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Modified Military Jackets


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#1 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 02:32 PM

I have a weakness when it comes to US militaria. I love to collect Special Forces modified uniforms. Every time I go to a surplus shop, you will find me digging through piles of uniforms or searching the racks for these jackets. Most people just pass them by and never give them a second glance. Myself, if I see one and it is the right price, it will end up in my collection.

Before we get started, modified jackets are military jackets that have been "changed" by their former owner by adding the lower front pockets to the upper arms. Sometimes the former owner will use other jackets or pants to add the pockets to the upper arms. These modifiecations were done so the user could have easier access to their pockets. Many times, SF soldiers would have their lower pockets covered by equipment or gear. This proved difficult for them to have access what was in the pockets, so they moved them to the upper amrs. Upper arm proved to be easier access. This was not a regulation change, so most of the people who had modified jackets were SF types who had MUCH leeway in regards to uniforms. The removal of the lower pockets was not absolute as will be illustrated in this thread. Sometimes, there were just extra pockets added to the jacket.

How I started collecting modified jackets is fairly simple. My father, my son, and I were in a surplus shop in Winchester, Kentucky called Stuff's. We had heard of this place, and had even looked for it many times with no luck. One day we found it! What an interesting store. The prices were usually very high, but sometimes bargains were to be found. The first time I was there, I was going through a uniform bin and found several jackets that had the pockets sewn on the sleeves. I had no idea what they were, but knew something was different about these here. Unfortunately, I only had $15 on me. They were asking $5 a piece for the jackets (Small sizes). My dad was tapped out, so I could only afford to buy 3 jackets that day. I bought the 2 jungle jackets and the modified 6-color desert. I wanted so bad to get the others, but finances wouldn't allow me to do so. Two weeks later, when I got paid again, I went down to Stuff's and bought the other 4. This is what started me on my quest to find these jackets.

What I am going to show you is what to look for while surplus hunting. I certainly am no expert on these jackets and I want people to feel free to ask questions and to make comments. I am here to learn and share with others what I know. Thanks!


The first set I'm going to post is a USMC modifed ERDL set. Thanks to Corpan (Merci) for identifying this jacket as being post-Vietnam because of the USMC stamp on the chest. This one is the earliest modified set in my collection. This uniform belonged to a gentleman named T E Talley. His name can be seen on the thigh pocket on the pants. This uniform has been used harshly. It is faded, repaired, arms shortened, blood stained, and even has duct tape holding the seat together!

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Edited by nkomo, 24 June 2008 - 02:41 PM.


#2 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 02:33 PM

Sleeve pockets.

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#3 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 02:33 PM

Picture of thigh pocket and tag inside pants. Most likely, this uniform would have been used by someone in the USMC Recon or USMC Force Recon.

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Edited by nkomo, 24 June 2008 - 02:43 PM.


#4 baker502

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 02:42 PM

Nice suit Paul

#5 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 02:55 PM

The next set is a very interesting. I have only seen two or three sets of these in my collecting of these jackets. This is a US jungle fatigue that has had the pockets removed and sewn to the upper arms. It also has had the soldier's blood type inked above the right pocket. In this case, it is A Positive.

Now, the only pictures I have found of these in use were in photos Ricardo posted in his museum thread. The photo was taken at the Special Forces Museum in Fayetteville, NC. The photos were of Delta soldiers involved in Operation Acid Gambit in Panama. Op Acid Gambit was when Delta went in and rescued Kurt Muse from a Panamanian prison. I am not saying this uniform was actually worn during that operation, but it is the type they used. Furthermore, it also has the blood type written on it, which was usually down before combat operations.

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#6 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 02:57 PM

Pictures of the SF Museum display. Noticed the modified jungle jackets.

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#7 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 02:58 PM

Some better pictures of the soldiers.

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#8 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:02 PM

Now, this jacket isn't exactly modified, but it came in the same surplus lot as the one above. This one also has the blood type (O Positive) inked above the left pocket. This one has only velcro added to the upper arm.

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#9 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:03 PM

Close up of the velcro. Possibly used for a velcro flag?

