The Dress Blue Uniform Image Gallery

The dress blue uniform defines the image of the United States Marine. Impeccably tailored, athletic and trim, wearing his ribbons and badges, the Leatherneck in blues is not just a model of military bearing. He is a symbol of the courage and fortitude that Marines are famed for.

Although the dress blue uniform was not commonly issued during the World War II era, it was still worn, mostly in the continental United States, and at a few select overseas stations. The images on this page show examples of Marines wearing blues at various times in the 20th Century up until the pre-Korean War period.

The image at left was a fictional recruiting poster from the Warner Brothers motion picture Battle Cry. Modeled by James Whitmore, star of the picture and himself a former Marine and World War II veteran, the poster epitomizes the appearance of Leathernecks in the public eye. Just as important, and maybe moreso, although most wartime Marines never wore a set of dress blues while they were serving, this was how they felt and saw themselves.

A recruiting poster from the pre-World War I period. These Marines wear Dress 'A' Blues. The sergeant carries the M1903 service rifle at port arms and on his hip an M1905 bayonet. The trumpeter's rank insignia is displayed on his left sleeve. In accordance with the uniform regulations of the time, these Marines do not wear Marine Corps Emblems on their collars. USMC

Marines of the Legation Guard on liberty in Peking in the pre-World War I era. For many decades, enlisted Marines were not allowed to wear civilian clothing on liberty. Photo courtesy of China

A studio portrait of then-SgtMaj Henry L. Hulbert wearing Dress 'A' Blues early in 1917. He displays the Medal of Honor, which he earned as a private during an expedition in Samoa on 1 April 1899. He also displays the Good Conduct Medal with clasps for four additional awards, and multiple awards of the rifle expert badge.

Appointed as the first Marine Gunner in March 1917, Hulbert deployed to the Western Front in World War I, and was commissioned on the battlefield for bravery in action. He fell in battle on 4 October 1918 during the assault on Blanc Mont Ridge.

Hulbert commanded a platoon of the 66th Co, 1st Bn, Fifth Marines. In addition to the Medal of Honor, he was a recipient of the Navy Cross, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Frence Croix de Guerre, and several campaign and service medals. USMC Photo

Then-GySgt Daniel J. Daly receives the French Medal Militaire just after World War I. Daly was a legend of the Marine Corps who earned the Medal of Honor twice. He received his first award for heroism during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. The second came for Daly's heroism while serving in Haiti in 1915. He won the Navy Cross for his heroic performance of duty at Belleau Wood in June 1918. Daly was also a recipient of the Army Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and many campaign and service medals. He retired in 1929 as a sergeant major and died in 1937.

Daly wears gunnery sergeant stripes on his sleeves. The version with three stripes, bursting bomb and crossed rifles was worn between 1904-1929. Rank insignia and service stripes on blues were made of scarlet-colored wool backing with chevrons and stripes of gold braid. USMC Photo

A formation of the Marine Detachment aboard USS Nevada (BB-36) about 1917. The Marines provided landing parties, captain's orderlies, stood watches, manned the radio room, and crewed one of the ship's secondary armament mounts. Although these Leathernecks wear Dress 'B' Blues for formation, they were equipped with a full seabag of uniforms and equipment. US Navy Photo

The crew of a 5-inch gun aboard a US Navy ship performs crew drill in preparation to fire their weapon. These Leathernecks wear the Undress 'D' Blues, except for the NCO behind the gun. He wears Undress 'B' Blues. USMC Photo

Seagoing Marines of the early 1920s in undress blues aboard a US Navy battleship. The standing corporal is a World War I veteran and wears the French Fourragere, along with the ribbons for the Good Conduct Medal and the World War I Victory Medal. USMC Photo

Peking – about 1925. Marines on liberty surrounded by the bustle of life on Hatem Street. Photo courtesy of China

A group of US and Royal Marines with Private Pagett, who was gifted to the USMC by their British counterparts after the beloved mascot Jiggs died in January 1927.

