Mission Patches
Their Source and Meaning

Burntheships' Collection
Member of AboveTopSecret.com
(Edited and Additions by Pegasus)

The patches on these pages, and throughout the ATS thread are from actual operations. Most of the posts contain some mention of the operation, and even info from various supporting sources. 

Please do check them out, each one can be verified. 
There is no make believe in this thread.

The Pentagon even tips the hand with their comment - Not prudent to comment on;

“Gives readers a peek into the shadows ... Department of Defense spokesman Bob Mehal told Newsweek that it ‘would not be prudent to comment on what patches did or did not represent classified units.’ That’s OK. Some mysteries are more fun when they stay unsolved.”

Karen Pinchin, Newsweek

"Of course, issuing patches for a covert operation sounds like a joke...but truth be told, these days everything is branded. Military symbols are frequently replete with heraldic imagery—some rooted in history, others based on contemporary popular arts that feature comic characters—but these enigmatic dark-op images, in some cases probably designed by the participants themselves, are more personal, and also more disturbing, than most."

Steven Heller, The New York Times Book Review

In any case, you are free to make up your own mind. 

One of the more recent patches from the "Ghost Squadron" based at Groom Lake. The design of the skull's helmet indicates that "Ghost" is a helicopter unit. The footprints on the helmet mark the trace of the "Jolly Green Giant," a symbol that represents helicopter search and rescue missions. This patch also seems to indicate that "G.H.O.S.T." is an acronym for the unit. The meaning of the acronym is unclear.

SOURCE:  I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me

Spying on the government

The amount of money spent on secret Pentagon projects—the so-called “black budget”—has reached unprecedented levels in the past few years. This level of hidden military spending translates into a variety of extremely peculiar built environments and landscapes. From the popular phenomenon of “Area 51,” to discreet locales like the Helendale Avionics Facility, the Southwest is littered with places where the military develops, tests, and operates technologies that “do not exist.” Among industry insiders, these clandestine infrastructures and secret bases are collectively known as the “black world.”

SOURCE: Spying on the government

Bird of Prey

The Bird of Prey was a highly classified technology demonstrator that first flew at Groom Lake in 1996. Built by a secretive division of McDonnell Douglas (later acquired by Boeing) known as the "Phantom Works," the aircraft was flown by Boeing pilots Rudy Haug and Joe Felock. Doug Benjamin of the secret Special Projects Flight Test Squadron was the only Air Force pilot to fly the aircraft.

Although the shape of the plane was secret in 1996, the Bird of Prey patch contained an important clue. When Boeing declassified the Bird of Prey's existence in 2002, it became obvious that the handle of the sword was essentially the same shape as the aircraft. This distinctive sword has since become incorporated into the symbolism of the Special Projects Flight Test Squadron.

SOURCE: I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me

Global Engagement Military Spaceplane Technology Program
This patch is from the Phillips Laboratory Military Spaceplane Technology (MIST) Program Office at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The original version of the patch sported an "X-Wing" fighter from the Star Wars movies. When lawyers representing George Lucas delivered the unit a cease and desist order, the aircraft on the patch was changed into the shape that appears on this patch.

SOURCE: http://www.naderlibrary.com/icouldtellyou.patches.htm

Behind The Green Door

The origins and purpose of this patch remain obscure. The green figure holding the sword (or dagger) wears the cloak-and dagger garb often associated with black projects. There is a star in the northern hemisphere under the letter "S" and another red star in the American Southwest. The red star might refer to an operating location, but the patch provides no real clue as to where it might be. The Southwest is home to numerous classified units. Air Force Space Command in Colorado; Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico; White Sands, New Mexico; Groom Lake, Nevada; and the Tonopah Test Range are all possibilities, and there are many more.

The words "A Lifetime of Silence" no doubt refer to the fact that members of this unit or project cannot speak about what they do. The image of a "Green Door" is also obscure. Military intelligence officers have a tradition of working behind locked green vault doors, but the symbol is widely used in popular culture to designate an inaccessible place.

In Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman's 1917 novel The Green Door, a young girl named Letitia longs to open a mysterious little green door in her house, but her aunt forbids it with the words "It is not best for you, my dear." The 1956 hit song "Green Door" is about a man who couldn't get into a party raging behind a green door. 

SOURCE: http://www.naderlibrary.com/icouldtellyou.patches.htm

Originally posted by jkrog08 ATS post ID 6778523

I have done a little research about the "green door" patch. My uncle, who is ex CIA said he believes it is from the intelligence dept. That seems to be true, according to what I have found out thus far.

The sensitivity of intelligence information usually requires special handling by individuals with special clearances; this fact distinguishes intelligence data from most other types of military information. Historically, intelligence data has been a closely held resource. The very fact that a piece of information was known could reveal the source. For example, U.S. and British leaders faced many a dilemma during World War II over the use of intelligence collected via deciphered Purple (Japan) and Enigma (Nazi Germany) messages.(2) Too much use of information derived from deciphered messages would have advertised the fact of our codebreaking success. This sensitivity to collection and dissemination of intelligence data led to a closed door approach (known to many as the "Green Door Syndrome")(3) to all areas of intelligence. The Green Door Syndrome dictated the secrecy of communications in support of intelligence efforts. With the advent of increasingly sensitive collection methods, the requirement to keep sensitive sources and methods behind the green door became even greater. The fact that certain circuits even existed required and continue to require classification levels far above those held by many mainstream communications providers. This sensitivity to all things intelligence related has lead to the creation of a worldwide communications infrastructure dedicated solely for the use of, and managed by, the intelligence community.


