Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Early Republic of Vietnam VNAF Rank Insignia

In the mid 1960s, many regulations in the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces were altered. These changes followed the end of Ngo Dinh Diem's presidency. For this reason, today, the earlier and later regulations are sometimes referred to as "Diem Era" and "Post Diem Era." One of the regulations changed was the identification of rank. The rank display change became fully official in 1967, with the publication of the army quartermaster manual for that year. However, photographs from the period show the "newer" rank versions were already in use to some degree before that time.

   Gold and silver colored blossoms began to be used to denote officer ranks from second lieutenant to colonel in the early years of the republic. Gold signified junior officers (second lieutenant to captain), while silver identified senior officers (major to colonel). Aside from color, the gold blossoms were usually smaller in size than silver ones. But, the basic shape and design of the blossoms were the same. In practical terms, this sometimes caused confusion. It could, at times, (for example) be hard to tell if an officer was a second lieutenant (one gold colored blossom) or a major (one silver colored blossom). A faded silver colored blossom could often look identifical to a faded gold colored one (not to mention the difficulty of determining rank through black-and-white photographs, where the color differentiations could not be seen). Thus, a major change undertaken (in the new regulations) to clarify rank identification was to add a bar at the base of major to colonel ranks. This change occured in both the Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).

               Most of the insignia featured in this post was recently acquired by RVNHS. All of these insignia date to the Diem Era, and are for the Vietnamese Air Force. The ranks range from airman (private first class) to colonel. The shoulder boards were attached to loops on the epaulettes of shirts and jackets, and worn as matching pairs. The rounded pentagon-shaped insignia was worn as a single piece, either on the left sleeve or the chest. All of these insignia could be worn both during field / combat duty, as well as on parade.

(Photo: Nguyen Xuan Vinh as a colonel with three silver blossoms, early 1960s).

VNAF Enlisted Ranks (Worn on Left Sleeve or Chest): Senior Corporal, Corporal, Airman.


1962 Dated Photograph of a Senior Corporal, Insignia on Left Sleeve.

Shoulder Boards for Sergeant (Left) and Master Sergeant (Right)

VNAF Sergeant and His Wife, Photograph Dated 1963.

        Shoulder Boards for Warrant Officer (Right) and Senior Warrant Officer (Left)

                                                            Shoulder Board for Aspirant

Shoulder Boards for Junior Officer Ranks: Second Lieutenant (1 Blossom), First Lieutenant (2 Blossoms), and Captain (3 Blossoms).

Shoulder Boards for Senior Officer Ranks: Major (1 Blossom), Lieutenant Colonel (2 Blossoms), Colonel (3 Blossoms).