Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Doodads and Army Duds [Updated with a fun puzzle!]

 

I had long thought the doodads festooning veteran organizational caps to be a bit silly and something of the past. This Veterans Day, I took another look and came to a different conclusion. Looking at veterans’ uniforms in a parade and watching the pudgy weasel almost popping out of his blue Army Service Uniform in Congress, I discovered two things.

The first realization was of a linkage between military and veteran customs. Look at any military member’s uniform and you will see a shorthand career biography. If you take the time to look up the various ribbons, badges, insignia, patches, crests and whatnot, you get a glimpse into where they served and some tokens of what they did.*

It should be no surprise that veterans would carry over the military habit of visible tokens on their uniform. On closer examination, those “funny” caps have been serving the same function as a uniform jacket. Since the cap is the whole of a veterans organization uniform, that is where various tokens of a veteran’s service are displayed. 

The VFW caps you see above were being auctioned off. You can see the former wearer had led a post in Iowa back in the late 1960s. He was a life member, and was involved in a number of recruiting drives for the organization, as well as other efforts to sustain and improve the organization. So the various badges seem to say. This was almost certainly a World War II veteran, a Korean War veteran, or both.

The second realization was that time quickly separates us from the current generation. I realized that this Wednesday in digging up an official link to current Army uniforms. I was surprised, although not greatly, to find that the uniform was changing again. 

I was an Army brat in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, before joining and serving from 1986 through 2006. The Army started with olive drab fatigues (pickle suit), khakis, green Class A (business suit), and dress blues. They transitioned in the 1980s to Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), eliminated khakis, and defined a “Class B” (take off the jacket and add a black windbreaker or sweater as needed outdours) out of the Class A. Then, in the last 15 years, we saw the supposed simplification of the supply chain and soldiers’ closets by eliminating the Class A (green) uniform and making the basic design of the dress blues much more durable. This became the Army Service Uniform, and served as both business and formal attire (add straight black bow tie for the evening).

As you can see from LTC V’s appearance, if you will, this is really a bit much for regular business attire. Besides, A new crop of Command Sergeants Major need to make their own mark. The Army is going old school, bringing back the classic World War II Army Greens, with some updates, in 2020!

Ladies and gentlemen, back to the future, I give you the 2020 Army Greens!

Wait a minute! This really is big: brown shoes. The Army hasn’t worn brown shoes since before Vietnam. But don’t go re-dyeing your low quarters, you still need the black shoes for the ASU, for formal events.

What do you think? I’m kind of liking this look, especially if we get some old fashioned military discipline and values back in the headquarters where these snazzy duds will be mostly worn. Hooah?


* Here is a decoder key, following AR-600-8-22, for the “fruit salad” on soldiers’ chests:

For extra fun, here is a practical exercise in ribbon and badge reading. Can anyone spot the puzzling part?

LTC V fruit salad puzzle

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There are 72 comments.

  1. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown: What do you think?

    Brings back memories.

    • #1
    • November 20, 2019, at 10:13 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. Sweezle Member

    I like military memorabilia and it does tell a story of each veteran. Where they were stationed, what wars they were in and part of who they are. Does the Navy still have that awful blue camo work uniform? The one that blends in with large bodies of water making rescue almost impossible? 

    • #2
    • November 20, 2019, at 10:20 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. Judge Mental Member

    I approve. Hard to be the big, green machine if they aren’t green.

    • #3
    • November 20, 2019, at 10:20 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    Sweezle (View Comment):
    Does the Navy still have that awful blue camo work uniform? The one that blends in with large bodies of water making rescue almost impossible? 

    Discontinued.

    • #4
    • November 20, 2019, at 10:28 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. dnewlander Member

    Huh. Now I know why my friend in the Reserves dyed his combat boots brown.

    • #5
    • November 20, 2019, at 10:43 PM PST
    • 1 like
  6. Kozak Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Sweezle (View Comment):
    Does the Navy still have that awful blue camo work uniform? The one that blends in with large bodies of water making rescue almost impossible?

    Discontinued.

