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What happened to the Army visor cap after the Korean War?


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For those of you who know me, you know I love the look of visor caps. A few months back, I got one of my "holy grails" - the elusive 1947 enlisted visor cap - in my huge size! It came with a heavily stained khaki cover. Luckily, I bought an OD cover a long time ago (don't know why, but I'm happy I did), so I was able to use it.

 

They seem to be much less common than WWII caps - in fact, I had already found WWII officer's AND enlisted visors in this rare size long before finding this postwar one.

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Unfortunately, after sifting through dozens of photos online, it seems this cap basically disappears after the Korean War (save for MP's), with the garrison cap taking its place.

 

What happened? Did it stop being issued altogether? I did read somewhere that it was not issued during Korea for cost and convenience reasons, but does that mean that they never began issuing it again after the war ended? The photos I've seen of it being worn are usually portraits of soldiers taken during basic training just before and during Korea. Photos of other soldiers wearing it all seem to be pre-1951.

 

If anyone has photos of this cap being worn, I'd love it if you posted them here - especially if you find pictures of them being worn post 1953!

Postwar uniforms are sharp as hell, but once you don't want 'em, they're hard to sell.

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In 1952, Army regulations made the garrison cap the default headgear, and the uniform changes of 1955 switched the color to AG-44, so those 1947 pattern visors weren't around for very long. Additionally, army personnel strength in the 50s was only a fraction of what it was during WW2. I have several threads about the 1947 pattern visor cap.

 

Here's the quote from the 1951 regs regarding the change in headgear:

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Another thread on these caps:

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/229711-1947-pattern-army-em-service-cap-frames-new-in-box/?hl=1947

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The two photos are out of an Infantry Basic Training yearbook at Fort Jackson in 1965. Its interesting that three of the soldiers are wearing garrison caps. I also in no way intend to high jack this thread but this reminded me of what happened to me and it is on topic.

 

I was stationed at Fort Stewart and I had already enlisted in the NG and I was about to ETS. I, along with many hundreds of other soldiers had to go to this formal event put on by the 3rd ID division commander and we had to be in Class A's. Well, I have a big head, literally, and therefore I never cared much for the garrison cap because it just never looked right on my big head. With that said I got the bright idea to go to Clothing Sales and buy myself a visor cap. I did and I paid good money for it not realizing that I was making a huge mistake. So, I show up at the event and out of the hundreds of soldiers I happen to be the only one with a visor cap on that big head of mine. I parked my car and I had not gotten more then twenty yards when I unfortunately caught the attention of a pretty pissed off Command Sargent Major. At first he was pleasant but that didn't last very long.

 

He came over to me and asked if my name was Ralph. He must have noticed the confused look on my face and said, "You know Ralph as in Ralph Kramden?" I had no idea why he was asking me this and it was all going straight over that big head of mine that I mentioned earlier. And for you young folks that don't know I will explain who Ralph Kramden happens to be. Ralph was a character on the old television show "The Honeymooners." He was kind of a buffoon type idiot that happened to drive a bus for a living. Now back to the Sergeant Major. At this point a crowd was gathering and he said as in Ralph the bus driver because that is what you look like, I think he was also kinda calling me an idiot as well. He was screaming so much he was spiting all over. I swear I could even see his dentures moving about and I could have also done some mean land navigation on the veins sticking out of his forehead. I hadn't even made it out of parking lot and I was sure he was going tell me to get lost after his fifteen minutes of him screaming the proper uniform regulations of the US Army at me. He really was losing it and he finally calmed down a bit, before that aneurysm I was sure he was going to have. He finally asked me if I had anything to say for myself and I simply asked,"if we can't wear them why do they still sell them in clothing sales?" He mumbled something and just told me never to wear it again and off he went.

 

I spent another five years in the guard and I never again wore that hat. I don't think I have even opened the box since that day. So, if anyone has any need for a brand new visor I have one. I will however say, for being a barely worn hat it does for some unknown reason have some rather heavy sweat stains on it and also some spit stains. And its very large size as well.