The sergeant at right is a World War I veteran and wears at least four ribbons over his qualification badges. The corporal holding Private Pagett wears the ribbon for the Good Conduct Medal. USMC Photo

1stLt Christian F. Schilt, and President Calvin Coolidge at the White House in about 1929. At this event, 1stlt Schilt received the Medal of Honor for his heroism as a Marine aviator in Nicaragua. Schilt served in the Marine Corps from 1917 to 1957, retiring as a four-star general. National Archives

A portion of the Mounted Detachment of the US Legation Guard, Peiping, China, in the mid-1930s. Mounted on sturdy Mongol ponies, this platoon-sized unit wore specially tailored uniforms, including riding boots, breeches, and sabers. USMC Photo

Hand-tinted postcard of the Mounted Detachment of the US Legation Guard, Peiping, China, in the mid-1930s.

As a 1stLt, Chesty Puller commanded the Mounted Detachment in 1933-34. Private collection

This poster depicts the enlisted rank structure as it existed in the mid-1930s. It first appeared on the cover of Leatherneck Magazine. At that time, NCOs were classified in either of two career tracks. Marines serving as leaders were classed as line NCOs. Marines in support, technical and specialized positions were classed as staff NCOs. USMC

Warm Springs, Ga. – 1938. An impeccably turned-out Marine sentry and an FBI agent stand watch at the front gate of President Roosevelt's retreat at Warm Springs. Marines have had a long association with the Office of the President. To this day, the Presidential retreat is guarding by Marines. Life Magazine

A Trumpet Corporal poses with his bugle aboard a US Navy capital ship. In 1931, HQMC established the ranks of trumpeter through trumpet sergeant. These ranks were identified by a bugle below the chevrons of rank.

At the same time that it created the trumpeter ranks, HQMC established parallel ranks for drummers. These Marines were titled drummer through drum sergeant. Marines in these ranks were identified by crossed drumsticks below their checvons of rank.

In 1937, HQMC reclassified all drummers and trumpeters as field musics. At that time, Marines in both specialties learned to play both bugles and drums. From that date, field musics replaced their special chevrons with the same as worn by other Marines. US Navy Photo

On 26 February 1941, the hugely popular big band leader Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge came to MCB, San Diego for a concert at the base theater. The band also spent a day at the base visiting the Marines. This and following photo are from that day of "musical education" from the "Ol' Professor of Swing," as Kay was known. Here the Ol' Professor clowns with Sea School Marines. USMC Photo via Les Groshong

Ginny Simms, Kay's beautiful and talented female vocalist, performs with the Second Marine Division band in the base theater at MCB, San Diego. USMC Photo via Les Groshong

A fine study of a field music corporal in the immediate pre-war era. He wears the rifle sharpshooter badge and basic badge with five qualification clasps.

Under the rank structure as of 1937, the following ranks existed for field musics:
Field Music Second Class (Pvt)
Field Music Second Class (Pfc)
Field Music Corporal
Field Music Sergeant

In December 1946 all field music designations were deleted when the Marine Corps enlisted rank system was streamlined and simplified following World War II. US Navy Photo

Seagoing Marines in 1940 wear the the Undress Blue 'D' uniform combination as worn for duty aboard ship. During the wartime years, wear of blues by seagoing Marines ceased for the most part. Life Magazine

One of the most recognizable Marine recruiting posters of all time. This Marine represents the iconic reputation that Americans held for the Corps. His faultless uniform, impressive bearing and the confidence he wears; all these spoke without words to the public. This sergeant wears the ribbons for the Yangtze Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal. He also wears the French Fourragere on his left shoulder. This braided cord was worn by all hands of the Fifth and Sixth Marine Regiments. USMC

Just before World War II, a detachment from Marine Barracks, Washington, DC, forms an honor guard wearing the Undress Blue 'C' uniform. This combination was worn only by ceremonial units during summer months. When medals were specified for wear instead of ribbons, this combination was designated the Dress Blue 'C' uniform.