    LOL. When I worked at Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital I used to tease the Navy guys about that.

     

    • #6
    • November 21, 2019, at 5:38 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. Kozak Member

    Not many can touch the Soviets at this….

     

    Ok. The Norks can.

     

    Pretty amazing since the Norks haven’t had a shooting war since 1953…

    • #7
    • November 21, 2019, at 5:42 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  8. Stad Thatcher

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Not many can touch the Soviets at this….

     

    Ok. The Norks can.

     

    Pretty amazing since the Norks haven’t had a shooting war since 1953…

    Don’t stand next to one of these guys in a thunderstorm . . .

    • #8
    • November 21, 2019, at 6:38 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. Tex929rr Coolidge

    I think bringing back the “pink and greens” is good for the Army, although reading some online discussions I get why current serving troops are annoyed at the whole thing. The AF suffered greatly when one chief of staff managed to make everyone look like Delta crew members, and for some reason they have never pushed back to make airmen dress uniforms look more military. The Navy seems to have a hard time deciding where they want to go with uniforms. During my active duty days it was really weird to see sailors with full beards.

    And of course the Marines have always honored their history and traditions when it comes to uniforms and have been much the better for it. 

     

    • #9
    • November 21, 2019, at 6:50 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Aaron Miller Member

    Impressive that the soldier on the right was able to earn so many ribbons in a skirt and slippers. She needs a hat that befits such high esteem. 

    • #10
    • November 21, 2019, at 7:16 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Sweezle (View Comment):
    Does the Navy still have that awful blue camo work uniform? The one that blends in with large bodies of water making rescue almost impossible?

    Discontinued.

    That unfortunate design was nicknamed “blueberries.”

    • #11
    • November 21, 2019, at 8:44 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Old Bathos Member

    If the Army goes to a WWII look will everyone still get a beret? 

    Looks like the headgear comes with that old Army Air Corps 40-mission crush already built-in. Can’t decide whether I prefer that to the more modern saucer cap. More importantly, I can’t decide whether I actually care.

    I only got through (rare) inspections in dress uniform because (a) I had a buddy who had actually been in the Old Guard (those guys who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier among other duties) and who knew far more about Brasso, shoe polish and making clothing wrinkle-free than normal people ever could and (b) expectations for formal presentation in formation by medical enlisted men were generally rather low.

    And if we are going retro.. Why not go all the way and offer a Zouave option?

     

     

     

    • #12
    • November 21, 2019, at 9:01 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Impressive that the soldier on the right was able to earn so many ribbons in a skirt and slippers. She needs a hat that befits such high esteem.

     

    If you read her uniform, she is a lieutenant colonel in Aviation (a helicopter pilot), so her other uniform, in which she earned the awards and badges over the past 20+ years, was a flight suit. Flight suits, it turns out, were replaced at some point with two piece uniforms that look like regular camouflage uniforms but are made of flame retardant material, rated for helicopter crew use.

     The other standard jab at women and the office/business uniform is that they are trying to be like men, wearing pants with a business jacket instead of a skirt. You will note the sergeant next to the lieutenant colonel is wearing pants, so both options are being displayed.

     

    • #13
    • November 21, 2019, at 9:36 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. Arahant Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Impressive that the soldier on the right was able to earn so many ribbons in a skirt and slippers. She needs a hat that befits such high esteem.

    Note the emblem. That dude is a real bomb-thrower.

    • #14
    • November 21, 2019, at 12:05 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Old Bathos Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Impressive that the soldier on the right was able to earn so many ribbons in a skirt and slippers. She needs a hat that befits such high esteem.

    Note the emblem. That dude is a real bomb-thrower.

    I thought it was a potted plant insignia. The Queen’s own Floral Fusiliers or something like that.

    • #15
    • November 21, 2019, at 12:27 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  16. Arahant Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I thought it was a potted pant insignia. The Queen’s own Floral Fusiliers or something like that.

    Grenadiers.

