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Talking Military Uniforms with Uni Watch Reader Timmy Donahue

For all photos in this section, click to enlarge

A few months ago I started receiving Ticker submissions from a guy named Timmy Donahue. It soon became apparent that he was an unusual contributor. For starters, in addition to submitting items regarding sports uniforms, he often had things to say regarding military uniforms. Last month, for example, he pointed out that a TV show was incorrectly showing military medals on a police uniform, and more recently he called out an ad that used a stock photo showing a soldier wearing his uniform improperly (both of which were great Grab Bag items).

In addition, when emailing with me, he usually addressed me as “Sir” and signed off with “Very respectfully, Timmy.” He mentioned in one of his emails that he had served in the Army (the photo above shows his wife, Ashley, changing his shoulder boards during the ceremony for his recent promotion from Captain to Major in the Army Reserve), which I figured accounted for both his military uni acumen and his communication style.

I was curious to learn more, so I asked Timmy (he prefers that to Tim or Timothy) if he’d be willing to do a phone interview. He readily agreed, so we spoke last Friday. Here’s a slightly condensed version of our conversation:

Uni Watch: First, please give me a few basics about yourself: How old are you, where do you live, and what do you do for a living?

Timmy Donahue: Yes, sir, I’m 35 years old, I live in Rego Park, Queens, with my wife and daughter, and I’m a public defender. I work for the Legal Aid Society. I started working there on Aug. 1.

UW: You’re also a military veteran, correct?

TD: I am, yes, sir. I did eight years, three months, and four days on active duty in the United States Army.

UW: Where did you serve?

TD: Multiple locations. I served at Fort Myer, Virginia; Fort McNair, Washington, DC; Camp Casey, South Korea; Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan; and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

UW: Right, you had previously mentioned to me that you were stationed in Afghanistan.

TD: Yes, sir. In March of 2016, I deployed for a year in Afghanistan. I worked for the Special Operations Joint Task Force, Afghanistan. It’s a bunch of Green Berets and SEALs and Marine Raiders who are basically fighting counter-terrorism operations, and they send nerds like me to go be their lawyers. So I was there but I’m by no means a Special Operator. Simply a guy who has a law degree who deployed to Afghanistan to help out on rules of engagement and targeting authority for the Special Forces.

UW: So you joined the military after getting your law degree?

TD: Yes, sir. I went to undergrad, graduate, and then law school, and law school is where I figured out what I wanted to be as an adult. I met a professor who was a retired Army Judge Advocate and kind of steered me toward that path. So I graduated law school in 2010 and joined the Army in 2011. [You can see Timmy’s military bio here. — PL]

UW: When did you first get into sports uniforms, and when did you discover Uni Watch?

TD: The first time I can remember reading Uni Watch was 2016 in Afghanistan when you did that season’s college football preview. As far as getting into sports uniforms, I’m not sure exactly when that started. My brother, who’s six years older than I am, was a film major in college, and he kind of taught me that you have pay attention to stuff when you’re watching movies, because stuff that’s happening in the background or on the periphery is really important. So I think I kind of rolled sports into that approach.

UW: So when you discovered Uni Watch in 2016, you were already something of a uniform guy.

TD: I was already somewhat into uniforms, yes. My boss was into uniforms as well, so I’d read the blog from time to time. And then when I got out of the Army and had a bit of time before starting my job, that’s when I started reading it every day.

UW: This is sort of an odd thing to bring up, but I think I can honestly say that nobody has ever communicated with me quite like you do. You usually refer to me in your emails, and now in this phone conversation, as “Sir”; you’ve also referred to me as a “busy gentleman”; and you sign off almost every email by saying, “Very respectfully, Timmy.” I really appreciate this communication style, and I certainly don’t mean to make you uncomfortable by bringing it up, but I confess that I’m a bit curious about it. Do you communicate with everyone this way? Is it something you picked up in the military, or is it just how you’ve always been?

TD: I appreciate that. I guess it comes from two or three things. My mother was a schoolteacher, so she always taught me to be respectful. Also, I grew up in Dallas, Texas. When you’re growing up there and you play sports, if you’re disrespectful to your teacher and they tell your coach, you’re not gonna play. So that was kind of ingrained in me. And in the Army, obviously that’s just the culture there. And then the other thing — so I guess it’s four things — is that I used to work in the service industry. I used to work in bars and bring food to people’s tables all the time. And I guess I found out how important it was if someone says, “Thank you” or “Sir,” as opposed to just being rude. My wife tells me I’m overly polite to service industry personnel.

I guess it’s just, if you show people respect, they’ll treat you with respect, so you show it until there’s a reason not to. That’s the same way I speak in court, the same way I speak to the judges, to my clients. If you treat people that way, you’ll get a better response. And if you get a terrible response, that’s probably someone you don’t want to interact with.

