Cavalry Not Horsing Around with Mismanufactured Patches. Can you Spot the Error?

Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division, stand in formation
Soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, stand in formation during a combat patch ceremony July 4, 2011. (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Joe Armas)

You probably need a jeweler's eye to notice what is wrong with the 1st Cavalry Division’s current patch, but troopers at Fort Hood are walking around with patches whose manufacturer stuck a little too closely to the straight and narrow path.

On Tuesday, U.S. Army WTF! Moments, a social media page that covers Army culture, posted a memo from a command sergeant major directing that the current 1st Cavalry patch worn by troops need to be replaced. The force’s largest patch, which often extends over the velcro on the uniform, needed a small correction. Patches that have been issued recently have a straight line instead of the very subtle official curve.

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The memo attached a photo of the authorized "curved" patch, where you may have to squint to notice the slight bowing of the line going on top of the patch and over the horse's head, forming the outline of the insignia. The curved patch was compared to the unauthorized "flat" patch, where the top is straight.

Maj. Terez Little, a spokesperson for the 1st Cavalry, told the flat patch was a manufacturing error which was noticed recently. It’s unclear how many misprints were made or distributed, but the error has been ongoing for at least a few months. A plan has been put in place to get the correct patch onto soldier’s uniforms, and cavalry troopers will not have to pay out of pocket for the correct patch.

“Earlier this year, we found that the 1st Cavalry Division patch produced by one of the businesses, and sold across the Army, was not manufactured in accordance with the US Army Institute of Heraldry, which maintains the standards for unit insignia and patches,” Little said in a statement to “The division has identified the fault, and the manufacturer has already acknowledged the mistake and is correcting the problem.”

A diagram of the 1st Cavalry Division's patch.

The Army Institute of Heraldry is the force’s authority on symbols, unit patches and displays.

Formed in 1921, the 1st Cav celebrates its centennial birthday in September.

“As our Veterans return to Fort Hood, we want to ensure we honor their history, service and sacrifice with the proper patch that is in accordance with the Institute of Heraldry,” Little said.

The 1st Cav patch was heavily featured in the 2002 film, “We Were Soldiers,” which starred Mel Gibson and depicted the Battle of la Drang, a legendary 1st Cav fight, and the first major U.S. battle of the Vietnam War.

It is unclear how common patch misprints are, but they can be considered by some to be collector’s items. As of Wednesday, misprints of the 3rd Infantry Division patch are being sold on ebay. The colors on it are reversed.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the description of the problem with the patch.

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

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