Symbols in a 1945 Army patch

Given to veterans of the Manhattan Engineering District

November 2, 2023

Manhattan Project Patch
Manhattan Engineer District patch from 1945 Los Alamos National Laboratory

Given to veterans of the Manhattan Engineering District 

After World War II, this unique shoulder patch was given to about 3,500 Army officers and enlisted people who were assigned to the Manhattan Engineer District, a branch of the Army Corps of Engineers responsible for the design, construction and operation of the physical plant and process network of the Manhattan Project. What do the patch’s strange symbols mean?  

The color blue: represents the universe.

The star: this is an Army Service Force star, signifying “command.”

The white question mark: surrounding the star, this indicates the secrecy cloaking the Manhattan Engineer District.

The lightning zigzag: the tail of the question mark becomes a lightning strike, hitting and splitting an atom.

Veterans continue to be a part of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s story. Read about some of the Lab’s current job opportunities and training for veterans.