The Alamo Scouts Sleeve Insignia

by Les Hughes

© by author 1986







































































Alamo Scouts History

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Sometime during the fall of 1944, a contest was held at the ASTC (Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea) to choose a suitable design for a Scout sleeve patch.  The winning design was submitted by CPL Harry Golden, a medic assigned to the ASTC; $15 was the prize for his effort.1  Golden's design features the head of an Indian in profile, representing silent reconnaissance, superimposed on the Alamo. The patch was not authorized by the Army (the unit’s size and status would not have justified its own patch, and The Institute of Heraldry would never have approved the design), but it was approved, by General Krueger, for wear in Sixth Army by ASTC graduates, staff, and overhead personnel.2 The approved manner for wearing the patch was on the right sleeve or left breast.

To finance the patch purchase, all officers (Scouts and ASTC staff) were assessed five dollars; the EM nothing.  A money order was purchased, and an order for the patches was submitted to N. S. Meyer, Inc., in New York.  Although documentation regarding the purchase no longer exists, either among the Scouts or at N. S. Meyer, the best estimate is that 440 patches were ordered.3 Early in 1945 (probably in April), the patches were received and distribution began.

The original artwork of CPL Harry Golden (left) and the Meyer-made patch based on it. 

It was the recollection of COL Robert S. Sumner, who, as a lieutenant, had been a Scout team leader, that those receiving patches were assessed 10¢ per patch, and that each officer and EM on operational teams received three or four; other members of the ASTC cadre received two or three. A document that has since surfaced appears to contradict aspects of what COL Sumner recalled.4 The document is a letter, dated March 1945, that was sent to about 50 former Scouts and ASTC staff and overhead personnel, offering them the opportunity to acquire the Alamo Scouts sleeve insignia when they were available (probably in April, the letter noted). The letter specified a charge of 50¢ per patch, and it speculated that a limit of ten patches per man might be imposed. A limit of ten patches per man is puzzling: if, in fact, 440 patches were ordered from Meyer, then, in principle, the entire order could have been exhausted by requests from personnel no longer at the ASTC. Indeed, a supply of 440 patches nearly would have been exhausted if each of the 143 Scouts had taken three, leaving almost none for the overhead personnel, who numbered about 110. My suspicion is that few individuals took more than three patches, and most just one or two.  


Four recent graduates of the ASTC's eighth class display their locally-made patches.  A detailed image of one of these patches is illustrated.  (A. Bethel)

Lewis Hochstrasser (then a captain and the unit's S-1) recalls making the final distribution of patches in the Philippines around August 1945, just before he returned to the States on points rotation, which suggests the supply of patches lasted about four months. Support for Hochstrasser’s recollection came from a member of the eighth class (which graduated on 28 July 1945), who recalled being told there were no Scout patches available. As a result, he and a group of graduates procured locally-made examples.  

 The team of LT H. L. Adkins (front, center), the last Scout team formed.  (C. Bertoch)

On the other hand, it appears that the Meyer-made patches were available to Scouts of the ninth class, though by what mechanism one can only speculate. Training of the ninth, and final, class was cut short by two weeks by the surrender of the Japanese. Nevertheless, one Scout team, under Lt. H. L. Adkins, was formed from the class, and, with other Scouts, served as General Krueger's personal honor guard in Japan.5 One can imagine the high-profile nature of such a role motivating the ASTC staff to provide the team with patches.

Since the area of theater-made patches is that in which, more than any other, collectors are victimized, let me offer the following advice: never purchase an Alamo Scout patch that is not US-made - the chance of its being authentic is almost nil, regardless of the story that goes with it. I have encountered only two genuine examples of locally-made Alamo Scouts patches, and both are illustrated here. Authentic Scout patches of exotic construction (e.g., in bullion or with tabs) simply do not exist.

In 1963 a brief article on the Alamo Scouts appeared in The Trading Post, the quarterly journal of the American Society of Military Insignia Collectors.6  The article contained several factual errors regarding the Scouts, but the most unusual aspect of the article, where insignia are concerned, is this statement: "the unofficial insignia of the Alamo Scouts is a tomahawk shown above [referring to a drawing in the article] worn on the left breast pocket."  The statement is especially bizarre in light of the fact that the article made no mention whatsoever of the Scout patch.

I first learned of the existence of the tomahawk badge was during a conversation with the late Jay Massaro, a respected collector of distinctive unit insignia, who, upon hearing that was I researching the Scouts, asked if the badge was legitimate.  When I told Jay that I was unfamiliar with the badge, he referenced the 1963 article, and he provided me with the name of a collector who was interested in the Scouts and was familiar with the badge.

