Uniform Care

By John (Rusty) Marshall



I was fresh out of boot camp in 1974 with orders to the BITTERSWEET in Ketchikan, Alaska. When I was in boot, they were transiting from the Cracker Jack uniform to the three-piece type. I got bumped a company and had to graduate in the three-pieceóhated the thing as it was a pain to take care of, unlike the other one. They just donít look right unless you take them to the cleaners. There had to be a kickback in there somewhere.

I reported aboard BITTERSWEET and a few weeks later they were having an Admiralís Inspection. They donít give you cost of living increase up there and a weekend will waste a paycheck real fast. I didnít have the money to put my uniform in the cleaners, so I got my trusty seamanís manual out and looked up ďuniform care.Ē Just as I thought, it stated, "Each seaman shall be able to take care of and maintain their own uniform." That was exactly what I needed. I washed it and the laundry guy ironed it, and it didnít look badóbut nothing like dry-cleaned. On the following day we mustered on the pier for inspection. Here comes the Admiral with the Captain and XO close behind. When he got to me, he said, ďSon, you uniform looks different, why is that?"

ďSir, I did it myself, it states in the seamanís manual that each seaman shall be able to take care of and maintain their own uniform".

He said, "Boy, you are right," and went on.

The Captain and XO were turning colors, but there wasnít a danged thing they could do or say.

I never heard anything more about it.


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