combat writing badge


available through COMBAT

Non-Ranger scroll

novelty Non-Ranger scroll


Back in the bad old days, once known as the brown boot Army but probably better known in the modern era as the pre-PC military, the prevailing philosophy was "do the best job you can". Most people were glad to have a job, almost any job, and they exchanged their skills for some economic security. As one old dog put it: "If you dig ditches, take pride in digging good ditches!"

This is not to idealize the past, but to accurately depict the dominant social mores prevailing at the time when this novelty patch was created. It seems that there has always been (and probably will always be) feather merchants and ladder monkeys, but character seems to be losing out to the khaki maffia in the modern era. However, as has been re-learned in the latest Mid-East operations, there are two very different militaries: the one in garrison and the one on the battlefield ... the former oriented to red tape and spit 'n' polish, while the latter is oriented to creativity and innovation ... the former is about appearances while the latter is about results.

This is not to say that infantrymen are the only ones who ever actually do something vital to accomplish the mission; because if it weren't for the cooks and quartermasters, mechanics and armorers, the proverbial dog face and red leg and prop jockey couldn't do their jobs. War has not been about brute strength for the last several thousand years, but the stereotypical soldier is still perceived as a knuckle-dragger instead of a surgeon or scientist ... military intelligence has won more battles than gross force or foolhardy courage ... so it's understandable that the average soldier, doing his honorable duty just as loyally as anyone else, resents the elitists who garner all the glory.

It's important to remember that Wingate's long range reconnaissance concept was originally a tactic that could be employed by any suitable unit, and it was only much later that this doctrine became the exclusive practice of select units. Furthermore, the history of the early elite units shows that men retrained from regular units (eg: Merrill's Marauders) performed as well as those specially selected (eg: Devil's Brigade) for their expertise. Between World War Two and Vietnam, both the Army and Marines debated the efficacy of separate elite units which would deplete regular units of their most talented personnel ... a state, in the opinion of some, that harmed both organizations. These detractors advocated for the retention of superior troops, augmenting their native skills with special training that would be shared with their parent unit, as in I & R sections under the battalion S-2. The ruinous effects of the call in the experts mentality was demonstrated in both Korea and Vietnam without appreciably advancing the mission of those conflicts. It remains a valid debate in the current war on terrorism.

When initially conceived by the old breed, this novelty Non-Ranger patch was a put-down to the ambitious overachiever ... those ticket-punching soldiers who could not do an outstanding job without some kind of special recognition. Telling a grunt with a starred CIB that he was not as important as an athletic masochist was truly offensive; telling the same to an EOD specialist or door gunner was just stupid, and telling the same to a supply clerk or truck driver was simply divisive ... so is it any wonder that the great unwashed hoi polloi innocently ridiculed their betters? In time this discrimination would reverse, such that the Non-Ranger appellation is now a put-down to anyone who's not invested or festooned with an appropriate elitist garland.

In and of itself, discrimination is not bad ... it's how we distinguish between right and wrong, better and best, acceptable and not. When a meritocracy like the military begins apologizing for its hierarchy and excusing inferiority, it is inviting defeat and courting disaster. Contrast the achievements of the citizen soldier during the intense four years of World War Two with the hyperextended political compromises of the professionals since then. Soldiers knew the enemy then and ignored any rules that didn't win the war; soldiers likewise know the enemy today, but are prevented from victory by excessive restrictions. The purpose of the military is national defense ... it is not supposed to be about equality or political-correctness ... or about making all the little people feel good. Soldiers feel good when they do good ... that is, do their very best in accomplishing their shared mission!

The Non-Ranger novelty patch existed in two forms: one resembling the black-and-gold tab awarded to graduates of the Ranger school, and the other resembling the red-and-white scroll representing Ranger units. Most were kept with other novelty militaria, but some were mounted in displays with other unauthorized insignia. And a very few were actually worn on a uniform by a couple of defiant individuals ... such irreverence was well worth its story value once the inevitable rebuke had been issued.

Whether representing underachievers or overachievers, this novelty Non-Ranger scroll signifies an historic phase in the development of the modern military.

brown leather buckle boot of WWII-era

proposed 3-star Combat Infantryman's
Badge for fourth award

leather combat boot of Korean and Vietnam eras

At the behest of fellow veterans who sincerely seek to preserve and commemorate a portion of their military service, this insignia has been produced. The quality of this item is good, but quantities are limited, and will not be reordered. Stock is available on a first come first served basis; and when supplies are exhausted, this descriptive webpage will be removed. This offering is a service to comrades, not a business, and all proceeds support humanitarian projects.

Purchasers of this memorabilia may make their personal checks or money orders payable to the Montagnard Foundation, Cambodia Corps, Operation Rice Lift, or Friends of Vinh Son Orphanage, as they prefer ... all are tax-exempt non-profit organizations. The quoted price is the minimum amount for purchase, but larger sums may be included, or sent directly. All prices are postpaid, and the purchaser's check serves as their receipt for accountability of charitable donations on tax declarations. This insignia is warranted to be as described, and satisfaction is guaranteed. This memorabilia is only available through COMBAT. Send all prepaid orders to:

      Attn: Memorabilia
      P.O. Box 3
      Circleville, WV 26804 USA.


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