Pathfinder Badge (United States)
|Awarded by United States Army|
|Awarded for||Completion of the U.S. Army Pathfinder School or equivalent Course|
|Last awarded||On going|
|Next (higher)||(Group 3 badges)
Astronaut, EOD, Aviator, Flight Surgeon
|Equivalent||(Group 4 badges)
Parachutist, Air Assault, Military Freefall Parachutist
|Next (lower)||(Group 5 badges)
Diving, Driver and Mechanic, Rigger
To be awarded the Pathfinder Badge, the soldier must complete instruction in advanced land navigation, advanced scouting, tactical air traffic control in the field, and the control of parachute operations; the badge is awarded on completing several examinations under field training exercise (FTX) conditions. Examinations include proficiency in sling load rigging and execution, planning and execution of helicopter landing zones (HLZ), air traffic control operations, aerial delivery of troops and supplies, and several others.
The first Pathfinder Badge was designed by Lt. Prescott, a navigator in the 9th Troop Carrier Pathfinder Group (Provisional), in May 1944. Besides the paratroopers who earned it, the Pathfinder Badge was worn by IX Troop Carrier Command air crews who guided paratrooper transports and towed gliders. It was worn four inches above the left sleeve cuff on the service coat.
The current Pathfinder Badge, originally made of felt, was approved on 22 May 1964. The badge began being made of enameled metal on 11 October 1968. The badge's wings symbolize flight and airborne capabilities, while the torch represents leadership and guidance. The torch traces back to the Olympians who carried the torch each year of the event to its location. US Army Pathfinders traditionally were the first to arrive ahead of larger elements in order to scout and designate areas in which aviation assets could perform their operations during combat.
See also 
- Rottman, Gordon; Chin, Francis (1994). US Army Air Force: 2. Elite Series. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-339-1.
- Moran, Jeff (2003). American Airborne Pathfinders in World War II. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7643-1769-9.
- "Pathfinder Badge". The Institute of Heraldry. United States Department of the Army. Retrieved 2008-11-14.