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In memory of.....
SSG Jarred S Fontenot US Army KIA Baghdad, Iraq 10-18-07 RIP my friend-Charlie Three Three Delta Out


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Good story! After the 1956 uniform changes the visor (service) cap came back into vogue, especially with officers as it could be worn with summer khakis or winter AG-44 wools. From Shelby Stanton's book "U.S. Army Uniforms of the Cold War, 1948-1973", "The army green service cap and garrison cap became mandatory for officers on 1 May 1957, and officers were required to wear them after that time."

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  • 2 years later...

A bit OT but I know during the Vietnam era it was common to see enlisted soldiers wearing service caps after basic training but starting in the 1970's they became much more scarce, even though they were technically still authorized.

 

When I enlisted in 1980 I don't EVER recall seeing an enlisted soldier wearing a service cap a/k/a Bus Driver Hat (which was still nicer than what we called the Garrison Cap. The "polite" version is C-Cap but I won't say what the C-stands for. ;) )

 

The only hats we were issued in 1980 were plain green baseball caps with the horrible leather sweat band, and of course the garrison cap for wear with both the green Class A and khaki class B uniform.

 

IIRC officers were allowed to wear the service cap, and often did, but not in formation.

 

So...years later, I was now a brand new buck sergeant stationed in Germany and I decided that I wanted to look a little "different" when I went home on leave. I had checked the reg and much to my surprise, found that the service cap was still in the category of "authorized-but-not-issued" for enlisted soldiers. So I went to Clothing Sales and picked out a dress green service cap. I can't remember if it came with both the enlisted (plain) and officer (gold) chin strap, for some reason I think it was both. I did have to buy an enlisted cap device which I think they had to order because there were only two hats in the whole US Army uniform inventory at that time that the enlisted cap device went on: The dress green service cap and the drill sergeant campaign hat (I suppose you could throw in a third, the dress blue service cap but that was a uniform almost no enlisted soldier had back then.)

 

When I went home on leave I wore my service cap instead of my garrison cap. I think people in the airport were confused, the hat made me look like an officer but I had my sergeant's chevrons on the sleeve. I probably paid $50 for that cap in 1989 and I don't think I wore it more than 3 or 4 times. By the time I changed duty stations again, I was wearing a beret.

 

I'm not sure when the Army stopped issuing garrison caps to enlisted soldiers. If I was to guess I'd say it was during the Vietnam buildup. After all, with thousands and thousands of soldiers being drafted, most of whom would just serve a short 2 year stint and then return to civilian life, it doesn't make sense to issue them an expensive service cap when the garrison cap is cheaper, easier to fit, takes up less space and requires zero maintenance.

Martin

Englewood, CO

US Army 1980-2005

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I got one myself when I was at Hood in 1980 from a Sarge in my company who didn't really want it no more, he got it issued in 1976, and it was a 1976 dated one, since I was never issued with one, and it was not worn anymore (Do not think EMs who were issued it had to still have it and display it during room inspections), he gave it to me, I wore it on leave a few times at home when I wore my uniform around in late December 80-early January 81.

 

These caps by the way were routinely worn in the 70s, this is confirmed by the many personal photos I have seen by old timers when I was in, guys who entered the Army in the early-mid 70s, and from the whole run of 1970s SOLDIERS magazine I got. There is some talk in an older topic with a date the Service Cap stoppedissued and being worn as standard, think it was late 78 or early 79, will have to look around to find it

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The service cap was a rarity by 1990, I know one soldier who bought one at Clothing Sales at Fort Rucker in 1991 after Desert Storm. He put a female cap device on it (with the ring around the eagle, not the solid disc) and I cringed because I knew what it was when he walked up to a NCO to show it off. The NCO, who I guess hadn't seen many service caps, said, "That's cool."

