Behind the Cover: KIA bracelets


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.

Don’t miss this story, Marines. You can find it on newsstands now, or you can subscribe here to read it instantly.


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  1. Greg Sims L/Cpl 1967-1969 on

    So, tell me what the difference in the bracelets are??? Look how long it took the government to acknowlege the POW/MIA Flag ( logo). Just another thing, the piss off Marines.

  2. Goto war, but hide the results of sending American Marines to war? First it was hide the images of coffins coming back, now hide reminder of a fallen Marine. Who asked the Dads, Moms, wives, unit brothers about how they felt? Slippery slope w reactionary policies. We honor your service and hope no one needs a bracelet w anymore Marine names on them.

  3. We’re getting it all wrong guys. We can wear the bracelets as long as we only wear -part- of the uniform. I mean, that’s how it worked with the Marine doing gay porn, right? You can be as f—ed up as you like as long as you only wear -part- of your uniform?

  4. The US Army went through a phase of “zero defects” in a Soldiers ORB in order to gain advancement during the latter stages of the Cold War. This might be the start of a similar phase for Marines, especially as budget cuts loom over the land forces. Be wary of overly officious jerks and the bracelet police.

  5. The bracelet in this photo is in memory of my friends brother. She had them made for the Marines who served with Michael as well as his close friends from home. CplMichael Ouellette is a Navy Cross recipient and from listening to thoes men speak of him one hell of a Marine. I can imagine that they wear thoes bracelets with pride and honor. The KIA bracelets remind us that freedom is not free and great men pay for it with their lives. Why on earth they want to keep Marines from wearing them is beyond me.

  6. This should be a non-issue. According to the order:

    Ch 5 a. Jewelry. Jewelry is authorized for wear with all uniforms, as detailed below. Commanders may require the removal of all jewelry for safety/tactical reasons. MARADMIN 504/07

    The same MARADMIN goes on to state that all inconspicuous watches are allowed.

    So if this becomes a problem anywhere outside the pages of Marine Times my recommendation would be to affix a time piece to the bracelet.

    That’s exactly what I will do with my KIA bracelet if the need ever arises. I WILL NOT take it off, but I will remain in compliance with Marine Corps Order until it is changed.

  7. Strange obsessive compulsive like priorities if you ask me. Let them wear the damn thing and then get the hell off it. For Christ’s sake, does the Marine Corps really want to spend time debating the finer points of POW v KIA bracelets? If this is what the Corps spends time focusing it’s energy on, then they deserve the problems they create.

  8. You know, I think I figured it out. The Corps in their perverted manipulative ways is probably intentionally making this an issue in order to get the Marines good and fired up on the subject. Then when it looks like things aren’t going to give, they will reverse course and make themselves to look like they are really going out of their way to accommodate the troops. If it follows any other form of false reward manipulation, this should hold water in an argument.

  9. Well, if they forbid you to wear the KIA bracelets let us civilians wear them for you. I know I will, as well as my 12 year old son. What company or organization do the troops get these bracelets (like the one pictured)? Is there a company that donates a portion of of their profit to credible, non-profit organizations that benefit the wounded and/or the families of the fallen?

    I’m glad this story made it to Drudge. I’m sure there are many people like me who would feel privileged to wear a KIA bracelet. Thank you all for your service. God Bless America!

  10. This almost makes sense, you wouldnt want the foe to find them and make politic on the names. Just make sure KIA earrings are banned, even for women.

  11. I agree with Mindy. I wear mine, The one featured in the picture every day and have since I received it over 2 years ago from the family of Cpl. Ouellette. The Corps should allow Active Marines to wear it! It’s no differnt than a watch really!!!!! Thank you to all the Marines who have given the ultimate sacrifice and all the Marines still standing today. God Bless you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Barbara Casteel on

    I am/was in the Army Reserves. When I went to PLDC, my Platoon Sergeant asked me what regulation authorized me to wear my bracelet(s). I had a KIA and a POW/MIA from Vietnam. He told me to check the regs. I found nothing, but then I remembered what General Colin Powell said during Desert Shield/Storm “If you have them, wear them.” That’s what I told him, and in addition, I told him that “There may not be a regulation, but these are my guys, and I’m not taking thm off for anyone!” The reason they asked: There was a Master Sergeant who was a highly decorated veteran of Vietnam. He was testing me to see where my true alliance was. I am out of the miltary now, but still wear my bracelets to work and whereever I go. These names are my friends, and this is the way I honor them. Anyone who would tell us to forget those who have gone before us, and given their lives for us, has no compassion.

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