Do You Know Which Military Branch Wore These Uniforms?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo

The service uniform of the U.S. Marine Corps is essentially a green and khaki equivalent to a business suit. The uniform may be worn with a soft, foldable garrison cap or a hard-framed, peaked cap.

The U.S. Army mess uniform is regarded as formal evening attire. It may be decorated with miniature medals on the left lapel.

The flight deck crew of the U.S. Navy wears jerseys in colors which denote the individual’s functions – such as green for hook runners, operations personnel and photographers. This is done for easy identification in an environment with an exceptionally high level of noise.

This U.S. Coast Guard officers’ uniform is identical to one worn in the U.S. Navy. The buttons, insignia and sword design help differentiate between the two. U.S. Coast Guard officers also wear a full dress white "choker" uniform.

The U.S. Army service uniform (ASU) is typically worn to public and official events which call for formal business attire. The ASU is midnight blue and replaces those that were green and white.

Often referred to simply as “Blues,” the U.S. Marine Corps blue dress uniform is the equivalent of semi-formal or black tie civilian clothing. The uniform may be “dressed down” by wearing a button-up shirt and no tie, but this is rarely done.

The parade dress uniform of midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy (U.S.N.A.) is made in a style reminiscent of military uniforms worn in the 19th century. It is designed with double rows of gold-colored buttons down the front.

The jacket of the U.S. Air Force service uniform is based on the three-button sports coat worn by civilians. Air Force personnel have the option of a wearing either a hard-framed, peaked cap or a soft garrison (fight) cap with the uniform.

The USS Constitution holds the distinction of being the oldest U.S. Navy ship still in existence. Uniforms worn by its current officers and crew are based on U.S. Navy regulations from 1813.

The U.S. Coast Guard physical training uniform has the same logo and lettering on the front and back. On the front, the design is placed on the left chest while on the back, it is in the center.

The U.S. Army combat uniform (ACU) also comes in a flame-resistant version (FRACU). Before the current uniforms, there were the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) and Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU), dating back to the 1980s.

The Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU) is its standard working uniform. It comes in two camouflage patterns: woodland/winter – colored green, brown and black; and desert/summer – colored tan, brown and gray.

This year-round uniform is meant to be the equivalent of civilian daily office wear. The khaki shirt is paired with black trousers and, if required, a black relaxed-fit jacket may also be worn.

The equivalent of civilian black tie attire, the U.S. Air Force mess dress uniform is meant to be worn to semi-formal or formal events. Air Force personnel do not wear hats or nametags with their mess dress uniforms.

Some members of the U.S. Navy are authorized to wear a service khaki uniform. The uniform may be worn with either a peaked cap or a soft garrison cap.

The blue-white dress uniform of the U.S. Marine Corps is the summer dress uniform authorized for all officers. Other personnel may wear the blue-white under certain conditions and, in some cases, special permission is required.

If the weather necessitates it, soldiers are allowed to wear a black micro fleece cap and black gloves for added protection. They are not allowed to wear five-toe shoes as a part of their U.S. Army physical training uniform.

The tropical blue uniform of the U.S. Coast Guard is warm-weather attire and may be regarded as general office wear. This year-round uniform is worn without a jacket or tie and as such is not to be worn to functions with a “coat and tie” dress code.

When compared to civilian wear, the U.S. Marine Corps evening dress uniform serves as the most formal or white tie attire. The uniform may be worn with a blue boatcloak with a scarlet lining.

The physical training uniform (PTU) of the U.S. Air Force is designed with reflective strips for safety purposes. The uniform includes a jacket in Air Force blue with white piping and a reflective inverted chevron (V) on the front and back.

U.S. Navy flight deck crew are often referred to as “Skittles” because they wear different colored jerseys to denote their function. The blue jersey of the plane handlers is also worn by elevator operators and tractor drivers.

The trousers of the West Point semi-dress gray (or semi-formal gray) may be either white or gray, in accordance with the season. The shirts are gray and feature a one-inch trim in the form of a band of black mohair braid.

The U.S. Coast Guard winter dress blue uniform includes a tie, trousers and long-sleeved shirt all in what is called Coast Guard blue. The uniform, however, calls for black shoes and socks.

The service dress uniform for junior enlisted sailors in the U.S. Navy comes in both blue and white varieties. It is often referred to as “crackerjacks” since it resembles the uniform seen on a Cracker Jack snack pack. The U.S. Navy junior enlisted sailor service dress blue is typically worn with a white “Dixie cup” hat.

Members of the U.S. Air Force Drill Team are among those authorized to wear the honor guard uniform. It is reminiscent of the Air Force service uniform and is worn with a silver-braided belt, silver aiguillette (metal-tipped cord), white cotton gloves, large medals and a white ascot.

The physical training uniform of the U.S. Marine Corps is primarily green. In cold weather the uniform may be worn with gloves and a knitted watch cap.

The summer white service uniform of the U.S. Navy goes by the nicknames “Good Humor” and “milkman.” The first is in reference to the classic all-white outfit worn by vendors on Good Humor ice-cream trucks. The second makes reference to the all-white tunic of milkmen who delivered bottled milk door-to-door in decades past.

The operational dress uniform (ODU) of the U.S. Coast Guard is its standard working uniform. In most instances, it is worn with high-top, laced up boots.

