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Tis the Season: 10 Thoughtful Military Gifts for Him

The holiday season is a great time to get the military man or veteran in your life the ideal gift that shows him how proud you are of his service. Military men have a wide array of interests, and while they have spent part or all their lives in an environment that stresses uniformity, they are individuals and each of them have unique tastes.

Well, the venerated veterans of USAMM have struck again. We got together and asked each other what gifts we would like to receive during the holidays and while “world peace” was a popular answer, many of us agreed on the list of military gifts that follows below.

So, without further ado, below is USAMM’s list of military gifts for him just in time for the holidays.

1. Multitool
Most military men love a good multitool. Whether they are on active duty, reserve or in the National Guard, multitools make great military gifts for him. Granted, some military personnel in particular military occupational specialties will be more appreciative of a multitool they can use at work (like mechanics or engineers), but even guys who are in administrative jobs can use the tools off duty. Maybe they have a hobby, and they appreciate the convenience of a multitool.

2. Coffee and Coffee Stuff
Let’s face it, the U.S. military is an organization that runs on coffee. It’s the life blood of our men and women in uniform. There are many veteran-owned coffee companies in the marketplace and coffee is one of the top military gifts for him during the holidays. Think about getting several different types of flavors or blends and don’t skimp on getting him a cool mug that can be customized to reflect his military service.

3. Gift Cards
While getting a gift is nice, especially when someone nails it and gets you what you want, it is even better to be able to spend someone else’s money and get exactly what you want. Gift cards have somehow become synonymous with a lack of caring, but the USAMM vets all agreed that a gift card should be included on the list of military gifts for him. If you are shopping for someone who is faraway, stores like USAMM allow you to send them an e-gift card as well as an actual gift card.

4. Service Pride Gifts
Whether your serviceman serves or served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard or Space Force, they will love anything that helps them showcase their service pride. Service pride items make great military gifts for him because of the range of items offered. Hats, shirts, hoodies and other clothing items branded with service specific logos make great military gifts for him. Flags, decals, mugs, and office items make wonderful military gifts for him too.

5. Shadowboxes or Coin Displays
Anyone who has ever served more than a couple of years has earned at least some rank insignia and probably some coins. Shadowboxes and coin displays are great military gifts for him. Coin displays are easier to give as gifts because they don’t require anything to be added to them. Shadowboxes can be given empty as military gifts for him, but if you really want to make an impression, fill it with personal military items that you might have access to just to get things moving.

6. Headphones/Earbuds
Most military men exercise. Some also travel because of their positions so Bluetooth headphones are solid military gifts for him. The key is trying to figure out if he likes earbuds or headphones. Either way, these gifts are ideal for a military man on the move who likes to listen to music or his favorite podcasts or audio books.

7. Shades
Whether you’re getting him some classic aviators or some high-speed ballistic quality eyewear, sunglasses make great military gifts for him because they can be used in uniform or off duty (assuming what you buy doesn’t violate any uniform regulations). Since this is something considered personal wear, make sure to ask your military man what he likes or checkout what he currently wears. If he doesn’t have shades, then consider looking at some old photos of him and see what his taste is. Remember, glasses fit everyone differently and you might buy him something that doesn’t fit, so be flexible.

8. Portable Charger
As previously mentioned, military men are on the move and as they move so does their hardware. Whether they are lugging a laptop, tablet, cellphone, or headphones, having a reliable charging source is always a good thing. Remember that chargers are easy to price, the bigger, the better, but it will also cost you more. Chargers are awesome military gifts for him.

9. Silicon Rings
These things are all the rage right now and if you liked your military man so much that you put a ring on it, and he’s active, then you should consider a silicon ring as one of the military gifts for him. These are affordable and durable, and they make the perfect gift for a guy who doesn’t like jewelry but doesn’t mind the flexibility of something softer on his fingers which doesn’t get in the way of his active lifestyle.

10. An Adventure
Military men love adventure, if they didn’t, they would not have joined the military. If your pockets are deep, consider paying for an experience, rather than buying him stuff. Glider flights, hot air balloon rides, tandem skydiving, SCUBA diving lessons, are some great ideas that any military guy might enjoy.

We hope this list helps kickstart your holiday shopping motor. Remember, the best gifts are those given with thought and not necessarily the most expensive thing you can buy.

Tactical Survival Gear Must-Haves for Your Next Camping Trip


There is nothing that compares to getting away from it all. Loading up a backpack with supplies and trekking out into the great wide open for some backcountry camping is a soul-charging, regenerative act that not only gets you away from the tussle and toil of everyday, but it also shows you a little bit about yourself, your preparedness skills, and your resiliency.

Whether you traverse the wild solo or with others, it is important to pack tactical survival gear. In most cases when hikers or campers get into trouble in the wilderness it is because they are underprepared when something unexpected happens. It is easy to avoid potential dangers by simply preparing a list and packing must-have survival equipment for your next trip.

USAMM’s employees, which includes our crusty crew of veterans with lots of outdoor experience, got together and developed this list of tactical survival gear must-haves that can be tailored to your needs. Clearly, in some cases, if you are car camping or just going out for a short hike, you won’t need some of this tactical survival gear. Use your judgment as you assemble your kits and be smart out there.

Here is USAMM’s top 10 list of tactical survival gear to pack.

1. Tool
Sometime around the 1990s, multitools became very popular. And why wouldn’t they? The previous attempt of a knife with multiple tools was the Swiss army knife and who could ever get those tiny scissors to work? Don’t get us wrong, the knives were great, especially if you were in the scouts as a kid. But as adults, needs in the outdoors change and we evolve into needing tactical survival gear like mini saws, pliers, and screwdrivers.

The multitool market is plentiful these days and you can pretty much get any combination of tools you want in one device. Shop around and compare online and local retailers, and don’t forget to ask your buddies about what they use and carry. Recommendations are an important part of shopping these days and who better to serve as a product tester than the guy at the other end of the bass boat.

2. Flashlight
While just about every phone made today has a flashlight feature, who wants to mess around with a phone especially in adverse weather conditions? Flashlights are an important tactical survival gear item. These days most are small, but extraordinarily powerful and they can be attached to any pack or belt for easy and ready use.

Some flashlights come with high-intensity strobes that can assist you in an emergency, and most can light up the night with illumination power like a spotlight. Remember as you are packing your tactical survival gear, don’t forget extra batteries.

3. First Aid Kit
Hiking into the backcountry presents a challenge especially if you are going out alone. Breaking a bone, getting bitten by a highly poisonous critter, or having any other kind of medical emergency can prove fatal when you are 15 miles or more from a parking area and you have no signal on your phone.

Packing the right medical kit in your tactical survival gear can quite literally be a matter of life or death. Of course, you will need the basics like bandages, antibiotic and antiseptic wipes, gauze, and medical tape, but also consider packing a snake bite kit (depending on your region), a tourniquet, and splint. Consider having emergency foods that you can tear open and eat. Things like high protein and high calorie bars are great to keep you nourished.