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I can't beat Manchu Warrior's story, but here's mine:

 

Back in the early 90's I was in a reserve signal unit at Fort Stewart, GA. At the time I lived outside of Atlanta--more than two or three hours away. One drill weekend we were to have a Class A uniform inspection, so I brought my uniform and garrison cap. Well, our battalion S-3 had just been promoted from captain to major and bought a new service cap with the "scrambled eggs" on the visor, as field grade officers are entitled to wear. At staff call the commander said that we would be in garrison caps for the inspection but the S-3 protested--because he had just bought the new cover and wanted to wear it. So the commander said, "Alright. Officers in the service cap; enlisted in the garrison cap." Apparently every other officer had brought both types of headgear to drill...except me! I couldn't very well drive home, so I drove over to Clothing Sales and bought a new cover. After that I always brought along both caps when in Class A's--an expensive lesson. The beret solved this problem.

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  • 3 months later...

For those of you who know me, you know I love the look of visor caps. A few months back, I got one of my "holy grails" - the elusive 1947 enlisted visor cap - in my huge size! It came with a heavily stained khaki cover. Luckily, I bought an OD cover a long time ago (don't know why, but I'm happy I did), so I was able to use it.

 

They seem to be much less common than WWII caps - in fact, I had already found WWII officer's AND enlisted visors in this rare size long before finding this postwar one.

attachicon.gif47 service cap.JPG

Unfortunately, after sifting through dozens of photos online, it seems this cap basically disappears after the Korean War (save for MP's), with the garrison cap taking its place.

 

What happened? Did it stop being issued altogether? I did read somewhere that it was not issued during Korea for cost and convenience reasons, but does that mean that they never began issuing it again after the war ended? The photos I've seen of it being worn are usually portraits of soldiers taken during basic training just before and during Korea. Photos of other soldiers wearing it all seem to be pre-1951.

 

If anyone has photos of this cap being worn, I'd love it if you posted them here - especially if you find pictures of them being worn post 1953!

A very nice cap. I thought it was only officers caps that had the mohair band?

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  • 9 months later...

RE: US Army Enlisted Men's Visor Cap. My Dad, was in the Korean War: Army Corp of Engineers. 1903rd Aviation Batallion. This photo was taken in 1952 after boot camp. He purchased the hat in Delaware at a military clothing store. The tag inside reads Made in the USA by "Gramercy Creations". I see that someone asked that a photo be posted if anyone had this cap after they were not longer issued by the Army. Here is a photo of my Dad, who is now 89 and still doing well. Can anyone tell me if this cap is rare? I have nicely stored away. It is in nice shape. 

 

KoreanWarVisorCap1952Army.jpeg

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4 hours ago, Apatter said:

RE: US Army Enlisted Men's Visor Cap. My Dad, was in the Korean War: Army Corp of Engineers. 1903rd Aviation Batallion. This photo was taken in 1952 after boot camp. He purchased the hat in Delaware at a military clothing store. The tag inside reads Made in the USA by "Gramercy Creations". I see that someone asked that a photo be posted if anyone had this cap after they were not longer issued by the Army. Here is a photo of my Dad, who is now 89 and still doing well. Can anyone tell me if this cap is rare? I have nicely stored away. It is in nice shape. 

 

KoreanWarVisorCap1952Army.jpeg

Great photo, thanks for sharing, caps like these in unissued or excellent condition don't come around too much anymore, plus it's your Father's. so it gives it especial value.

Your Father's unit after Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training is an interesting one, 1903rd Aviation Battalion, more properly the 1903rd  Engineer Aviation Battalion, was a part of a obscure Korean War unit called Special Category Army Personnel with Air Force or as it's more well known by students of U.S. Army History SCARWAF. It  has there own shoulder patch and all.

 

 

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Tell us where if you know where he took basic at and AIT at, we would like to try and ID the unit crests he's wearing in the photo, we believe it might be for one of these units.When your Father was drafted draftees and enlistees took their basic training in one of the several Infantry and or Armored Divisions that were used exclusively for training only, these divisions, despite them being called infantry or armored or even airborne (The 101st Airborne Division was only a Training Division back then with no jump or combat status), were cadre strength divisions with no combat status. In these divisions sometime trainees swore tat unit crest of the regiment or battalion they were getting trained in

 

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