NE Wing encampment photo showing the position shoulder boards, summer 1960.

"A rivalry developed at Nebraska Civil Air Patrol training camp in summer 1960, with the boy and girl squadrons kidnapping the squadron mascots. Cadet Jim Morrissey demanded and was paid a ransom of a kiss from two girls at a ceremony so the girls could get their stuffed dog back. Here, Lynn Grove waits her turn as Jan Anderson pays the ransom to Jim."


Cadet Mark Bright, OH Wing, 1968

Cadet Ray Wolenski shakes the hand of ADM Arleigh Burke at an airshow.  The large patch on his arm is actually secured by an elastic band, and says National Aircraft Show.  And who doesn't notice the pith helmet?

Encampment/activity shoulder boards:from 1942 to 1964 a cadet's grade depended entirely on the position they held at their home squadron.  When cadets attended activities such as encampment, their grade did not transfer.  To denote their position at the activity cadets either wore the standard cadet insignia or shoulder boards as pictured below.

PA Wing cadets wearing shoulder boards similar to those above, 1961.

Cadet shoulder boards, used between 1964-67

Aviation Cadets wearing shoulderboards, Lackland AFB, 1953

These CA Wing cadets are wearing shoulder boards that cadets from that era feel are encampment position indicators.  Shoulder boards like this were also seen in photos of Air Force cadets going through Officer Training School and Navigator Training

Cadet service coat, circa 1965

Why is the grade insignia so crooked on early shoulder boards?  

 Early cadet officer insignia was secured by pin-back, similar to a safety pin, not the current post-back which uses clutch-back fasteners.  The pin-back made the insignia stick up from the shoulder board, and shift position, or flip-flop, dependent on the orientation of the pin.  It is unknown when the use of pin-back fasteners began and ended.

It is possible they are wearing this, the USAF enlisted service cap device.

Arm patch and pith helmet:

Mystery Service Cap Device:

The images below are screenshots from a youtube video of a 1959 AK Wing encampment graduation pass in review.  Cadets were not authorized by NHQ to wear the service cap until 1961, so a cadet service cap device did not exist.  The round device the cadets are wearing presents a real mystery.  It looks like the enlisted SM service cap device - but it wasn't released until 1961.  It is possible it is the USAF enlisted service cap device.  In the right hand photo the cadet on the right is definitely wearing the SM service cap device.  Why the cadets are wearing different devices at the same activity is also a mystery.  The cadet on the far right seems to be the encampment commander, so it may have been a position indicator.  See more under the topic hat devices.

CAP Cadet History Project

​This page is devoted to those instances when historians say "What is that?!" or "Why is it like that?!"

Some images of CAP members show locally authorized uniform items for which there is no known publication or regulation.  In these instances we rely on cadets from that era to tell us probably why these items were used.