4. Water
Nothing on earth can survive without H2O. If you are out in wilderness, odds are there is going to be a limited amount of water you can bring with you. It is important to pack water purification tablets or water filtration devices when you pack up your tactical survival gear. It could be a life-or-death decision especially if you are trekking out into country where you are exposed to the elements with little to no shelter.

All the tactical survival gear in the world will be meaningless if you don’t have a means to stay hydrated. Take this item seriously. Many backpacks these days have water bladder pockets making it easy to tote water with you. Water purification and filtration devices are much more robust these days and they are lightweight, so pack accordingly.

5. File a Plan
This is not something you pack, but more of something you do. While you can prepare for adversity or challenges that arise, no piece of tactical survival gear can help you more than completing this action.

Ensure before you leave that friends and family know exactly where you are going and when you are supposed to return. Many outdoorspeople get overconfident and do not file a plan with their loved ones or with the local park rangers (if going to a state or national park). Missing this critical step can cost you your life. Telling someone that you are going to Yosemite for five days doesn’t help. Telling someone that you are going to Yosemite and then telling them precisely the trail you will walk, or the grid of the area you plan to visit is much more helpful to rescuers.

6. Connectivity
Nope, we aren’t talking about signal strength on your phone, we are talking about packing some duct tape, fishing line and some parachute cord along with your other tactical survival gear. Having items that enable you to connect things can be lifesaving. Cord and duct tape enables you to lash things together and build emergency shelters, stop leaks and bleeding, catch a fish; you name it.

7. Fire Kit
No matter the time of year, fires can be helpful, so it is important to have a fire-starting kit in your tactical survival gear. This can help keep you warm, boil water, cook food, and send smoke into the air to signal for help.

Items like water-resistant matches, flint or magnesium, a fire starter, a magnifying glass and small pieces of emergency tinder can contribute to keeping you alive.

8. Repellant
In recent years there has been an uptick in criminal activity in wilderness areas. Camping and hiking are still usually incredibly safe, and many people enjoy the outdoors without any issue every year, but there are tiny pockets of incidents involving criminals and wildlife and it is better to be prepared than sorry.

When packing your tactical survival gear ensure you pack some animal repellant and something to protect you from crazed humans too.

9. Rescue Tools
Rescuers are good at their jobs, however, those who need rescuing make it harder for professionals by not being prepared, and not sitting still. This item ties in with item #4.

If you get lost or injured, and you’ve filed a plan, odds are folks will come looking for you. It helps to pack in your tactical survival gear a signaling mirror to signal aircraft or persons who are far away from you, and a whistle that you can blow periodically to draw the attention of search and rescue personnel.

10. GPS
A good GPS is worth every penny to have in your tactical survival gear and yes, normally the more you spend the better the equipment will be so don’t be lured into buying a cheap GPS to save a few bucks. Invest in your safety and life and pay for something high end.

A quality GPS is a must-have for any tactical survival gear bundle. If you become lost, it can save your ass and give you awareness of how bad your situation really is. Even the most experienced outdoorspeople can screw up in the wilderness. A good GPS, coupled with a good topographical map, can show you the way out or help you get your bearings before you get off track. Even just a plain old compass and map, if you're good with them, can save you.

Bonus Item. Sat Phone
While you might roll your eyes on this one, you’d be foolish not to consider taking a satellite phone if you are going to remote areas. There is no need to buy one, you can rent satellite phones these days and they are a lot more affordable than you think.

Many will balk at this recommendation thinking that high-tech has no place in high adventure but think again. Today’s adventure athletes all haul a sat phone with them reserved just for emergencies. If you plan to bring a GPS and a sat phone, remember it might also be a good idea to pack a solar panel charger with the rest of your tactical survival gear. If you keep the equipment off it will help you conserve battery charge, but if you are actively using the devices, they will drain so it is good to have a charging source.

As stated, this list are just recommendations from some of us who have spent a lot of time outdoors for work and play. This list is fully customizable to fit your needs. Use it as a baseline to get out there and safely have some fun.

Military Care Packages: 5 Ideas for the Holidays


If you’ve ever been deployed, you know how important military care packages are to the troops. When they arrive there is a tangible sense of excitement because inside are little things that bring home closer to you.

The more austere or remote the deployment, the greater the sense of joy upon receiving military care packages. The importance of these military care packages can’t be overstated. They offer comfort and a little bit of normalcy, even if just for a moment, in a challenging environment.

USAMM veterans, whose deployments range from the 1980s to the Global War on Terror, have put their heads together and come up with a list of the top 5 military care packages to help you shop, pack, and send your favorite deployed service member a little bit of home in military care packages.

Here is a list of our favorite military care packages in no order.

1. Military Care Packages – Meat Lovers Package
Let’s face it, because most military activities downrange are robust, military service members love protein. Sure, you can send protein bars and protein drink mix, but most military members love meat.

That said, one of the better military care packages is the meat lovers’ package which is chock full of beef jerky, meat sticks and sausages. The thing to remember here is to purchase items that will not spoil, so if it requires refrigeration, it’s out.

If you get beef jerky, remember to get a variety of flavors such as teriyaki, regular or even hot and spicy. Beef jerky will make the trek overseas quite easily since it is dehydrated and sealed. Similarly, meat sticks come in a variety of flavors and like jerky, they are portable snacks that can curb hunger but at the same time provide some needed protein.

Sausages in cans are okay if the cans are durable and won’t leak. Sausages that are wrapped in airtight packaging and do not have any storage requirements are good bets. Remember though, the military has vegans, so plan accordingly. There are plant-based jerky and sausage items that can be a good replacement for meat.

2. Military Care Packages – The Library Package
Service members on deployment or overseas face considerable down time. In between missions, during transit, and whenever they can squeeze it in, many service personnel like to read. One of the better military care packages are those stuffed with books, current magazines, comic books, and even crossword puzzle or game books.

It is easy to find donations for these military care packages. Many people buy books, read them, and then donate them. Getting on a social media app and asking for donations is one way to get books. Another is to visit the local library and see if they have any titles they are removing from their shelves. Thrift shops always have low priced books. The key is to ensure you buy paperback. Hardcover books are heavy and can make a box very heavy to ship.

Magazines are great too and they help service members keep up with what’s happening in the world. Depending on the magazine, it also offers them a bit of release. Of course, game books, are a great way for service members to get their minds off their work for a little bit.  

Remember, know your audience. Don’t send an infantry company a box full of home décor publications. Make it relevant. Magazines can be rolled up and stuffed inside of places that make them easy to carry and use. Lastly, the services have men and women, and people of all cultures and ethnicities; variety is good.

