Spit and Polish

My New Seiko

Saturday, February 8, 1969

Okinawa was a transitional facility for Marines heading to CONUS.  Although we were now out of “harm’s way,” there was still plenty of trouble for those celebrating the end of their tour (in the club) . . . not my thing.

The uniform shop at the PX was empty as I was fitted with a new Gabardine coat and trousers.  The tailoring only took a few hours which included new chevrons and service stripe being sewn on professionally.

Many Marines were having customized satin jackets made in the clothing department.  They had military patches and monogrammed names with Vietnam maps on the back.  Various locations were also embroidered (Khe Sanh, Phu Bai, Da Nang), and several had named operations (Mameluke Thrust, Taylor Common, Meade River, etc.).  These were similar to high school Lettermen’s Jackets which proudly flaunted where a Marine had served.  Some cost as much as my new uniform.

While at the PX I purchased a new gold Seiko watch with a “Twist-O-Flex” band.  It was self-winding and showed the day and date of the month.  This item helped to offset the loss of my stolen Timex.

We were given a lot of free time so I spent hours polishing brass buckles and spit-shining my dress shoes.  They told us that Garrison caps (piss covers) were OK for travel, and one came with the new uniform.  It was important for me to make a good impression, and I wanted to look sharp for Jenny.  There was talk of anti-war demonstrations at airports and other transportation hubs, but it wasn’t a concern for me.

Next Edition:  Full Circle

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