The A-2 was traditionally awarded to an Army Air Forces officer upon completion of basic flight training, and always before graduating to advanced training. The informal standard system of distribution was airmen lining up in front of boxes containing jackets of various sizes and handed out by the base Quartermaster.
The flight jacket became a treasured item to all airmen, and was worn with as much pride as their wings. During their service, crews often added and removed squadron patches, rank marks, mission markings and occasionally painted artwork depicting the type of aircraft they flew, or the Nose Art painted on their aircraft.
Many crew members ingeniously sewed a map of the mission area right into their jacket lining, which in the event of being shot down, the airmen could utilize their jacket for navigation out of enemy territory. Another wartime tradition surfaced where in certain ETO units and possibly elsewhere, a fighter pilot who has reached the raking of “Ace” had the prerogative replacing the cotton A-2 lining, with red satin lining which could be added on confirmation of their fifth aerial kill.
Prior to World War II, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, foreign volunteer pilots of famed Flying Tigers Squadron sewed "Blood Chits" into the lining, or on the back of thier A-2 jackets. The markings printed in Chinese, informed the locals that this foreign pilot was fighting for China and did not pose a threat to the person that found the downed airman. A text from one such blood chit translates as follows: