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, SPA 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.