The Honorable Service Lapel Button sometimes called the Honorable Discharge Lapel Pin or Ruptured Duck was issued to military personnel when they were honorably discharged during WWII. The Sculptor Anthony de Francisci designed the award in 1939 and consists of an eagle perched within a ring composed of a chief and thirteen vertical stripes. The button was issued between September 1939 and December 1946 and made of gilt brass, except during wartime metal shortages when it and enlisted hat insignias were made of gilt plastic. The plastic versions wore poorly and were generally exchanged for brass versions.
The award was commonly called the “Ruptured Duck” by veterans because the eagle faced to the right hand side, which was the same direction that doctors instructed inductees to face when told to coughed during a examination for ruptures. The term was an in-joke among veterans since no civilians went through an induction examination.
The ruptured duck term became slang to refer to discharged veterans wearing the award, as in “that ruptured duck is flying space-available.” Since discharged veterans were in a hurry to return home, the term later came into use describing somebody in a hurry. Such as the expression; “He took off like a ruptured duck”.
The “discharge button” was also embroidered as a gold colored cloth lozenge and sewn on the right breast of the veteran’s uniform allowing them to wear their uniform for up to a month after discharge to declare that they were not AWOL. Many veterans wore the pin on their civilian lapels for years after the war’s end as visible proof of their service. The pin is usually signified on the veteran’s DD-214 by the term ‘Lapel button issued’ at the bottom of the paper in the Remarks section.
The button (called a button since it was designed to go in the button hole of a suit lapel) was highly prized by veterans and worn with great pride. It was the only visible way a veteran could show their service in civilian clothes. The award was not issued after World War II and has a unique and honorable place in U.S. military insignia.