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The Mystery of the Red Patch
11/12/08 at 11:13:59
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The Mystery of the Red Patch
November 03, 2008
Marine Corps News|by Pfc. Melissa A. Latty

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — A red, 3-inch by 1-inch patch worn on the trousers of some Marines often raises rumors aboard military installations.  Some say these Marines are underwater demolition specialists, warrant officers in training or possible heat cases.  Some people even believe that the Marines who wear this patch have AIDS or have been punished for illegal drug use.

These are a few of the off-the-wall myths about the purpose of this tiny piece of cloth.  Cpl. Joseph Kirkland, a Winder, Ga. native and a landing support specialist from Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, said the red patch is a distinguishing device worn by Marines with the military occupational specialty of landing support specialist and in some cases traffic management specialist.  It’s the only unit distinguishing device worn in the Marine Corps and can only be worn with the utility uniform.

 The tradition of wearing this distinguishing red patch dates back to a beach landing in World War II at the Battle of Guadalcanal.  The landing support Marines, then known as the shore party, handled beachhead logistics for invading Marines during this battle.

While troops were coming ashore during the beach landing, shore party Marines were mixed together with infantrymen.  Some shore party Marines were ordered to go inland along with infantry battalions, while some infantrymen were mistakenly left behind on the beach.  Because of this confusion, a device was then created to distinguish the shore party on the battlefield:  a red patch worn on the trousers and cover.

The patch is still worn by landing support Marines to honor its tradition. The patch allows the Marines to stand out on the battlefield as well as in garrison.

“We stand out, so we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” said Cpl. Joey Whisenant, a landing support specialist from LS Company.  “People who know what the patch is know where we work and it draws attention to our company.”

Not everyone knows what the patch is for. ‘Red patchers’ answer questions about the patch as many as two to three times a week everywhere they go.

“I get asked about the patch a lot when I’m at the chow hall,” said Kirkland.  “I usually just tell the truth, but my favorite explanation is the in-flight missile technician.”

As intriguing as it may sound, there is no such MOS as an in-flight missile technician.  The job of the landing support Marines is to perform various duties that support the establishment, maintenance and control of transportation on beaches, landing zones, ports and terminals used in support of Marine Air Ground Task Force operations and deployments.

To become a landing support specialist, these Marines go through a six-weeklong MOS school.  During the course they are required to perform two to three Helicopter Support Team operations, learn in detail about the characteristics and mechanics of each helicopter, and become familiarized with communications.

“I worked as an LS Marine while I was deployed to Iraq,” said Farming, N.M. native Lance Cpl. Justin Campbell, a personnel administrator from India Company, Headquarters & Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base.  “It was interesting learning about another MOS, and it was quite an adrenalin rush being able to work so closely with the birds.”

The landing support Marines can’t go unnoticed with a bright red patch on their covers and trousers. The secret is out and the truth is revealed, these red patch Marines are none other than landing support specialists.
© Copyright 2008 Marine Corps News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


     Nov 4, 2008 4:19:16 PM
     When I was in, all us Grunts knew what it meant and that was in the 80s.
     Nov 5, 2008 12:06:23 AM
     think the playstation jocks are a bit behind in their history leatherneck.
     Nov 5, 2008 10:46:51 AM
     No lie there...I had it ingrained in my mind in Boot Camp.
     Nov 9, 2008 7:32:30 AM
     We learned the red patch in 49 and any fmf marine can tell you what it is,guess it just isnt taught to the boots anymore. GUNG-** TROOPS
     the gunny


"Some people wonder all their lives if they made a difference.  Marines don't have that problem."  Ronald Reagan USMC 1968-69
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Andrew Schwartz
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Re: The Mystery of the Red Patch
Reply #1 - 11/19/08 at 17:33:25
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Ha! You'd be surprised how many people don't know this. I was stationed at Camp Lejeune for 5 years, and half the people who WORE the patch didn't know what it meant.

Good article.
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