Conflict & Justice

“Killed in Action” bracelets now allowed in the Marines


Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett greet Marines and Sailors after a speech at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms on Oct. 17, 2011.


Cpl. Andrew D. Thorburn

“Killed in Action” bracelets, metal or rubber bracelets worn in memory of fallen soldiers, may now be worn by Marines in uniform, the Marine Corps announced Tuesday.

"We are acknowledging the close personal nature of our 10 years at war and the strong bonds of fidelity that Marines have for one another, especially for those fellow Marines who we have lost," the Marine commandant, Maj. Gen. James F. Amos, said in a statement, CNN reports.

According to USA Today:

As Marine Corps Times first reported last week, commanders had begun cracking down on Marines who wear the bracelets, which until now were considered unauthorized jewelry under the service's stringent uniform regulations. However, enforcement was spotty and the uproar from Marines of all ranks was extremely vocal.

Until today, the Marine Corps’ strict rules only allowed Marines to wear inconspicuous watches or POW/MIA wristbands, which commemorate prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action, The Associated Press reports. However, there are far fewer POWs and MIAs in the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than there were during the Vietnam War, when the military approved those bracelets. According to USA Today, only two U.S. troops are listed as missing or captured in action in Afghanistan or Iraq: Army Staff Sgt. Ahmed K. Altaie and Army Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl.

Marines welcomed the news.

Timothy Kudo, a former Marine captain who’s now a community organizer for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, wears a black rubber bracelet inscribed with the name of Staff Sgt. Javier Ortiz-Rivera, a platoon sergeant killed by a Taliban bomb Nov. 16 in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the AP reports.

“It’s a constant reminder for me of what better men than myself have done for this country, and every day I think about it,” he told the AP. “I know that because ... a lot of guys didn’t make it back, I need to live every day to the best of my ability.”

“I never take it off,” he said.