insigne.org

 

Insignia of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)

by Les Hughes

© 1993 by author

 

 

 

 

 

The Spearhead Insignia

Second Prototype Insignia

Veterans Pin & Certificate

The Special Force (SF) Wing

Disney and the OGs

The 2671 Special Recon. Bn.

The 3d Contingent OG

Detachment 101

The Kunming Parachute School

The Chinese Commandos

Agent ID badge & 1WA Insignia

The Free Thai

The Special Force Hqs. Patch

3 Detachment Squadron /Detachment 310

Cloak & Dagger patch

Fakes & Other Insignia to Avoid

Fanciful Weapons & Equipment

 

Return to Articles

Home Page


The material here and in the sections listed at the left is an expanded version of my article on OSS insignia that appeared in the April-June 1993 issue of The Trading Post, the quarterly publication of the American Society of Military Insignia Collectors (ASMIC).  

That article represented a departure from many of my previous articles, in which I devoted significant space to a discussion of the history of the unit in question. In that article, and here, I focus primarily on insignia. I will discuss aspects of the history of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) only when they serve to illuminate the organization's insignia. The interested reader will find a number of books dealing with the OSS, the most detailed being the two-volume War Report of the OSS, whose compilation was overseen by Kermit Roosevelt [published by Walker & Co., New York, 1975 and 1976].

A word or two is in order regarding the insignia that appear in this article. I began seriously collecting OSS-related around 1985.  In keeping with my approach to collecting, I sought insignia and information regarding their use directly from OSS veterans, and only occasionally turned to other collectors for information.  I went in search of OSS veterans armed, for the most part, only with names and serial numbers, obtained from copies of orders and rosters given to me by OSS veterans or obtained from the National Archives.  Today, with the Internet as a resource, locating these veterans would be child's play; back then, it was a long and often frustrating process.  

Eventually, I was able to locate over 200 OSS veterans who had no affiliation with any OSS veterans organization— indeed, most were surprised, and some were suspicious, to find themselves talking with someone who knew of their service in OSS.  From these veterans I acquired a broad range of OSS-related insignia and information regarding their use. With few exceptions—and I will identify them—the insignia that appear in this article have come to me directly from OSS veterans.  

The organization of the material may appear to be strange: some sections are devoted to a single insigne; some to a unit; some to a geographical region. And there are items that may seem but peripherally related to OSS.  The organization reflects both the diverse nature of OSS and its insignia and my desire to approach the subject informally—as though I were showing the reader my collection.

I feel fortunate to have gone in search of these items at a time when there was still a significant number of surviving OSS veterans. Today, the ranks of these gentlemen have thinned to the point that collectors must usually deal with second-hand sources, who often provide inaccurate information and questionable material.  Indeed, collectors of insignia will find stories of varying accuracy regarding "OSS insignia" that have circulated for decades; stories that have been embellished and modified over the years; stories that today are embraced by many collectors as true.  When one of these stories serves to fuel a sale or a trade, such are the vested interests they create that the parties on both ends of the transaction often rise to the defense of the stories when they are challenged. I learned from an earlier article on the SF wing that the potential for treading on closely-held beliefs in an article like this is high. So be it. In presenting the following view of OSS-related insignia, I will provide my sources and hope that my critics will provide theirs. The reader can then judge for himself.