New authorized patch for US Army Japan soldiers

U.S. Army Japan Commander Maj. Gen. Joel Vowell wears a new patch that combines the U.S. and Japanese flags during training at Camp Zama, Japan, June 17, 2022. (Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – The military has authorized soldiers in Japan to wear a new patch symbolizing their alliance with the American ally in the Far East.

Hundreds of soldiers at the U.S. Army Japan Home in Kanagawa Prefecture put on the rectangular patches depicting the combined U.S. and Japanese flags during a training on Friday.

Five thousand U.S. soldiers at 17 bases in Japan are authorized to wear the patches, the commander of the U.S. Army in Japan, Maj. Gen. Joel Vowell, said Friday after attaching patches with cloth ties on several soldiers during training.

Soldiers in Japan work in a variety of fields, ranging from special operations to military intelligence, but all focus on building relationships with their counterparts in Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force, Vowell said.

“It’s an acknowledgment that everyone belongs in this mission,” he said of the new patch.

About 200 Japanese soldiers assigned to Camp Zama are also authorized to wear the patch, he said.

One of those sporting the new emblem on his shoulder was Staff Sergeant. Christopher Williams, 31, of Olympia, Wash., bassist for the Japanese band in the U.S. Army.

The new patch is as special to Williams as the Screaming Eagle badge he wears to signify his service in the 101st Airborne Division, his first unit, he said.

Soldiers in Japan may continue to wear the patch depicting a depiction of Mount Fuji.