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U.S. Army 1950s Uniforms
Changes in U.S. Army garrison and field uniforms began after World War II and were accelerated by the Korean War that started in 1950. During the 1950s, significant new uniforms were introduced. In particular, the Army Green Uniform, adopted in 1954 as a result of a post-WW II long range uniform improvement program, became the basis of a stable uniform, expected to remain with the Army until at least 2014.
U.S. Army Uniforms in the Korean War and 1950s
In 1949 the U.S. Army Uniform Board separated all uniforms into two categories:
The first category included all uniforms for dress, general duty, formations and ceremonial use. The second category was for fatigues, combat and utility uniforms and any other informal or specialized work clothing. Before this, service uniforms were used for both garrison and field duty, overlapping the new categories.
This table indicates the major items supplied to soldiers in the 1950s within the two categories. As always, actual distribution of supply to the field often lagged formal adoption. Many items of World War II vintage continued in use through the 1950s and even beyond until production and distribution realities caught up with standards for new procurement. For example, when the then-new OG-107 carded cotton sateen uniforms were first distributed in Korea during the 1952-53 winter, Quartermasters attempted to first reduce stocks of the old style OD#7 trousers and shirts. The new olive green items were extremely popular, however, exceeding all expectations, and the olive drab trousers and flannel shirts were avoided by the troops. With two types of shirts and trousers in the field, some soldiers became clothed in an undesirable mixture of uniform items. Nevertheless, maximum use was made of the remaining olive drab clothing stocks; for the 1953-54 season OG-107 shirts and trousers were issued to all troops in Korea.
This table is not all inclusive, excluding in particular the formal uniforms:
In addition, Women's Uniforms and specialized clothing are not included here.
U.S. Army Headgear in the 1950s
During the 1950s, the Field and Work Uniforms were generally worn with:
When a helmet was worn, there were many choices for what to wear under the helmet assembly. With a parka, or field jacket with hood, the helmet was often put on over the hood. Others wore a field cap or knit cap under the helmet, or a pile cap with the flaps down. A special cotton insulating cap with a domed top, ear flaps, and closure under the chin was also available for use under the helmet as part of the cold weather uniform ensemble.
Garrison and Duty Uniforms were worn with Service Caps or Garrison Caps, usually in fabric and color matching the uniform, such as Army Green or Khaki, but other combinations were also used. Specialized occupations had their own headgear, such as Drill Instructors with their Campaign Hats.
U.S. Army Footwear in the 1950s
At the beginning of the 1950s, the World War II double-buckle boot, revised in 1947, was still issued for field and work duty. By 1953, the Boots, Service, Combat, Russet M1948 (introduced in 1948) replaced the WW II boot. The new combat boot was 10 1/2 inches high with rubber sole, polished grain leather and cap toes. In 1958, the boot color was changed to black and remaining stocks of russet boots were dyed to match.
For extreme cold weather, rubber "Mickey Mouse" thermal boots were introduced, first to the Marine Corps, then to the Army. By mid-November 1951, all troops in Korea had the new boots, in time for the second brutal winter there. Issued at first in black, a white version followed, made for lower temperatures and snow camouflage.
Other U.S. Army Clothing and Equipment in the 1950s
The 1950s Soldier's clothing allotment included many other items, from socks and underwear to poncho, sweaters, scarves, and belts. Individual equipment, such as load bearing suspenders, pistol belt, ammunition cases, packs, and much more were all in addition to the uniform components.
Clothing and uniforms from the 1950s are further described in these Olive-Drab.com pages:
Recommended Books about U.S. Army Uniforms
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