Died January 9, 1959
The General McMullen collection is a specialized grouping which
was obtained from the grandson of the general, the son of
Colonel Frank McCoy McMullen, USAF, the son of the general,
through D-Militaria and Collectibles of Arlington, Texas. The
grouping consists of personal items, personal papers, military
papers, personal and military photographs, uniform items, patches
and insignia from both the general and his son Frank.
USAF web site for General Clements McMullen.
The biography provided has been written for this website
using public researched material and information
found within the estate collection.
Figure 1: Photo from the Clements McMullen collection
Figure 2: Early design USAF Shade 84 Service Dress
coat with overseas patch and patch of present assignment
One of the most unfortunate aspects of the McMullen collection is that a number of his uniforms had to be trashed. Due to poor storage and years of neglect most of his uniforms became covered with dirt and mildew and were disintegrating. Only the medal insignia and some patches were saved from the cap and uniforms that were thrown away. The only identifying mark on the uniform presented is the year 1949 marked inside the internal breast pocket.
A beautiful example of the early design USAF Shade 84 service dress coat uniform. The grouping includes the service dress coat and trousers. The tie and undergarment shirt are of a later USAF uniform and not the proper period shade of blue. The trousers are period and matching the coat. The trousers have pleats, rear pocket tabs and belt loops according to Air Force regulation. Suspender buttons have been added.
Figure 3: All insignia, ribbons, and patches are WWII vintage
The early, first design, USAF Shade 84 service dress uniforms have a distinctive blue color that is different from later shade Air Force uniforms. The early shade 84 will have a light silver or gray blue effect while later Air Force uniforms will have a deeper blue without the silver or gray effect. However, some shade 84 uniforms produced by overseas venders may have a deeper blue tone.
The buttons on the uniform are hallmarked NS Meyer Company located in New York. Meyer was one of the early providers of buttons for the USAF. The two lower large pockets on the uniform would eventually and affectionately be referred to as Captain Kangaroo pockets for obvious reasons for those of us who remember the Captain.
Figure 4: Close up of the insignia and patches found on the uniform
All the insignia on the uniform are World War II vintage. The stars were produced by NS Meyer of New York, are pin back and marked sterling SHOLD-R-FORM. The officer’s “US” insignia have no hallmarks. This aspect is not unusual in that a lot of the early made “US” insignia were not marked. The Command Pilot Wings are a beautiful World War II set, pin back in design, and are hallmarked sterling and AMICO within their eagle crest logo design. Also found on the uniform right shoulder is a Far East Air Force patch and on the left shoulder an Air Material Command patch.
The ribbons are all Wolf Brown design on Wolf Brown aluminum three and two space ribbon holders. The general’s ribbons include the Army Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal, World War I Victory Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three stars, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Philippine Independence Ribbon, Philippine Liberation Ribbon and the Army of Occupation Medal.
When I received the McMullen collection none of the insignia were on uniforms and I had to use his period photos to reconstruct the uniforms. One thing I noticed, at least by today’s standards, some of the general’s ribbons were out of place and reversed. A friend of mine who is a physician commented that the general could have been color blind in that many of the ribbons he wears have similar patterns and the difference being color. I also checked some period resources and found that a number of the ribbons instituted during World War II were a bit sketchy as to how they are to be worn in regard to sequence. Some period material found in regard to sequence was also found to be contradictory.
The early practice of adding a brigadier star to the uniform coat when one was promoted was popular with many general rank officers in lieu of buying a major, lieutenant or general set. It was less expensive, the stars could be evenly spaced across the epaulette and looked better, it was easier for some just to add another star, and it allowed the coat epaulette to remain pliable when one would raise their arm. There was no written regulation covering this custom. In this case, the general’s first stars were probably the SHOLD-R-FORM set which is the earlier design of the two sets.
Figure 5: A close up of ribbons as they appear on the
general’s uniform from a period photo
Figure 6: Two additional period photos of the general showing his right and left
shoulder wearing the Far East Air Force and Air Material Command patches
The insignia found on the general’s uniform (rank stars, Command Pilot wings, and officers’ “US” insignia) are World War II period except for the officer’s “US” device which is early post war silver oxide. The ribbons are also World War II period. The general’s uniform conformed to Air Force regulations of the time period in that most, if not all, the insignia of the US Army was still regulation for the United States Air Force. AFM 35-10 would eventually codify the insignia but not at this early stage of the Air Force.
Another significant aspect to an early USAF shade 84 uniform is that they may be found with shoulder patches. The uniform is dated 1949 and the general is still wearing his overseas service patch on his right shoulder (Far East Air Force) and present duty patch on his left shoulder (Air Material Command).
The custom of wearing patches and how they are to be worn on the early USAF blue uniform is a bit sketchy and confusing. When the US Air Force separated from the US Army in 1947 most, if not all regulations pertaining to the use of patches were that of the US Army. The first published Air Officer’s Guide by the Military Service Publishing Company in 1948 gives the location of where the patches are to be attached on the uniform but leaves the rest of the information up to the US Army. The 1949 second edition gives the location but goes further to say that the “Current assignment patch will be worn on the left shoulder and the patch of overseas war assignment may be worn on the right sleeve in the same comparable position.” The 1950 third edition gives the same information of the second edition but then states shoulder insignia will not be worn on the new USAF uniform. The 1951 fifth edition once again changes the information in regard to wearing patches and now says that only the World War II overseas patch is authorized for use on the left shoulder and the wearing of the patch is optional. The optional wearing of the overseas patch would remain the same for a number of years. In many cases it was left to the discretion of the base commander. When AFM 35-10 was published in 1956 the overseas patch and its use remained the same. By 1959, the use of the overseas patch was no longer regulation and references to the patch were dropped.