The "Red Patch" is a distinguishing device worn by United States Marines with the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of 0481 (landing support specialists)), and is worn only on the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform.
The red patch dates back to the early days of World War II during the Battle of Guadalcanal. After the initial assault on the beachhead, follow-on troops came ashore and confusion on the beach led to landing support Marines (then known as shore party) and infantrymen getting mixed together. Some shore party Marines went inland along with infantry battalions, while some infantrymen were left behind on the beach. It is not known for certain who made the decision, but a device was created in order to distinguish the shore party Marines: a red patch on the trousers and hat, referred to by marines as a cover, (a patch was not put on the blouse because many Marines did not wear them due to the heat of the South Pacific). Around the same time, Naval Shore Parties, now known as Beachmaster Unit One began to wear yellow patches on their uniforms, as they do today.
Shore party Marines were either assigned to pioneer battalions or as part of an infantry battalion’s shore party. Pioneer battalions consisted of shore party Marines, combat engineers, and heavy equipment operators and were in charge of establishing beach support areas in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Pioneer battalions were sometimes used to relieve infantry battalions on the front lines and were often involved in heavy fighting in places such as Bloody Ridge on Guadalcanal. One of the more notable shore party Marines was 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr., executive officer of the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines' Shore Party, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Tarawa.
The red patch measures 3 in × 1 in (7.6 cm × 2.5 cm) on the trousers, worn 2.5 in (6.4 cm) below the cargo pocket, centered, and 1 in × 1 in (2.5 cm × 2.5 cm) on the front of the eight point cover, centered. A 1 in × 1 in (2.5 cm × 2.5 cm) patch is supposed to be worn on the front and rear of the Kevlar helmet, but this practice has fallen into disuse.
Beginning in the late 1990s, Landing Support Battalions (which at the time were the only units authorized to wear the red patch) and their respective Motor Transport Battalions merged to create Transportation Support Battalions (TSB). 1st LSB and 7th MTB merged to create 1st TSB, 2nd LSB and 8th MTB merged to create 2nd TSB, and 3rd LSB and 9th MTB merged to create 3rd TSB. 4th Landing Support Battalion, a reserve unit, remained under the command of 4th Force Service Support Group (FSSG). Subordinate units such as Transportation Support detachments and Landing Support detachments attached to MEU Service Support Groups (MSSG) were also authorized to wear the patch.
In June 2006, the three Force Service Support Groups and their respective Transportation Support Battalions were disbanded and fell under the command of various Combat Logistics Battalions (CLB) and Combat Logistics Regiments (CLR) under the command of the newly created Marine Logistics Groups (MLG). While other Marines dropped the use of the red patch, the patch continues to be worn by Landing Support Platoons or Companies and remains on the uniforms of 0481s and various MOS attached to a landing support company. The red patch also continues to be worn by Marines assigned to the Landing Support Detachments or Transportation Support Detachments assigned to MEU CLBs (formerly known as MSSGs).
- "Red Patchers Facebook group". Retrieved 5 September 2011.
- "Red Patch warrants question". Camp Foster: United States Marine Corps. December 12, 2003. Retrieved 15 April 2010.[dead link]
- Harris, LCpl Martin R. (September 27, 2004). "Red patches denote support Marines, ease confusion on battlefield". Camp Foster: United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 15 April 2010.[dead link]
- Blodgett, LCpl Corey A. (July 26, 2007). "Company’s red patch dates back to World War II". Camp Foster: United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 15 April 2010.[dead link]
- "Here's Why". Marine Corps Times. April 19, 2010. p. 3.