3. Military Care Packages – Java Package
One of the military care packages that never fails is the java package. It’s no secret, military men and women love their coffee. Duty hours during deployments can be long and coffee serves an important role downrange.

There are many military-centric coffee brands now on the market. Try approaching some and let them know what you’re doing. You might be able to get some free samples to send to those overseas. But understand, they are likely approached about the same thing several times per month, so much will depend on your pitch.

Like beef jerky, coffee comes in all flavors so ensure to get different types to fit just about every taste. French Vanilla, espresso, pecan, super-caffeinated, cinnamon, black, French Roast, can help offer something to everyone. Ensure to send some filters too, for different coffee makers, and if you’ve got the money or a generous donor, send whole bean coffees along with some grinders or maybe some non-breakable mugs. Not much beats a fresh cup of ground coffee in the morning.

4. Military Care Packages – Toiletries
When a service member deploys, they carry what they will need for the duration of the deployment. That means that they bring a minimal amount of personal hygiene items, so they don’t have to pack too much.

Military care packages packed full of toiletries items are always a big hit. Bars of soap, foot powder, sunscreen, lip balm, lotion, shampoo, floss, tooth and hairbrushes, shower shoes, combs, diaper wipes, deodorant/anti-perspirant, toilet paper, tissues, toothpaste, nail clippers, feminine hygiene products, and even hair cutting kits are all great items to send. The more austere the deployment, the more appreciative they will be of these types of items.

5. Military Care Packages – Game Night
Chaplains, family support groups, and even MWR do great jobs at providing entertainment options for our service members, but there is nothing wrong with offering more help in that arena. Organizing military care packages full of games would be welcomed by deployed troops.

Make sure to include the basics like multiple decks of playing cards, but also include game cards like Uno. Old standards like chess, checkers, and backgammon are a must and ensure you buy games with a cardboard game surface and plastic pieces. Plastic and cardboard games are lighter, and they will handle the rigors of a deployed environment much better. Favorites like Monopoly, Battleship, Connect 4 and other popular board games are great too.

If you have a trusted leader in the unit to ship it to, you can also get donations and send them a video game console along with several games that the unit can place in a common area for everyone to enjoy. Remember, include games, or get clarity on what connectivity looks like on the ground before you send something that they might not be able to use.

Hopefully this list helps, but when in doubt just remember to send stuff that isn’t heavy and that won’t spoil, spill, or break in transit. Make sure what you’re sending is useful and will be used. The last thing you want to do is overburden the supply and mail channels.

Most importantly, the troops will appreciate the support. Remember, ship early so things have plenty of time to get to where they are going.

USMC Mascot: What is the Mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps?


What is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps?
The U.S. Army’s Military Academy has a mule for a mascot. The U.S. Naval Academy has a goat. The U.S. Air Force has a falcon, and the Coast Guard Academy has a bear. These are the mascots for the service academies, but there is only one branch of service with an official mascot that is not attached or associated to a service academy, and that is the U.S. Marine Corps mascot. What is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps? Marines are proud to have English bulldogs as their mascots.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps we can expound. The tradition of having an English bulldog as the Marine Corps mascot started during World War I. The Marines from 1st Battalion, 6th Marines had respectfully earned their nom de guerre after fighting fiercely against the Germans in France at Belleau Wood. The Germans called the Marines “teufel hunden” which means devil dogs in German folklore. The nickname stuck and from then on, Marines were also known affectionately as “devil dogs.”

After WWI, Marines at Marine base Quantico obtained a registered English bulldog named King Bulwark, but according to the Defense Department, during a formal ceremony on Oct. 14, 1922, U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler signed documents enlisting him into the Corps, and renaming him Pvt. Jiggs, for the “term of life.” On New Year’s Day 1924, Jiggs was promoted to sergeant and seven months later, he was promoted to sergeant major. When he died four years after enlisting, he was buried with military honors. This should have put an end to the people asking what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps? But it didn’t.

World War II
Asking the question what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps is less important than asking the reason why bulldogs were chosen to be the Marine Corps mascot. Sure, it is important to know what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps, but even more important to know why. As we’ve explained, part of the reason is because the Marines fought hard at Belleau Wood, but another reason why is because Winston Churchill had a bulldog, and it was often used as a symbol of British defiance of Nazi Germany during World War II.

When America entered WWII, the Marines had already been respectfully anointed by their enemy as devil dogs so naturally when Churchill’s ever-present bulldog was coupled with Marine Corps lore, it came as no surprise that a bulldog was put on a Marine Corps recruitment poster during WWII. The poster featured a bulldog wearing a helmet while chasing a fleeing German dachshund in a German helmet. Not to mention, bulldogs are famous worldwide as symbols of courage.

But wait, as they say on television commercials, there’s more when it comes to answering the question what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps?

In 1957, the Marines started the tradition of naming their mascots “Chesty.” The question what is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps became less important because by then, most knew that it was the English bulldog. The focus shifted to why were the mascots named Chesty?

Chesty the Legend
The name Chesty is to pay homage to Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller. During his Marine Corps service from 1918 to 1955, Puller became the most decorated Marine in U.S. history, earning five Navy Crosses and an Army Distinguished Service Cross. He served in Central America, World War II and the Korean War. As a tribute to the legendary man, the Corps found a way to have him live on.

Since 1957, there have been numerous mascots and today, the sixteenth iteration of Chesty is serving in the Marine Corps at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.

The mascots serve a four-year enlistment and are then discharged into the care of an adoptive family who cares for them in retirement. Puppies are selected to replace the incumbents and begin socialization training usually under the presence and tutelage of the reigning Chesty. Puppies earn the rank of private once they complete training. Once the training is complete, the new Chesty assumes the position and the retiring Chesty enjoys retirement.

Marine Corps mascots have participated in evening parades and in other special events since their inception in 1957. What is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps? An English bulldog named Chesty, but did you know that the Marine Corps mascot is not alone?

Who Let the Dogs Out?
Bulldogs serve at boot camp training installations, where, like Chesty, they also participate in parades, ceremonies, and morale-boosting activities. Opha Mae II is named after Opha Mae Johnson, the woman considered to be the first female Marine. Opha Mae I also set her own precedent becoming the first female bulldog mascot in the Marine Corps. Opha Mae II currently serves as Parris Island’s 21st mascot, according to the Marine Corps.

What is the mascot of the U.S. Marine Corps at the training base in San Diego? His name is Manny, and he is, you guessed it, an English Bulldog. He is named in honor of Sgt Johnny R. Manuelito, Sr., one of the Navajo Code Talkers who trained in the first All Navajo Platoon on the base in San Diego in 1942. Manuelito helped create the code that the Navajos used during the war. He became an instructor, teaching other Navajo Marines the code. Later, Manuelito participated in the battle of Iwo Jima, where a Marine signals officer stated, had it not been for the Code Talkers, the Marines would have never taken Iwo Jima.

