The History Behind the 82nd Airborne Patch

The “AA” arm patch, worn by all 82nd Airborne soldiers, stands for “All American,” the nickname given to the division when it was first formed at Camp Gordon, Georgia, in 1917. But how was the nickname and patch created? Continue reading to find out!

How the 82nd Got its Nickname

When the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, it looked like the adventure of a lifetime for many of America’s young men, including those of the 82nd Division. Soldiers of the 82nd came from all 48 states, and from all walks of life, to fight for our nation during WWI.

As new units were formed, they decided upon nicknames to help build spirit and forge bonds between the Soldiers. Brigadier General W. P. Burnham of the 82nd held a competition in conjunction with the Soldiers of the Division, the citizens of Atlanta, and The Atlanta Georgian newspaper, to provide a suitable nickname for his diverse unit. It was determined that Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey, BG Burnham, and Major R.E. Beebe would be the judges.

Thousands of people submitted names, but eventually, Mrs. Vivienne Goodwyn’s, “The All American Division” was selected on April 6, 1918. Vivienne felt like the Soldiers of the 82nd represented the best attributes and values of America. To pay tribute to their nickname, 82nd Soldiers began sewing the blue circle that was in the middle of their red square shoulder patch, with the double “AA” for “All American.” Originally, some thought the “AA” on the patch stood for “All Aboard”. Additionally, when the patch was first authorized, full gold patches were used for officers. Eventually, the patch was standardized with the red, white and blue that you can see on today’s patches.

Handmade 82nd Patch

For a more in-depth information regarding this topic, click here to listen to the “All American Legacy” podcast, created by the Public Affairs office of the 82nd Airborne Division.

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