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#10 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:14 PM

The next two sets I will post are woodland BDU's. Woodland BDU's are probably the most common of all modified jackets to find. I have more of them in my collection than I do any of the other patterns. These were very common in the mid 1990's up until fairly recently. These type jackets would have been used by US Army SF, USMC Force Recon, USMC Recon, US Navy SEAL's, and USAF Special Forces.

Most often, the pockets will have velcro on the sleeve pockets and velcro over the chest pockets as well. Sometimes, you will find glint tape still attached (usually sewn with an X stitch) to the sleeve pockets.

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#11 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:16 PM

I am including this set because of the unusual collar closure that was added. I have never found another one like this. It just goes to show you that these jackets can be very personalized.

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#12 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:23 PM

The next set is of the uncommon 6-color desert jacket. I have seen only three sets of these during my years of collecting. These were made up by USSF personnel involved in desert operations. This one was probably made up for Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I have picture in one of my books showing a SF soldier wearing this jacket and a tan Tactical Load Bearving Vest (I have photos of my TLB in the Fieldgear section under Tactical Vests). This is the only picture I've come across of the modified 6-color in actual use.

This jacket has had what appears to be a USAF distress beacon/strobe light removed above the right hand pocket.

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#13 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:24 PM

Side pocket and photo of vest.

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#14 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:29 PM

The next several sets are going to be 3 color DCU's. After woodland, these are the next most common. The first one I'm going to share with you is an odd piece. Not only has it been modified by adding pockets to the sleeve, the former owner has spray painted olive green splotches on it. This one also has the owners blood type on the sleeve pockets.

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#15 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:31 PM

Picture of velcro name tape. Notice the A Positve penned under the velcro.

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#16 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:38 PM

All the above sets have been in my collection well before the start of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The next few sets I have found since the begiining of the conflicts.

This set is a modified USAF 3 color DCU. Notice how the pockets on this uniform are at an angle. The above sets were straight up and down. That is something I've noticed over the years. The straighter the pocket, the earlier the modification. The more angled the pocekt, the newer the modification. This is obviously not a hard-fast ule, but it has worked for me so far.

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Edited by nkomo, 24 June 2008 - 03:39 PM.


#17 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:43 PM

This set is from a Major in the Army Special Forces. Again, notice the angle of the sleeve pockets. This one would have been modified fairly recently. Notice the SF branch insignia, US Army and name tape, and rank. This is seen normally on newer modifications.

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#18 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:44 PM

Sewn on Army tape.

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#19 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:51 PM

This is a set that was combat worn by a soldier in the 82nd Ariborne in OEF or OIF. After our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, regular soldiers (non-SF) began to modify their DCU's. As you can see from the stitching, this set was probably modified by the soldier himself in-country. If you look at the uniform for a moment, you can see that it truly has been through Hell. I have the pants that came with this jacket and they are named and also have blood type written on the pant legs. This uniform holds a special place of honor in my house.

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#20 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:52 PM

Right arm

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#21 gunbarrel

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:56 PM

A very interesting specialty, nkomo http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif Thanks for showing us your collection. Next thing you know, you'll be writing a book on it! ;)

#22 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:56 PM

Not to forget our USMC collectors, here is a USMC modified woodland set. This set has had the pockets sewn on the sleeve with green thread. This probably dates from the 1990's time period. USMF member Jeremiah (thank you!) verified that these would have probably been worn by Recon or Force Recon soldiers.

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#23 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:58 PM

Pictures of the sleeve pockets.

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#24 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 04:06 PM

Last but not least, this has to be one of my favorite modified jackets in my collection. First off, this is a 1990 dated 3-color desert jacket. You don't often find 1990 dated 3-color DCU jackets. Most are 1991 or later. More importantly though was what I found in the sleeve pocket. I have always had great luck finding items left in pockets by soldiers. I've found everything ranging from knives to used handkerchiefs to candy wrappers. However, this one is different. I thought about disposing of it or burning it, but just couldn't bring myself to do it. For now, it still rests in the jacket that I found it in. This is the jacket that is always covering my mannequin.

This jacket is not anything spectacular. It is just a run of the mill 3 color modified desert jacket. What makes it special is what was in the pocket. WHY someone would have left it in the pocket is beyond me.

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#25 nkomo

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 04:10 PM

Picture of the pocket and the flag inside.

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