Marines Deem Dan Daly Hat Too Girly

Few subjects rile members and veterans of military service more than changes to the uniform.

marine-corps-hats-dan-daily-girly

Few subjects rile members and veterans of military service more than changes to the uniform. The Marine Corps was embroiled in an amusing controversy this week over a rumored unisex service cap for wear with the dress uniform.

Stars and Stripes (“Marines shoot down Internet story on Obama’s alleged push for ‘girly hats’“):

The story is sweeping the Internet: President Barack Obama is trying to emasculate male Marines by making them wear a girly cover with their famed dress uniforms. The only problem? It’s not true.

First, some background: Men and women in the Marine Corps currently wear different types of covers as part of their dress and service uniforms. The manufacturer of the women’s “bucket cover” – which has a distinctly different shape than the men’s cover – is going out of business and will not continue to make the cap, according to the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps also has been asked by the DoD to find a unisex option for a dress and service cover, Marines said.

So, the Marine Corps Uniform Board, which meets quarterly, decided to gather feedback in advance of its meeting next week. Active and Reserve Marines were asked to vote on whether they believe women should adopt the current male cover, with some small modifications, or for all Marines to adopt what they call the Dan Daly cap.

Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly, a two-time Medal of Honor recipient who yelled, “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” as he led Marines into the fight at Belleau Wood during World War I, wore a cap similar to the option proposed by the survey.

The laughable idea that the president of the United States was personally involved in designing hats for the Marine Corps was apparently propagated by Newsmax and other right-wing news outlets and gained enough steam that the commandant himself had to weigh in.

Washington Wire (“Marine Corps Shoots Down Unisex Caps“):

Marine Corps Commandant Gen.James Amos has put an end to the matter. “The survey was incorrect when published and has been pulled. The Marine Corps has zero intention of changing the male cover,” he said in a statement Friday.

Changing the hat design has been a decade-long process of military boards, field trials and prototypes. A Marine spokesman said the impetus for a potential unisex design was simple: “the manufacturer of the female cover is going out of business…a lot of uniform items aren’t cost effective to make,” he said.

In 2002, the Female Uniform Symposium decided the current women’s cap needed redesign because it was expensive and many complained it was not as spiffy as the male version.

In 2007, Marine officials approved a new, improved female cap and in 2012, as it neared implementation, the Commandant of the Marine Corps jumped in, delaying procurement of new caps and ordering experts to explore the idea of a “universal” cap to be worn by both sexes.

This summer a new cap was tested for “fit and function” with the majority of females approving of the design.

In online surveys, some Marines suggested the new female cap resembles the design worn by Marines in the early 1900s, most famously by Dan Daly, twice the recipient of the Medal of Honor and famous for yelling to his men in battle, “Come on, you sons of b—-s, do you want to live forever?”

Once it became known as the “Dan Daly cap,” the design became a candidate for universal wear. But some complain it exudes a feminine air, despite being named for an especially bellicose Marine. And a change in design would have cost the Corps an estimated $6.9 million, according to a Marines spokesman.

More background from Stars & Stripes (“Marine Corps pulls uniform survey after ‘loud and clear’ opposition“):

It all stemmed from a survey to active and Reserve Marines about the best option for a universal cover — a cap that would be worn by men and women. The manufacturer of the women’s “bucket cover” — which has a distinctly different shape than the men’s cover — is going out of business and will not continue to make the cap, according to the Marine Corps.

Additionally, Marine Corps and other services have been asked by the DoD to find a unisex option for a dress and service cover as a cost-saving measure, Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Neil Murphy said.

However, Murphy said Friday, “Confusion caused by the survey’s release outside the Marine Corps, and exacerbated by recent rumors in the media, compelled the board to pull the survey.”

“While there was never any desire or intent to change the male Marine dress cover, the feedback we have received has been heard, loud and clear,” Murphy said.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has asked the Navy and Marine Corps to look at moving to one cover for men and women.

“The secretary believes that when you look at a group of sailors and Marines, you should see a group of sailors and Marines, indistinguishable by uniform,” said Cmdr. Tamra Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Mabus.

The Marine Corps Uniform Board had sent out the surveys in advance of its meeting next week. It asked whether Marines believe women should adopt the current male cover, with some small modifications, or for all Marines to adopt what they call the Dan Daly cap.

Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly, a two-time Medal of Honor recipient who yelled, “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” as he led Marines into the fight at Belleau Wood during World War I, wore a cap similar to the option proposed by the survey, as did other Marines in the early 1900s. The current male Marine dress cover was adopted in 1922.

