Jim D Burns
From: Salida, CA.
Just to get the conversation started, here’s a cut and paste of the email’s I sent John:
Not a lot of detail to go on in the photo, but based on the images here:
I’d say he’s wearing the standard sage green fatigue uniform of his era, so what he’s wearing isn’t really helpful. I do note he and several others in the photo have no name tag or other markers on their uniform other than sewn on rank insignia, so perhaps he’s in a technical field that saw him working on aircraft or something and extraneous uniform markings would have possibly caught on delicate instrumentation he’d have been working on so they weren’t required to wear normal uniform markings in their technical field (just a wild guess).
You may want to try posting the image on the above linked forum as the specific make-up of the different ranks in the unit image may be the only real lead you have to try and discern what kind of unit it is. And only someone with very specific knowledge of the make-up of the units of that era (retired airforce is your best bet) would be able to make an educated guess.
With a total of 40 men in the image, 1 a captain and 1 a lieutenant, it appears to be a platoon. There are a lot of staff sergeants (your grandfathers rank) and above (at least 10 men perhaps more) for a 40 man unit, so this is what leads me to believe it’s probably a technical unit. The military tended to give extra promotions to keep trained technicians re-enlisting so tech units tended to be a bit lopsided when it came to what rank structures existed within those units.
The only unusual insignia in the photo is the guy with jump wings kneeling in front. Then there is the guy kneeling second from right with a black circular insignia of some kind on his right shoulder. I have no idea what that is but it might be a clue. The guy with glasses in the back row center appears to have a similar black circular insignia as well but his is above his left breast pocket.
Looking at the image again I see another guy kneeling in front third from left with the same black insignia. It may be nothing but insignia denoting qualifications similar to the jump wings insignia, but if you’re lucky the qualification itself might give a clue to what the unit specialized in. Other than that I see nothing that will help in your quest to figure out more information about your grandfather. The uniforms worn are simply too sparse when it comes to special markings.
My guess is this was a standard work day for the unit and everyone got pulled together for a quick photo unannounced, so no one had their dress uniforms with all their badges and ribbons on that day.
Did a little more digging and looking here:
I see nothing that would explain the black circular insignia’s, so you may be in luck of figuring out at least some idea of what the unit did if we can just figure out what those black insignia are.
The guy with wings next to the guy with the parachute badge more than likely is wearing a WWII aircrew badge. Click on the enlisted aircrew badge on the above linked page and it takes you to a page with images of the different aircrew badges and the one I think it might be is the WWII one pictured on the right side. But there simply isn’t enough detail in the photo’s resolution to discern if it’s that or one of the other wing shaped badges. But just like the parachute qualification badge, I don't think it tells us anything about the unit, since he could have earned the badge while flying combat missions in WWII or Korea while in a different unit. Then again this unit might be a combat unit, we just can't tell.
Anyone have any idea what the black circular insignia/badges are?