View Full Version : Stars and Stripes in distress

February 06, 2003, 06:35
This is a two part question. What is the history of flying the American flag upside down as a sign of distress. And does the marine corp wea the US flag on the left or right sleeve of their utilities?

Blood of Tyrants
February 06, 2003, 09:09
Don't know the history of flying it upside down, but I am fairly sure that all U.S. troops who wear the U.S. flag shoulder patch, wear it on the right sleeve.

Bruce Allen
February 06, 2003, 10:01
Not sure about the history of the flag, but do know in the Army one can only wear a unit patch on (please correct me if I am wrong) on the left shoulder of they have been in combat.
Even many law enforcement agencies uniforms honored this up until about 15 years ago.

John Randolph
February 06, 2003, 10:48
The Marines don't wear flags on their BDUs...nor any patch really at all. Occaisionally (when serving with the UN) they will wear a flag on the left shoulder, the reason ostensibly is that the flag is closer to your heart.
The Army wears theirs on the right shoulder, and it does face backwards. The reason for this is that on the right shoulder, wearing it backwards makes it look like a guidon in the breeze, riding into battle.
This however has nothing to do with flying a flag upside down. The only appropriate time for this is when you have an isolated American unit, in danger of being overrun. Do it any other time, and you're asking to get punched.

February 06, 2003, 10:57
Jbaderts beat me to the punch. I'll also add that recent crew photo's of STS-107 show the flag worn on the left shoulder.

February 06, 2003, 12:00
Where the "upside-down distress" thing originated I'd like to know myself, but...

According to Marty Justis, director of the American Legion's Americanism Division, the United States Flag Code states, "The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire (desperately urgent) distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."

No disrespect towards your personal feelings on this matter jbaderts - I couldn't stand by and watch our flag disgraced in my presence without reacting in a very un-politically correct way:) myself - BUT, I don't see anything about "the only appropriate time for this is when you have an isolated American unit, in danger of being overrun" anywhere in the code. I'd suggest you ask 'em "What's up?" before you knock their teeth out. :wink:

February 06, 2003, 13:43
When I was in the sixth grade in North Carolina, someone at our school put the flag on the pole and ran it up, upside down. All of us kids recognized it was a distress call (I wonder if kids would know what it means now?). We told our teacher about it.

Found out later that as we were coming in on buses the county sheriff stopped by and royally reamed the principle for not seeing it and setting it right.

John Randolph
February 06, 2003, 15:00
Well assuming they were in real distress...it should be impossible for me to approach and ask them the question...let alone punch them in the face.
Moreover...I didn't say I would do it...I just said it might irritate a vet or two. Since 9/11 I've had to correct more than a few people in my condo...about the right way to display a flag...including some recalcitrant long-hair who thought he was being cute (I live in Montgomery County Maryland...in other words Hell).

February 06, 2003, 17:38
I have been corrected on the flag we hang on the wall here at work several times. Many people don't realize that the Union goes on the flag's own right. Visually, (when the flag is hanging vertically) this means the stars are on the left.

February 08, 2003, 00:50
I dont know about NOW, but back in 1968, your current unit was on your left sleeve near the shoulder, your combat unit was on your right sleeve near your shoulder. That was in the U.S. Army.