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Old 03-05-2010, 04:19 PM   #1
Bill McIntyre
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Military uniforms look trashy

I was watching General Petraeus interviewed by Charlie Rose last night, and he reminded me of a pet peeve about Generals in general, and Army Generals in particular.

Above his left breast pocket he had 10 rows of ribbons and then some metal insignia above the ribbons. Above his right breast pocket he had one row of ribbons with a couple of metal things above that. Below his pockets on both sides, he had some other metal stuff, but the camera wasn't pointed low enough to get the full picture.

I'm wondering how that looks to you civilians, or for that matter to you current or ex military. For me, its just too much stuff. An awful lot of those ribbons are for just being somewhere, and don't really mean he was a hero. It turns a nice looking uniform into a clown suit. And I have no idea what all those shiny metal things mean since they seem to be specific to the Army, but couldn't he just pick the important ones?

And with the ribbons, how about just wearing maybe three rows of the most important things?

I'll never forget when was a Lt. in Hawaii and had just returned from jump school. I was very proud to be wearing my shiny new jump wings. Then I went to some conference and was introduced to a Marine Captain. I noticed him eyeballing my wings, and I noticed he was wearing a single ribbon on his chest. When I focused on it, I saw that it was the Medal of Honor. I suspect he rated lots of other ribbons, but he didn't need to wear them. One was enough.

Marines are just as bad as Army in wearing all those ribbons, but at least we were restrained with the metal stuff. I rated three breast devices- Naval Aviator wings, Navy Marine Corps Parachutist Badge, and the Navy Diver Insignia, but I was only allowed to wear two at a time. Since my line of work was really being a pilot, I wore the aviator wings and then alternated between the jump wings and the dive thing as the spirit moved me.

Well, actually, I think there was one exception. When I was the Division Air Officer on Okinawa and was going out to visit the Regiments one day, I wore the jump wings and the diver thing just to screw with the minds of the grunts and make them wonder if I was a Rickie Recon type.

So anyway, what do you think? Is it just me, or is all that stuff on a uniform a bit ostentatious?

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Old 03-05-2010, 04:41 PM   #2
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

In the Navy we're only required to wear the top three unless you are at a function/ceremony where the "dress" is higher than normal. Many times you'll see ADM Mullen with only three ribbons, his SWO pin and Command Star on his uniform.

On the onther hand, another way I've heard it put to me, is that if someone took the time to award you with a particular award, you should respect them by wearing it.

I'm personally indifferent about the awards and medals I've received over the years. I'm proud of my ESWS pin becasue I earned it way back when it wasn't the joke that it is now.... As for my ribbons and medals, if you see me in my dress uniform right now, and you know my history and award record, you'll know that I'm quite out of uniform!
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Old 03-05-2010, 04:45 PM   #3
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

marines are required to wear everything but personal awards, like good conduct, combat action, bronze stars and so on.
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Old 03-05-2010, 04:47 PM   #4
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

Bill, I've never been in the military and wouldn't have any idea what any of the add-ons stand for. That said, when I see someone with all that stuff on their uniform, my initial impression is, "wow, this guy must be really important, or at least he thinks he is".
Sorry if that offends anyone in the military, as I appreciate what you've done to earn it all. This is just my uneducated first impression.
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Old 03-05-2010, 04:53 PM   #5
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

The Army does love their 'bling'.
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Old 03-05-2010, 04:59 PM   #6
Bill McIntyre
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

I just found this link explaining the stuff that Petreaus wears, as well as showing Eisenhower with one row.

http://www.democraticunderground.com...ss=389x1979952
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Old 03-05-2010, 05:07 PM   #7
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

I never rally thought about it before, I always thought it looked pretty cool all of the ribbons, but like you said, it does look cleaner with just 1 Medal of honor or 3 rows, the picture of the russian guy reminds me of kim Jung Ill or whetever his name is that combs his hair high so he looks taller.

I am sure Petraeus as well as other people who have served in the military are proud of their accomplishments, but 4 stars on his shoulder is pretty impressive.

Eisenhower looked a lot sharper, I like the round cluster of 5 stars, better than the row of 4 stars.

I guess each officer is to decide what they want to wear, they earned them.
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Old 03-05-2010, 05:11 PM   #8
Bill McIntyre
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

Notice that a lot of stuff worn by Patraeus is for everyone who served against terrorism after 9/11, everyone who served in support of UN operations, etc. Its nice to have something to recognize your service if you didn't happen to get any individual awards, but I'm not so sure that someone with individual awards should have to wear all that junk accumulated over a long career.
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Old 03-05-2010, 05:28 PM   #9
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

why does it matter? He is a 4 star general, if I was ever in his shoes I would wear what ever the hell I wanted and not have to explain myself to any schmuck! He earned his shit so let him wear it. His monthly pay eqauls one whole year of pay for me!!
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Old 03-05-2010, 06:35 PM   #10
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

You only make 10-12K a year??
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Old 03-05-2010, 07:08 PM   #11
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

I like looking at the rows of ribbons. They tell me where that soldier was and what he's done. I remember being part of a color guard standing sort of slouched in front of the big Catholic church in San Francisco, just waiting, yanno? I caught a glimpse of blue out of the corner of my eye and saw a light colonel in dress blues coming up the step. "Detail, ten-shut!"

He was really a laid back, chatty sort and as we talked I looked at his ribbons and only recognized half of them. "Uh, sir, are those bottom two rows on your ribbon set foreign decorations?"

"Yes, Specialist, they are."

"Sir, were you in the OSS?"

He was . . .
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Old 03-05-2010, 07:13 PM   #12
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

Seems like I only make 10-12 K a year with the expensive hobbies I have diving, fishing, spearfishing ain't cheap you know!
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Old 03-05-2010, 07:30 PM   #13
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

OK Bill, I'll play.

As former Army, I agree the ribbon billboards have gotten out of hand. I always liked a clean, metal free uniform, with the most important quals displayed for general duties. Dress A's was the same, a lot of the decorations didn't mean much to me, and as such, weren't worn. Although, I was grated down by a full bird for not wearing everything, as I stated my wings and tab were what counts. Somehow, I got TDY orders to El Paso (in summer) the next week!

Off thread sort of, but the blue camo BDUs for the Navy looks silly at best. Where the heck are they trying to blend in?
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Old 03-05-2010, 07:55 PM   #14
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldsarge View Post
I like looking at the rows of ribbons. They tell me where that soldier was and what he's done.
You're ahead of me. In 20 years I never managed to memorize much beyond the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, the Air Medal, and may be one or two others. Even before I retired, I wouldn't have been able to tell you what the stuff below my top row even was (not that there was much on any row). But I had assembled it all at some time, and then forgotten about it.
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Old 03-05-2010, 09:09 PM   #15
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Re: Military uniforms look trashy

In the last few years, we have gotten a little silly with what we give, i.e, the combat action badge to denote combat action for support Soldiers, rather anyone who isn't combat arms.

I'll agree that we do wear a little more than the other services, but the majority of it does have it's place. Some of it has to do with unit history, which I believe the Army is bigger on than the other services, and a lot of it has to do with personal accomplishment, like jump wings, qualification badges, and so forth.

Personally, I'd be excited if all I had to wear was my Bronze Star and my expert qualification badge. I don't really like my unit anyways.

*Edit- you think this one is bad, Bill. Look up the new Army Service Uniform. It's a modified version of our old Dress Blues. Makes me wanna go Coast Guard...
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