Blood Rank

I don’t know where the idea of “blood rank” and “blood wings” came from, but the older I get, the more stupid it seems.

Here’s the deal. At promotion (before the current velcro field uniforms), soldiers would have metal rank insignia put on their collars. The rank usually was held in place by two straight metal pins. The fasteners were left off, exposing the sharp metal pins toward the skin. Then, noncommissioned officers and fellow soldiers would walk by and hit the rank, causing the pins to pierce the skin. The same practice was similarly followed when someone earned the Parachutist Badge (Airborne wings) or other insignia.

Several of my peers in Airborne School in 1994 went behind a building at Ft. Benning, GA to get their “blood wings” from the Airborne instructors after graduation. They were extremely proud. I did not, I was proud enough of the ones I earned, sans blood.

The practice has, technically, been outlawed for several decades, but I saw it happen numerous times, at numerous places.

Now, there are no more metal rank pins, only velcro. So, it seems a unit at Ft. Bragg decided to make up the difference with a hammer. A big wooden one.

I wonder who stood off-camera. I wonder what rank they are. I wonder how many other soldiers face the same “ceremony.”  While Ft. Bragg is in the news today, you can bet there are many other installations and units that, today, are breathing a sigh of relief that nobody taped their “ceremonies.”

According to the video, the hammerer received a reprimand.

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2 thoughts on “Blood Rank

  1. There are things that happen in places I’ve never been that I just don’t want to know about. Up to now, I thought military officers reasonably bright. Now, I wonder who came up with the idea to give them guns. Thanks for giving me something else to worry about.

    • In that case, I’ll refrain from describing Prop Blast (an initiation for new Airborne soldiers) or the means by which Cavalry soldiers “earn their spurs.”

      About 20 years ago, I witnessed a blood wings ceremony for a newly-minted Senior Parachutist. All the unit’s Master and Senior parachutists lined-up to punch the wings that were just put on his chest. He was a Staff Sergeant at the time (pay grade E-6). I won’t mention the various ranks that arrived to hit his wings. I will, however, say that the ceremony occurred outdoors, in an area accessible to the public, during daylight.

      In the end, there was a 2×2 inch bloodstain on his battle dress uniform. One of the prongs broke-off of the wings. I helped him to remove it from his chest by using a knife and a pair of needle-nose pliers.

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