One of the more famous mascots was Chesty VI who got in a lot of trouble in 1979. In fact, he was reduced in rank from private first class to private for disobeying an order and destroying property. He had been ordered to stay away from a punching bag by his handler, a gunnery sergeant. The dog destroyed the bag.

Two years later, he received nonjudicial punishment for biting two corporals according to Marine Corps charge sheets. He was also given two weeks extra duty. Marines have their standards and they won't let that go to the dogs.

Female Marines: Celebrating 100 Years of Women in the Corps


The struggle for women in the U.S. military dates back to as long as there has been a nation. Women were only permitted to serve as cooks, medical, or clerical personnel and in many cases were not allowed to serve as uniformed service members. For female Marines, the story isn’t much different.

The first of the female Marines was Opha May Johnson who joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 1918. She was the first of 305 women to fill a clerical billet at Marine Corps Headquarters which allowed male Marines to ship to France to fight in World War I. About a year later, Johnson and others were separated after the end of the war.

During World War II, the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was established in February 1943. Before World War II ended, more than 23,000 officer and enlisted female Marines (reservists) served in the Corps. Unlike their predecessors, female Marines in World War II performed more than 200 military assignments. In addition to clerical work, female Marines also performed duties as parachute riggers, mechanics, radio operators, map makers, motor transport support, and welders.

By June 1944, female Marines (reservists) made up 85 percent of the enlisted personnel on duty at Headquarters, Marine Corps and almost two-thirds of the personnel manning all major posts and stations in the United States and Hawaii. Following the surrender of Japan, demobilization of the Women’s Reserve proceeded rapidly, but a number of female Marines returned to service as regulars in the Marine Corps under the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948.

In August 1950, for the first time in history, female Marines were mobilized for the Korean War where the number of female Marines on active duty was more than 2,700. Like the female Marines who had served in two wars before them, female Marines performed stateside duty and freed up male Marines for combat duty.

Female Marines continued to serve and by the Vietnam War, there were about 2,700 female Marines on active duty serving both stateside and overseas. During the war, the Marine Corps also began opening up career-type formal training programs to female Marine officers and advanced technical training to enlisted female Marines. By 1975, the Marine Corps approved the assignment of women to all occupational fields except infantry, artillery, armor and pilot/air crew.

In 1978, Col. Margaret A. Brewer was appointed as a brigadier general becoming the first female Marine general officer in the history of the Marine Corps.

In 1985, Col. Gail M. Reals became the first female Marine selected by a board of general officers to be advanced to brigadier general.

During the early 1990s, approximately 1,000 female Marines were deployed to Southwest Asia for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

In 1992, Brig. Gen. Carol A. Mutter assumed command of the 3d Force Service Support Group, Okinawa, and is the first of female Marines to command a Fleet Marine Force unit at the flag level. Mutter would later be the first female Marine to become a major general and the second woman in U.S. military history to earn three-stars in 1996.

In 1993, 2nd Lt. Sarah Deal is the first female Marine selected for Naval aviation training.  

In 2002, 1st Lt. Vernice Armour became the first female Marine to be an African-American combat pilot in the Marine Corps.

Today, female Marines account for around four percent of all Marine officers. Female Marines make up about five percent of the active-duty enlisted force in the Marine Corps. In 2016, the Department of Defense opened all military occupations to women.

Below are some key dates and milestones in the history of female Marines in the Marine Corps.

Captain Anne Lentz, part of the female Marines, becomes the first commissioned officer in the USMC.

In March, 722 enlisted female Marines of the Women Reserves begins training at the U.S. Naval Training School at Hunter College, NY.

A class of 71 officer candidate female Marines enters U.S. Naval Midshipmen’s School at Mt Holyoke, MA.

In April, the first class of enlisted female Marines graduated and reported to active duty. Approximately 525 women entered training every two weeks.

In May, the first class of female Marines officer candidates graduates and reports for duty.

In July, training for female Marines who are enlisted and officer candidates is transferred to Camp Lejeune, NC. Basic training for female Marines and much of their occupational training is at Lejeune throughout the war.

On January 29, the first detachment of female Marines, five officers and 160 enlisted women, arrives in Hawaii for duty.

In June, the commandant of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve Policy Board recommends the retention of a small number of female Marines to serve as trained cadre for possible mobilization emergencies.

The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 authorizes 100 regular female Marines (officers), 10 female Marines (warrant officers), and 1,000 enlisted female Marines.

On Nov. 10, eight female Marines are sworn in as first regular female Marines.

The 3d Recruit Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island is reactivated for training non-veteran female Marines. Female Marines (recruits) began arriving at Parris Island and formed the first platoon of 50 regular female Marines to take a six-weeks training course.

The first African-American woman, Annie E. Graham of Detroit, Michigan, enlisted in the female Marines. On the following day, Ann E. Lamb joined at New York City. The two women reported to Parris Island on September 10, 1949. Both subsequently reported for duty at Headquarters Marine Corps and became the first African American female Marines.

Annie L. Grimes, who would later become a chief warrant officer, enlisted into the female Marines and went to boot camp in February. Female Marines have always trained and worked in a fully integrated environment. They were never segregated due to race.

Col. Katherine A. Towle, Director of Women Marines, became the first woman line officer to retire from U.S. military service on reaching the mandatory retirement age of 55.

Master Gunnery Sergeant Geraldine M. Moran becomes the first of female Marines to become an E-9.

The first of female Marines is promoted to sergeant major (E-9). Sgt. Maj. Bertha Peters Billeb would also become the first woman to retire from the USMC with more than 30 years of service.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter becomes the first female three-star officer in the U.S. Armed Forces as she assumed the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Reserve Affairs at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C.

The first three female Marines graduate from the Marine Corps’ enlisted infantry training course. PFC Christina Fuentes Montenegro, PFC Julia Carroll and PFC Katie Gorz.

Secretary of Defense Carter Ash removes all restrictions, opens all military occupations to women.

The first female Marines graduate from the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course.

Marine PFC Maria Daume is the first female Marine to join the infantry through the traditional entry-level training process.

The Marine Corps’ first female armor officer, 2nd Lt. Lillian R. Polatchek, graduated from Army’s Basic Armor Officer Leaders Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. She became the first woman to lead a Marine tank platoon.

Lt. Marina A. Hierl became the first and only woman to lead an infantry platoon.

Lt. Col. Michelle Macander took over command of the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion at Camp Pendleton making her the first female Marine to command a ground combat arms unit.

There are of course dozens and dozens of firsts that females have accomplished in the Marine Corps but unfortunately, we can’t cover them all.

Today, female Marines are blazing trails throughout the Marine Corps. With military occupations wide open to them, they are showing that women have always been able to perform whatever is expected of Marines because they are in fact, Marines, and have earned the title.

