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History can teach us all some valuable lessons. History can inspire change and it can hopefully make us understand and respect other cultures and our own culture. History allows you to be present during significant events that you were unable to witness first hand. We are so lucky to have access to museums , books and documentaries that allows us to explore history and make new discoveries. Interestingly enough , custom patches can contribute to history as well. Let me explain further , custom emblems have been worn by solders in World War II and hippies from the 1960’s have worn patches on their bell bottoms jeans. We can defiantly learn a lot about history through custom patches.

Today, I would like to give you a History lesson about how custom insignias can be historical artifacts. I would like to share with you an amazing story. I hope this story will inspire the historian inside of you!

About a year ago , we had the privilege of assisting a retired Lieutenant Commander that was in the Navy. He wanted to recreate some of his custom patches that he bravely earned while serving in the Navy. We were so honored to be apart of this embroidered patch process , it was amazing that he was letting us in to such a private aspect of his past.

After he received his custom patches , we received a wonderful letter from him. This is what the letter said:

“Today I picked up my flight jacket from the tailor. Attached is a photo.

I can’t express how happy I am with this final product. To me, I am wearing a work of art representing my naval career. Thank you so much for being an integral part of the process of bringing my dream to reality.

For your information, two of the patches have been in my possession since the 1960’s and two were purchased recently from collectors.”
We were all so touched by his email but we had so many questions left to ask him. This man had lived such an extraordinary and honorable life , we wanted to know more about this amazing man. We decided to send him an email , with all of our curious questions. We were hoping he would reply back and we were so fortunate that he did reply. Here is what he said:

As you requested, I have taken photos of all the patches on my flight jacket and searched my memorabilia files for relevant photos.

They appear in chronological order in the attachments to this email.

I served on the USS Noa DD841 (photo #1) as a Midshipman in my senior year at the U.S. Naval Academy. For clarification, the first Noa, DD343, was a WWI destroyer. The photo #2 is me shooting a sun line with a sextant as part of my navigation training. The Noa was famous as the only surface ship to pick up an astronaut. We recovered John Glenn and his capsule at the end of his flight around the earth.

I was graduated from the Naval Academy in June, 1963 (In photo #3 I am on the far right).

My first ship as an Ensign was the USS Willis A Lee DL4 (photos #6,7 and 8). Please note that my fellow officer and I have the Willis A Lee patches on our jackets. This patch and the one from the USS Voge (#19) are my two original patches on my flight jacket.

In 1964, my second ship assignment was the USS Dahlgren DLG12 (#9 and #10) as her Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Officer. I had just been promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG). The sailors in photo #10 are Sonar Technicians on my ASW team.

I was  transferred in 1966 to the US Naval Destroyer School (photo #11) in Newport, Rhode Island. This is a six month intensive classroom and at sea training program to become qualified as a surface warfare officer trained for eventual command of a destroyer. It was similar to the more well-known submarine and flight schools and later (I was in one of the first classes) was renamed the Surface Warfare Officers Command School (photo #12). Graduates are entitled to wear the Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) pin depicted in photos #12 and #20. My father, a Chief Petty Officer, visited me to celebrate my graduation and my promotion to Lieutenant (LT); see photo#13.

Upon graduation in January 1967, I was given the opportunity to be part of the commissioning crew of the USS Talbot DEG4 (photos #14 & 15). At  the time, she was a state of the art anti-submarine and anti-aircraft ship with the mission of protecting aircraft carriers. Naval tradition awards the term “Plankowner” to all personnel who are members of a commissioning crew. In the days of wooden ships and iron men, each member of this crew was given a small plank from the deck of the ship. Hence, the name plankowner (photo #16). Photo #17 shows the stern of the ship with its Tartar missile launcher. The officers include the Executive officer on the extreme right, the Commanding Officer to his right, and me, the Operations Officer, in the far left of the picture. While protecting the carrier USS America during operations in the Caribbean, I rescued two pilots who survived a mid-air collision. The USS America’s pilots presented me with a leather flight jacket, which is why I put my patches on a flight jacket.

In mid-1968 I was transferred to Destroyer Escort Squadron 6, whose flagship was the USS Voge DE1047 (photos #18 & 19), as the Chief Staff Officer. Our squadron ships included the USS Talbot.

In 1969, I was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. I resigned my commission as an active line officer in the fall of 1969.

What an email! I was in awe and he even included pictures!!!!!

This is a wonderful example of history and custom patches. Patches always have a way of surprising me. When I think there is nothing left to say about embroidered emblems , we are introduced to an amazing gentleman with great stories and spectacular patches. Do you have custom patches that you would like Patches by The/Studio to recreate? It’s never too late to make history with a patch!