The Black Patch – Debunked

As many of you know I don’t normally post urban legends or hoaxes on my blog; especially since there are plenty of legitimate sites that do this already (i.e.,, etc…); however when I receive the email ten or more times in a week, I feel it is my duty to set the record straight.

Some of you may have seen the email “Shouldering the Burden” or “The Black Patch” depicting a U.S. Army Sergeant turned to the right, on his sleeve is the U.S. Flag, and a black patch underneath that says “DOING THE WORK OF” and below it, the three national flags of Russia, Germany, France.

This of course is a hoax for many reasons, first is AR 670-1 which is the Army Regulation for Wear and Appearance of Uniforms, which prohibits the use of the Army uniform “…In connection with the furtherance of any political or commercial interests…” (AR 670-1, Chap 1, Para 10(j)) – It’s obvious that the statement being “made” by the soldier is that the U.S. is burdening the load of the rest of the world when it comes to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and although I don’t necessarily disagree with that statement, it would never be authorized on a U.S. military uniform.

Second, it’s obvious that whomever decided to “Photoshop” the picture didn’t do his homework.  U.S. Federal Code prohibits the wear of any country’s flag other than the U.S. Flag (or the NATO identifier) on a U.S. military uniform.


Above (left) is the picture seen in the emails, above (right) is the original (official) photograph published on the NATO KFOR website here.  Those wondering about the U.S. Flag’s position, it is not the result of “reversing” the image or some other anomaly.  The U.S. Flag is worn correctly with the canton on the right, when worn on the right shoulder, more on this is explained in this Stars and Stripes article.

Having served overseas for a portion of my career, including stints in NATO controlled areas, I can tell you that no other country’s flag has ever been displayed on my uniform.

For more information regarding this hoax, please visit the following websites:

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James A. Restucci is the author of this blog. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License.

4 Responses to The Black Patch – Debunked

  1. jimr says:

    It’s a shame really, I feel for the soldier, whomever did this has probably made that young buck Sergeant’s life a living hell, not to mention possibly affecting his career, people just don’t think!

  2. Jason Raines says:

    With all the things going on in our country, and the world, it shouldn’t be necessary to “photoshop” evidence. However, it is not just individuals that get caught doing it, sometimes governments themselves do it as well.

    It is a good policy to do as you suggest, and try to verify information before accepting it as true.

  3. Libby says:

    I agree, Jimr. Photo-shopping this soldier’s uniform to make a “statement” is despicable. But I agree with the statement made.

  4. TVNews says:

    People will believe anything.