Military units throughout the force take great pride in their organization. They each have their own logos, emblems, mottos and even traditions that set them apart from the rest. It is common for units to design unit t-shirts to reflect this pride. Veterans who continued to re-enlist until retirement have lockers full of those ratty old shirts. Watching them brings back a flood of memories, of those times when they served with heroes and fools in the same command. These unit shirts are often designed by someone in the platoon who has nominal artistic ability. What is the creative starting point for undertaking this venture? Whatever design emerges, it has to be one that Cobra Kai’s Sensei Johnny Lawrence would call badass. At least one of the criteria listed below must be met for your next unit t-shirt to be legit.
The only thing better than a skull on a unit t-shirt is a bunch of skulls. A full skeleton is also acceptable. It is imperative to communicate to the world that you are ready to kill the enemy to defend this great nation. Die for your country? No, the goal is to kill the enemy for his country. The skull is often the centerpiece of the design. It can have horns, headdress, boonie blanket or any other accent. The options are limitless. A platoon of cooks once had a skull with crossed spatulas and the motto Death from within. Wait, are you trying to poison us? ! You don’t feed the enemy? ! But I digress. Even if you have a support role like a fabric repair technician, you could have a skeleton with a thimble on your hand and make the sewing machine look like a machine gun. A motor transport platoon once had shirts made with a skeleton leaning out of the driver’s seat of a 7-ton giving a thumbs-up sign. The banner said Force trucks: blood, sweat, tears and pain. Driving grunts in the rain. (The author did not invent this).
Nothing is more intimidating than a bladed weapon. There is room for creative license here. It doesn’t have to be a KA-BAR knife (Marine Corps) or a letter opener (Air Force), any blade can be used! There are broadswords, battle axes, and even throwing stars for these units in the Far East. Since each of these tools is intended to inflict wounds and draw blood, it is quite appropriate to represent blood in the drawing. Although your current unit may no longer carry these instruments of war, you let the world know “but we could if we wanted…” Even if you are a parade ground, a ceremonial unit, do not be discouraged. The front sight of the unit can act as a spear (especially in the hands of a skeleton!). A supply section can craft a mean-looking box cutter. A Cyber Defender can represent a knife stabbing a computer. A METOC (meteorological and oceanographic) forecaster… i.e. a weather guesser, may have a trident sticking out of the clouds. Seriously, if he’s sharp or sharp, he qualifies.
Oh snakes. It is the most feared creature on the planet. Let the world know you fear nothing (except Gunny and the Chief). Your central character can grab the snake by the throat. The snake could even have exaggerated fangs, like the doctors whose t-shirts showed a cobra with hypodermic needles for fangs. Double the fear, ouch! Again, your branch of service or military occupational specialty is not a barrier to using the snake in your design. You can show the snake coiled around an object like a toolbox. (Don’t touch my things!). Oil Supply Specialists can have a snake representing the pipe, as they grab its neck and spit gasoline from its snake mouth into tactical vehicles. The only ones who will hesitate to use the snake motif are those who grew up watching GI Joe. As you know, in this historically accurate animated series, the villains were Cobra…a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world!
Rifle, pistol, machine gun, everything is allowed. Honestly, if he has a projectile, he meets the criteria. You could have missiles, cannons or arrows. I bet a promising fighter could make the case for a tactical slingshot. I got something for you commie/terrorist/whatever-bad-is-next. Your unit or MOS never fires a gun? No matter. When you’re home on leave, everyone thinks you’re a sniper, martial artist, jet pilot, medic, explosives expert, jumping out of planes. So, sure you shoot guns. Ride the coat tails of those who do these things, just put a gun on the t-shirt. It’s military 101 criteria. Also, once you leave active duty and enter the veteran ranks, you’ll need to wear either a Second Amendment Right shirt or anything Grunt Style.
The black color
Force multiplier in a unit t-shirt product in black color. Only the most intimidating stereotypes wear black. Ninjas, bikers, heavy metal bands. If your unit is super motivated, you will offer the shirts in two color options. One black and whatever fatigue color is associated with your branch of service. The blackshirt, however, is what will keep America’s haters up at night wondering what your next move will be. Wearing this shirt in malls, airports and sports stadiums will serve as a major deterrent to potential bad guys. If you have muscles, wear the shirt in size medium to show “guns”. If you’re pretty skinny (ok, nervous), make sure your skinny arms are covered in tattoos. Combined with the black unit t-shirt; it’s just as intimidating.
Now that you got a tutorial or refresher on military unit t-shirt designs, get started. It doesn’t matter what you do in the military. YOU are the reason the suburbs sleep safe at night. Your unit deserves to show off its spirit with a shirt containing at least one element of the criteria listed above. If you’re on the lethality ladder that progressed from Cobra Kai to Eagle Fang Karate, use several items from this list to create the ultimate unit t-shirt.