UW: One reason I wanted to talk to you is that you appear to have a very interesting skill set when it comes to uni-watching, because you often focus on depictions of military uniforms in movies, TV shows, and advertising. Have you always been a stickler about military uniforms?

TD: For my first job in the Army, I was a legal assistance attorney at Fort Myer, Virginia. My sergeant, his name was Johnny Ahern, he was in the Old Guard, which is the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. It’s the ceremonial unit — the President’s escorts, some of those soldiers are the ones who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns — so they’re very big on appearance, because they are always out in public representing the Army and the President.

So I’ll never forgot, one day Johnny said, “Bring your uniform in — I’m going to go over it with you.” And I said, “Hey, it’s fine, Sgt. Ahern, we did that at officer basic [training].” And he looked at me and said, “Sir, bring your effing uniform!” So I said okay, and he tore the whole thing apart, and he taught me about the measurements and everything.

UW: When you say he “tore it apart,” you mean you were wearing it wrong, and he critiqued that?

TD: My measurements were not up to a standard for which Sgt. Ahern believed I should be seen wearing the uniform. [Timmy later explained that this tool is used for making such measurements. — PL]

UW: And what does that mean in terms of “measurements” — like, where your medals were?

TD: Correct. Everything you see someone wearing on a uniform that isn’t sewn on has to be placed on with pins, and there are certain measurements regarding where they go.

The other thing he didn’t like was that the buttons that went down the center — my big buttons, with the eagles on them — they weren’t standing straight, because they were sewn in instead of pinned. So he cut them off and then put them back in with safety pins, so my eagles always stood up straight.

UW: Wow. You mean they were slightly rotated, so the eagle’s head wasn’t at 12 o’clock?

TD: Correct. And then he made me put cardboard backing on all my pins so they wouldn’t appear to be leaning or falling off due to gravity. [Timmy later told me that the best cardboard for this is from beer six-pack holders, because it’s relatively strong but still thin enough so that the “spike” of the pin can protrude far enough for the backing clutch to grab it. Although I didn’t mention this to Timmy, this strikes me as a design flaw in the pins themselves. Instead of MacGyvering a solution with cardboard, why not just have the pins made with the spike a few millimeters shorter? — PL]

In the Army, you wear your résumé on your chest — everyone knows where you’ve been and what you’ve done before you even open your mouth. So when I went into the courtroom in front of military juries, which are called panels, they judged us before we even spoke because they could look at our uniform. And if there was something wrong, I’ve heard horror stories, because panel members can ask questions, and some of the questions they’d submit would be, “Why is your ribbon rack out of order?”

So to me, that means I need to be perfect in the way I look, because I need to put on a case, and I need these people to listen to what I have to say. So during my career in the Army, I was obsessed with that. And I’m still obsessed with it, because I’m in the Reserves. Whenever I see something out of place in a movie or on TV — my wife doesn’t want to hear it, but it drives me nuts. It’s so easy to figure out, and I feel like people aren’t taking the time to do it right, and it just bothers me.

UW: So do you sort of silently judge people when you see their résumé on their chest, as you just put it?

TD: I do. But if they’re in a position where I can help correct it, I do. Because one thing we have in the Army is what’s called on-the-spot corrections. Anyone from a private all the way up to a general, you have the authority to go up to any of those individuals and say, “Hey, sir — X, Y, and Z is out of order on your uniform.” And especially if it was a younger soldier — my opinion is that you don’t have to yell at the kid, because maybe he was just in a hurry, maybe he was overwhelmed, so let’s help fix it. Now, when I see older officers or old enlisted personnel with something messed up, to me that is a lack of attention to detail.

UW: The things that Johnny, your sergeant, taught you — like the safety pins, the cardboard backing — do many people do that?

TD: A lot of them do. I know I taught that same thing to a lot of people working for me.

UW: You mentioned the measurements for medals and pins. Are there also measurement protocols for exactly how long a jacket sleeve should be, or exactly how much of a shirt sleeve cuff should be exposed from the jacket sleeve?

TD: Yes. Your jacket sleeve, if I remember properly, is supposed to hit your wrist at the point where your thumb touches your wrist. I’d be speaking out of turn if I said I remembered where your shirt sleeve cuff is supposed to be. And then even in the cammies, there are rules for where your jacket top is supposed to hit your pants. It’s supposed to be between your side pocket, which you’re not even supposed to put your hands in, and your cargo pocket.

UW: That’s all fascinating. My next question was going to be “Tell me something about military uniforms that the average civilian might not know,” but I think you’ve already done that! Anything else on that front?

TD: Military uniforms look really, really nice in pictures, but they’re made of polyester and they are really, really hot.

UW: They don’t breathe?

