November 01, 2004
New insignia takes cue from Corps
By Mark D. Faram
Times staff writer
Since 1868, Marines have proudly worn the “eagle, globe and anchor” insignia somewhere on their uniforms.
Now, the nation’s other sea service wants its own distinctive device.
The Navy is stitching a newly created “ACE” insignia on the left top pocket of its equally new test uniforms.
And just what does the acronym stand for?: Anchor, Constitution and Eagle.
The anchor symbolizes naval service; the Constitution is a heraldic nod to the Navy’s oldest commissioned warship; and the eagle represents the United States.
The ACE insignia adds something “distinctly Navy” to the test uniforms that along with the blue and gray colors would identify it immediately with the U.S. Navy, said CNO-designated Command Master Chief (SS) Robert Carroll, head of the 18-month-old Task Force Uniform.
“There’s no feeling of embarrassment in adapting another service’s design ideas into our uniforms if it makes sense,” Carroll said. “The eagle, globe and anchor and how Marines feel about it is a direct contributor to the esprit de corps of that service, and if the Navy can infuse a bit of that with the adoption of the ACE, then it is a good thing.”
Carroll said finding inspiration for the design was simple, though uniform officials did take a little creative license with the new description.
“It is the center of our official flag and seal,” he said.
Approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a 1957 executive order, the Navy’s seal and flag incorporate the same three design elements that have been used by the service since its re-establishment in 1798 as a military service — an anchor, eagle and ship.
But the official description of the U.S. Navy seal as approved by Eisenhower makes no specific mention of the frigate Constitution.
Instead, it describes only a “three-masted square-rigged ship underway before a fair breeze with after topsail furled, commission pennant atop the foremast, National Ensign atop the main, and the commodore’s flag atop the mizzen,” according to answers to frequently asked questions posted on the Web site of the U.S. Navy Historical Center in Washington, D.C.
That description aptly describes the Constitution, but could also fit more than 100 other ships the Navy has had over the years, according to Dr. Mark Wertheimer, head of the curator branch at the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C.
As for the rest of the crest, the anchor is described as being “a Luce-type anchor inclined slightly bendwise with the crown resting on the land,” while the eagle is an “American bald eagle,” looking to its right while rising to the left with “one foot on the ground, the other resting on the anchor near the shank.”
But unlike the Marine’s EGA, the ACE hasn’t been formally approved as a stand-alone element outside of the seal and flag. It’s merely being tested on the new prototype working uniforms.
Task Force Uniform officials were instructed to keep history and heritage in mind when creating uniform concepts, an idea Wertheimer strongly supports.
Whether the official descriptions of the Navy seal should be changed to read “Constitution” instead of a generic ship is “something that should be discussed,” Wertheimer said.
Navy officials agree, but say such discussions would only take place after the current uniform tests.
To build an esprit de corps. I have no problem with the image, it's been around for awhile now, but to rely on something like the ACE or a black beret to build esprit de corps is screwed up.
We aren't talking about the EGA; we're talking about the ACE (anchor, Constitution, and eagle) basically the image in the middle of the Navy's seal.
ETA: The USCG is only DoN in time of war. They are DHLS right now, except for the deployed forces in the AG. When we worked for Northcom we actually worked for the DHLS and the USCG.
When my dad was telling some of his war stories ('nam SeaBee) he mentioned how everybody used lighter fluid & an old toothbrush to remove the EGA from their uniforms so as not to be mistaken for Marines.
Back before the Marines switched to their digital stuff, the EGA was an iron on item. Cammies weren't sold with anything on them, except for the 8 point cover, which came in 2 versions, with and without the EGA.