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Air Training Command – Instructor

    Approved by the CSAF, Gen John P. McConnell, on 11 December 1967 for ATC instructors assigned primary duty in formal training (instructor certification and/or AFSC prefix). Some instructors wore this patch on their uniform. Although the central charge is based on the design for the ATC emblem, for some reason the color silver has been used in lieu of gold.

    Air Training Command – Master Instructor (Style A)

      This badge designated instructors who had met more demanding requirements and generally indicated more experience and expertise. Specific criteria for award are unknown, but are believed to be similar, if not identical, to that for the AETC Master Instructor award.

      Duty Identifiers

        Although at first glance the images in this album may appear to be pen pocket patches (PPPs), these are much larger than those, and worn on the square loop patch on the shoulder (top of sleeve). Also, unlike some PPPs that contain art, these patches display only numbers and/or letters. There is a wide variety of these, but to qualify for inclusion in this gallery the patch must relate to missiles. Most duty patches worn in the Air Force missile community are in the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP), and two versions in that pattern are known to exist (e.g., see the ICBM patch). According to The Institute of Heraldry, the only appropriate OCP colors are spicebrown, bagby green, olive drab, and black. A few duty Identifier patches first appeared in the mid-2000s, but most came on the scene in the late 2010s shortly after the OCP color scheme was introduced in 2018. The patches are presented here in numerical/alphabetical order.

        6th Air Defense Missile Squadron (BOMARC)

          [1 Feb 1959 – 15 Dec 1964], Suffolk County AFB, NY.* DESCRIPTION: On a disc of light blue sky, a formation of three AF golden yellow stars in sinister chief between two red stylized aircraft flying fesswise in chief leaving white vapor trails to sinister chief and two white missiles pointing upward and intercepting the aircraft, leaving wide AF blue, red, and white trails arched to sinister; issuing from base and surmounting the lower missile trail a silhouetted skyline of tall buildings AF blue, windows indicated AF golden yellow. SIGNIFICANCE: The skyline at night indicates the large metropolitan area over which the missile squadron stands guard. The two skyward-bound missiles and the two aircraft represent the mission of the unit to seek, intercept, and destroy. The sky and stars symbolize the vast area over which this unit stands eternal vigilance. APPROVED: 16 June 1960 COMMENTARY: *The actual location of the missile complex was a few miles outside the gate of Suffolk County AFB.


            Before “Curtain Raiser” in 1967 for ICBMs, those working with air-launched missiles had already been competing in competitions since as early as 1955. Those earlier events, with names such as Weapons Meet, Rocket Meet, and Weapons Loading Competition, were every bit as demanding as those in later years that most missileers are more familiar with. Because of the diversity of ballistic missile systems during the early 1960s, it was not feasible for SAC to conduct a force-wide competition, but after the last of the Atlas-D, Atlas-E, Atlas-F, and Titan I systems were retired in 1965, the ball started rolling on a competition for personnel operating and maintaining the remaining ICBMs: Titan II and Minuteman. The inaugural event in 1967, fittingly, was called “Curtain Raiser.” There was no competition in 1968 because of the demand placed on SAC by the Vietnam War, but the comp resumed in 1969 with the name “Olympic Arena”–a name that was changed, briefly, a couple of times over the next 24 years but always came back, even outliving SAC by a year! In 1994, under Air Force Space Command, the annual competition was called Guardian Challenge. By the mid-2000s, it was no longer an annual event, and then in 2009, AFSPC handed off the ICBMs to the newly created Air Force Global Strike Command, which created an entirely new competition called Global Strike Challenge. Like its predecessor, it too is not an annual event, primarily for fiscal reasons, but it is still one that most “Strikers” look forward to with great anticipation.


              As the title suggests, patches in this album were made to commemorate a specific event or period, and are therefore presented chronologically, from earliest to latest, with the year listed first and specific date or dates listed in parentheses at the end of the caption. In some cases, there is little distinction between an achievement patch and a commemorative patch, and the choice for placement was therefore not always an easy one, so if you don’t find the patch you’re looking for in this album, try the Achievements & Qualifications album, but most patches displaying a year or date will be found here. Such patches include those for anniversaries, the Bicentennial, code changes, COVID-19, inspections, IOC attainment, special Titan II launches, and inactivation/mission complete. Notable exceptions are patches associated with a trophy award, most of which are contained in the Competitions album and the remainder of which are in the Achievements & Qualifications album.


