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Life Preservers?

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My wife recently found (for my birthday) this postcard of a group of sailors on the deck of a ship. Can anyone tell me what they're wearing over their chests? Are they life vests, or some kind of padded protective gear? The fact that they're beside a gun might indicate they're a gun crew, but it might also have just been a good place outside to pose for a picture. The photo is on a real photo postcard, with a stamp block that dates it to 1918-1936. 

Sailors in gear enhanced.jpg

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Yes, I believe that is what they are. The  US Navy used a yoke type kapok life preserver up into the 1920's. At sometime they switched to the more commonly recognized jacket type. I would suspect this image is from the WWI and 1920's time frame.

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