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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

Captain 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)

First Sergeant,

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
DSN: 230-3156

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