FLASH “Asian Gold” in color. It became the only official Army insignia to continuously commemorate our slain President, John F. Kennedy, when the Army added a black border to the insignia following the Commander in Chief’s assassination in 1963. Due to a close relationship between President Kennedy and the Special Forces (President Kennedy first authorized the beret), protocol was changed during the President’s funeral to permit a green beret to be placed on the grave site (normally, only done by each parent service). Sergeant Major Francis J. Ruddy, an original member of the 1st Special Forces Group, placed his beret on the Presidents’ grave.
CREST The dagger and crossed arrows reflect our descent from the 1st Special Service Force. The crossed arrows, adopted from Indian scouts, were the 1st SSF collar insignia; the dagger was a distinctive fighting knife manufactured only for the 1st SSF. “De Oppresso Liber” means “To Free the Oppressed”.
SHOULDER PATCH The shape recalls the arrowhead of the American Indians, referring to their stealth and skills in guerilla warfare. The teal blue color, in Army heraldry, originally meant “branch unassigned” (The Army did not create Special Forces as separate branch until February 1987). The fighting knife of the 1st SSF, with three gold lighting bolts to represent infiltration by air, land, and sea, complete the insignia. Captain John Frye of the 77th SF Group designed the insignia in the early 1950s. The original Airborne tab was blue and gold, matching the patch. The Army changed the tab to black and gold sometime around 1960.
CROSSED ARROWS The crossed arrows branch insignia worn by officers in Special Forces, as the shoulder patch, refer to the American Indian scouts’ stealth and skills in guerilla warfare.