Effective immediately, Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos is allowing Marines to wear KIA bracelets honoring fallen fellow service members while in uniform.
A recent Marine Corps Times article generated controversy when it brough to light how some unit commanders were not allowing their Marines to wear bracelets commemorate those killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Marines of all ranks were wearing the popular bracelets, though they technically violated regulations that ban Marines from wearing jewelry while in uniform.
In a statement released this afternoon, Amos said that he was allowing their use. ”We are acknowledging the close personal nature of our 10 years at war and the strong bonds of fidelity that Marines have for one another, especially for those fellow Marines who we have lost,” said Amos.
“There’s not really a ban on the KIA bracelet specifically,” says the spokesperson for the Marines. “There are regulations for wearing the uniform and specifically jewelry, and Marines are not allowed to wear bracelets. This falls under that spectrum. Now, the KIA bracelet will be lumped into the same category as the POW/MIA bracelets, which are approved for wear.”
According to the statement, effective immediately, “Memorial bracelets memorializing prisoners of war, missing in action, killed in action, and those who died of wounds or injuries sustained in a combat theater are authorized.”
The KIA bracelet ban came up at a symposium last week with Marine general officers who recommended lifting the ban. A Marine official says Amos also received positive feedback Monday during a welcome home ceremony at Twenty Nine Palms, Calif., for a unit returning from Afghanistan. Amos saw several Marines wearing the bracelets and talked to them about what wearing the bracelets meant to them.
KIA bracelets are made of either rubber or metal and are similar to the POW/MIA bracelets that became so popular during the Vietnam War. They usually carry the name and date of death of a service member killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Marine regulations dating to 1972 have allowed Marines to wear POW/MIA bracelets while in uniform, but because there were no specific regulations allowing KIA bracelets, they were technically banned.
The wearing of KIA bracelets has become more popular in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan given the more than 6,200 U.S. fatalities in both those countries and the relatively small number of POW/MIA’s. Currently, two soldiers are listed as missing or captured in action in Afghanistan or Iraq: Army Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl and Army Staff Sgt. Ahmed K. Altaie.
Some senior Pentagon officials have been spotted wearing the bracelets, most notably former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.