USMC Awards: How They Should be Worn & Displayed


How to wear U.S. Marine Corps awards is covered in Marine Corps Uniform Regulations MCO 1020.34H dated 1 May 2018. The regulation is pretty straightforward and guides Marines on how to wear USMC awards.

In fact, Chapter 5, page 1-108 is where any Marine should start reading if they want to learn about the wear of USMC awards. But given the many uniforms the Marine Corps has, and the differences in uniforms between the genders, we will focus this post on the more popular uniforms that are worn by most Marines who have USMC awards.

USMC Awards
According to the Marine Corps uniform regulations, USMC awards, in particular, authorized insignia “will be worn on the left breast of all service and dress coats. It may be worn at the individual's option on khaki shirts worn as the outer garment (with or without ribbons), utility coats or the maternity work uniform coats. Miniature insignia, one-half regular size, will be worn on evening dress jackets. Breast insignia will not be worn on the cloak/cape, AWC, extreme cold weather parka, tanker jacket, field coat or sweater.

“Anodized breast insignia will be worn on all evening dress and dress uniforms. Either anodized or oxidized (also known as “antique” finish) breast insignia may be worn at the individual’s option on the service uniforms, but mixing of anodized and oxidized breast insignia is not authorized. Only anodized Marine Special Operator insignia will be worn on the dress and service uniforms. When breast insignia are worn on the utility uniform, anodized or oxidized breast insignia will be worn, with the exception that subdued brown or black breast insignia may be prescribed in a field environment in lieu of oxidized breast insignia. Only oxidized Marine Special Operator insignia will be worn on the utility uniform,” according to the USMC awards regulation section, Chapter 5 of the Marine Corps uniform regulations.

“When worn on the dress coat, service coat, khaki shirt, or maternity tunic, the insignia will be placed with wings horizontal and parallel to the top of the breast pockets (if any). On women's coats and combat utility uniform coats with slanted pockets, a horizontal line tangent to the highest point of the pocket (or top corner of the service tape in the case of the combat utility uniform coat) is considered the top of the pocket. When worn alone on the dress and service coats and shirts, the insignia will be worn in the same position a single ribbon would be worn. When worn with medals, ribbons, or marksmanship badges, the bottom of the insignia will be centered 1/8 inch above the top row of such awards. When successively decreasing rows of ribbon bars are worn (as in subparagraph 5301.5), and the top row of ribbons is such that centering the insignia presents an unsatisfactory appearance, the insignia may be centered between the outer edge of the coat lapel and the left edge of the vertically aligned ribbon rows,” according to the USMC awards regulation section, Chapter 5 of the Marine Corps uniform regulations.

USMC Awards and Awards from Other Branches
If you are a Marine who served in another branch of military service, you may be authorized to wear your previously earned awards with USMC awards. According to Marine Corps uniform regulations, “Marines who served in or were attached to another branch of the U.S. military services and received a decoration, unit award, or service award of comparable criteria to one issued by the naval service may wear the award on Marine Corps uniforms, unless otherwise prohibited by these regulations.”

The Marine Corps uniform regulations covering USMC awards continues: “Examples of other U.S. service awards which are not authorized include: marksmanship medals/ribbons (Navy/Coast Guard/Air Force), USAF Outstanding Airman of the Year, USAF Recognition Ribbon, USAF Longevity Service Award, NCO Professional Development/Education ribbons (Army/Air Force), Army Service/USAF training ribbons.

“The Combat Infantryman's Badge, Combat Medical Badge, and Combat Action Badge are not authorized for wear on the Marine Corps uniform. Upon submission of evidence to their commanding officer, personnel who are awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge or Combat Medical Badge may be authorized to wear the Combat Action Ribbon. Since the eligibility criteria for the Combat Action Badge is not comparable to that of the Combat Action Ribbon, personnel who were awarded the Combat Action Badge are not authorized to wear the Combat Action Ribbon.”

USMC Awards on Civilian Attire
USMC awards on civilian attire are also covered in the Marine Corps uniform regulations. It says “Decorations, medals, appropriate ribbon bars, or lapel buttons may be worn on civilian clothes at the individual's discretion, per the guidance provided below. Individuals should ensure that the occasion and the manner of wearing will not reflect discredit on the award.

Miniature medals may be worn with civilian evening dress (see paragraph 5203). The Medal of Honor may be worn with civilian evening dress. It will be worn around the neck with the ribbon under the coat jacket and the medallion hanging one inch below the bow tie. Miniature replicas of ribbons made in the form of enameled lapel buttons, or ribbons made in rosette form, may be worn on the left lapel of civilian clothes except civilian evening dress. Enameled lapel buttons should be worn with the long axis parallel to the ground.

“Honorable discharge, retirement, and FMCR buttons may be worn on the left lapel of civilian clothes except civilian evening dress. Those buttons manufactured with prong and clutch fasteners may be worn as tie tacks.”

USMC Awards and Decorations
USMC awards, with the exception of those decorations worn pendent from the neck, will be arranged in a horizontal line in order of precedence from the wearer’s right when medals are worn. The bottom edge of all medallions will be aligned.

“Hamilton Wash large and miniature medals, also known as ‘anodized,’ may be worn at the individual's option. Marines who exercise this option will have their own medals anodized at their own expense. Anodized medals will not be worn together with non-anodized medals by the same individual (except when a specific medal is not available in anodized finish); however, Marines with anodized medals may wear them in formation with Marines who have standard non-anodized medals,” according to the Marine Corps uniform regulation covering USMC awards.

USMC awards, particularly, medals with suspension ribbons bonded to a plastic backing instead of a metal bar are approved for wear at the option of the individual. These medals lie flatter than the standard medals and may include magnetic fasteners in lieu of clutches for attaching to the uniform. These medals will bear Marine Corps approval identification.

“Marines will wear all large medals to which they are entitled on dress ‘A’ coats. Miniatures of all medals entitled are required for officers/SNCO's when evening dress uniforms are worn,” according to the Marine Corps uniform regulations governing USMC awards.

The Marine Corps uniform regulation is a very detailed publication that informs the reader with granular details about spacing between medals, how medals show lay, overlap, etc. If you want to ensure your USMC awards are squared away for something like the Marine Corps Ball, it might be a good idea to leave your rack construction to knowledgeable professionals, like the folks at USAMM, or carefully and painstakingly put your rack together using the regulation.

Marine Corps Uniform Regulations: Tips & Advice for Appropriate Wear


While some might say this point is arguable, most agree, the U.S. Marine Corps has the best-looking uniforms in the U.S. military. That’s not to say that the U.S. Space Force’s ultra-modern Class A doesn’t look good, or that the U.S. Army’s retro pinks don’t look cool. It is merely stating that the Corps has an amazingly sharp uniform that is recognizable all over the world.