The mystery of the spymaster's metaphor. 'Everybody talks about 'military capability' or 'law-enforcement capability,''' George Tenet told the 9/11 commission in April, three months before his resignation as director of Central Intelligence. ''Well, we sit behind the green door. And for the bang for the buck, the American taxpayer gets a hell of a lot for what we give them.''

But what is the significance of the green door, and what goes on behind it? I put that question to the long-embattled head of the C.I.A. as he was leaving office.

''That phrase has long been used to refer to intelligence units in the military,'' Tenet responded, ''often housed in spaces with a green door to denote the sensitivity of the unit and to alert individuals who did not hold appropriate clearances not to enter those spaces. I used the reference to illustrate the fact that we in the intelligence community conduct our work in secret, in a manner that is not generally evident to the American people.''


The title of this excerpt was "behind the green door"
Further up the chain of command, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, as she recently told the Senate, "convened a series of meetings of NSC [National Security Council] principals in 2002 and 2003 to discuss various issues...relating to detainees." This group, including Vice President Cheney, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA director George Tenet, met dozens of times inside the White House Situation Room. 


Of course there is the ebay description that burntheships already included in the OP. This a VERY interesting patch, it looks like it belongs to an intelligence community. With what looks like 'something' sitting in a chair 'typing' or 'steering' maybe this refers to those involved in cyber intelligence or hacking? But the red star in the southwest, as well the one near Siberia surely makes me pause from that theory. And of course this could have nothing to do with intelligence and the green door refers to something else altogether, although I am heavily leaning towards NSA or something like that.

That's all I got right now

Grim Reapers

Grim Reapers was the nickname of the 4451st Test Squadron, which operated under the 4450th Tactical Group at the Tonopah Test Range during the 1980s. The unit's mission was to fly a squadron of classified stealth fighters.

When the Pentagon announced the existence of the stealth fighter program in the late 1980s, the Grim Reapers were redesignated as the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron. After the Grim Reapers' existence became public, the Air Force forced the unit to change their name, as it did not pass the Air Force's requirements for good taste. The Grim Reapers thus became the Ghost Riders.

SOURCE: http://www.naderlibrary.com/icouldtellyou.patches.htm

Electronic Warfare Directorate
Testum Pontus Veratis

The Electronic Warfare Directorate is the primary EW test organization at Edwards Air Force Base.

Electronic warfare consists of defensive and offensive avionics and includes the so-called "Infowar" revolution in military technologies. Commenting on information warfare, Air Force Chief of Staff John Jumper told Aviation Week and Space Technology that "we're rapidly approaching the time when you can tell an SA-10's [surface-to-air missile system] radar that it's a Maytag washer and put it in the rinse cycle instead of the firing cycle."

SOURCE: http://www.naderlibrary.com/icouldtellyou.patches.htm

Originally posted by Shadowhawk ATS Post ID

The crow clutching lightning bolts has been a standard symbol of electronic warfare for at least the past half century. There is no mystery there. Offensive and defensive avionics technicians are referred to as "crows."


This patch is worn by people working for a unit descended from the 413th Flight Test Squadron. Elements of the former 413th FLTS became a part of the EW Directorate known by its organization code EWAH. Located at North Base at Edwards, EWAH has its own commanding officer who reports directly to the EW Directorate.

The collection of 5+1 stars recalls the nickname Area 51, the Air Force's classified "operating location" at Groom Lake.

SOURCE: http://www.naderlibrary.com/icouldtellyou.patches.htm

Image: USAF
Symbol on the inside of the plane's cockpit shows a collection of five-plus-one stars.  The collection of 5+1 stars recalls the nickname Area 51, the Air Force's classified "operating location" at Groom Lake.

Originally posted by zorgon

I am not so sure the 5 and the one indicates Area 51.  Funny I thought I posted that in this thread  Hmmm...must be in the NAVY thread..

Added Info: "Decal inside the cockpit of the formerly top secret TACIT BLUE "stealth" demonstrator"
Perhaps after this you will understand their ARE NO COINCIDENCES and its all part of the bigger picture...
Image: Subaru
Subaru of America, Inc., (SOA), is the exclusive United States marketer of Subaru products manufactured by Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., SOA serves nearly 600 dealers nationwide.

'SUBARU' is a Japanese word meaning 'unite', as well as a term identifying a cluster of six stars, which the Greeks called the Pleiades - part of the Taurus constellation.