Still, Marines say the Daly cover was added to the survey as a throwaway option.

“The Marine Corps commandant had and has zero intention of changing the male cover,” Marine officials said.

Female Marines who march in ceremonies at Marine Barracks Washington — the home of Commandant Gen. James Amos and the Marine Corps’ ceremonial units — began wearing the male cover in April, and wore it throughout the parade season, said Capt. Jack Norton, spokesman for the barracks. The commander of the barracks will meet with the uniform board as part of the decision-making process.

The Marine Corps Uniform Board also planned to use the surveys to formulate a recommendation, though Amos must approve any uniform board recommendation before it takes affect.

The Navy in May surveyed 16,000 female sailors about their uniforms – everything from pocket placement to buttons – and the results of that survey are expected later this year.

Female midshipmen at the Naval Academy, as well as women in several Navy bands, have also wear-tested the male covers, Lawrence said. Feedback from the Naval Academy has been largely positive, she said, while feedback from the fleet regarding any changes to the cover have been mostly negative.

The male Marine cap would require some improvements before it could be rolled out to all female Marines, a process that could take about two years. The Daly cap would take less time to issue Corps-wide, but would cost the Marine Corps more money and cause the male clothing allowance and male seabag price to increase, Marines said.

I’m naturally reminded of the controversy two decades ago when then-Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki ordered that various headgear be replaced by a black beret that would be worn with most uniforms. The problem there wasn’t so much aversion to the beret, although there was some of that, but the fact that the black beret had theretofore been authorized for wear only by those assigned to a Ranger regiment. Shinseki argued that black was the only color that went with all of the Army’s then-existing uniforms—woodland  and desert camouflage, the green service uniform, and dress blues—and that nobody ever authorized the Rangers to wear black berets, anyway. Months of wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued, with the Rangers ultimately adopting a tan beret.

The separate issue of gender and military uniforms has been with us even longer. There are no simple solutions. Ideally, male and female troops would wear identical uniforms. Indeed, that’s why they’re called “uniforms.” Alas, there are certain anatomical differences between the sexes that make it very difficult, indeed, to design uniforms that are both comfortable and attractive on men and women alike.

One would think, however, that headgear would be a simple enough issue, given that the cranium isn’t one of those parts of the anatomy with significant gender difference. Yet, as seen in the photo atop the post, the white “Dan Daly” hat indeed looks ridiculous on a male marine and the standard wide-brimmed saucer cap looks a bit odd on a woman.  The olive drab Dan Daly hat, by contrasts, looks perfectly fine on Dan Daly:

dan-daly-dan-daly-hat

In this case, the solution is obvious: abandon the service cap entirely.

The baseball-style cap worn with the fatigue uniform is functional, keeping sweat and sun out of the eye, and can easily be stowed in the trouser pockets when indoors.  The garrison cap worn with the service uniform, while useless, is at least tuckable in one’s belt whilst indoors. The service cap, by contrast, is bulky and awkward. It’s worn for dress occasions only and those mostly take place indoors. That means Marines have to either carry the stupid things around with them or find some place to check them—and then distinguish their cover from dozens of others.

Aside from the practicalities, we’d also save heaps of money. It’s far cheaper to not buy any hats than to buy thousands of new ones, regardless of design.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    “The laughable idea that the president of the United States was personally involved in designing hats for the Marine Corps was apparently propagated by Newsmax..”

    Say no more… :))

  2. Tony W says:

    Thursday morning Fox News had this and Benghazi all over the front page. Tells you everything you need to know.

  3. john personna says:

    Do you notice that the photo is a bit of a cheat, accidentally or on purpose, the dude with the new cap has blush.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Alas, there are certain anatomical differences between the sexes that make it very difficult, indeed, to design uniforms that are both comfortable and attractive on men and women alike.

    I have to say that from what I have seen a burlap sack would be more attractive on women than the present uniforms. Tho I suppose the military defines “attractive” differently than I do. 😉

  5. James Pearce says:

    @john personna:

    the dude with the new cap has blush.

    Yeah, it’s Photoshop by Loreal.

    I’ve been waiting for my Crazy Right Wing Uncle (who was a Marine) to post something about this on Facebook. He tends to get taken in by “recent rumors in the media” much too often.

    As for the no cover idea? I’m with it. I don’t think the Marines will be though. I think they’d prefer to wear the girly hats. Have you seen their haircuts?

  6. JKB says:

    I’ve long wondered when and why the cover became ornamental and lost its utility. Almost all the approved designs are not useful for the utilitarian purposes of the cover. Oddly, that includes Dan Daly’s WWI cover, although I suppose it could provide some warmth.

