Warrant Officer Branch (Squashed bug)
"The Eagle Rising"

"An eagle rising with wings displayed standing on a bundle of two arrows, all enclosed in a wreath."

Warrant Officers of the Tank Corps first wore the distinctive insignia approved on 12 May 1921. It consists of an eagle rising with wings displayed, standing on two arrows and enclosed in a wreath. It was adapted from the great seal of the United States, with the arrows symbolizing the military arts and science.

This web site shows part of the history of Aviation and Warrant Officers in the Army during the 50's, 60's and 70's (the Viet Nam era).

Today, Warrant Officers Candidates receive their training to become Warrant Officers, first; then move on to their specialty, such as Aviation, Supply, Transportation, Intelligence, etc.

Click here to see the Official U.S. Army Web Site to provide you with information you seek for a career in Army.

Some history into Aviation and the Aviation Warrant Officer

During the Viet Nam era, the United States Army had a need to train a large numbers of helicopter pilots. They had already made a decision that pilots should be officers.  Training only officers as pilots would be expensive and because of the requirements placed on officers to meet "command time", "operations time" and educational requirements, the Army felt that this would not prove to be cost effective.  Aviation Warrant Officers were needed.

The Army also refused to make aviation a branch, the last time they did the United States Air Force was born. A  branch would allow them build a full structure similar to other branches.  This did happen in the early 90's. The Army Command decided that aviation units would be attached to major commands like divisions etc.

The Army Command then decided to expand the Warrant Officer ranks, this would allow them to have officers in charge of the aircraft, lower salary would be paid out, training would be specific to aviation only with cross training to fit the needs of ground units.  The ground commanders, which the aviation units were assigned, forced aviation units to adhere to strict ground rules for appearance and discipline.  This helped to keep aviation units part of the army structure.  It hurt because ground commanders failed to see the need for crew rest and healthily environment for pilots and crew, which caused many accidents that were blamed on pilot error. (These short comings were later corrected as Aviation in the U.S. Army grew)

To train Warrant Officers/Pilots, the Army set up the Warrant Officer Rotary Wing Aviator Course, also the Warrant Officer Fixed Wing Aviator Course. These pages will carry you through the peak of the training period when most pilots were made.

Today, in the 21st Century, all Warrant Officers receive their initial training at Fort Rucker Alabama, after which they go to their Specialty for their final training.

(These comments and opinions are personal and do not reflect those of any government agency or department.)

We Need Help:  Question: Where, when or who came up with the term "SQUASHED BUG".  The earliest report we now have was in the beginning of Warrant Officer history. (05/04/2012)

Please Email us with any and all ideas.  tim@armyflightschool.org

5/17/08 - My name is CW4 (Ret) John F. Clifford and I started flight school with class 66-5 at Fort Wolters.  I was in the first TH 55 class.  I was held back from Mother Rucker in order to ferry new TH 55 aircraft from the Hughes Tool Co. plant in Palomar, California.

I went to Rucker in January of 1966, and graduated on the 21st of June, 1966 with class 66-7.  After my year in Vietnam, I was assigned as an IP at Fort Wolters. I did Two years there, and left active duty.

I returned to active duty in the spring of 1977. In the spring of 1980 I was ordered to Rucker for the Warrant Officer Aviator advance course.  While there, I met a very senior Warrant Officer named O'Brien. In casual conversation he told me that he gained his appointment in 1947, and was either the last or one of the last to be appointed Army Mine Planter Service, and claimed to know some of the original forty from 1918. I naturally asked him if he knew the origin of the term "Squashed bug" Mr. O'Brien said the term was already being used when he was appointed. It certainly was being used prior to my appointment in June 1966.

O'Brien also told me of a custom among Transportation Corps Boat Warrants (who succeeded the mine planters) of senior Warrant Officers presenting a new Warrant with an old worn pair of "squashed bugs," so he would not look like a "Chuck Greenie" at his first duty station as a Warrant. Since in those days, most Warrant Officers came from the NCO Corps, they carried on the NCO tradition of polishing all their Brass. The brass "squashed bugs" became worn. When someone senior or junior tried to "snow" a Warrant Officer unsuccessfully, the response was "Do I look like I still have feathers on my "squashed bug?"

John Clifford

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4/2/07 - Sounds to me like the Garrison Cap was worn w/ a set of goggles in the days of open airframe flight, prior to open cockpits themselves.  Squashed Bug could be exactly that; an insect that impacted symmetrically on the headcover, & hence a new 'crest' was referred to, albeit it in vulgaris terms.

Capt. Wm. Stafford
Masters, AvTech
Commercial Pilot ASMEL Instrument (ret)
Airframe Mechanic (ret)
C-130 Flight Engineer (ret)
USAF Service-Connected Disabled Veteran
Vietnam-Era, Panama, Desert One, Desert Shield

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From JOHN KELLER -  "About the W.O."squash bug." I arrived at USAPHS at Fort Wolters 5-26-65 and the first CW-2 I met referred brass as "squashed bug." Not sure when it came into being"

Warrant Officers in the Army can traced to 1896. For a complete History of Warrant Officers click on this link.

This website discusses the way Aviation Warrants are trained with a special look at training during the Viet Nam era.

Today's Warrants are continuing the proud tradition of the Warrant Officer Corp in all the specialties of the Army, to include Aviation.

Warrant Officer bars used prior to and during the Viet Nam era


W1 - - W2 - - W3 - - W4

Warrant Officer bars were changed in 1 Oct 72


W1 - W2 - W3 - W4 - W5

The W5 rank was added on 1 Oct 92 Master Warrant

For more information on becoming a Warrant Officer in the Army, and a career in the Aviation Branch, click on this link.

Warrant Officer Career Center

"Never to forget our traditions"

during the Viet Nam era.

Aviation Warrant Officer Candidate School

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1998-2011 Timothy E. Wilkerson,CW3(retired).  All rights reserved
Last updated May 04, 2012