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The “Chevron” is an architectural term to denote the rafters of a roof that meet at an angle forming the upper apex. It began being used in various forms as a symbol of rank for knights or men-at-arms. It is believed that the “Chevron” was originally given as an award to a knight to show he had captured a castle, town or other building (hence the resemblance to a roof), from there it began being used as an insignia by the military.

From approximately 1820-1903, Chevrons were sewn onto the sleeves of uniforms with the point down. Between 1903 and 1905, the Chevrons were worn with the points both up and down because of a confusion in the new authorization requiring the insignia to be worn with the points facing up. In 1905, it became clearer that the points were to be worn facing up.

Beginning in 1920, the number of insignia was reduced to seven and were to be worn on the left sleeve, point up, and were to be made of an olive drab material on a dark blue background. The seven titles were:

1. Master Sergeant (First Grade): Three chevrons and an arc of three bars with the upper bar of the arc forming a tie to the lower chevron.

2. Technical Sergeant (Second Grade): Three chevrons and an arc of two bars with the upper bar of the arc forming a tie to the lower chevron. There is a lozenge (or diamond) between the lower chevron and upper bar.

3. First Sergeant (Third Grade): Three chevrons and an arc of three bars with the upper bar of the arc forming a tie to the lower chevron. There is a lozenge (or diamond) between the lower chevron and upper bar.

4. Staff Sergeant (Third Grade): Three chevrons and an arc of one bar forming a tie to the lower chevron.

5. Sergeant (Fourth Grade): Three chevrons.

6. Corporal (Fifth Grade): Two chevrons.

7. Private First Class (Sixth Grade): One chevron and an arc of one bar forming a tie to the chevron.

In 1956, the color of all insignia patches was changed to Army Green or Army Blue with the chevron, arc, lozenge (diamond), and eagle to be gold. The following specialists’ insignia were changed during this same year as well:

1. Master Specialist (E7): Three arcs above the eagle device.

2. Specialist First Class (E6): Two arcs above the eagle device.

3. Specialist Second Class (E5): One arc above the eagle device.

4. Specialist Third Class (E5): Eagle device only.

In 1958, it was determined that the insignia remained the same size for female personnel and insignia for grades E8-E9 were added and designed as follows:

1. Sergeant Major (E9): Three chevrons and an arc of three bars with a 5-point star in between the chevrons and arcs.

2. Specialist Nine (E9): Three arcs above the eagle device and two chevrons below.

3. Specialist Eight (E8): Three arcs above the eagle device and one chevron below.

4. Sergeant First Class (E7): Three chevrons and an arc of two bars with the upper bar of the arc forming a tie to the lower chevron.

5. Specialist Seven (E7): Three arcs above the eagle device.

6. Specialist Six (E6): Two arcs above the eagle device.

7. Specialist Five (E5): One arc above the eagle device.

8. Specialist Four (E4): Eagle device only.

In 1996, the designation between male and female insignia was discontinued. The current difference in insignia is their size. The larger ones are 3-1/8 inches wide with the smaller size being 2-5/8 inches wide.

History of the US Army Chevron

History of the US Army Chevron