The “Don’t Tread On Me” flag or First Navy Jack has flown on naval ships throughout our history including during the American Revolutionary War. The rattlesnake is especially significant and symbolic. The rattle has thirteen layers, signifying the original Thirteen Colonies.
Official Navy instruction has authorized all naval ships to fly the flag throughout the duration of the War On Terror.
Why is it then that senior personnel from within WARCOM and Naval Special Warfare are putting out instructions and memos stating that Navy SEALs are no longer authorized to wear the “Don’t Tread on Me” patch on their combat uniforms along with other custom patches?
I have heard some defend this action stating that it is due to trying to maintain uniformity between the operators. We all know that is complete garbage. As members of special operations, we have had the ability to wear custom uniforms that often did not always match our teammates. We also could wear our own custom patches. These include state flag patches, unit or platoon patches, or just plain motivational patches. From wearing blue jeans in Vietnam and non-military hunting camouflage patterns currently, to wearing the Punisher, Crusader, or Navy Jack on our uniforms or body armor, special operations personnel bring the fight to the enemy using battle symbols we feel strongly about.
Whether it be a symbol of our heritage or a sign to strike fear into our enemies, it is clear to me that someone sitting behind a desk needs to keep their politics or weaknesses away from the Teams and all other special operations personnel.
WARCOM and GROUP TWO/ONE have pushed out the uniform policy for NWU III and any patches worn on the sleeve.
All personnel are only authorized to wear the matching “AOR” American Flag patch on the right shoulder. You are no longer authorized to wear the “Don’t Tread On Me” patch.
Again the only patch authorized for wear is the American flag on the right shoulder. Please pass the word to all.
Senior Enlisted Advisor