Being personally responsible for the U.S. Marine Corps’ brand is an individual Marine’s responsibility. Every time a Marine puts on the uniform; they carry that responsibility. In fact, it says so in Chapter 1 of the Marine Corps uniform regulation, MCO 1020.34H, dated 1 May 2018. The first few paragraphs cover some basic expectations.

“The Marine Corps uniform, with appropriate insignia, is designed primarily to show at a glance the branch of service and grade of the individual authorized to wear it. The uniform represents visual evidence of the authority and responsibility vested in the individual by the United States Government.

“Wearing the uniform should be a matter of personal pride to all Marines. Marines will maintain their uniforms and equipment in a neat and serviceable condition and will, by their appearance, set an example of neatness and strict conformity with these regulations.

“Marines are not known just for their battlefield prowess, but for their unparalleled standards of professionalism and uncompromising personal conduct and appearance. It is a Marine’s duty and personal obligation to maintain a professional and neat appearance. Any activity which detracts from the dignified appearance of Marines is unacceptable. The use of chewing gum, chewing tobacco, cigarettes or the consumption of food while walking in uniform or while in formation are examples of activities that detract from the appearance expected of a United States Marine.”

The Marines Corps Ball is an event where personal appearance and personal conduct collide. While the two elements are always coupled and expected from Marines, there are higher expectations of Marines at the Marine Corps Ball given the event’s legacy.

Here are some tips for appropriate wear and care of the Marine Corps uniform according to Marine Corps uniform regulations.

Marine Corps Uniform Regulations Concerning Public Shame
Marine Corps uniform regulations prohibit Marines from appearing or participating in any event in public that would compromise the dignity of the uniform. So, if you were planning a raucous pre-party before the ball at a questionable establishment, don’t do it because not only can you get in trouble because it is against regs, you will also discredit the Corps.

Marine Corps Uniform Regulations Regarding the Class A Uniform
According to Marine Corps uniform regulations, “The blue dress ‘A’ uniform may be worn for parades, ceremonies and formal or semiformal social functions, for NCOs and below throughout the year and for officers and SNCOs as appropriate to the season or those occasions requiring uniformity with NCOs and below.” The blue dress "A" uniform includes the blue dress coat with large medals. Female Marines may wear slacks in lieu of the skirt when dressing in the Class A. The Class A is the uniform of choice for most Marines attending the ball.

Marine Corps Uniform Regulations for Former Marines
Marine Corps uniform regulations state that retired Marine Corps officers may bear the title and wear the uniform of their retired grade. Similarly, the Marine Corps uniform regulations state “Former Marines not on active duty who served honorably in time of war in the Marine Corps may bear the title, and as authorized by regulations prescribed by the President, wear the uniform of the highest grade held during that war.”

That said, the Marine Corps uniform regulation clearly states: “The exercise of the rights of freedom of speech and assembly does not include the right to borrow the inherent dignity, prestige, and traditions represented by uniforms of the naval service to lend weight and significance to privately held convictions on public issues.

“Members of the Navy and Marine Corps (including retired members and members of Reserve components) are prohibited from wearing uniforms of the naval service while attending or participating in, or continuing to attend or participate in, a demonstration, assembly, or activity with knowledge that a purpose of such demonstration, assembly, or activity is the furtherance of personal or partisan views on political, social, economic, or religious issues .…”

If you’re thinking you can rock the uniform at some politically leaning event and then wear it to the ball, you’re mistaken.

Marine Corps Uniform Regulations Tips for Care
Marine Corps uniform regulations offer some straightforward tips for caring for the dress uniform when not in use. “Because of less frequent wear, use particular care when storing dress uniforms. Gold braid on evening dress uniforms may deteriorate if in close proximity to any substance containing sulphur, such as rubber and manila or craft paper. High humidity or sharp temperature changes will also cause tarnishing if the uniform is not adequately protected. An airtight plastic clothing bag with a packet of desiccant (drying agent) enclosed will give greatest protection. Place the uniform carefully on a substantial hanger and store in a dry, cool, well-ventilated closet. An experienced tailor should normally clean gold braid, although liquid nontoxic preparations available may be used if applied according to manufacturer's instructions. Embroidered insignia may be kept bright by occasional scrubbing with a nail brush and a solution of ammonia and water. Do this periodically, or as soon as any signs of tarnish or corrosion appears. In case of severe corrosion, the insignia cannot be restored to its original condition and must be replaced. The synthetic tarnish-resistant gold braided accessory items do not require heavy cleaning. A soft cloth may be carefully used to remove dust. Since temperature changes do not affect these items, store as required to protect the uniform fabric itself.”

Marine Corps Uniform Regulations for Medals
Marine Corps uniform regulations for medals clearly outlines how to wear military medals on the Class A, especially if you’re going to the Marine Corps Ball. “Hamilton Wash large and miniature medals, also known as “anodized,” may be worn at the individual’s option. Marines who exercise this option will have their own medals anodized at their own expense. Anodized medals will not be worn together with non-anodized medals by the same individual (except when a specific medal is not available in anodized finish); however, Marines with anodized medals may wear them in formation with Marines who have standard non-anodized medals.

“Medals with suspension ribbons bonded to a plastic backing instead of a metal bar are approved for wear at the option of the individual. These medals lie flatter than the standard medals ….Marines will wear all large medals to which they are entitled on dress "A" coats.”

The Marine Corps uniform regulation is packed with all the fitting do’s and don’ts of the Marine Corps uniform. If you’re attending the Marine Corps Ball and have any doubts, consult the reg and check with your leadership. You will be squared away for sure.

Marine Corps Gifts for the USMC Ball


If you haven’t already done so, it is probably a good idea to start shopping for the Marine Corps Ball especially if you are shopping for perfect Marine Corps gifts to share with your friends, family or loved ones. Online retailers like USAMM are a great place to start and we have a wide selection to help you pick Marine Corps gifts that will make the Marine Corps Ball that much better.

Marine Corps Gifts to Wear at the Ball
The Marine Corps Ball is a great opportunity to dress up and look sharp. If you are a Marine, treat yourself to a brand new, fresh, ribbon or medal rack for your uniform. This is one of the best Marine Corps gifts you can give yourself. As a leader, you will set a great example for other Marines, but if you’re not a leader, then think of it as an investment in yourself. If you want to give someone a medal or ribbon rack it is best to not to surprise them. They know what they’ve earned and likely have all the accompanying paperwork. Check with them first before springing a surprise on them that might not include all the Marine has earned. Racks and medals make great Marine Corps gifts. After all, the ball only happens once per year.

Marine Corps Gifts to Use at the Ball
Challenge coins are great Marine Corps gifts to give for the Marine Corps Ball. In many cases, most units have their own challenge coins that are distributed to unit members. However, if you’re new to the unit, haven’t received or earned one, do you want to take the chance and be the only Marine without a challenge coin? You do know what happens when you don’t have a coin, right? Don’t get flanked. If you’re a Marine Corps veteran, ensure you show up armed with a challenge coin because as they say, the best tasting beverages are the free ones. If you have a family member or friend who is a Marine, Marine Corps challenge coins are great Marine Corps gifts that they can take to the ball.

