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USN CPO Whites

Started by VolunteerArmoury , Jan 05 2009 06:22 PM

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#1 VolunteerArmoury

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 06:22 PM

When did the USN change CPO whites to the officer style?

Did they older white CPO reefer jacket ever change from 8 buttons to the 6? If so when?

#2 sigsaye

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 10:15 PM

When did the USN change CPO whites to the officer style?

Did they older white CPO reefer jacket ever change from 8 buttons to the 6? If so when?

Chiefs got the officer style "Choker" whites in 1980-81. The older reefer style did not change from 8 to 6 button.

This is how it went. In '75 the reefer whites were dropped and chiefs wore a short sleeved white shirt with either white or black trousers for the summer dress uniform. Color of trousers was determined by how dressey the occassion was. The only time I ever saw the white reefer uniform worn was in '73 at the retirement of our
Command Master Chief who was retireing after 35 years in the Navy. He was wearing his (all other chiefs were in short sleeved white shirts and white trousers). I mentioned this to my Chief and he said that as far as he knew, the Master Chief was the only one on the ship that had dress whites. My Chief had been Chief for a year and hadn't bothered to get them as they were never worn except for some formal occassion, and they were being dropped any way.

Any way, from '75 to '80-81, Chiefs and all other enlisted Sailors wore a short sleeve white shirt for summer dress. Can't wear medals on a shirt. Officers had retained their choker whited ( I think because that movie "An Officer and a Gentelman" had come out about the time the Navy was ripping up the seabag, and the young officers thought the whites were pretty cool). In 1980, the Navy came to it's senses sort, of and gave us our jumper uniforms back. Well. E-6 and below Sailors had a dress white uniform for formal occassions with medals and Officers had a dress white uniform for formal occassions. But Chiefs were still wearing the short sleeved shirt. So, sort of as an after thought it was decided to put Chiefs in an already exsisting uniform (Choker Whites). They didn't even give us our rating badges or hashmarks back.

I made Chief in '85 and they were still relatively new. Many Chiefs did not bother to get them and I don't remember any one who liked them. They were only used for very formal events like a change of command so the officers could wear their medals and swords. Between '85 and '99 when I retired I wore mine three times (all for change of command).

I knew some guys that would just "rent" then for a CoC. Basically, go to the exchange, buy the coat, pin on just enough stuff to look right and then take them back for a refund when the CoC was over. You could pick these guys out as the sleeves were not hemed on new coats.

In the long run though, I think it was a wise decission to put us in the officer style coat. The reefer style was seldom worn when it was part of the seabag (My father is retired Navy and growing up I don't remember ever seeing one), and since officers seldom wore theirs either, why go the the expense of recreating a uniform and insignia that would rarely be used when you can just adapt what you already have available. I hated them and would rather have had the reefer style, but it made sense.

Steve Hesson

#3 Bob Hudson

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 10:26 PM

I just watched 1932's "Hell Divers" with Wallace Beery and Clark Gable as two Chiefs in Fighting Squadron One. Beery got his Chief's white seriously dirty in a bar fight.

helldivers1.jpg

helldivers2.jpg

#4 sigsaye

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 10:06 AM

I just watched 1932's "Hell Divers" with Wallace Beery and Clark Gable as two Chiefs in Fighting Squadron One. Beery got his Chief's white seriously dirty in a bar fight.

helldivers1.jpg

helldivers2.jpg

That was one of the reasons that when khakis were authorized they became instantly popular, and why khakis were turned from a working uniform into a liberty uniform also. Given the choice between white and anything else, I would go with the anything else! The reefer style whites looked sharp, and if I had ahd the choice those are definately the ones I would have picked. But, whited were a disposable uniform, they got dirty just putting them on. Usually, after a summer of quarterdeck watches and shore patrol, our whited were trash and we tossed them to be replaced by the next summer. While it was an expensive affair to replace jumper whites and the short sleeve white shirts, I would imagine gowing through the coats was no fun either.

And that is agreat movie http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

Steve Hesson

#5 VolunteerArmoury

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 04:47 PM

When the Enlisted dropped their white jumpers and went to the white shirt (this is the time everyone got a reefer jacket right?) did the CPOs have their ratings on the sleeves or did they have the collar pin on anchors?

The white reefer dates to pre-WW1 right? Any distinguishing differences in them thru the years? I presume they were generally tailored so it may be hard to tell a WW1 or VN era one appart unless of course it was a CPO versus a Master Chief. The one I have doesn't have bullion insignia, was that for the blues only? The whites were very sharp looking. I need to find trousers for mine and I'd like to find a white overseas cap for it.

I have a couple of the books of the series on WW2 USN uniforms that Schiffer published but what's some other good refs?

When did the cutlass come back in? Is that just for Chiefs or for all Petty Officers? What uniforms is worn with and by who ceremonial?