Pleiades...imagine that...
Best known for its Subaru automobiles, FHI also manufactures commercial and military aircraft and aircraft parts, engines and machinery, buses and rolling stock.
FHI has four divisions that support each other in technological research and advancement:
 -  Aerospace: This division is a major contractor of aircraft, helicopters, target drones and related parts and services to the Defense Agency of Japan. Sales of the Aerospace Division are both commercial and defense-related. These products are marketed domestically to the Defense Agency as well as United States markets.

SOURCE: Subaru_History.aspx

Brightest stars in Pleiades: A map of the Pleiades

The nine brightest stars of the Pleiades are named for the Seven Sisters of Greek mythology: Sterope, Merope, Electra, Maia, Taygeta, Celaeno, and Alcyone, along with their parents Atlas and Pleione. As daughters of Atlas, the Hyades were sisters of the Pleiades. The English name of the cluster itself is of Greek origin, though of uncertain etymology. Suggested derivations include: from πλεîν plein, to sail, making the Pleiades the "sailing ones"; from pleos, full or many; or from peleiades, flock of doves. 

Other notable names of Pleiades include:
(al-Thurayya) in Arabic
Subaru in Japanese
Matariki in Maori
# Kṛttikā in Sanskrit

SOURCE: Wikipedia Pleiades (star cluster)

Killer Whale
Deterritum Per Testandum Supra Terram

"Killer Whale" was a nickname for the AGM-137 Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile, also known as TSSAM, which was a 1980s project to develop a stealth cruise missile. The name "Killer Whale" has a somewhat complicated history. In the early 1980s, Northrop developed a stealthy prototype aircraft codenamed "TACIT BLUE," which pioneered the use of rounded shapes for stealth aircraft. Because of the plane's unusual shape, it became known as the "Whale" or "Shamu," and the Northrop crews working on the project at Groom Lake became known as "whalers." After TACIT BLUE, which was unarmed, proved that this stealth technology was effective, Northrop began work on the Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile, which was a variation on the TACIT BLUE design, and resembled the unusually-shaped stealth aircraft. Thus, while the unarmed TACIT BLUE was known as the "Whale," its cruise missile cousin became known as the "Killer Whale." The Latin phrase "Deterritum Per Testandum Supra Terram" is hard to decipher. The words vaguely translate as "Deterrence/Through/Witness/Above/Earth. Members of the test team choose to interpret it loosely as "Deterrence Through Flight Test." 

SOURCE: http://www.naderlibrary.com/icouldtellyou.patches.htm

Editors Note:

"Deterrence Through Watching Over Earth"

Don't Ask - NOYFB

This patch is from the 22nd Military Airlift Squadron, who flew C-5 cargo aircraft out of Travis Air Force Base in Northern California. Part of the 22nd MAS' mission was to conduct late night operations picking up classified aircraft from aerospace plants in Southern California and delivering them to classified locations for testing and evaluation.

When the 22nd MAS undertook these missions, its crews would take off their everyday heraldry and Velcro this patch to their uniforms.

The black background and crescent moon on the patch probably represent the unit's night operations. The silver lining represents star light. The question mark signifies classified operations. The letters "NOYFB" stand for "None of Your F#g Business."

SOURCE: http://www.naderlibrary.com/icouldtellyou.patches.htm

Special projects
Procul este Profani

This patch is from the 416th Flight Test Squadron's Special Projects Flight working on advanced technologies for the F-16 Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base.

The phrase Procul Este Profani is usually associated with Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid. When Apollo arrives at the Temple of Apollo, the prophet Sibyl utters the words "Procul, O procul este profane" before the pair descend into Hades, where Aeneas is told about the future of Rome.

Members of the unit translate the phrase as "Keep your distance, you who are uninitiated." 

SOURCE: http://www.naderlibrary.com/icouldtellyou.patches.htm

Editors Note:

Felter, 1912: Biographies of King, Howe and Scudder.
"Procul, O Procul Este, Profani."
Selected writings of A. Jackson Howe.

"PROCUL, O PROCUL ESTE, PROFANI."—On the door-plate of a certain church edifice I lately saw the Latin quotation placed at the head of this squib. The famous protocol constitutes the 257th line of Book VI of Virgil's Aenead, and may be rendered as follows:

"Stand aside, ye unsanctified." Literally the words mean, "Be off, O be gone, ye unitiated." Upon inquiry I found the church was a "close communion Baptist."—the application of the phrase being that the profane and unregenerate were not wanted inside, or until they became fit to be seated in the sanctuary.


F-22 Low Observatory Flight Test
Raptor 4004 Just Passing Through

This commemorative patch for a classified flight test of an F-22 Raptor aircraft at Groom Lake shares many symbols with the Special Projects Flight Test Squadron patch. The mascot here is a raptor wearing the clothes of a wizard (like those on the Special Projects Flight Test Squadron patch). The Greek letter sigma hangs from the figure's neck. The collection of six stars, again, is a reference to Area 51. The phrase "IdB" may reference the intended or actual radar cross section measurement of the aircraft. The words JUST PASSING THROUGH reference the fact that, for this test, the airplane had only to fly through the RCS measurement range while engineers collected data from monitoring stations on the ground.

SOURCE: http://www.naderlibrary.com/icouldtellyou.patches.htm

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