White trousers were not authorized for wear on leave, liberty, or when performing regular duties. USMC

A studio portrait of Cpl Brandon Nadeau of Waterville, NY. He enlisted in September 1940, and served with Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. During the Guadalcanal campaign, Cpl Nadeau was killed in action on 25 October 1942. Photo courtesy of Heroes

The Marine Detachment, USS Dauntless (PG-61) – mid-1942. Dauntless served as the flagship for Fleet Admiral Ernest King and was homeported at Navy Yard, Washington DC during the war years. Deatchment First Sergeant 1stSgt F. E. Blake stands at left. Of note is the Gun Pointer First Class insignia on his right sleeve. Leatherneck Magazine

In this stirring image, from the motion picture To the Shores of Tripoli, actor Randolph Scott leads a platoon of Marines marching on the parade deck of Marine Barracks, San Diego. Scott was a World War I veteran who needed little practice to reacquaint himself with close order drill for his role in this film. 20th Century Fox

A still image from the parade sequence in the motion picture To the Shores of Tripoli. The main actors in this film had to learn close order drill and the manual of arms for their roles. At left is John Payne, and to the right in the front rank is Alan Hale. 20th Century Fox

In this image from the motion picture To the Shores of Tripoli, actor Randolph Scott leads a platoon of Marines on the parade deck of Marine Barracks, San Diego. 20th Century Fox

In a still image from the motion picture March on Marines, the white cotton cover of the frame cap is clearly visible. This photo also shows the cordovan color of the brim and chinstrap. This piece of clothing was commonly known as the barracks cap. This cap appears to be brand new since the leather has not been polished. Warner Brothers

Aboard USS Wasp, CV-7, June 1942. Just before deploying to the South Pacific war zone, Capt Forrest P. Sherman inspects the ship's Marine detachment.

Wasp was sunk by Japanese torpedo planes while supporting on 15 September 1942 while supporting operations on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. 193 of her crew were killed in action on the day, among them four Leathernecks of the Marine detachment. US Navy

Cpl Anthony P. Damato of Shenandoah, Penna., sits for a studio portrait in 1943. He was one of a handful of Marines who served in combat in both the Pacific and European theaters of war. Anthony was stationed at Marine Barracks, Dublin, Ireland, when picked for special duty in support of Operation Torch in North Africa. On 8 November 1942, he was part of a group of Marines that landed in and seized the port of Algiers.

Cpl Damato returned stateside in early 1943 and was assigned to 2nd Bn, 22nd Marines. He participated in the assault and capture of Engebi Island, part of the Eniwetok Atoll.

While occupying a foxhole with two other Marines on the night of 19-20 February 1944, Cpl Damato spotted a grenade as it landed in the bottom of the hole. He unhesitatingly dove on the grenade, sacrificing his life to save his buddies. Cpl Damato was later awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor.

Anthony's brother Neil, a crewman on a B-24 bomber, was killed in action in a mission over Germany in November 1943. USMC Photo

Leathernecks of Marine American Embassy, London, during an inspection by Adm Harold Stark in 1943. This detachment was among the largest overseas, and one of a select few Marine units where blues were issued during the war. All hands wear US Navy gas masks as part of their uniform. US Navy

Marines at Montford Point Camp, Camp Lejeune, wearing blues during World War II. Library of Congress


Pfc Joe Pagac in a formal portrait wearing his blues after returning from combat service with Company C, 1st Marine Parachute Battalion, in the South Pacific, 1944. He proudly wears the shoulder sleeve insignia of the I Marine Amphibious Corps Parachute Units on his left shoulder. Joe later served with How Company, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in the Iwo Jima campaign. Photo courtesy of Joe Pagac

PltSgt Jack Willard wearing dress blues in January 1943. Life Magazine

A Raider Gunnery Sergeant in dress blues. The plain brass waist plate that all enlisted Marines wore is clearly visible on his white belt. This Marine has achieved five qualifications on his basic badge, worn to the left of his rifle sharpshooter badge. Life Magazine

A group of Raiders at an official function after returning stateside from the South Pacific. Every Marine is wearing blues, so it is possible that they all received a special issue in conjunction with publicity campaign for the motion picture, Gung Ho. Life Magazine

A fine study of a young corporal after returning stateside from the Pacific. He wears the ribbons for (R-L) the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze campaign stars and the World War II Victory Medal. This Marine wears two shooting badges - the Pistol Expert Badge at right and the Rifle Sharpshooter Badge on the left. He wears these badges in reverse of the correct way specified in uniform regulations.

