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Evolution of the 75th Ranger Regiment Pocket Patches

Written by Thomas M. Sharp

Within the airborne elite unit insignia collectors’ circle there has recently surfaced some inaccurate and misleading information concerning the “Hooah” (pronounced Hoo ah) pocket patches of the 2nd Battalion (RANGER), 75th Infantry and the 75th Ranger Regiment.

The purpose of this article is to set forth the history and evolution of modern Ranger “Hooah” patches.

In September 1981, while studying for his Skill Qualification Test, PFC Gene D. Frink of B Company, 2nd Battalion (RANGER), 75th Infantry, conceived the idea of making a pocket patch for the members of his company. PFC Frink’s inspiration came from the cover photograph of a MACSOG patch on the June 1981 issue of “Soldier of Fortune.” Using the picture as a base, he let his mind wander and sketched out a design incorporating a beret capped skull, a Fairbaim-Sykes style commando knife, a fully deployed parachute, and a WW II style Ranger Battalion patch.

PFC Frink showed his proposed design to his Company First Sergeant, SFC (P) George D. Conrad. The First Sergeant was thoroughly impressed with the idea and urged Frink to make a prototype.

PFC Frink went to the Fort Lewis Main Post Exchange to purchase the necessary materials. One can imagine the amazement of the sewing center clerk when a Ranger qualified soldier, dressed in camouflage fatigues, jungle boots, and black beret, asked her for assistance in learning the techniques involved in needlepoint. Loaded down with all the requisite supplies, PFC Frink returned to his barracks and set to work. For him it was a long, slow process, sewing each stitch by hand, but finally after more than ten hours the prototype was completed (see the cover of this issue).

The following day PFC Frink showed his patch to many of his fellow Rangers, asking each one of them for their opinion. The overwhelming response, from the Company Commander on down, was positive. Everyone wanted at least one. Encouraged by the reaction of his peers, Frink decided to show the patch to his Battalion Commander, the late LTC William E. Powell. LTC Powell reacted to the patch by exclaiming, “Hooah,” a Ranger expression for anything that is positive or great.

Bouyed by all the positive comments on his patch, recently promoted SP4 Frink placed an order for 100 patches. The patches were hand sewn in South Korea, and as a result no two patches are identical. In addition, the manufacturer misread the design and made all 100 patches for “8” Co., 2/75! Dismayed by the error and subject to the ever increasing pressure of his fellow Rangers for the patches, SP4 Frink did what he could to rectify the situation.

He decided that the beat solution was to borrow a sewing machine and sew a vetical zig-zag on the left hand side of the “8”, thus making it into a reasonable facsimile of a “B”. The patches proved to be an immediate success, selling out within two days.

Generational Differences

Photograph Number 2

The first generation of “Hooah” patches are fully embroidered on black felt. The deployed parachute is medium green and distinctly semi-egg shaped. The parachute is divided into eight vertical sections by black stitching.

The ten suspension lines are silver-grey and are more or less straight. Each pair of opposing suspension lines angles in toward the knife at approximately 65 degrees. Superimposed over the parachute and the suspension lines is a Fairbairn-Sykes style commando knife. The blade of the knife is silver-grey, while the crossguard, grip, and pommel are sienna brown/copper. In addition, it is important to note that the pommel is distinctly rounded.

Superimposed over the knife blade and the parachute canopy is a white skull with black eyes, nose, and mouth. Atop the skull is a black beret with the flash of the 75th Infantry. Below the jaw of the skull but above the crossguard of the knife is a scroll. The body of the scroll is black felt with white letters and numbers and a red border. Both the right and left hand sides of the scroll are identified by Swallow-tails. The overall dimensions are 140 x 98 mm.

Once again it is important to note that the patches were hand made, so considerable variations exist between patches (see photograph 2).

The demand was so great for the patches that SP4 Frink placed a second order for 100 patches. This time he ensured that the manufacturer made the patches for B Co., 2/75. When the second order arrived, all the patches were sold within one week. The second generation of “Hooah” patches is, for all practical purposes, identical to the first generation. Save for the Company designation. In the second generation the “B” is very distinct (see photograph 2).

In February 1983, SGT Frink was approached by several members of other companies in the 2nd Battalion (RANGER), 75th Infantry about the feasibility of making pocket patches for the rest of the companies in the Battalion. SGT Frink made the required design changes and placed an order for 50 patches for both B Company and HHC, and 75 patches for both A and C Companies.