I asked Col. Robert Sumner, Director of the Alamo Scouts Association, and his response was swift and unequivocal: "There was NEVER any type of the badge or pin for, or used in any fashion by, the Alamo Scouts.  The patch was the single distinctive item authorized by General Krueger."  I wondered whether any of the Scouts might have acquired such a badge unofficially, so I asked Col. Sumner to query members of the Association, which he did.  None of the Scouts was familiar with the badge.  So much for the tomahawk badge, or so I thought.

Out of curiosity, I spoke with the collector whose name Jay had provided.  When I told the collector the badge had nothing to do with the Scouts, citing Col. Sumner's remarks, his response was unexpectedly heated.  He informed me that he knew the tomahawk badge was a Scout insignia because he had seen it worn by a former Scout.  The collector explained that while he was on active duty (he was a retired career soldier) he had met a senior NCO during a training course who not only claimed to be a former Scout, he wore the Scout patch on his right sleeve. He also wore the tomahawk badge. The collector could not recall the name of the former Scout, but he thought that he had met him during the early 1960s (which appears to be the period when these badges began surfacing among collectors).  The collector had subsequently seen, in the course of collecting, two variations of the badge, one of which bore the markings of a Japanese badge maker.  My gut feeling was that the collector was being truthful.

I relayed this information to Col. Sumner.  His response should give cause to collectors and to those with the desire to conduct historical research. "I encountered several people over the years who claimed membership in the Scouts and had terrific tales to spin.  One, a young captain I met in Korea, said he was a platoon leader in Company A!  He had come across a Scouts patch, which he wore. They took care of this situation quickly, including his records wherein it was cited that he had service in the Alamo Scouts Battalion. In the past few years, I've had inquiries from lawyers whose clients were suing for VA and or disability compensation from the government - their clients alleging service in the Scouts - and the comments were wild.  I've also seen some of the extracts from testimony in depositions; you wouldn't believe some of the things we were alleged to have been or participated in. The names of these people were not at all familiar to any of the located Scouts."

Apparently, researchers, too, have been duped. In 1982 an article on the Scouts appeared in a military magazine. Using, for the most part, a few Army documents, the author, a serving Army officer, succeeded in painting an overall picture of the mission and activities of the Scouts. The article contained several errors - assertions that the author attributes, in a footnote, to an interview he conducted with a former Scout, whom he names. Puzzled by the fact that he had never heard of this former Scout, Col. Sumner contacted the author of the article and asked to be put in touch with the ex-Scout. The author never responded. In the 25 years that have elapsed since the publication of that article, a significant effort has been made to identify those who attended the ASTC, those who were retained as Scouts, and those who served as the ASTC's staff or overhead personnel. The alleged former Scout cited in the 1982 article cannot be linked to the Alamo Scouts either by the recollections of former Scouts and ASTC staff or by official records.

Believing that the Tomahawk badge might simply be misidentified, I made an effort to see if I could find instances of its used elsewhere.  The closest example I could find is a tomahawk patch; not a sleeve patch, but a rectangular patch about the size of a sew-on name strip.  Photographs showing this tomahawk patch being worn above the left pocket of the fatigue shirts of several senior officers of the 23rd Infantry Battalion can be found in the book The Second United States Infantry Division in Korea: 1 Jan 53 - 31 Dec 43.7

Finally, there exists one other "Alamo Scouts" patch that deserves mention. This patch, identical to the original in design but without the words "Sixth Army," is worn by the members of Explorer Scout Troop 412 in St. Ansgar, Iowa.8 The patch was the idea of the Troop's adviser, Galen Kittleson.  Kittleson joined the Alamo Scouts as a 19-year-old private from the 503rd PIR and remained with the unit until it was disbanded. As a member of the Nellist Team, Kittleson participated in missions to free POWs on Cape Oransbari and at the Cabanatuan Prison. And many years later, as a member of Special Forces, Kittleson participated in the Son Tay Raid.  So, in a sense, the Alamo Scouts are alive and well in the small Iowa community.


1. Other designs can be seen at

2. Although the patch was unauthorized, former Scouts who remained in the Army after WWII wore it on their right sleeve.

3. Col. Robert S. Sumner, private communication.


5. Lance Q. Zedric, Silent Warriors of World War II (Pathfinder Publishing of California. Ventura, 1995). p. 246.

6. LTC W. W. McCracken and A. A. Litman, "The Alamo Scouts." The Trading Post, April/June 1963.

7. Toppan Printing Co., Ltd., Tokyo. Date unknown.

8. This was so when I first wrote this article in 1986, and I would be surprised if it were no longer so. Galen Kittleson died in 2006.