The Maroon Beret, like the Green Beret, is the trademark headgear of a US Army unit type, specifically, the Airborne. Mainly worn by members of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Airborne Corps, the 101st Airborne Division is also known to carry these prized pieces of military uniform. Smaller units such as the 35th Signal Brigade are also known to be awarded these.
While the Maroon Beret signifies airborne status of a unit, it does not necessarily mean the wearer as an individual actually jumps from military aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules. Many airborne personnel are resentful of this, since the 'dirty legs' as they call them, are wearing an award they did not earn.
The beret itself is worn flopped over the right side of the head. In the front, centered over the right eye, is a 'flash'. This is a shield-shaped badge sewn onto the wool beret that is specific to the wearer's unit. On this flash one would pin the metal crest, or distinctive unit insignia, of his assigned unit.
Proper care of the beret requires changing of the flash often, as it tends to become soiled with wear, especially when performing tasks such as maintenence of military Hummers,or HMMWVs (Highly Mobile Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles).
When one first recieves their beret, the first task is to get the flash sewn on. Then, the wool fuzz must be shaven off. The beret must then be shaped to the wearer's head, and the strings on the leather band tied, clipped, and burned down. The backing cardboard that shapes the area where the flash is sewn to is reccomended to be cut away, so as to remove some of the bulk.