Marine Corps Gifts for the Home or Office
Not all Marine Corps gifts given for the Marine Corps Ball have to be worn or taken to the ball. The Marine Corps Ball is the celebration of the Marine Corps birthday, and therefore, it is a birthday celebration for every Marine. And as we know, birthdays mean presents. Shadowboxes, coin displays, plaques and drinkware are great Marine Corps gifts. Personalizing them by adding a custom name, rank, date makes it even more special.

Marine Corps Gifts for the Wing Man/Woman in Your Life
Do you have a friend who is as useful as your right hand? Well, you can show your appreciation to that man or woman who is your wing man/woman by getting them a customized wing tank. Whether you’re spiking the grog bowl or hitting the flask while in the head, customized flasks are great Marine Corps gifts for that battle buddy in your life.

Last Minute Marine Corps Gifts
If you thought about getting some great Marine Corps gifts, but time got away from you, then consider purchasing a gift card. Gift cards are great Marine Corps gifts that can help offset the costs of attending the Marine Corps Ball and they can also help the Marine you are shopping for purchase whatever they want. Maybe their uniforms are squared away and they do not need uniform items. A gift card enables them to buy whatever they want. Many gift recipients prefer and enjoy the flexibility of spending other people’s money on what they want.

Marine Corps Swords
Marine Corps swords are amazing Marine Corps gifts. Officers and NCOs must purchase their own, so presenting a Marine with a sword would definitely be a great gift. But beware. Marine Corps swords, like any military swords, are not cheap and there are other components, like the scabbard, that must be purchased and that will drive the price higher. Depending on the unit, Marines can wear their swords to the Marine Corps Ball. Much depends on unit directives.

The Marine Corps Ball is a wonderful opportunity to purchase great gifts for the Marine in your life or to treat yourself to some nice gifts to commemorate the Marine Corps birthday. Remember though, as the Marine Corps Ball gets closer, demand for items goes up, so whether you are shopping online or shopping at a brick-and-mortar retail location, make sure you strike first and strike fast because there are thousands of Marines out there preparing for the same event.

The Marine Corps Ball is about celebrating the honor, integrity and rich history of the U.S. Marine Corps. It is also about honoring the men and women who have earned the title of U.S. Marine. This year marks the 247th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Like any mission—plan, prepare, move out and execute. And remember, to have fun. Happy birthday, Marines!

Happy 247th Birthday US Navy: 5 Navy Facts to Celebrate


On October 13, 1775, the US Navy was founded. The US Navy was established by the Continental Congress at the onset of the War of Independence to engage the British navy. It is the second oldest US military branch of service, second only to the US Army.

As the US Navy birthday draws near, here are five facts to remember as you prepare to celebrate.

US Navy Birthday Fact 1
Our first US Navy birthday fact isn’t some salty sea tale; it is a fact. The US Navy is the largest navy in the world. According to the US Navy, it has more than 330,000 active-duty personnel with an additional 60,000 on ready reserve. Now, China can claim that they have more ships, but they are mostly smaller ships with less capability, that’s why USAMM thinks the US Navy is bigger and more badass. US Navy ships comprise a powerful arsenal that project American power and lethality in oceans around the world. The Navy has a fleet of more than 280 ships. Its fleet consists of aircraft carriers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships, littoral combat ships, destroyers and submarines.


US Navy Birthday Fact 2
USAMM’s second US Navy birthday fact is a source of pride for the US Navy. Did you know that six US presidents served in the US Navy before they became president of the United States? John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush are all old salts and Carter attended the US Naval Academy.

US Navy Birthday Fact 3
Our third US Navy birthday factoid is that the US Navy has seven fleets that comprise the US Navy. The US Navy has the 2nd Fleet, 3rd Fleet, 4th Fleet, 5th Fleet, 6th Fleet, 7th Fleet and 10th Fleet. Clearly, if you’re looking at it sequentially in numerical order, there are some numbered fleets missing. That is because some numbered fleets have been deactivated or merged with other fleets.

US Navy Birthday Fact 4
The fourth US Navy birthday fact that many people don’t know is that the US Navy names ships according to guidelines it developed long ago. Since 1819, the Secretary of the Navy has had the responsibility of naming ships.

Of course, there are exceptions made in every class of ships that are named, but generally the naming criteria is as follows: aircraft carriers are named after presidents; dry cargo ships are named after famous explorers or pioneers; cruisers and destroyers are named after Americans cities or heroes; submarines are named after US cities or states; amphibious assault ships carry legacy names or are named after famous World War II battles; littoral combat ships are named for the concepts of freedom, independence, and for cities and communities; amphibious transport ships are named after US cities; to name a few.

US Navy Birthday Fact 5
This US Navy birthday fact is rarely talked about. There have been two US Navies, one formed on October 13, 1775, and another formed in 1794. Remember, the Continental Congress purchased two armed ships to attack British vessels in the American Revolution, but after the war ended in 1783, the Continental Navy was disbanded and its remaining ships were sold. Navy sailors and officers returned to civilian life. Not long after the cessation of hostilities, America began facing threats on the open seas, mostly from pirates and opportunists hoping to take advantage of unprotected ships. This prompted the nascent US government to defend its fleet of commerce ships and the US Congress reestablished the US Navy. President George Washington signed the Naval Act of 1794 creating a permanent standing US Navy that has existed ever since. Eventually the Department of the Navy was created in 1798.

US Navy Birthday Bonus Fact
This US Navy birthday fact is something many don’t even realize. The US Marine Corps is an independent branch of service, but it is also a part of the Department of the Navy. But did you know that another branch of service is also (sometimes) under Navy command and control? The US Coast Guard, when mobilized to support the US Navy, also is an independent branch of service that is ordinarily under the command and control of the Department of Homeland Security. However, when elements of the Coast Guard are mobilized to support the US Navy, they fall under the Department of the Navy during that period of operations. That makes the US Navy the only branch of service with control over two separate branches of service.

The US Navy birthday is a day to celebrate not only because of the Navy’s rich history, but it is an opportunity to reflect on the many brave men and women who devoted their lives to the defense of this country and to projecting American will, firepower and ideals around the world.

USAMM encourages everyone to reach out to local veterans’ service organizations and see if they are hosting any events to honor the US Navy birthday. US Navy birthday celebrations are not just a lot of fun, but they are full of Navy history and traditions, and the best part is that attendees can interact with current Navy sailors or Navy veterans, both of which are living history.

10 Places to go for Veterans Day This Year


America has plenty of patriotic holidays to celebrate and Veterans Day is one of them. While Veterans Day doesn’t get the same level of attention as say, July Fourth, it is still a great holiday to recognize those who have served and protected American freedom. Military veterans are a part of living history and many have been involved, whether directly or indirectly, with historic American events.