    • #16
    • November 21, 2019, at 12:33 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  17. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I think bringing back the “pink and greens” is good for the Army, although reading some online discussions I get why current serving troops are annoyed at the whole thing. The AF suffered greatly when one chief of staff managed to make everyone look like Delta crew members, and for some reason they have never pushed back to make airmen dress uniforms look more military. The Navy seems to have a hard time deciding where they want to go with uniforms. During my active duty days it was really weird to see sailors with full beards.

    And of course the Marines have always honored their history and traditions when it comes to uniforms and have been much the better for it.

     

    All the other services envy the USMC dress and semi dress uniforms. Fact.

    • #17
    • November 21, 2019, at 1:02 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  18. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I thought it was a potted pant insignia. The Queen’s own Floral Fusiliers or something like that.

    Grenadiers.

    Yup, and also taken as the symbol of those who produce and handle munitions, the ordinance corps

    • #18
    • November 21, 2019, at 1:12 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. Quietpi Member

    I applaud the return to the old pink and greens, and hope they stay there. I’ve always scratched my head over the services’ interest in updating uniforms (except improving Class C, when it actually is an improvement, because survival is big in my books). USMC has shown all the others how it’s done, and what works. And it’s been working for decades, virtually unchanged.

    I hope the photographs has somehow exaggerated the peaks on those caps. IMO those things look ridiculous.

    • #19
    • November 21, 2019, at 1:53 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Sweezle Member

    Good to know the blueberries are discontinued.

    • #20
    • November 21, 2019, at 1:55 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    I added a fruit salad decoder key to the bottom of the post, so you can make sense out of rows of ribbons.

    • #21
    • November 21, 2019, at 2:13 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. dnewlander Member

    Our “favorite” LT COL has sat behind many desks it would appear. And happened to be in the service when he could earn a bunch of medals for attendance.

    • #22
    • November 21, 2019, at 3:12 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  23. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown: Can anyone spot the puzzling part?

    The number of campaigns he hasn’t been on?

    • #23
    • November 21, 2019, at 3:33 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  24. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Can anyone spot the puzzling part?

    The number of campaigns he hasn’t been on?

    Scan the top of the ribbon rack. That gives you the most important awards. Closest to the heart is most important, so read right to left there. Check the decoder key.

    • #24
    • November 21, 2019, at 3:42 PM PST
    • 1 like
  25. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Having a bunch, or having no awards is not entirely clear in meaning. The Medical Corps is infamous for not playing the game, so you can have brilliant doctors with long and distinguished careers but not a single ribbon issued, not even the basic participation ribbons.

    Then there are “badge hunters” who make a game of collecting everything they can, by the regulation, including every school that will give them a new badge.

    • #25
    • November 21, 2019, at 4:11 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  26. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    so read right to left there

    You’re saying he has them backwards? Don’t make your readers work too hard.

    • #26
    • November 21, 2019, at 4:16 PM PST
    • 1 like
  27. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    so read right to left there

    You’re saying he has them backwards? Don’t make your readers work too hard.

    No. They are in correct order. Look at the decoder, check the awards closest to the Purple Heart. An obvious award is missing. It truly is a puzzle.

    • #27
    • November 21, 2019, at 4:25 PM PST
    • 1 like
  28. Sweezle Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Can anyone spot the puzzling part?

    The number of campaigns he hasn’t been on?

    Scan the top of the ribbon rack. That gives you the most important awards. Closest to the heart is most important, so read right to left there. Check the decoder key.

    The top row of ribbons are the defense meritorious service ribbon & the Purple Heart. How is that puzzling?

    • #28
    • November 21, 2019, at 4:28 PM PST
    • 1 like
  29. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    so read right to left there

    You’re saying he has them backwards? Don’t make your readers work too hard.

    No. They are in correct order. Look at the decoder, check the awards closest to the Purple Heart. An obvious award is missing. It truly is a puzzle.

    Good conduct?

    • #29
    • November 21, 2019, at 4:31 PM PST
    • 1 like
  30. Robert E. Lee Member

    Good Conduct is an Enlisted award.

    • #30
    • November 21, 2019, at 4:42 PM PST
    • 2 likes