Lance Cpl. Glenn Payne used to wear a bracelet carrying the name of a close friend who was killed in action in Afghanistan—until he was ordered to take it off. Marine Corps policy sees such KIA bracelets as unauthorized jewelry, but the ban on them is enforced inconsistently—and troops are increasingly pushing to allow them. Making the issue more frustrating, the Marine Corps Times notes, is the fact that the very similar POW/MIA bracelets are allowed. Marines say KIA bracelets are more relevant to this generation of troops, which has seen just two POW/MIAs.
In some commands, the regulation is basically ignored and even senior leaders are known to don the bracelets. In others, troops are ordered not to wear them—and while some Marines resist, others say it is their duty to follow regulations. Payne took his off, but says, “After I get out, I’m going to wear mine forever.” Neither the Marine Corps Uniform Board nor the Secretary of the Navy plan to address KIA bracelets. But the top enlisted Marine, Sgt. Maj. Mike Barrett, is looking into the matter. Says one Marine, whose unit banned the bracelets after taking casualties in Afghanistan, “A huge part of being a Marine is also remembering people who don’t survive combat."