The Marine's battle blaze indicates that he was assigned to III Amphipious Corps. III Corps served in combat on Guam, Okinawa and was the headquarters of the occupation forces deployed in the vicinity of Tientsin after the war.

The stitching on his battle blaze and stripes is especially interesting. This type of hand-sewn chain stitch was extermely popular in the Navy and among seagoing Marines. A sailor or Marine who knew how to sew this way could make a hefty sum of cash and cigarettes for himself. Tailors in China also sewed on sleeve insignia in this way. Private collection

This image is from a 1945-film shown to Marines ready for discharge. It discusses how the Corps has prepared them for civilian life and employment, offering that a good Marine will become a productive civilian. Still image from USMC motion picture film

Cpl Eugene B. Sledge of Mobile, Alabama in a fine studio portrait taken upon his return from World War II in 1946. Sledge served as a mortarman with Co K, 3rd Bn, Fifth Marines in the campaigns for Peleliu and Okinawa. After VJ-Day, he deployed to China for occupation duty. He was the author of the memoir, With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa, which has been widely acclaimed as one of the best personal narratives to come out of the wartime experience. Cpl Sledge passed away from cancer in 2001. Photo courtesy of the Sledge family

Cpl Edward Krzyzanoski, 2nd Armored Amphibian Battalion, 5th Marine Division, in a formal portrait with his son after coming home from the war. Cpl Krzyzanoski served with the 2nd Amtanks in the campaign for Iwo Jima. Courtesy of the Krzyzanoski family.

Portrait photo of General A. A. Vandegrift, Commandant of the Marine Corps, in the immediate postwar era wearing Undress 'B' Blues. The General's ribbons are the regulation 1/2-inch type which was standard in the Marine Corps and Navy until just prior to the Korean War. USMC Photo

Two recruiting Marines wearing blues in January 1947. The MTSgt wears the old-style enlisted blouse with no pockets. The Sgt wears the new four-pocket blouse. On his right shoulder is the insignia of the Marine Corps Recruiting Service. USMC Photo

GySgt Francis J. Schauf (right) and a Freedom Train Guard NCO wearing Undress "A" Blues in 1947. They are wearing the then-newly introduced four pocket enlisted blouse. National Geographic

LtCol Robert F. Scott, CO of the Freedom Train Marine Detachment, with two of his NCOs. At left is Sgt John A. Brown, and at right is Sgt Hermann M. Appling. On Sgt Appling's left shoulder is the insignia for Marine Ship Detachments. USMC Photo via the Lincoln Highway Museum

GySgt Francis J, Schauf (right) and PltSgt Dewey Flanagan on duty at the Freedom Train, 1947. Both Marines wear the Undress "B" Blues with garrison belts and pistol holsters. USMC Photo via the Lincoln Highway Museum

The Freedom Train Marine Detachment in 1947. These Marines are wearing the then-newly introduced four pocket enlisted blouse. Interestingly, several Marines wear shoulder patches of wartime units. The Marine closest to the camera wears the 6th Marine Division patch, and at least two wear the shoulder patch for Naval Ship Detachments. USMC Photo via the Lincoln Highway Museum

Marine Barracks, Quantico – 1949. A rifle platoon in Undress 'B' Blues passes in review before a congressional delegation visiting the base. The platoon leader carries his Mameluke sword. This distinctive weapon was adopted in 1826 and remains in service to the present day. Life Magazine

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen Clifton B. Cates in a fine studio portrait by artist Bjorn Egeli. Gen Cates was one of only a handful of officers in either the Marine Corps or the US Army to hold combat commands in every echelon from platoon through divisional level. Among his many combat decorations, Cates wore the Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, and the Purple Heart. He was inducted into the French Legion of Honor for his heroic conduct in World War I and also wore the French Fourregere. USMC Art Collection



Marine Corps Uniform Regulations, 1937
USMC Letters of Instruction












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