The third generation of “Hooah” patches were manufactured in Taiwan on computerized sewing machines, thus ensuring uniformity. The third generation patches had some major changes in design and color.

First, the parachute, while still semi-egg shaped, is visibly narrower than the previous generations and its color is somewhat lighter, almost lime-green. Second, the background is black twill as opposed to black felt. Third, the suspension lines are Curved; and finally, the croseguard, grip, and pommel are lighter in color, almost a burnt orange. Overall dimensions are slightly smaller, 138 x 97 mm.

The third generation patches were shown on page 11 of the October-December 1988 issue of the Trading Post (see photograph 3).


From Civilian Casual to Combat in Grenada

The “Hooah” patches have been observed on a wide variety of civilian clothing, but overall the most popular item for wearing the patches is a denim jacket.

Patches have been seen on the back, left shoulder sleeve, and left breast pocket of many jackets. In addition, some individuals have sewn their patches to the left sleeve of their olive drab T-shirts, while others have sewn their patches to the inside left sleeve of their jungle fatigue jacket.

Rumors continue to surface that some members of the Battalion wore their patch attired T-shirt or jungle fatigue jacket when they jumped into Grenada. This is only a rumor and neither the author nor Mr. Frink (he was discharged shortly after the Operation Urgent Fury) have been able to confirm it. Extreme caution is advised to any collector who comes across any T-shirt or jacket that is advertised as having been worn into Grenada, ‘Caveat Emptor’.

In June 1987, a new style pocket patch was designed for the members of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at the request of the then Battalion Commander, LTC J. J. Ellis. It was the desire of LTC Ellis to have a patch for his men that had an air of professionalism about it. The patch is fully embroidered on a dark blue twill oval with a merrowed black exterior border.

The center of the patch has an American bald eagle in brown facing dexter with a white head and tail detailed black and yellow-gold beak, eye, and claws. In the dexter claw is a dark green olive branch and in the sinister claw is a cluster of white arrows. Behind the eagle’s head is a white scroll with border and SUA SPONTE (of their own accord) in black.

Superimposed over the eagle’s breast is a shield bordered and divided by quarter yellow-gold. The quarters are dark blue and green. In the first and fourth quarters are a 12 point radiant white sun and a white five point star. In bend sinister through the shield is a red lightning flash. Below the eagle is a white scroll with border and RANGERS LEAD THE WAY In black. Above the eagle is a black scroll with red border and white letters and numbers. Overall the patch is 111 x 95 mm. The patch is made for both the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and the 75th Ranger Regiment (see photographs 4 and 5).

With the production of the professional patch Mr. Frink decided to produce a fourth generation “Hooah” patch. As with the third generation patch, this patch was made for all companies in the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and for the 75th Ranger Regiment Headquarters. All patches were manufactured in America and are of outstanding quality and workmanship. Uniformity is consistent throughout all the patches.


Refining the Style

The fourth generation patches have several significant design and manufacture changes. First, like the third generation patch, the body of the patch is black twill. Second, the parachute actually looks like a fully deployed parachute and it is now a dark green color with a pronounced skirt.

Third, the suspension lines are white and they run directly to the pommel of the knife. Fourth, the blade of the knife is white instead of grey and it is a much better representation of the Fairbairn-Sykes style. In addition, the grip is considerably longer and the pommel is flattened across the bottom instead of being rounded. Fifth, the skull and beret have been completely redesigned and the flash is truer to size and shape. The beret is black twill instead of being embroidered.

Finally, the Ranger scroll has been redesigned and the ends of the scroll are now straight instead of being swallow-tailed. Overall the patch is somewhat smaller, 132 x 86 mm (see photographs 6 and 7).

At this time (May 1988) “Hooah” and professional patches do not exist for either the 1st or 3rd Battalions, 75th Ranger Regiment; however, Mr. Frink plans to produce the patches and they may well be out by the time this article is published. The author would like to note that all the patches mentioned in this article are protected by copyright.

The author would like to extend his sincere thanks and gratitude to Mr. Frink of Devere Enterprises, P.O. Box 39141, Tacoma, WA 98439-9141 for his assistance and patience in answering innumerable questions and researching personal documents to verify dates and names, as well as photographing his collection for use in this article. Without Mr. Frink’s courtesy and help this article would not have been possible.


See some of the author's areas of note

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