Armies clothed in similar uniforms began as a necessity to distinguish between different factions. Current fashions and cloth availability dictated uniforms for each era. By the 20th century, uniforms became more practical with cotton and synthetic fibres replacing heavy wool. In World War I, the former bright colours were toned down to greens and tans for camouflage and concealment. By the 1950s, the U.S. Army had two distinct uniforms for combat wear and everyday duty.
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Uniform of the 1950s
After World War II, the U.S. Army adopted two basic everyday uniforms for both officers and enlisted personnel. The garrison and duty uniform was the Army green uniform used for dress, formations and ceremonial duties. The field and work uniform, also called fatigues, was used for combat and work duties.
The service uniform worn by all ranks of U.S. Army personnel consisted of a green jacket, called a blouse, and green trousers, with khaki or tan shirts, black tie and black shoes. Officers were distinguished from enlisted with a black stripe on the outside of the trousers legs. General officers wore trousers with two stripes on each leg and enlisted had no stripes.
Rank for enlisted was worn on the sleeve of both uniforms. Officers wore their rank on the shirt collars.
Drill Sergeant Uniform
A drill sergeant is a non-commissioned officer and he would have worn the fatigues for combat or work duties. The field and work uniform consisted of olive drab-coloured trousers and shirt to match, the field cap, also olive drab green, and black combat boots that replaced the brown, M1948 Russet Combat Boots in 1954. The fatigues were worn into the Vietnam War and were replaced in the 1970s with a camouflaged pattern called Battle Dress Uniforms.
The Army drill sergeant distinctive hat, similar in style to state policemen headwear, was not worn in the 1950s. It was discontinued in 1942 and reintroduced in 1964.
The Army uses many other variations of uniforms, all with exact rules and regulations for when and where to dress in a certain uniform. The mess dress blue or white, evening dress uniform and olive drab winter semi-dress uniform were all authorised for wear on specific occasions by Army drill sergeants, as well as all other soldiers, of the 1950s.
All Army personnel wear patches identifying regiments and units. The drill sergeant identification badge was worn on the sleeve of each uniform and today is used as the Army Drill Sergeant School's crest. As with all Army insignias, each element has a specific meaning.
The 13 stars on the patch represent the original colonies. The torch symbolises liberty, the breastplate strength and the snake is from the 1776 "Don't Tread On Me" flag. The inscription, "This We'll Defend," is a soldier's creed promising the defence of the nation.
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