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Q: Q About Imaginary Military Insignia ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Q About Imaginary Military Insignia
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: poenadare-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 07 Nov 2002 14:37 PST
Expires: 07 Dec 2002 14:37 PST
Question ID: 102201

I was reading a sci-fi book by the name of Halo: The Fall of Reach by
Eric S. Nylund, which details the story of an elite group of human
super-soldiers who made a significant difference in an all but
hopeless human-alien war. In the book I came across this passage:

"There was a special insignia on his uniform as well: a golden eagle
poised with its talons forward - ready to strike. The bird clutched a
lightning bolt in one talon and three arrows in the other."

I assume Nylund is a reasonably smart man, so I wonder if his choices
for the parts of the insignia were deliberate. What I'm getting at, do
the thunderbolt and three arrows have "universal" military meanings...
or is this something he just pulled out of thin air because he thought
it looked nice? Is there an existing military unit that has an
insignia similar to this?

All comments, speculation, and random observations are appreciated.
Subject: Re: Q About Imaginary Military Insignia
Answered By: mwalcoff-ga on 07 Nov 2002 15:43 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars

The lightning bolt is used often in military insignia with different
meanings. On the U.S. Air Force Department seal, it refers to air
power (1). For the Army's 1st Signal Brigade in Vietnam, it stood for
communication (2). In the Army's 207th Military Intelligence Brigade,
it means electronic warfare and the ability to strike anywhere (3).
Speed is the meaning of the lightning bold in the insignia of the
Army's 729th Support Battalion (4). On the seal of the USS Harry S.
Truman -- where a golden eagle clutches a lightning bolt -- it simply
means strength and power (5).

The three arrows in an eagle's talons usually mean the U.S. Defense
Department (the Pentagon) or the secretary of defense. The three
arrows stand for the Army, Navy and Air Force (6).

So basically, the seal you describe would fit right into American
military heraldic traditions.

I hope this answer meets your needs. If not, please request

Also note the U.S. Air Force Air Medal


(1) Air Force History Support Office, "History of the Department of
the Air Force Seal"

(2) The Vietnam Database, "Shoulder and Sleeve Pocket Patches"

(3) Total Army Personnel Command, "207th Military Intelligence

(4) Total Army Personnel Command, "729th Support Battalion"

(5) The Examiner, "The Seal"

(6) Total Army Personnel Command, "Department of Defense Seal"

Search strategy

seal eagle lightning bolt

military symbolism lightning bolt
:// military symbolism lightning bolt

us defense secretary seal arrows

three arrows defense seal
poenadare-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.50
The heraldic information was right on and answered my question. I do
wonder if an existing American military unit uses the insignia I have
mentioned - but I think that's best answered by posting another
question. ;)

Subject: Re: Q About Imaginary Military Insignia
From: nronronronro-ga on 07 Nov 2002 18:40 PST
Hi!   Check out this Google image for the 
Strategic Air Command, U.S. Air Force.

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