The OSI badge was designed by Captain Robert H. Ray in 1948. At the time, Captain Ray was newly assigned to the Headquarters entity of the fledgling organization Office of Special Investigations in Washington, D.C. When asked by General Joseph F. Carroll, OSI's founder and first director, to design a badge for the identification of OSI agents, Captain Ray based his ideas largely on the personal observations he had made of badges throughout his career.
Born in Syracuse, New York, in 1913, Ray served as a Connecticut State Trooper until entering active duty with the U.S. Army in 1942, where he served as a second lieutenant in the Provost Marshall Corps.
He worked in the European Civilian Affairs Division and helped in the reorganization of German police and fire departments at the end of World War II. After the war ended, Ray became commander of the 31st Criminal Investigations Division Detachments, Army Air Forces Headquarters, Wiesbaden, West Germany.
Ray joined OSI in 1948 as chief of the Criminal Investigations Division. He later served as chief of the General Investigations Division, OSI District Office 10, Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. He then served as the commander of District 3, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and later returned to West Germany as chief of the Management Division.
Ray left OSI in 1957 and retired from the Air Force on 1 April 1965 in the grade of lieutenant colonel.
In generating ideas for the design of the badge, Captain Ray said that he was strongly influenced by the design of the badge he had worn while serving as a Connecticut State Trooper. The layout of the two badges is very similar, and neither badge design has changed since 1948.
On 24 March 1994, Special Agent Timothy F. Deerr eloquently captured the essence of the OSI badge and its meaning in a speech designed for the members of Class 94-B upon their graduation from the Basic Investigators Course at the United States Air Force Special Investigations Academy. The following excerpts from Mr. Deerr's speech describe the elements of the AFOSI badge:
The color of the badge
"One of the most prominent features of the OSI badge is its color and brilliance. Gold - gold, the color of precious metal, of something universally acknowledged as having significant value - the metal traditionally associated as belonging to the best in the field - a color particularly appropriate as OSI strives to be the premier investigative agency of its kind."
The lettering of the badge
"The lettering is boldly stamped in blue. Blue - the color in heraldry associated with "constancy of purpose" as well as "justice." The color, also, of the sky - the domain of the service which we serve."
The shape of the badge
"The shape of the OSI badge - a shield - delivers a powerful message. In its essence, OSI exists to protect the integrity of the Air Force."
The center of the badge
"Appropriately, the Air Force's own insignia is found at the center of the badge, protected by two unbroken, concentric circles. The innermost circle contains the name of the protective organization itself, OSI, and the outermost circle emblazoned with two simple, yet powerful words - Special Agent - the person who carries the shield to protect the Air Force and the values it represents."
The border of the badge
"At the edges of the badge we find the laurel wreath, throughout history the traditional award given the conquering hero."
The crown of the badge
"Surmounting the badge is the eagle, honored symbol of the nation, its lofty ideals and noble values. But note the position of the wings - not outstretched in the traditional mode ready to take flight, but spread in a protective stance, as if guarding its young against the dangers of the wild and shielding them against the base forces of nature."