David C. Henley: Army may return to ‘pinks and greens’ uniform | NevadaAppeal.com

David C. Henley: Army may return to ‘pinks and greens’ uniform

David C Henley

Take note, members of the Nevada Army National Guard.

You, as well as all members of the active U.S. Army and its Guard and Reserve components, may be wearing a dramatically new uniform in approximately two years.

According to news reports coming from Washington, D.C. this week, the Army is considering the adoption of a radically different uniform for daily wear that will replace the dark blue uniform currently worn by all soldiers.

This uniform change is totally different from the blue uniform because it features the revival of the historic "pinks and greens" service uniform of World War II that was inspired by Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall.

A prototype of the classic "pinks and greens" was unveiled in Washington late last month during the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army, and photographs reveal the uniform coat was dark green, with four buttons and includes a dark brown leather belt worn across the shoulder.

The trousers were dark grey with a pinkish tint. The uniform shirt and tie were tan colored. Officers' coats and trousers will be adorned with braid, the color of which has not yet been decided. Officers will wear shoulder pin-on devices signifying their ranks. Enlisted personnel's ranks will be sewn on their coats' sleeves. The uniforms of female enlisted and officer personnel will be configured to be similar to the male uniform. Instead of the black shoes and sox worn with the current dark blue uniform, the "pinks and greens" will be worn with brown leather shoes and sox.

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As for headgear, the proposed new uniform will be worn with a dark brown cap with brown leather visor and a chin strap. A flat "garrison" cap also will be issued to all personnel. The present-day dark blue uniform will be retained for more formal wear, according to Army sources who stress that with the advent of the "pinks and greens" and the retention of the dark blue uniform, Army personnel will have two choices of uniforms to be worn with coat and tie, a situation which has not existed since the late 1960s.

The Army, reportedly, also is discussing plans to reduce the so-called "bling" or proliferation of pin-on devices worn on uniform coats.

What has brought about this proposed striking change in Army uniforms, a change that harks back to the "pinks and greens" which were replaced in the late 1950s by the all-green uniform and, about four years ago, by the dark blue uniform?

From what I gather, the Army wants to return to the "pinks and greens" in an effort to re-emphasize and reflect upon its history of pride and professionalism, improve its disappointing recruitment efforts and, in general, promote camaraderie and esprit de corps within the ranks.

I want to stress here that although the Army is displaying prototypes of the new "pinks and greens" to members of Congress, their staffs and some members of the public, it has not yet announced a decision as to the uniform's final design.

Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel A. Dailey told the Army Times last week that "the whole intent (of the proposed uniform) is to communicate this as much as possible and make a decision this spring." Photographs of Dailey getting measured for his "pinks and greens" have been released by the Army, and Dailey has confirmed that Gen. Mark Milley, the Army's chief of staff, has also been fitted for a "pinks and greens" uniform.

News of this radical change in Army uniforms is a reminder of what awaited me when I reported for basic training at Fort Ord, Calif., in the spring of 1958. At the time, the "pinks and greens" were in the process of being phased out in favor of the dark green uniform. Along with fellow Army privates during our first week of basic training, I was issued a green uniform, but the supply of black shoes to be worn with the uniform had run out. So the supply sergeant issued us new brown shoes which were worn with the outgoing "pinks and greens."

"Henley, take two or three other recruits and bring me the barrels of black dye in the supply room," the sergeant ordered. When we retrieved and opened the barrels, all 250 of us recruits dipped rags in them and dyed our brown shoes black. What a mess! We got dye all over us and had to re-dye the shoes the next day to make sure the original brown color wasn't peeking through. In addition to the green uniform, I also was issued a dark green raincoat with inner liner. The green uniform somehow vanished years ago, but I have zealously held on to the raincoat. I always wear it when it rains and storms.

I've been wearing that coat for nearly 60 years, thanks to my wife, Ludie, who mends and re-mends it in our so-far successful efforts to postpone its deterioration and old age.

I wear this ancient coat with pride and look forward to, in about two years, greeting members of the Nevada Army National Guard in their new "pinks and greens."

David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News & Fallon Eagle-Standard.