Here’s USAMM’s top 10 places to go for Veterans Day.

1. Places to go for Veterans Day on the East Coast
Washington D.C. is probably the best place to celebrate Veterans Day. For starters, there are military memorials at just about every turn. Head down to the National Mall and there will likely be some commemorative event being held to mark Veterans Day.

The Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials are within walking distance of each other and while these two memorials ordinarily attract large crowds during the Memorial Day weekend, they still have a lot of buzz around them on Veterans Day as veterans who survived those wars gather with friends and family to mark Veterans Day.

About 15 minutes away via leather personnel carrier (those are boots for the uninitiated), is the World War II Memorial which is also a gathering place for those who are celebrating their service, or the service of others during Veterans Day.

You can also witness the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery which happens every Veterans Day, or celebrate at the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial or the U.S. Navy’s Memorial.

In addition, some of the military branches offer entertaining tattoos which include performances by military bands and drill teams. The point is, there are numerous opportunities to celebrate Veterans Day in Washington D.C. With a little planning, you can make an already memorable day truly special for you or your family and friends.

2. Places to go for Veterans Day on the West Coast
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps veterans will agree, San Diego is definitely a sea branch town. With bases peppered all over San Diego, the Navy and Marine Corps presence is tangible.

If you’re a retiree or you are still serving in one of the components, check the bases for Veterans Day activities. Many installations hold golf tournaments and many are designed to raise money for veterans’ organizations and charities.

There are also plenty of parades, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, as well as other recognition events to attend. Many times, these events include veterans, like Medal of Honor recipients, who speak to audiences about their service.  If you’re lucky, maybe one of the local bases has a graduating class and you can attend the graduation ceremony.

3. Places to go for Veterans Day in the Midwest
If you’re lucky enough to live in or near Chicago, Illinois, or if you’ve always wanted to visit the city, then make sure you visit the Pritzker Military Museum and Library during Veterans Day. If you’re active duty, call ahead, but the museum sometimes offers free admission to military members. If you go to the museum on Veterans Day, call ahead to verify, but they used to give everyone free admission on Veterans Day.

This is a wonderful museum to spend time in marking Veterans Day. If you can, try to visit the Veterans Day commemorative events at Soldier Field where the NFL’s Chicago Bears play. That event is usually held in the morning, which gives you time to head over to the Pritzker and take in all it has to offer.

4. Places to go for Veterans Day in the Central U.S.
As a Texas company, we’re a little partial to Texas, but the truth is, Texas really loves its veterans and there seem to be Veterans Day events, military museums, historic sites all over the state.

Fort Hood, home of the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division in Killeen has an amazing military museum as does Camp Mabry in Austin. Drive a little farther into the countryside and you can check out the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, hometown of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. All of these are wonderful museums with amazing artifacts on display. The Texas Military Forces Museum is a great little place to spend the day and the camp is accessible to the public.

5. Places to go for Veterans Day in the Mountain Time Zone
The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is a beautiful place to visit and it is open to the public (check with base officials as COVID has limited access). Set in the foothills of the Rockies, the Academy’s famous chapel, visitor center and many static displays make for a great way to celebrate Veterans Day.

Sometimes Air Force plays football the weekend of Veterans Day. These games are a blast and there is a lot of tradition at these games. Tickets are generally reasonable in price and there are a lot of pre-game tailgate activities. During the games, plan on seeing Air Force Falconry cadets cut loose some low flying falcon mascots that buzz the stands and pre-game there is usually a flyover to honor veterans for Veterans Day.

6. Places to go for Veterans Day in your Local Community
Regardless of size, many towns have Veterans Day parades or activities to honor those who have served. For example, the City of Orlando, Florida has a yearly parade that includes members of the reserve, National Guard and some active-duty units that parade in the streets. Men and women in uniform march in formations while others drive military tactical vehicles.

Places in Central Florida, like theme parks, offer special rates for veterans too. In some cases, Defense Department ID card holders can get free admission. Ensure to call ahead first before you make the trip. Conditions change and while something might have been offered a year ago, it might not be offered in the current year.

7. Places to go for Veterans Day if You Know Someone Who Has Served
This is a no brainer. If you know someone who is a veteran, go see them. There are surprising amounts of veterans in many places. Down the street, quietly living on the block, that guy with the Vietnam Veteran sticker on his truck might not mind a neighborly visit.

Someone in your family or a friend who has served who might not be nearby can be called. Forget the text and e-mail. Call them. One of the employees here at USAMM has a high school friend who served in the Army in the 1980s and every Veterans Day he calls him. They catch up on what’s been happening in their lives, but the USAMM employee is able to thank him for his service and reminisce about high school.

If you don’t know anyone who has served, which is possible given only a fraction of Americans serve in the military, check out local organizations which might be sponsoring a meet and greet where you can go and chat with a veteran.

8. Places to go for Veterans Day if You’re Near a Veterans Organization
There are quite literally hundreds of veteran service organizations with varying missions that serve the veteran community. Organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, American Legion, and others, all have veteran members and many of these organizations have posts that hold Veterans Day events open to the public.

Some of USAMM’s veteran employees belong to local veteran service organizations that hold yearly barbeques that not only provide great food, but are a great way for the organization to raise money for a particular veteran charity. Not to mention, these cookouts or Veterans Day events are a great way to interact with living history as many veterans have seen or been a part of many of the things most of us read about in U.S. history books.

9. Places to go for Veterans Day a Local Military Cemetery
While remembering the fallen who died in service to their country is usually reserved for Memorial Day, Veterans Day is about remembering any veteran who honorably served, living or dead. Military or National Cemeteries are appropriate places to visit on Veterans Day.

Many cemeteries will have a Veterans Day event to mark the occasion, but you can also avoid the crowds and pay your respects quietly away from any ceremony. At the Texas State Cemetery, for example, famous Texan veterans like Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and NFL Coach Tom Landry are buried at the Austin, Texas cemetery.

10. Places to go for Veterans Day to Help the Homeless
Lastly, if you are looking for a way to help veterans on Veterans Day, stop by and talk to a person identifying themselves as a homeless veteran. Ensure you can do this safely.

Veterans account for about 10 percent of homeless Americans and each night approximately 40,000 veterans have no place to live. While there are numerous programs to help, there is always a need.

The key here is to plan ahead. Don’t just drive around looking for homeless people because that can be unsafe. Instead, get involved with a veterans’ service organization that might need volunteers for the day. Many veteran groups have programs that target homeless veterans on Veterans Day, so helping with the assistance of professionals is the recommended way to go.

Wherever you choose to go on Veterans Day, remember that the day was created to honor those men and women who have served in our nation’s military forces. Try to do something that pays it forward.