The Fitzgerald family coat of arms (a white shield with a red saltire) provides the foundation for the coat of arms for Fitzgerald. The shield signifies defense, while the saltire connotes strength and its red color represents valor and action. This traditional design has been modified by the addition of a blue cross paty interlaced with a gold annulet and four shamrocks. The cross commemorates the Navy Cross posthumously awarded to Lieutenant William Charles Fitzgerald for extraordinary heroism in the Vietnam battle that took his life. The annulet symbolizes the continuity of everlasting hope, fidelity and unity. The four shamrocks represent Lieutenant Fitzgerald's Irish family and heritage.
The sword and cutlass crossed behind the shield depict Lieutenant Fitzgerald's personal experiences as both an officer and enlisted sailor, as well as the professional excellence and teamwork in the United States Navy. The dolphins flanking the shield signify maritime dominance and allude to Fitzgerald's role in preserving America's command of the seas.
The trident, a traditional symbol of maritime prowess, represents both Lieutenant Fitzgerald's graduation from the United States Naval Academy and Fitzgerald's war fighting capabilities. Each tine of the trident depicts separate warfare areas—air, surface and sub-surface—in which Fitzgerald possesses unmatched strengths. Lions, the traditional symbol for strength and courage on land, support each side of the trident. They commemorate the circumstances under which Lieutenant Fitzgerald gave his life and to signify the eternal vigilance and teamwork necessary to project America's maritime power ashore.
The scroll, in the national colors of red, white, and blue and emblazoned with the motto "PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE," bears testimony to the ideals and actions exemplified throughout the life of William Charles Fitzgerald. This motto also links the Fitzgeralds' ancient family history—their Gallic war cry translates as "Defend the castle forever" -- with the gallantry, dedication and extraordinary heroism of Lieutenant Fitzgerald and the honored traditions of the United States Navy.