    I don’t see how naming a stupid looking hat after a Medal of Honor winner makes the hat anymore appealing. Perhaps it exalts the MOH winner that he did his heroics while wearing a stupid looking hat? But in any case, the new cover has a more protruding bill which makes it look far stupider than the original. One wonders whether the down slopping bill was a design back in the day or the result of careful conditioning to make the best of an odd part of the uniform.

  7. rudderpedals says:

    The Daly hat as worn by Daly is tougher and a lot less goofy looking than the current cover that looks like it was stuffed with a mini hula hoop.

    No matter what the corps chooses it’ll never, ever be as gawdawful as the Pirates of the Penzance dress uniforms the Army picked. FFS those look glitzy cheap, like they were tailored for 19th century British admiralty.

  8. Woody says:

    Newsmax to Drudge to Murdoch.

    Geller to RedState to Limbaugh.

    Genuine policy cannot navigate this 6-4-3. Only stupid malarkey like this.

    (fwiw: listening to the Series on radio is infinitely more enjoyable than enduring the tv guys)

  9. michael reynolds says:

    Looking at Sergeant Daly I’m pretty sure he could wear a propeller beanie and still look tough. Then again, the two medals of honor distract from the headwear. How do you even earn two medals of honor without being dead?

  10. merl says:

    Why do we even have female Marines?

  11. Mr. Prosser says:

    OK, this is what you get when a president designs a uniform. http://www.bloomberg.com/image/ik_0ucIUZNn4.jpg

  12. Grewgills says:

    Both hats look kind of ridiculous. The current one looks like the older (newer) one with a dinner plate forced into the top. I agree they would be better off with no hat or something soft and easy like a beret.*

    *I like the baseball cap, but it’s not so dressy. I have learned from Mythbusters that a beret can be worn for any occasion.

  13. Grumpy Realist says:

    @merl: Why not?

    If we didn’t have female Marines the right would be using that as an excuse as to why women shouldn’t be able to vote. Or something. I know your ilk.

  14. Tony W says:

    @Tony W: Doubling down on the stupidity – I sh!t you not — Fox News posted a retraction reinforcement this morning in the form of a web survey “Is President Obama’s plan to swap out the Marine Corps’ iconic caps for a new hat a good idea?”

  15. Boyd says:

    A downside to eliminating covers for dress uniforms: the Naval forces (Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, maybe even PHS and NOAA, for all I know) don’t render or return salutes while uncovered. Change of Command ceremonies, at least, would be awkward with no one saluting.

    Nyuk, nyuk.

  16. J.Lee says:

    I am sure the major moron assholes at Fox News will be pushing this story. When is some REAL patriot going to put an RPG 7 thru the FOX window and remove the right wing sewage from the planet?

  17. JohnMcC says:

    Now all you recruitees what’s drafted today,
    just shut your rag-box and hark to my lay,
    And I’ll sing you a soldier, as fit as I may,
    A soldier what’s fit for a soldier.

    …..

    The worst of your foes is the sun overhead,
    You must wear your helmet for all that is said,
    If he finds you uncovered, he’ll knock you down dead,
    And you’ll die like a fool of a soldier.

    (From Rudyard Kipling. I couldn’t help myself. The ”Barrack Room Ballads’ was a gift as I was headed to VNam. It was great! Remember lots of them by heart.)

  18. sam says:

    @merl:

    Why do we even have female Marines?

    So they can kick your ass for practice.

  19. milprof says:

    As a Defense Dept employee, I’m as outraged as Newsmax and Fox at all the things President Obama keeps doing to our military.

    Why just this week, President Obama made me attend a particularly pointless curriculum meeting. Then President Obama jammed the paper in our department’s photocopier. And of course that same day, due to President Obama’s insufficient provision of staff parking spaces I had to walk from the student lot. Something about global warming I bet. And why does President Obama make the coffee in our cafeteria taste so bad?!? Clearly, he hates the troops.

  20. roger says:

    @michael reynolds: Daly received both Medals of Honor in actions before WWI. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross and Silver Star for acts of bravery on June 5, 6. 7 and 10, 1918, while in Belleau Wood and area.

    He probably should have received a third MOH for the action in Belleau Wood where he yelled that famous “Do you want to live forever?” quote. He figured the only way he and his fellow Marines wouldn’t be decimated by the Germans that surrounded them was to charge their way out of the hole.

    Smedley Butler, another double MOH recipient, called Daly “the fightin’est Marine.”