This week, Marine Corps Times’ staff writer James K. Sanborn uncovers efforts across the Marine Corps to crack down on troops in uniform who wear bracelets bearing the names of friends killed in combat.
Commands in North Carolina, California and Japan have ordered Marines to remove their KIA bracelets, as they’re not permitted under existing uniform regulations — and there’s nothing to stop others from following suit. To date, there has been no formal call to amend the rules, Marine officials tell us.
It should come as no surprise that many Marines are livid. A call for opinions posted in late September on Marine Corps Times’ website generated more than 200 responses and 1,000-plus “likes” on Facebook, where the topic was vigorously debated for days.
Particularly puzzling: Marines are authorized to wear bracelets honoring prisoners of war and those missing in action. Yet unlike past conflicts, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have not produced the staggering numbers of POWs and MIAs. More than 82,000 U.S. troops are still unaccounted for dating back to World War II, according to Defense Department figures. Today, there are two: Army Staff Sgt. Ahmed K. Altaie, missing in Iraq since 2006, and Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by Taliban forces in Afghanistan in 2009.
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