I'm Army but Navy uniforms are a big interest of mine for my grandfather was in during the 30's (have a cruise book showing Kriegsmarine cruisers going thru the Panama Canal & a bunch of King Neptune photos) then recalled during WW2. I have one photo of him in a CPO's uniform and another in a Lt's reefer but don't have his records nor knew him well enough to ask since he lived in Okinawa and I met him a couple times as did my mother though she was legitimate.

By the way, thanks for the information.

#6 Dave

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 07:28 PM

This is how it went....


Steve-

GREAT post...that's one of the most informative I've read in a long time. I didn't even know all those details of the uniform changes!

Dave

#7 sigsaye

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 11:04 PM

When the Enlisted dropped their white jumpers and went to the white shirt (this is the time everyone got a reefer jacket right?) did the CPOs have their ratings on the sleeves or did they have the collar pin on anchors?

The white reefer dates to pre-WW1 right? Any distinguishing differences in them thru the years? I presume they were generally tailored so it may be hard to tell a WW1 or VN era one appart unless of course it was a CPO versus a Master Chief. The one I have doesn't have bullion insignia, was that for the blues only? The whites were very sharp looking. I need to find trousers for mine and I'd like to find a white overseas cap for it.

I have a couple of the books of the series on WW2 USN uniforms that Schiffer published but what's some other good refs?

When did the cutlass come back in? Is that just for Chiefs or for all Petty Officers? What uniforms is worn with and by who ceremonial?

I'm Army but Navy uniforms are a big interest of mine for my grandfather was in during the 30's (have a cruise book showing Kriegsmarine cruisers going thru the Panama Canal & a bunch of King Neptune photos) then recalled during WW2. I have one photo of him in a CPO's uniform and another in a Lt's reefer but don't have his records nor knew him well enough to ask since he lived in Okinawa and I met him a couple times as did my mother though she was legitimate.

By the way, thanks for the information.

On the short sleeved white shirts we wore pin on anchor devices on the collar. These devices were only worn on shirts with out a coat. All Enlisted Sailors were in the reefer style uniform from 1975 to 1982. There was a pahse in period from 1972, but as you can tell there was a lot of foot dragging. For a while, there were not enough of the reefer blue coats to issue to new recruits, so they were dressed in a Navy blue melton wool long sleeved shirt with black neck tie and blac trousers. And toped with the white combination hat. This was the dress blue uniform for a few yeaars. Truly hideous.

The CPO reefer whites came out in 1893. The style has remained the same but with changes in the cut based on civilian fashion of what ever era they were made. For example, the Span-Am/WW1 whites have the buttons closing the coat higher than those of the thirties and onward. If you look at civilians mens suit coats of those various eras you will notice the simularities. Then there are the insignia. Prior to 1913, the chevorns and service stripes worn on dress white uniforms were red. They changed to blue in 1913 (Pacific Fleet Allowed to retain the red until 1926). Prior to 1940, all eagles on enlisted rating badges (crows) faced to their left. There fore, on a right sleeve, they faced forward where on a left sleeve they face aft. If you look at the sceane above from the movie "Hellcats of the Navy", you will notice that Chief Gables crow is properly facing aft. This also applies to the buttons, the eagle on pre 1940 uniforms will face to their left. By contrast, in the movie "The Sand Pebbles"(one of my favorites) Steve McQueen is incorrectly wearing modern rating badges on a post 1933 uniform in 1926. Now, all that being said, a uniform that exsisted during a pahse in period could and often were, modified to meet new regs. Crows and buttons are easily changed and cheaper than replacing a uniform. I have seen CPOs 8 button blue reefers re buttonholed for the 6 button regs.

There are also things with fabrics, but since all these uniforms are basically private purchase, Chiefs and Officers could have whatever they chose to pay for as long as it met the standards of the regs. Some fabrics were more common to different times.

Whites do not seem to ever have had bullion rating badges at the time they were normally worn. Today however, we have a uniform called "Dinner Dress White" That includes bullion with cols chevrons for CPOs. This was not a feature of the whites of yesterday doe to the laundry requirements of the times. "back in the day" whites were washed in hot water with bleach to try and keep them clean. That would not work for bullion crows, the real ones tarnished prety quickly the way it was.

As far as I know, the cutlass in not back. I know from my sister (active duty Senior Chief) that the Navy is trying to bring it back for CPOs for full dress with medals, like the officers and their swords. This was tried in the late 1980s and died of it's own weight. There was and still is the question of what kind of belt? Officers beltf are worn under their coats with a sword hanger hook passing through a small slit in the side of the coat. A cutlass in a much wider weapon and was not designed that way. Would CPOs also have to wear a belt over their coats? The last time they tried it they tried a baldric with a big brass plate. Just did not look right over the umiform. I think my sister said they were experimenting with a black leather belt with an open frame brass buckle like was originally adpoted with this weapon in 1860.

Hope that helps

Steve Hesson


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