Marine Corps Uniforms 101

Hi folks, since I've seen a few questions regarding the uniforms and what each of them are, I thought I would put out a quick primer on what Marines wear. (And more importantly, what we call them!) I’m not going to list ALL the uniform combinations, just the ones that recruits wear in training and those that your new Marines will be wearing as they head home for liberty and then on to SOI and out to the fleet.

Let’s start at the top, the dress blues that everybody knows about! There are actually FOUR different versions of this uniform in our wardrobe. They are:

Blue Dress “A” (or Blue Alphas) – this is the formal uniform with Blue coat w/sky blue trousers with medals. This is worn on formal occasions like the Marine Corps birthday ball, weddings and such. Ooh-rah!

Figure 1 Blue Dress "A" Uniform

Blue Dress “B” (Blue Bravos) – this is the same uniform but instead of the medals a Marine will wear the appropriate ribbon for the award. Slightly less “dressy” than the Alphas. (In the “old” Corps we used to wear Blue Bravos to Las Vegas as we got into the shows for free... just saying.)

Blue Dress “C” (Blue Charlies) – no blue jacket, but long sleeve Khaki shirt with necktie. This uniform may be optionally worn with a blue sweater.

Blue Dress “D” (Blue Deltas) – same as above but with a short-sleeve shirt. (Both this uniform and Blue Charlies above are typically the "uniform of the day" for recruiters.)

Ok, now let’s talk about the green “Service” uniform that your recruits will likely wear for MOST “dress up” occasions:

Service “A” (Service Alphas) – Green coat and trousers with ribbons (with badges, such as shooting badges, optional).

Figure 2 Service "A" Uniform

Service “B” (Service Bravos) – No green coat, but long-sleeve khaki shirt with necktie and ribbons. (Badges and/or green sweater optional.)

Figure 3 Service "B"  and  “C” Uniform

(Note: The Service “C” uniform is commonly just called wearing “Charlies”)

Service “C” (Service Charlies) – Same as above but with short-sleeve khaki shirt and ribbons. (Badges and/or green sweater optional.)

The Combat Utility Uniform (called “Cammies”, “Utilities” or simply “Utes”) (the camouflage uniform that you see so often in pictures of your recruits) has two different versions. One in darker green, called “Woodland” and the desert tan version called “Desert”. Generally Woodlands are worn during the winter months and Deserts during the summer, but this can be changed by the local commanders.

Figure 4 Utility Uniforms (Woodland and Desert)


Hope this helps. (All pictures are of my son! Proud Dad mode ON!) Let me know if you have any questions! 


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Tags: Blues, Charlies, Service, Uniforms


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Comment by 1973 Marine [Larry] on September 14, 2014 at 11:59pm

K-bay was my favorite duty station! Yep, regs are regs and it's best just to accept it!

Comment by 1~17smom (Julie) on September 14, 2014 at 11:40pm

You are probably right, Larry . . . nothing is worse than a bunch of geeks reminiscing at a party.  Back to the Uniforms, Larry!  I refer to this blog frequently, as I can never keep them all straight in my head.  What really amused me was when I went through my son's closet in K-Bay and saw a brand-new, never-been-worn trench coat.  I asked, "When would you ever wear a trench coat in Hawaii?"  My son sighed, shrugged, and said, "It's a reg, Mom."  Ya gotta love the Corps.

Comment by 1973 Marine [Larry] on September 14, 2014 at 11:28pm

LOl Julie, I had forgotten all about that, and I loved Gilda Radner. (The first house I bought was on Gilda Court in Virginia Beach and I always thought of her!)

Sounds like all three of us could have a great coffee table discussion, but it would drive everyone else crazy! :)

Comment by 1~17smom (Julie) on September 14, 2014 at 8:07pm

Larry - we must be related.  "Right time, right place" has been my one and only career strategy - somebody says, "Hey, you should do this" (generally something I've never done before), and I say, "OK."  Two jobs later, it turns out what I said OK to several years ago was JUST what this new offer needed.

In my case, my dad was the one who insisted that all his children (male and female) needed to take typing in high school.  He said it was a life skill.  He had one of those black manual Underwoods that he could type something like 50 words a minute on.  Luckily, our high school had portable Smith-Coronas that required less bicep strength.  I was the only one of my friends in college who could actually type her own papers rather than paying someone else a buck a page.  I signed up for a "computer" class in college, which required programming using key punch cards.  That would have been the end of my computer career because I thought it was ridiculous, except I accidentally got a job in one of the first computer stores in the area (one of my "OK" moments).  We didn't sell Altairs, although we had one in the store -- we mostly sold brands that didn't survive Apple's and IBM's combined power:  North Star, Vector Graphics, Dynabyte, the first Compag "luggable," and my favorite word processor ever  -- Word Star.  My claim to fame in that era was selling all the hardware to Industrial Light & Magic that they used to control the dragon in "Dragonslayer."  They were a little start up down the street.  Now THERE was a bunch of really interesting geeks.

