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Soldiers of the 173d Airborne Brigade

Soldiers of the 173d Airborne Brigade use Lineage and Honors information to verify the Campaign and Decoration Streamers for the Unit Colors. (Photograph posted courtesy of Stephen Harding, Soldiers magazine.)

Return to Main Force Structure & Unit History Page

Unit Award Permanent Orders

After approval and review, U.S. Army unit awards are officially confirmed in Department of the Army General Orders, but these are infrequently published for a limited audience and usually omit the award citations to save space.

With the permission of the Awards and Decorations Branch, U.S. Army Human Resources Command (HRC), and as a courtesy to Army units, Soldiers, and veterans, CMH ONLINE is posting the HRC permanent orders which are usually issued to the decorated unit along with its decoration streamer, certificate and citation for newly authorized awards (not campaign credit). The orders contain in one document the key information on the type of award, the decorated unit(s), the recognized period of service, and the official citation summarizing the reason for the award. Orders will be posted as they are received from HRC, who remains responsible for their content.

Go To War On Terrorism (WOT) Awards

Go To Retroactive Awards

Go To Gulf War Valorous Unit Awards

Studies and Papers
Army Flag and 

Organizational History
A "How To" Guide for Unit Historians

Cover, Organizational History

The Combat Arms Regimental System: Questions and Answers
NOTE: The Combat Arms Regimental System has been replaced by the United States Army Regimental System. This study was prepared in 1978 and much of the information included has been superseded. The historical information on the decisions leading to the initial implementation of the Regimental System, however, remains valid.

Determination of Official Army Campaigns
Information Paper on how official named campaigns have been determined for display on the Army flag and individual unit flags.

Unique Recognition for Selected Units
Information Paper on special recognition granted to selected units

"Loss" of Colors
Fact Sheet on allegations pertaining to the loss of unit flags

Special Designations

An official Special Designation is a "nickname granted to a military organization" which has been authorized by the Center of Military History and recognized through a certificate signed by the Chief of Military History. Once approved, these designations may only be used by the officially recognized unit.

Front, 28th Combat Support Hospital Unit Coin
Back, 28th Combat Support Hospital Unit Coin
The unit coin for the 28th Combat Support Hospital (pictured above) prominently features its special designation CHINA DRAGONS. The designation stems from the hospital's service as portable surgical hospital in China during World War II, which is symbolized on its distinctive unit insignia by a dragon.

A list of the officially approved Special Designations is follows. Two sets of tables are included, one showing the designations arranged by unit number (with the special designations appearing in the right column) and the other listing displays the special designations alphabetically (with unit's currently numerical designation appearing to the right).

By Unit Number
By Special Designation

Special Designations appear on the list in capital letters. Unofficial designations are also not included. For example, the 1st Cavalry often uses "Black Hawk," but officially adopted 1st REGIMENT OF DRAGOONS. The 4th Armored Division is sometimes called the "Breakthrough Division, but the division never officially pursued the designation, preferring to be "known by its deeds alone."

Requesting a Special Designation

In most cases, only units authorized an organizational color, distinguishing flag, or guidon (excluding organic elements of color-bearing organizations) are entitled to special designations. Units wishing official recognition of special designations need to send written requests on unit letterhead to the Commander, U.S. Army Center of Military History, ATTN: AAMH-FPO, 102 4TH AVE BLDG 35, FORT MCNAIR DC 20319-5060. Please include the reason for your selection with a brief statement of why the designation has meaning to the unit. Once approved, a certificate signed by the Chief of Military History, attesting to your unit's selection will be forwarded upon completion. Special designations will also appear on any new Lineage and Honors Certificates issued to unit, and will be added to the listing of official special designations posted on CMH ONLINE.

NOTE: There is often confusion between a motto and a special designation, but the former is a heraldic item controlled by The Institute of Heraldry, while the latter is usually a unit "nickname." For example, the 3d Infantry's special designation as THE OLD GUARD, stems from General Winfield Scott's description of the unit as The Old Guard of the Army. The regiment's motto is NOLI ME TANGERE (Do Not Touch Me). The intent of the special designation program was not to duplicate an existing motto, but to provide units with another opportunity to express a direct association "with some person, place, thing, event, or function having particular significance to the unit [see Chapter 6, AR 870-5]." In short, it is a way in which unit personnel and others can refer to the unit.

Historical Resources

The Army of the United States
Historical sketches of the Army branches and its regiments through the 1880's

Branch Birthdays

Army Division Birthdays/Unit Days

Banner, Combat Chronicles of U.S. Army 
          Divisions in WWII
Summaries of Divisional Activities in WWII

Order of Battle for U.S. Army Divisions in World War II European Theater of Operations
prepared by the ETO Historical Office, December 1945

Charts listing the Organic Elements of U.S. Army Divisions in World War II

Designations of World War II Divisions as of 1 October 1997

TC 3-21.5 Drill and Ceremonies, January 2012 (23MB PDF)
This link is provided as a service to units seeking information on conducting activation, inactivation, and other unit ceremonies. Despite the use of the term "deactivation" when describing some ceremonies in the FM, the official Army term is "inactivation." Bombs are deactivated, units are inactivated.

War Department General Orders Number 24, 4 March 1947
Provides time and geographic criteria for World War II campaigns

Department of the Army General Orders Number 43, 19 December 1950 [11mb PDF]
Provides a list of U.S. Army units to which decorations were awarded by cobelligerent foreign governments during World War II, together with their accompanying citations.

WWII Campaign Brochures

Korean War Campaign Brochures

Troopships of WWII - [ 45mb pdf ]

Army Information Digest, September 1963. Special edition featuring United States Army heritage and campaigns - [ 6mb pdf ]

Regulatory Authorities

Army Regulation 220-90: Army Bands

Army Regulation 600-8-22: Military Awards

Army Regulation 600-82: The U.S. Army Regimental System

Army Regulation 670-1: Uniforms and Insignia:
Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia

NB:The Force Structure and Unit History Branch does not answer questions concerning the decorations individuals are entitled to wear on their uniforms. Information on which unit decorations are authorized for permanent and temporary wear is contained in Chapter 29, AR 670-1. Information may also be available from your unit or installation personnel (G1/S1) office, or from the Uniform Policy Office within HQDA's Deputy Chief of Staff, G1.

Army Regulation 840-10: Heraldic Activities: Flags, Guidons, Streamers, Tabards, and Automobile and Aircraft Plates

Army Regulation 870-5: Military History: Responsibilities, Policies, and Procedures

National Guard Regulation 870-5: Historical Activities: Army National Guard Lineage and Honors

War Department Circular 89, 4 March 1920: Rules for Tracing History of Units.