If you have not read "Rolling the Threads,"
please do before reading the following exchange of email. The
strange reaction came from a First Sergeant who took a peculiar
stance on what I thought was a very positive article.
-- Capt Grose
This e-mail is in no way meant to be disrespectful, but
to enlighten you on what the vast majority of the enlisted Marine
Corps already knows.
My impression of you article (story ID 2001316154454) on
the Marine Corps web site gives the impression that the average
Marine does not know how to wear the Dress Blue uniform or when
to wear the uniform.
The only thing that made the story worth even reading was
your last paragraph and the statement, "These events taught
me a valuable lesson that I should have already known."
Sir let me tell you about the rest of the Marine Corps or
at least from the enlisted side.
There are hundreds of Marines everyday walking around out
in public wearing wear the Dress Blue uniform. They are
in Embassies around the world. They are Recruiter across America.
They are those young Marines home on leave and proud to show
their town and their country what they have accomplished.
As an instructor in Pensacola, Florida I wore my Dress Blues
for every occasion that required formal dress. As a Recruiter
in San Antonio I wore my Dress Blues for every interview with
parents, to every Career Day Talk, and every school awards ceremony.
It never bothered me that some days the temperature was over
one hundred degrees. I like many of my friends in the
enlisted ranks were married in our Dress Blues. We celebrate
every anniversary by taking our wives out in our Dress Blues.
Upon my return from the Gulf War I personally visited every
school and student who wrote me letters, again wearing my Dress
Blues. My twenty-year class reunion included a formal dinner.
I wore my dress blues, while other people were sitting around
trying to convince people of the things they had accomplished
over the years I did not have that problem. My Dress Blues with
stripes and ribbons told people what I had accomplished.
Every time I go out in public the vast majority know that I
am a United States Marine, they know the Dress Blue uniform.
I am hoping that the rest of the community has also sent
you e-mail to enlighten you. We in the enlisted ranks
teach the pride and tradition of the Dress Blues uniform from
the day they enter recruit training. As leaders of Marines
we teach it every day.
FIRST SERGEANT (Name withheld by Capt Grose)
Thank you for the email and I must say that your interpretation
was not only unintended but also hopefully isolated. I do not
question the vast majority of our Marines know and are prideful
of their uniforms.
I am also regretful that my admission in my article was
the only thing worth reading in your opinion. You are correct
that I have received numerous responses to my article but they
have all been in positive reactions to my true intent of the
article: to motivate Marines to wear the uniform even when they
are not required to.
Your list of occasions that you wore the uniform as examples
prove my point. They were mostly REQUIRED (Recruiting, Embassies,
Instructor duty.) You also listed others that were not and good
on you. If every Marine took your lead in this matter, I could
have never written the article. The kids back from basic training
I even stipulated in my article as those that most often proudly
wear their uniform home. Notice I said initial training to cover
both enlisted and officer.
But let's do a little test. Poll a dozen Marines who take
regular annual leave and when they return, ask them if they
took their uniform and wore it at home. Some will, most won't.
That was the point I was driving home. Not that they do not
know how to wear the uniform. But can you really tell me that
you see as many Marines, NOT right out of basic training, wearing
their uniforms on leave or liberty?
And if you think this is just an Officer spouting off and
belittling the enlisted Marine, think again. I went to boot
camp in 1987 and wore my uniform with pride when I came home.
I was married in my Service "A"s because they did not issue
blues then and I could not afford them. I, too, returned from
the Gulf War and donned my Service Uniforms with pride and even
volunteered to do a extra month away from my wife (who I had
been away from for 7 1/2 months) serving recruiters' assistance
in San Jose, wearing the uniform with burning pride. I missed
my 10th high school reunion because I was going through TBS
yet so wanted to put the Blues on and experience what you described.
I show no favoritism in this issue. I do no identify officer
or enlisted in my article and I will tell you that the officers
are just as guilty in this matter. Hell, when I wrote the article,
I was mentally chastising the officers and it did not occur
to me that the enlisted side of the house would interpret it
to mean I was pointing fingers only at them.
And if it is the mention of wanting to wear the medals that
has you riled up, that is not a question of Marines knowing
HOW to wear it or even WHEN to wear it. But the fact is that
we are so proud of that uniform and those medals, that it is
so tempting to wear the Dress A even though it is not authorized
for liberty. I have caught a few in my time and, as I admitted,
been tempted myself. But I thought the article was a good opportunity
to remind all that despite our personal pride, the sanctity
of the uniform and the occasions we wear them must be upheld.
Again, First Sergeant, I do not want you to walk away thinking
I was questioning yours or enlisted Marines' in general knowledge
of or dedication to our uniforms. The vast majority of us do.
Who I was trying to reach are those few who do not have that
fire or let themselves forget that our uniforms signify us as
Marines, representing not one but all Marines past, present,
and future. We should wear them, wear them correctly, wear them
proudly, and wear them often both on and off duty.
Captain Jason D. Grose
Regimental Adjutant 7th Marines (REIN)
1st Marine Division (REIN)
MAGTF TC 29 Palms CA 92278-8260