The Airmen Battle Uniform, a type of camouflage battledress is worn with low-maintenance combat boots made of sage green suede. In certain cases, a wide-brimmed boonie hat or giggle hat is worn with the uniform.

Personnel in the U.S. Navy flight deck crew who are permitted to wear a white jersey include safety observers, air transfer officers and visitors. All members of the flight deck crew are permitted to wear several different types of trousers with the jersey.

Within the U.S. Marine Corps, drill inspectors are among those authorized to wear a green campaign cover (or hat). It is a sometimes called “Smokey Bear” in reference to the well-known advertising mascot, Smokey Bear, often associated with the United States Forest Service.

The jacketed version of the U.S Coast Guard mess (or dinner dress) uniform is formal evening attire which comes in two varieties – one with a white jacket and the other blue. Both jackets are waist-length, double-breasted and held with a clasp.

There are occasions on which soldiers who have been assigned to cavalry units are allowed to wear the black and gold cavalry Stetson. This replaces their standard black beret, blue peaked hat or camouflage patrol cap.

The U.S. Navy combat utility uniform (a.k.a. Navy working uniform) comes in three camouflage patterns similar to those worn by the U.S. Marine Corps. Black safety boots are the primary choice among shoes authorized to be worn with the Navy working uniform.

This ceremonial uniform may be paired with either black or white gloves. Personnel donning the United States Air Force Band uniform are not required to add a nametag.

The service dress blue uniform for officers and chief petty officers of the U.S. Navy includes a double-breasted jacket adorned with six gold-colored buttons, for men. The version for females has a single row of four of these buttons.

Black is the standard beret color of the U.S. Army but soldiers who are assigned to Special Forces units are allowed to wear a green beret. Other beret colors for different units include maroon and tan.

The full dress blue uniform of the U.S. Coast Guard is worn with full-sized medals. Officers in the full dress blue may be required to carry a sword and wear white gloves, whereas honor guards are allowed to wear a white belt.

Uniforms worn by the cadets at West Point have, traditionally, been predominantly gray. The headwear of the cadet’s winter parade dress uniform is a type of shako (tall cylindrical military cap) but cadets commonly refer to it as a “tarbucket."

The U.S. Navy mess dress or dinner dress uniforms are meant to be worn to very formal events. It comes in several variations which include five for officers: Dinner Dress Blue, Dinner Dress White, Dinner Dress Blue Jacket, Dinner Dress White Jacket and Formal Dress.

The U.S. Air Force command ceremonial uniform is worn by the Air Force Chief of Staff and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. It is styled very much like the Air Force band uniform but with a silver braided belt and a different shaped collar.

Like other physical training uniforms (PTUs) worn throughout the U.S. military, the PTU of the U.S. Navy is made of moisture wicking material. That means it pulls moisture (sweat) away from the skin and leads it to the surface of the fabric so it can easily evaporate.

The West Point spring parade dress uniform is very similar to the one worn for winter, except the trousers are white instead of gray. The cadet's cap (tarbucket) is worn with a plume in spring and a pompom in winter.

The service dress blue of the U.S. Coast Guard is the coat and tie equivalent of civilian dress. It is year-round business attire.

The West Point service dress uniform is commonly called “white over gray.” It features a white peaked hat and a white shirt “over” a pair of gray trousers.

The design of the U.S. Air Force Academy parade dress uniform is credited to Cecil B. DeMille. He is renowned as the director of a host of classic films, including "The King of Kings" (1927) and "Samson and Delilah" (1949).

U.S. Navy flight deck crew are required to wear specially colored jersey’s so that their functions can be easily identified. Plane captains, crew chiefs and mechanics all wear brown jerseys.

The U. S. Navy service dress white uniform for males is often referred to as “chokers” thanks to its standing collar. There is also a blue version to this uniform.

The Drum-Majors of the United States Air Force Band wear a similar uniform to the standard USAF band uniform – with a couple of alterations. Drum-Majors are allowed to add a baldric (a decorated sash or belt over one shoulder) and a bearskin helmet instead of the usual peaked cap.

The U.S. Navy junior enlisted sailor service dress white uniform is worn with a “Dixie cup” hat, so called due to its resemblance to the white paper cups of the Dixie Cup brand. There is also a blue version of this uniform for junior enlisted sailors in the U.S. Navy.

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About This Quiz

Not afraid of a little spit and polish? If you want to keep looking sharp, better brush up on your military trivia with this quiz!

There are five branches of the United States military: the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Each can be identified by its special uniforms even when their name and style seem similar to the untrained eye.

Uniforms in the military usually fall into the same categories regardless of the branch wearing them. We're sure you can tell service uniforms are different from PTUs and that you know mess dress is anything but messy!

The average person should be able to tell them apart but it will take the best of the best on military uniform knowledge to match their respective military branch. How will you do? Come show us what you've got!

There is an academy associated with each branch of the military and these institutions help their students to stand out through the uniforms they wear. Cadets at one famous military school, for instance, are easily recognizable by the gray in their uniforms. Can you picture it? We've got some examples in here to test if you can!

No need to camouflage your expertise about military uniforms - come prove how highly polished your military knowledge is with this quiz!

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