Bill Emerson started collecting army patches in the 5th grade and that grew to other army insignia while in high school. In the 1960s he began to research insignia as there were no definitive books on US Army insignia, and this grew to writing for a collector’s magazine. This eventually led to first book published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 1983 that catalogued and discussed the history of US Army chevrons. Next was an encyclopedia on U.S. Army uniforms and insignia (670 pages, University of Oklahoma Press, 1996) and a work on U.S. Army marksmanship and related awards (University of Oklahoma Press, 2003). He has written over 400 articles that have appeared in a wide range of magazines.
Bill graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1965 with a BS in mechanical engineering, was commissioned in the U.S. Army, and received a MS in mechanical engineering in 1974.
He lived in Germany for seven years, served two tours in the Vietnam during that war, served in a tank battalion, two different cavalry regiments, and managed several army projects, including the development of camouflage uniforms for soldiers (Battle Dress Uniforms) and the development of the M1A1 tank. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, two Bronze Stars with V, three Purple Hearts, an Air Medal, a parachutist badge, a Combat Infantry Badge, and the German Army’s soldier badge.
Recognitions include past President of the Company of Military Historians, three terms on the CMH Board of Directors, Fellows Award, Founder’s Award, Distinguished Service Award, and two Miller Awards. The Orders and Medals Society has presented him with a range of recognitions including the Distinguished Member Award. The American Society of Military Insignia Collectors have given him numerous awards and he continues to write a quarterly column for The Trading Post. He has also been recognized by the American Association of Military Uniform Collectors for his many articles.