CAP Cadet History Project

Cadets meet with Sheppard AFB Commander before their encampment, summer 1975.  From L to R C/TSgt Worth Haggerton, Maj Gen Raymond Furlong, USAF, C/ Lt Col Larry Battin and C/Capt Tracy Brannon. 

The cadet on the left is wearing a LSI on his right shoulder.

IACE specific lapel pins:

CAP Wings changed from the drooping style above to the current design in 1977.  This pair demonstrates the oxidized style.

Leadership Shoulder Insignia, 1964-80s: 

In all of the cadet programs prior to 1964, a cadet's grade indicated their position in the squadron.  Since enlisted cadets could be promoted freely in the new cadet program, a unit could potentially be full of NCOs, with no visible way to determine a cadet's position.  The leadership shoulder insignia (LSI) were introduced to remedy this situation.  If the cadet's shirt did not have epaulets these were worn on top of the right shoulder seam.

Left to right: Admin Assistant, Squad Leader, Guide/Guidon Bearer, Color Guard, Flight Sergeant, First Sergeant, Academic Sergeant

The above LSI images are from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Collection, and are covered under their fair use policy.

Air Corps Enlisted Reserve Insignia, circa 1943:

In January 1943 the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve was essentially a specialized delayed-entry program for the AAF.  Seventeen year old young men who passed the requirements for the Army Air Force could enlist in the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve while still in high school.  When they turned eighteen, they were called to active duty.  ACER enlistees were drawn to CAP (and CAP cadets to ACER) for the preflight training.  The plan was to "get  a leg up" and qualify for pilot, bombardier, navigator, or aerial gunner training.  The washout rate for these schools was high, and the AAF needed a large pool of reserves "waiting in the wings."  Failure for the young man possibly meant fighting the war on the ground with a rifle.  If a little preflight training could improve the qualification rate, and put these young men where they wanted to be, then the AAF was happy with the CAPC and their role with ACER.  See also training.

This little lapel device was placed in the button hole of the left chest pocket.  An alternative was the ACER patch, worn over, or on, the left pocket.  In addition to the images below, the ACER patch can be seen on page 1 of the uniforms topic.

Note the LSI on his right shoulder. 

CO Wing, 1971.


Checking in to DE Wing's first summer encampment, 1944.

Blazer lapel pins for completion of NCSA:

I do not know when these were authorized.  My guess is the 1970s.  The blazer pins are not limited to these three.

Rocketry Badge, 1969:

This is the original design, authorized May 1969.  The design and finish were changed in the mid-1990s to match the high shine insignia.

1964 manual illustration of the LSI.

Currently used

It is difficult to see, but the cadet on the right is wearing the metal ACER pin in his left pocket button hole.  Aviation Cadet recruiting drive, New Jersey, circa 1943.

From the 1964 CAPP 36

For unknown reasons the LSI was released in two sizes.  The larger of the two was released first.  In the Squad Leader example above the dimensions are
1  7/8" x 1  1/4".  The smaller size is 1  1/4" x 7/8".
The Flight Sergeant, First Sergeant, and Academic Sergeant LSI were squarer and larger than the others.

Pilot and Solo Badge:

This style of wings was worn 1948-77.  The solo badge was introduced in 1961.

Oxidized insignia changes to high shine, ~1994:

As with many things in CAP's uniform past, the transition to high shine insignia is a little muddled.  The Air Force started to transition from oxidized to high shine in 1994, perhaps a little earlier.  Around 1993 some individuals in CAP had insignia "chromed" or polished them vigorously to a high shine prior to the official phase-in.  The official transition was around 1995, with insignia being difficult to find temporarily. 

Stewardess Badge:

This was authorized for female cadets who completed a stewardess orientation course.  First authorized in 1964.  It is mentioned in the 1968-70 Annual Reports to Congress.