                The Boeing CIM-10 BOMARC (IM-99 Weapon System prior to September 1962) was a supersonic ramjet-powered long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) fielded during the Cold War for the air defense of North America. In addition to being the first operational long-range SAM, it was also the only SAM ever deployed by the USAF. Stored horizontally in a launcher shelter with a movable roof, the missile was erected, launched vertically using rocket boosters to high altitude, and then tipped over into a horizontal Mach 2.5 flight, powered by the ramjets. Controlled from the ground for most of its flight, when it reached the target area it was commanded to begin a dive, activating an onboard radar-homing seeker for terminal guidance. A radar proximity fuse detonated the warhead, either a large conventional explosive or a nuclear warhead. The Air Force originally planned for a total of 52 sites covering most of the major cities and industrial regions in the U.S., but the Army’s Nike Hercules ended up covering many of those areas. As testing continued, the Air Force reduced its plans to 16 sites, and then to just eight, with two more sites in Canada. The first U.S. site was declared operational in 1959. Boeing started to study surface-to-air guided missiles under project MX-606 in 1946. By 1950, Boeing had launched more than 100 test rockets in various configurations, and because these tests were very promising, Boeing received a USAF contract in 1949 to develop a pilotless interceptor (a term then used by the USAF for air-defense guided missiles) under project MX-1599. The MX-1599 missile was to be a ramjet-powered, nuclear-armed long-range surface-to-air missile to defend the Continental United States from high-flying bombers. The Michigan Aerospace Research Center (MARC) joined the project soon afterward, and this gave the new missile its name: BOMARC (the BO from Boeing). In 1951, the USAF decided to emphasize its point of view that missiles were just pilotless aircraft by assigning aircraft designators to its missile projects, and anti-aircraft missiles received F-for-Fighter designations. The BOMARC thus became the F-99. In August 1955, the USAF discontinued the use of aircraft-like type designators for missiles, and the XF-99A and YF-99A became XIM-99A and YIM-99A, respectively. In October 1957, the first YIM-99A production prototype flew with full guidance, and succeeded to pass the target within destructive range. In late 1957, Boeing received the production contract for the IM-99A BOMARC interceptor missile, and in September 1959, the first IM-99A squadron became operational. The IM-99A had an operational radius of 200 miles and was designed to fly at Mach 2.5-2.8 at a cruising altitude of 60,000 feet. The liquid-fuel booster of the BOMARC-A had several drawbacks. It took two minutes to fuel before launch, which could be a long time in high-speed intercepts, and its hypergolic propellants (nitric acid and hydrazine) were very dangerous to handle, leading to several serious accidents. As soon as high-thrust solid-fuel rockets became a reality, the USAF began to develop a new solid-fueled BOMARC variant, the IM-99B (BOMARC-B). The first successful IM-99B flight was in July 1960. Because the new booster took up less space inside the missile, more ramjet fuel could be carried, increasing the range from 200 to 430 miles. All BOMARC-B missiles were equipped with the W-40 nuclear warhead. In June 1961, the first IM-99B squadron became operational, and BOMARC-B quickly replaced most BOMARC-A missiles. On 23 March 1961, a BOMARC-B successfully intercepted a Regulus II cruise missile flying at 100,000 feet, thus achieving the highest interception in the world up to that date. Boeing built 570 BOMARC missiles between 1957 and 1964, 269 “A” models and 301 “B” models. Up until September 1958, BOMARC testing was conducted at Cape Canaveral, but at that time the testing and training program was relocated to a new facility on Santa Rosa Island, just across the water from Eglin AFB’s Hurlburt Field. To operate the facility and to provide training and operational evaluations, ADC established the 4751 ADW there. The first launch from Santa Rosa Island took place on 15 January 1959. From that time on, all BOMARC personnel were trained by the 4751st. The BOMARC suffered just one serious accident. On 7 June 1960, a BOMARC-A with a nuclear warhead caught fire at McGuire AFB after its on-board helium tank exploded. While the explosives did not detonate, the heat melted the warhead and released plutonium, which the fire crews ended up spreading. The Air Force and the AEC cleaned up the site and covered it with concrete. The site remained in operation for several years following the fire. Since its closure in 1972, the area has remained off limits, primarily due to low levels of plutonium contamination. By the early 1970s, the BOMARC weapons system was considered obsolete because during the 1960s the threat had shifted from waves of manned bombers to showers of ballistic missiles. Deactivations began in 1969 and by 1972 all BOMARC sites had been shut down. Many of the missiles ended up being used as target drones, and a few were placed on static display.

                Twentieth Air Force – 100 Alerts

                  Awarded upon completion of 100 alerts. This is the first in the series of ALERTS milestone patches produced in increments of a hundred up through 500. The five patches in the series were unveiled by Maj Gen Anthony Cotton, 20 AF/CC, at the Twentieth Air Force Senior Leadership Conference at F.E. Warren AFB, 18-21 September 2016. The idea for these came from a Force Improvement Program recommendation in 2014 and it was important for the design to come from the crewmembers–the ones performing the mission. The design submitted by 1st Lt Raun Carnley, a Missile Combat Crew Commander in the 320 MS, “was just what 20th AF was looking for…. [It] stood out among the rest,” according to a 20 AF spokesperson. The “100” and the contrail of the RV are both white on this version of the patch. Patch donated by Monte Watts in October 2016.