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History of the Parachutist Badge

BadgeDesigned during World War II by Captain William P. Yarborough (later to become Lieutenant General) of the 501st Parachute Battalion. What follows is a memorandum of record written by Captain Yarborough on April 22, 1941, which tells the story of the origin of the parachute badge.
"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 that 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 Generals office, 350 of the badges were procured from the Bailey, Banks and 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 Procurement. 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 an entire week, eight hours a day."
badge details 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 one-half years.
The Parachutist's Badge was formally approved on 10 March 1941. The senior and master parachutist's 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.

Description: 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.

Symbolism: 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 tests while assigned or attached to an airborne unit or the Airborne Department of the Infantry School; or participated in at least one combat parachute jump.

Specifications: Badge, Qualification Parachutist, Reg. Size, 1 each - 8455-01-112-9598- DLA100-85C4077.