Far East Tour 1950-53

By Bradford, Walter H. | Soldiers Magazine, July 2003 | Go to article overview
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Far East Tour 1950-53

Bradford, Walter H., Soldiers Magazine


KOREA, a rugged, mountainous peninsula, forced American soldiers to battle nature as well as the enemy. The steamy summer exhausted troops, while monsoon rains pounded their ponchos and sub-zero winds whipped through winter clothing. GIs of all job specialties ducked bullets and froze their feet in the line of duty while nurses in the new mobile Army surgical hospitals faithfully tended the wounded.

Overshadowed by the Allied victory in World War II, the Korean War hasn't been well remembered. Tested by both communist attacks and Asian weather, the soldiers in that conflict paid a high price in service and sacrifice. Our nation must never forget their sobering lesson, Despite technological advances the future will again no doubt, send our soldiers into the mud, to take and hold the high around.



The years just after World War II were a time of transition for U.S. military uniforms. The 1946 Doolittle Board wanted the same uniforms for officers and enlisted soldiers, and the 1948 Uniform Board wanted separate garrison and field uniforms. Budgets slowed change, mixing old with new. This meant cotton khaki for summer and interim use of the earlier olive drab (OD) wool field jacket and trousers as winter garrison wear, until the present Army green arrived. Showing these changes are original historical items of the Korean War.


A wool, taupe hat gave women a new snappy brim. Enlisted MEN wore summer cotton khaki or a wool winter garrison cap with branch-colored braid.


The right-shoulder "combat patch" returned and overseas "Hershey" bars moved to the right sleeve. Green-felt combat leaders identification and infantry sky-blue distinctions were added in 1951 and 1952, respectively.


The 1948 career plan created the Army's current pay grades and led to changes in chevrons. Small gold and blue combat and noncombat insignia eliminated the three-stripe sergeant and added a "rocker," but the World Star II large OD and blue chevrons returned in 1951.


In 1948 the necktie changed from World War II khaki to OD. Enlisted men received the cotton poplin shirt in place of the heavier twill for wear with their tailored wool jackets.

Service Footgear

Boots replaced low-quarter shoes. Common were the 1943 leather combat service boots with buckled cuff. Also popular was the 1948-pattern, full-lace russet combat boot with a cap toe and grain leather.


Authorized in order of precedence were the National Defense Service Medal (1953) for Cold War service, with the Korean ServiCe Medal (1950) and the United Nations Medal (1951) in U.N. blue and white.


Personnel on rotation or rest and recreation wore seasonal Class A uniforms. In Japan, enlisted men turned in field clothing and received summer or winter khaki cotton uniforms M-1950 garrison caps jackets (without cuffs) and wool trousers, and khaki poplin shirts and OD neckties to wear with their combat service boots.

A Duffle Bag

with carrying strap held a GI's clothing and equipment to Korea and back. Developed in World War II from the Marine Corps seabag, it featured an improved closure and Chafing band.

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