Army licenses insignia to Sears for clothes

The US Army has sold Sears the rights to use the insignia of one of its most renowned divisions for use in an Army-inspired clothing line, reports Stars & Stripes.

The distinctive “Big Red One” insignia and colors of the 1st Infantry Division are part of an Army-inspired clothing line being rolled out this year for the department store.The Army licensed the 1st ID insignia to All American Apparel in June 2007, according to Army spokesman Paul Boyce. Under the licensing agreement, the Army will receive royalties on any profits beginning in 2009.

Surprisingly, this has not been that well received by current and former service members. From Stars & Stripes:

“Unless someone’s related somehow [to a unit], they shouldn’t wear it,” said Pvt. Chris Latona, 19, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s Special Troops Battalion out of Bamberg, Germany. “It’s not like a sports team.”

From SSG Big Brother CollateralDamage: “I think this is reprehensible … we should sell advertising space on tanks, gunships, Hell sponsor patches on individual soldiers’ uniforms.”

Sears, to its credit, has responded to concerns from the Society of the 1st Infantry Division about this. Also the fact that the company is offering to pay for the use of the insignia is almost unheard of (any royalties the Army gets will go to programs for troops and military families). Many companies use military insignia in their products — from movies to clothes to games — without offering recompense, such as Activision which put the division’s name intoCall of Duty 2: Big Red One, a game set during WW II.

Although I don’t see any harm in Sears doing this, I would defer to vets and service members on the topic. FWIW, a few years ago I purchased a patch of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team at The Japanese American National Museum to show my admiration. If you are not familiar with the 442, a thumbnail:

[It was] an Asian American unit composed of mostly Japanese Americans who fought in Europe during the Second World War. The families of many of its soldiers were subject to internment. The 442nd was a self-sufficient fighting force, and fought with uncommon distinction in Italy, southern France, and Germany. The unit became the most highly decorated military unit in the history of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients, earning the nickname “The Purple Heart Battalion.”

Man, not a single snarky comment. Wow. I must be getting soft.