Re: "Never mind." Think Saturday Night Live and Gilda Radner in one of her characters as the feisty but hard-of-hearing old lady Emily Litella who would come on their "news show," and rant about people's objection to "violins on television." She'd rant for a couple of minutes until the newscaster interrupted her to explain it wasn't "violins" but "violence" on television that people objected to.  She'd listen intently then say, "Oh, that's different.  Never mind."

Comment by 1~iansdad (Jeff) on September 14, 2014 at 7:59pm

Larry, it will definitely be a great week. We are alive. Larry, I took typing with both manual and electric typewriters (1967-68), and started computing with ANSI COBOL II, 80 column card punch machine, and a computer tech running my cards through an NCR Century 100 (1971).

Julie, just remember GIGO.

Comment by 1973 Marine [Larry] on September 14, 2014 at 2:34pm

Hi Julie - 

I don't recall "Never mind" in any particular context so you'll have to remind me! As to computers, I couldn't agree more. In my case I needed an elective during my junior year at high school (1970) and chose two classes which couldn't appear more different but worked together to set my career. One was typing (with the *huge* Underwood manual typewriters) and the other was called "data processing" where we learned how to "program" the wire boards which controlled the IBM 80-column punch card sorting machines in wide use those days.

Turned out my high school had a computer account at Trinity University and and when I went over there, I met an IBM customer engineer who set me up to intern for IBM that summer and the following before I went off to school at the University of Texas. They trained me to be a System 360 operator which hooked me on computers in general and programming in particular. Four years later I was one of those geeks who build an Altair 8080 computer from a kit while I was a Sergeant stationed at 29 Palms. 

My entire life and career have been a continuous example of "right time, right place" even when God wasn't kind enough to wave a big red sign in my face to let me know that his plan was in progress! :) How does that saying go? "Too soon old, too late smart". 

Good to (e)see you and Jeff again. 


Comment by 1~17smom (Julie) on September 14, 2014 at 1:36pm

Love the Pogo quote, Larry.  I'm wondering how many readers get the reference.  Sometimes age has its benefits.  Kudos to you for coming back and tell us what happened.  You could have easily just said, "Never mind."  (That's also a quote, by the way.  Any guesses?)

Speaking of age, at the beginning of the PC era (yes, there was a time when PCs did not exist), I used to teach introductory PC and word processing classes.  Students always swore that the computer just "did something" when the unusual happened.  I reminded them that, although it didn't feel like that sometimes, computers/apps are a lot dumber than humans.  They ALWAYS do exactly what you tell them to do, so, if something strange happens, figure out what you COULD have told them to do to end in that result, and the odds are good that's what happened.

My problem with that truth (which is still a truth) is that computers/apps have gotten a lot more complicated and I haven't kept up.  So now, when something unexpected happens, it's a lot harder for me to figure out how to fix it.  I like the simple answers.

Welcome back :)


Comment by 1973 Marine [Larry] on September 14, 2014 at 9:02am

Well Jeff, I can't tell you how many shades of red my face turned when I saw the unread item count for those folders in the trashcan! Oh well, if that's the worse thing that happens this week it's going to be a GREAT week! :) 

Have a great Sunday!

Comment by 1~iansdad (Jeff) on September 14, 2014 at 8:58am

Larry, all I can say is, ROFL. That sounds like something I would (and have) done.

Comment by 1973 Marine [Larry] on September 13, 2014 at 8:11am

Well, I found the culprit, and as Pogo said, we have met the enemy and he is us! 

Back in the "old" days when I was on MFN all the time, I created a rule in Outlook that automatically took my MFN email messages and put them into a "blog comment" folder or a "forum comment" folder so they wouldn't clutter up my inbox. Since then, I reduced my time on the board quite a bit and deleted those folders. 

Well, it turns out that I was looking at my Exchange folders today for another purpose and the deleted folders were still in the "Deleted Items" trashcan - and, you guessed it, were still happily being used as a target for those Outlook rules I established so long ago. 

Thanks again for your concern and support! 

Have a great Saturday,


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