American service members stationed onboard the USS Wasp sent reporters into a frenzy Monday over morale patches bearing the slogan “Make Aircrew Great Again.”
The patches, in addition to the slogan, features the face of a blonde man who bears a loose resemblance to President Donald Trump. They were spotted and highlighted by a number of journalists and Trump critics who covered the president’s visit — first lady at his side — with troops onboard the USS Wasp in Japan.
Airmen onboard the USS WASP wearing patches on their jumpsuits that read “Make Aircrew Great Again.” The patches include an image in the center in the likeness of President Trump. pic.twitter.com/rQKAyrcDte
— Vivian Salama (@vmsalama) May 28, 2019
Some of the sailors aboard the WASP where Trump is now speaking are wearing this patch pic.twitter.com/07LZojqnYH
— Noah Bierman (@Noahbierman) May 28, 2019
This is Fascism and a clear violation of the UCMJ. Do they have armbands, too? Who ordered this? https://t.co/OFRJoEeBjH
— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) May 28, 2019
Creeping authoritarianism https://t.co/gDRjeahlzx
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 28, 2019
I guess we’re just mixing political campaigns and the active duty military now ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ https://t.co/ZTknieyxBA
— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) May 28, 2019
Speaking as a Chief: @SECNAV @CNORichardson @NavyMCPON That unauthorized “novelty” needs to be secured RIGHT HERE!! RIGHT NOW!! Secure it before 60% of the country thinks our beloved @USNavy serves a man & not the Constitution! #Defornicate this. Get it off those uniforms NOW! https://t.co/2SDmtCGZtX
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) May 28, 2019
While Navy veteran Malcolm Nance was correct in referring to the patch as a “novelty” item, his use of the word “unauthorized” was misleading at best. “Morale patches,” worn by many units across all branches of service, are worn at the discretion of the unit’s commander. So while they are not officially sanctioned or “authorized” by the U.S. Navy or the Department of Defense, they are often permitted by the unit’s commander.
This particular morale patch has been in use for at least two years — and has appeared in photographs posted by the DoD’s official Twitter account.
— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) September 27, 2017
Morale patches like this one are often job-specific and may or may not reflect an inside joke, or something similar, among those attached to the unit.