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EUROPE - MILITARY BRANCH & RANK INSIGNIA

A corporal as french chief of staff

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A corporal as french chief of staff

Unread postby marcpasquin » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:41 pm

something which may look a bit odd at first glance, the current french defence chief of staff is a corporal as can be seen from this picture:

general-de-villiers.jpg


the reason is that General Pierre de Villiers was made an honourary corporal of the Troupe de la Marine in september 2014.
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Re: A corporal as french chief of staff

Unread postby Silverturtle » Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:11 am

smilies-09

Slightly unusual, but not too farfetched. While I was in the USAF, we had a Senior Airman [e-4] as First Sergeant. . .
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Re: A corporal as french chief of staff

Unread postby dcfowler » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:56 am

Then there was the episode of M*A*S*H, where Hawkeye put his captain's bars on Corporal Radar O'Reilly's uniform to pass him off in an officer's club as a "corporal captain."
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Re: A corporal as french chief of staff

Unread postby jrichardn2 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 8:02 pm

I think this is in fact very odd. Is it a French thing? It's kind of cool, but ... imagine General Dunford (current professional head of the U.S. Armed Forces) wearing an Air Force corporal's badge on his uniform.
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Re: A corporal as french chief of staff

Unread postby marcpasquin » Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:51 pm

jrichardn2 wrote:I think this is in fact very odd. Is it a French thing? It's kind of cool, but ... imagine General Dunford (current professional head of the U.S. Armed Forces) wearing an Air Force corporal's badge on his uniform.


Other french units (such as the foreign legion) do the same. My understanding of its symbolism is that as the corporal is the last rank an enlisted person can receive without becoming "someone who gives order", giving an honourary rank of corporal to an officer means that symbolically they see him as "one of the guys" as opposed to an honourary colonel who would be perceived more like a patron.

Incidentally, honorary corporal are normally only generals or equivalents but a rank of "soldat 1re classe d’honneur" can also be given, either to military personnel or civilians considered to have served the particular unit in a noteworthy fashion.
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Re: A corporal as french chief of staff

Unread postby waltergreen » Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:09 pm

A couple of minor corrections - the US Air Force has not had the rank of Corporal since 1952 at the end of the changes in uniform and insignia in the separation from the Army. First Sergeant in the US Air Force is a duty position appointment based on filling a First Sergeant slot. First Sergeant insignia is worn by Master Sergeants, Senior Master Sergeants, and Chief Master Sergeants in these slots.

There are two other examples of corporal as an honor. In 1938 during his visit to Italy, Hitler was honored by Mussolini as a Corporal of Honor of the Fascist Militia, and was photographed wearing large, sleeve width, corporal strips with a fasces on the black backing beneath the peak of the chevrons. This insignia was apparently only work during the visit. Mussolini himself regularly wore honorary First Corporal insignia, I believe in the Fascist Militia context, again with large corporal stripes, in his case with a Roman eagle on the black backing beneath the peak. In both Mussolini and Hitler's cases the wearer had actually served as corporal.
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Re: A corporal as french chief of staff

Unread postby Silverturtle » Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:03 pm

Walter -- In regards to the First Sgt. in the USAF; you are correct. In my previous post, I should have specified that the Senior Airman was ACTING First Sergeant. You can imagine the confusion and anger that it caused. smilies-20
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