easy one.

  • 5000area375

    I think you misunderstood. We didn’t have a ton of passes. The SQT was not part of the test. The 85% score was for the SQT Skill Qualification test. If I remember you needed a minimum score of 85% to just qualify to participate in the EIB. But that requirement maybe me being mistaken and the. 85% Minimum SQT could have been a platoon standard.

  • ArcticWarrior

    5000area375 No I was just making a random comment. If you came from a test that scored too many passes dudes were like “Oh man, your stations were cake on that test”
    That SQT sounds about right

  • YankeePapa

    ArcticWarrior YankeePapa,
    ” The design inspiration of the U.S. Army’s Combat Infantryman Badge derives from two infantry combat service recognition decorations: the (Infanterie Sturmabzeichen), featuring a enclosed in an, and the (Nahkampfspange).

  • YankeePapa

    …For those who have not seen the article on the Ethiopian battalions in the Korean war… The Ethiopians developed a very attractive CIB based on the American model with African touches… Picture of it included in article…

  • 5000area375

    How is the army dealing with Gulf 1, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Gulf 2 CIB awards? I think the Panama and Gulf 1 and Panama and Grenada vets were denied stars on the CIBs.
    The wall in the museum that had all the list of the two star CIB holders sent chills down my spine as a young Ranger.

  • 5000area375

    Very nice looking. I love the look of the CIB.

  • 5000area375 CIB’s are now issued by time period and not location.  It was that way in WWII where there are actually some Army WWII grunts that fought in both the Pacific & ETO.
    As I understand Grenada, Panama, DS & Somalia are one period. (2 March 1961 – 10 March 1995, crappy deal I think).
    There are 325 two star (three war) awardees.

  • YankeePapa ArcticWarrior That’s interesting stuff.  I have no doubt we borrowed from the Germans but have never seen it documented.
    As an aside I have always liked he German paratrooper badge (sans swastika).

  • 5000area375

    I can remember standing before that wall with the list of names and feeling awe. I think I would still feel it.
    The discussion reminds me of my other EIB trials. The IMT lane had one of our snipers and he was a dream crusher. He stopped more than his share of people. Then the call for and adjust fire was a ball buster. It really was a test.

  • BSchroe

    I know a guy retired Army Sgt Major , fought in Korea with 7th ID. He was in division recon , he did not receive CIB .
    The blue infantry cord fourregare. When was that introduced ? Great idea.

  • Luddite4Change


    Politics does play a role, but its a pretty formalized process during a reorg.  As I remember from the 90’s, each unit get a point for each year of active service and another point for each streamer on the unit colors (campaign streamers and unit awards).  As the current numbered battalions (i.e. 2/5th Cav, 2/4th INF) are historically linked to the companies in the original regiments (B troop/ company 5th Cavalry and B company 4th Infantry) we tend to end up with some oddities like there being a 5th Battalion 20th Infantry and no 1st to 4th Battalions.

  • roxie22

    This reference section is a treasure trove of information!  

    Most interesting to me was to learn the meaning of the CIB.  My grandad served 2.5 years in Korea and he never did go through any of his medals, uniform, pictures, etc. from the Korean War until very late in his life.  When he did decide to go through these things I remember helping him put them in a shadow box and him saying “this is the one I’m most proud of…” when he was holding up – what I now know is – the CIB.

    He didn’t say the name of it or even what it was for and I was too afraid to ask because I had grown up my whole life with my grandmother telling the grand kids to never ask anything about his service or the war.  My own mother (his daughter) said she was never allowed to ask him anything about it either!  So I might never have know what that meant if I hadn’t come across this reference section.

    I was fortunate enough to get his shadow box when he died 3 years ago – so now I have it next to my fire place in the living room and I really enjoy knowing a bit more about a man I loved so much and spent so much time with for 27 years!  Now I know why that was the award he was most proud of!

  • YankeePapa

    …On a loosely affiliated site I posted the following:
    …My father was the first American liaison officer to the Ethiopian battalion in Korea during the Korean War.  I believe that he had a hand in helping create the Ethiopian equivalent to the American CIB…  If you pull up the article and look through the pictures, you will see a photo of one of these… American design, but definite African influences…

  • roxie22 I’m glad the site could do that for you.  It’s very nice to know.