Morale patches have been getting pretty popular over the past few years, it seemed like at the 2017 SHOT Show especially. Lots of companies were giving out morale patches as a way to market themselves at the show. I managed to build up quite a collection from all the SHOT Shows and events I’ve been to over the years, who doesn’t like a cool patch from your favorite firearms companies? Even TFB has a morale patch that’s been spotted in the wild.
I recently saw a post over at Soldier Systems that someone actually trademarked the term “Morale Patch”. Ok, so what? Well supposedly the trademark holders, Morale Patch Armory, have been going around and forcing morale patch collector groups on Facebook to shut down their pages (again, supposedly). While that may be their right, if it’s true that’s something people in this community won’t forget. Check out the comments section in the Soldier Systems post I linked to above, a few members of various morale patch communities have chimed in claiming their social pages were shut down.
In response the community has created a GoFundMe page to help appeal the trademark, they’ve already surpassed their goal of $10,000.
Our community is under attack. The term “Morale Patch” was recently trademarked despite it being a common and generic term that our community has used for years and developed its identity around. We’ve reached our initial goals of $5,000 and $8,000, but keep going…who knows how much this thing is going to cost, but we’re probably going to need a sizable war chest.
We’ve got engagement letters in hand to retain counsel specializing in trademark law. We will be filing a motion of “cancellation” of the trademark. We’re confident that with the amount of previous usage, this trademark will be successfully and swiftly cancelled.
The retainer is $2,000 and the cost per hour of the attorney is $350. Any leftover funds after the legal challenge will be donated or used towards a cause that benefits the patch community as a whole…like perhaps a charity, an event at Shot Show for all of us, or a special patch for the group of people who answered the call. One step at a time, and right now that step is to defend the community and stand up for the principle of the matter.
If you’d like to contribute to this cause, $5, $20, or even $1,000 (like Jason Wages aka Modern Arms) or whatever you can give…you will be remembered as a hero and will be forever able to say that you stood up for what is decent and right in the face of tyranny. Now, go back to your Xerxes and tell him that he faces free men here.
Now this doesn’t mean morale patches are going anywhere, they’ll still be available to buy from retailers other than Morale Patch Armory. It just means groups that use the term “Morale Patch” and small independent retailers who use “Morale Patch” in their business name may be forced to stop using the generic and widely used term.
Morale patches have been around for decades. Fellow TFB writer Miles V even gave us a little break down on the history of morale patches and his experience with them in the Marines:
The velcro patch fascination really started with the U.S. Army when the service switched over to velcro patches (Hook & Loop to avoid trademark issues) from the older sewn on patches used to represent a soldier’s rank, name, and unit. These patches made it much easier to change out uniforms when switching units or being promoted to a higher rank. Currently the Army is still the only service to utilize this velcro system, the other services are still using the older sewn on patches to represent units and names. Except for the Marine Corps, because we don’t need patches to know where all of us are from. Had to throw that in there!
Anyways, the velcro obsession continued when soldiers first donned the Intercepter flak jackets, then the larger turtle-like flaks in Iraq, and finally what are using now with plate carriers. Velcro was added to all of these so soldiers could identify each other because the flak jackets covered up the front portions of their uniforms where the name and rank was. The shoulder patches obviously weren’t covered up so those stayed.
The Marine Corps took this a step further and began implementing something called “Deployment Patches” (so called because you were only issued one on deployment). Since we don’t have unit patches or insignia on our shoulders, and our flak jackets covered up our front blouses with our names and rank, deployment patches began to see usage on the MTV flak jackets that included a rectangular section of velcro on the front, just underneath the chin of a Marine.
However the Marines took it a step further in a morbid usage of them. When a Marine is killed or injured, his information has to be relayed over the radio for the medivac bird to come through. Important information such as Zap/Kill number, blood type, name, even unit has to be relayed very urgently to the medics on the helicopter, in addition to the chain of command to let them know who the casualty was. Medics have to know what blood type he is, in addition to if he has any allergies to various medicine used, such as penicillin. In addition you don’t really want to broadcast over the radio net that Lcpl. Smith just got his leg blown off and is bleeding to death.
So how do you get this information across? The way we did this is through the aforementioned ZAP or Kill number. Essentially every Marine in a unit has a designation, that usually is the first letter of the company he is in, the first letter of his last name, and his last four digits of his social security number. As an example, mine was “CV1111” (social made up) when I was with 1/9. C was for my company, Charlie company. V was for my last name, Vining, and 1111 was the last four of my social. This way, when passing up information, the reporting unit has to only mention that “CV1111” was hit. Back at higher headquarters, a clerk can easily look up my ZAP number where it has my blood type, and any additional medical information that needs to be attached to the incoming bird.
So what does this have to do with deployment patches? Well, if I get blown up on one side of a compound, and if the patrol leader with the radio is on the other side of the compound, someone in the patrol can run over to me, rip the deployment patch off of my plate carrier, run back to the patrol leader, hand it to him, and he now has all the information (apart from my injuries) needed to notify higher about who was injured or killed. This could be especially useful if for example I’m on a patrol with a different platoon or even unit and they don’t know much about my particular situation.
Overseas, individuals started ordering custom deployment patches, and this led to custom unit patches, which then lead to custom anything patches, which is what we now call “Morale Patches” and thus have become extremely popular. Many of these patches were initially made in Iraq or Afghanistan by various local shops that catered to Soldiers or Marines losing or needing replacement unit/rank/deployment patches. To make something for a custom order was extremely simple and cheap. Guys would return to the U.S. and continue the practice with local patch makers here, and it sort of blossomed into what we see all over the shooting industry today. At the same time this was happening, velcro was being added to more MOLLE pouches and tactical gear, allowing more space to fit this extra stuff. Often times senior NCOs would issue orders that extra patches couldn’t be worn at all, but we still snuck them on our gear whenever we could for that “cool” factor.
To many Marine Infantrymen, a deployment patch is a sign of seniority, sort of like an earned memento that you only got if you went overseas. I still have the first one that was issued to me, its held together by glue, and is caked with sweat, grime, and Afghan dirt. But it holds a very deep sentimental value of a time in my life that forever changed me in many regards.