Army Aviation Master Badge

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The first version of the Aircrew Badge was issued by the Army Air Forces during the Second World War. The badge was similar in design to the Aviator Badge, however, and displayed an emblem denoting enlisted status on its circular shield, or escutcheon, centered between two wings. The emblem featured the arms of the United States of America, in clear relief generally against a horizontally lined background, on a disk with a raised rim.

Anyone trained in flight operations was authorized to wear this badge, including pilots, bombardiers, navigators, flight engineers, radio men and gunners. The badge was also awarded to certain ground personnel at the discretion of their commanding officer. Non-crewmembers eligible for the badge were individuals with flying status such as aircraft maintenance supervisors and technical inspectors. For example, aircrew badges were issued to Automatic Flight Control Equipment (A.F.C.E.) and Bombsight Shop personnel and others essential to "keep 'em flying" who flew instructional and maintenance flights but who did not actually take part in combat missions during World War II.

With the creation of the United States Air Force as a separate branch of service in 1947, the Army was left without an Aircrew Badge until the Korean War. At that time, to recognize the continued use of Army aviation, the Aircraft Crewman Badge was created. The badge was issued in three degrees: Basic, Senior, and Master. The level of seniority depended on the number of flight hours obtained and years of service in the United States Army.

On February 29, 2000, the Department of the Army officially changed the name of the Aircraft Crewman Badge to the Army Aviation Badge. The badge itself was not altered; however, the change was made retroactive to 1947, requiring updates to military records upon request from the military service member. This change essentially made army aircrew wings an "MOS Badge" awarded to all aviation MOS's, including non flying jobs such as Aviation Operations and Air Traffic Controllers. Thus, a crew chief who actually engages in aerial flight has no distinction from an air traffic controller because both are on flight status.

Although the Army Aviation Badge is intended for enlisted personnel, in rare cases the decoration is awarded to officers.

For non-rated Army members who qualify for the Astronaut Badge, but have not yet participated in a qualifying spaceflight, the Army Aviation Badge may be awarded with the astronaut device appearing on the central shield.

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