The 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment
WWII Patches, Insignia, and Decorations

July 1942-November 1945


This is the original WWII design for the Currahee Distinctive Unit Insignia [in the form of a 60+ year-old pin that belonged to CPL Gilbert D. Shaw, HQ (LMG Platoon), 2nd BN, 506th PIR, 1942-1945].

Symbolism: The blue field of the Shield is for the Infantry, the 506th's arm of service. The thunderbolt indicates the regiment's particular threat and technique of attack: striking with speed, power, and surprise from the sky. Six parachutes represent the fact that the 506th was the sixth parachute regiment constituted in the U.S. Army. The green silhouette represents Currahee Mountain, the site of the regiment's activation at Camp Toccoa, GA, and symbolizes the strength, independence, and ability to stand alone for which paratroops are renowned. Currahee is the Regiment Motto and is the American aboriginal Cherokee Indian equivalent for "Stands Alone." NOTE that the official design for the Coat of Arms and Distinctive Insignia of the 506th Infantry Regiment that were adopted on December 27, 1951 is a "mirror image" of the original shield design.
ParaDice Pocket Patch

The 506th PIR Para-Dice (Pair-O-Dice) Pocket Patch design is attributed to William R. (Bill) Donnan and/or Harold Donaghe (both from B Co, 1st BN, 506th PIR), who created it at Camp Toccoa, GA in the summer of 1942. Joseph E. (Joe) Witzerman (HQ, 2nd BN, 506th PIR) did the art work. Joe was later transferred to a special Army artist unit. PFC William R. Donnan was transferred out of the 506th PIR in June 1944, and on July 15, 1944, was in a Detachment of Patients honorably discharged at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, DC.

The design consists of a diving eagle in front of a parachute canopy and a pair of dice, showing a "5" and a "6" and connected with a large black "0" , signifying the 506 attacking from the sky. The Para-Dice patch was approved on April 20, 1943 and was worn on the left jacket pocket. However, since this was a regimental insignia, it was not an authorized patch once the 506th PIR was attached to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC, on June 1, 1943.

Cap Patches

PIR Felt Cap Patch The Parachute Infantry Felt Cap Patch was worn 1941-43. However, so many companies (both in the U.S. and in England) made these patches for the U.S. Army that the background color ranged from a pale blue for the early patches to the darker blue shown here. Officers wore their rank insignia on this cap patch.
Officer Airborne Cap Patch

In the spring of 1943, an Airborne cap patch combining the parachute and the glider was adopted. This was the first part of a process to remove the distinction between those who glided into combat and those who jumped into combat, designating both glidermen and jumpers as "Airborne."

The top Airborne cap patch design was worn by the officers; the bottom design was worn by enlisted men.

Enlisted Airborne Cap Patch

Shoulder Patches

GHQ Reserve Shoulder Patch
The General Headquarters Reserve patch was worn by the 506th troopers during their training at Camp Toccoa, GA, and Fort Benning, GA. This was a patch worn by units who were not part of divisional organizations.

Airborne Command Shoulder Patch
The Airborne Command patch was worn by the 506th soldiers after they had qualified as parachutists and the 506th had moved to Camp Mackall, NC, in 1943. This also was a patch worn by units who were not part of divisional organizations.

Screaming Eagle Shoulder Patch
The Screaming Eagle patch was worn after the 506th was attached to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC, in 1943.

1st Allied Airborne Army Patch
The First Allied Airborne Army was activated on August 2, 1944 after the lessons of Sicily and Normandy showed that a closer relationship was needed between allied airborne forces, troop carrier units and other land, sea or air assets. Commanded by Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton, it consisted of the U. S. XVIII Airborne Corps (17th, 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions), all British airborne forces (1st and 6th Airborne Divisions and the Polish 1st Parachute Brigade), IX Troop Carrier Command (US) and Royal Air Force troop carrier units as required by the command. The First Allied Airborne Army patch was authorized to be worn on the right shoulder, in contrast to the above 3 shoulder patches, which were worn on the left shoulder of a uniform.

Badges and Oval

Parachutist Badge The Parachutist Badge was formally approved on 10 March 1941. The Basic Parachutist Badge was awarded to any individual who satisfactorily completed the prescribed proficiency tests while assigned or attached to an airborne unit or who participated in at least one combat parachute jump.
Symbolism: The wings suggest flight and, together with the open parachute, symbolize individual proficiency and parachute qualifications.

506th Infantry Oval
The 506th Infantry Regiment Oval was worn behind the Parachutist Badge.

Combat Infantryman Badge
The Combat Infantryman Badge was established by the War Department on 27 October 1943. It was designed to enhance morale and the prestige of the Infantry. To receive a CIB, a soldier must have been assigned to any infantry unit during such time as the unit is engaged in active ground combat.

Combat Medical Badge
The Combat Medical Badge was established on 1 March 1945 by the War Department. The CMB was to recognize medical aidmen who shared the same hazards and hardships of ground combat on a daily basis with the infantry soldier.

Decorations and Medals

EAME Ribbon w/Arrowhead and Bronze Stars
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal Ribbon, with four Bronze Service Stars for participation in four campaigns: Normandy, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe. Two Bronze Service Arrowheads (to indicate participation in a combat parachute jump) were awarded, one for Normandy and one for Rhineland. However only one Arrowhead may be worn on a service ribbon.
Symbolism: the red, white, and blue stripes in the center represent the United States. The wide green stripes flanking the center stripes represent the green fields of Europe. The thin green, white, and red stripes on the wearer's right represent Italy. The thin black and white stripes to the wearer's left represent Germany. The brown stripes that edge each end of the ribbon represent the sands of the African desert.

Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster
Two Presidential Unit Citations (Army), one with streamer embroidered NORMANDY for participation in the D-Day assault in Normandy and one with streamer embroidered BASTOGNE for the heroic defense of Bastogne. This decoration is worn on the right chest area of the uniform. The second award of this citation is denoted by a bronze oak leaf cluster. (Note that the Presidential Unit Citation was established by Executive Order in February 1942 as the Distinguished Unit Badge. The name was changed in 1966 to the Presidential Unit Citation. This award recognized the same degree of combat heroism by a unit as the Distinguished Service Cross does for an individual.)

French Croix de Guerre with Palm
French Croix de Guerre with Palm, World War II, streamer embroidered NORMANDY, awarded for greatly contributing to the first phase of the liberation of France. According to the June 18, 1947, 101st Airborne Division Association newsletter, this was an award to the 101st Airborne Division as a unit, and it carried a ceremonial decoration of the colors of the 101st. Individuals were not authorized to wear the insignia of this award. To do so would require individual citation.

Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 with Palm
Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 with Palm, streamer embroidered BASTOGNE, cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action at Bastogne. The Croix de Guerre may be awarded at different levels of command. The level of the awarding command determines the appurtenance worn on the ribbon. A bronze palm indicates it was awarded at the Army level of command. This decoration is worn on the left chest area of the uniform, and is placed after the decorations for any US awards.

Belgian Fourragére 1940
Belgian Fourragére 1940, cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action in France and Belgium The Belgian Fourragére may be awarded by the Belgian Government if a unit was cited twice in the order of the day. Award of the Fourragére was not automatic and required a specific decree of the Belgian Government.

Netherlands Orange Lanyard
Each member of the personnel of the 101st Airborne Division, United States Army, who took part in the operations in the southern part of the Netherlands in the period from 17 September to 28 November 1944, was authorized to wear the Orange Lanyard of the Royal Netherlands Army.

These pages are maintained the
506th Airborne Infantry Regiment Association (Airmobile - Air Assault)
This page updated 04/12/13