TD: They do not breathe well. I’m looking at the tag on my dress blue pants right now. It’s a 55/45 poly-wool blend.

UW: Are the shirts also polyester?

TD: Yes. I think it’s a blend. It’s awful, is what it is.

UW: Is this a common complaint?

TD: Yes. You are authorized to wear a short-sleeved shirt beneath your dress blue jacket, and I did that every single time. There’s an old video of Gen. [Raymond T.] Odierno testifying in front of Congress, and people were like, “Oh my god, Gen. O’s wearing short sleeves!”

UW: So when you were in military court, that’s what you’d be wearing — the short sleeves under your jacket, with a necktie?

TD: Yes, sir. But you’re not allowed to wear the necktie with a short-sleeved shirt if you don’t have a jacket on. So if the judge gave us a recess that was more than 15 minutes, I would take my jacket off and also take my tie off. But you have to be in what we call Proper Bs — your B uniform is your dress pants and a white shirt, and then Proper Bs include your rank on your shoulders and your name tape and your unit crest on your right breast.

UW: When you removed your tie for those recesses — or for any other reason when you removed your jacket while wearing the short-sleeved shirt — would you fully unknot and untie the tie? Or would you do that thing where you just loosen it at the knot and then pull the loop over your head? You know what I mean?

TD: Yes, sir. That is absolutely what I did.

UW: So this was always a real tie, not a clip-on tie.

TD: You are authorized to wear a clip-on, they do sell them, but I never wore that.

UW: How do you feel about camouflage uniforms in sports, and the general proliferation of military appreciation promotions in the sports world?

TD: Yes, sir. I’ll preface this by saying I’m still serving in the United States Army Reserve, so I don’t have authority to make statements on that from an Army perspective, so this is just in my civilian capacity. But I would say camouflage uniforms are not overly my favorite thing. I do appreciate it when people are patriotic, but I think I’d rather have someone ask my about my service than thank me for it, because I think that would mean more. I think I could explain to them what we did, and what I was doing. I think when people say, “Thank you for your service,” I think it’s kind of a platitude — they just say it. I appreciate the sentiment, but I think if people just talked to veterans, they’d get a better idea of what it means to be patriotic. I don’t know if that answered your question, sir.

UW: That’s a perfectly good answer. I think those are all the questions I have. Anything else uni-related that you’d like to discuss?

TD: I am upset about the [Texas] Rangers’ new uniforms.

UW: Oh, right, you grew up in Dallas — what do you think of them?

TD: I lived there when Nolan Ryan pitched for them. I was a Dr. Pepper Junior Ranger — my parents paid, like, $20 at the grocery store and I got a hat and got to go to old Arlington Stadium. So I grew up rooting for the Rangers. And you pretty much said it in your piece, they just kinda missed it.

UW: So you’re still a Rangers fan today?

TD: I don’t follow baseball as much anymore. Football is my primary sport. I’m a big Philadelphia Eagles fan. My entire family’s from Philadelphia.

UW: But you grew up in Texas..?

TD: It was a tough childhood. Long story short, my entire family’s from Philly. When we moved down to Texas, my dad wanted us to fit in, so he took us to Rangers and Mavericks games. But my dad loves football — just not the Cowboys. So we rooted for the Eagles. My daughter, Mia, was born five days before the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018, and I plastered her in Eagles stuff for Super Bowl Sunday.


Now that, I think we can all agree, is a really great interview. Please join me in thanking Timmy for sharing all of that fascinating info.

And there’s more. In a series of follow-up emails, Timmy shared some additional insights:

• We do not shine the shoes that are worn with our dress blues, because they are patent leather. You can wear leather shoes and shine them if you choose, but I only knew two people who ever did so.

• You cannot have your hands in your pockets except briefly to retrieve keys or some other object you may need.

• It is prohibited to walk and utilize a cellphone in any manner. If you need to take a call you must stop and talk. Walking and talking/texting interferes with one’s ability to render a salute. (Similarly, if you hold your spouse’s or significant other’s hand, you must use your left hand to hold your partner’s, so that the right hand can be used to salute.)

• The berets worn by soldiers have to be shaved with a razor before they may be worn (no shaving cream, you dry-shave it). They come fuzzy from the manufacturer and require extensive shaving to make them within regulation. I would buy a set of disposable razors and stretch the beret over a pot to shave it on a flat surface. It legitimately takes days. Once shaved it must be shaped by getting it wet and stretching it into the proper shape on one’s head.

• When walking in a group of two or more, the senior individual stands to the group’s right. This is done so that anyone passing can identify the senior-most person and salute if required. Enlisted personnel always stand to the left of officers, and junior officers to the left of senior officers. (This also has historical significance, as a sword was worn on the individual’s left hip. A junior officer or enlisted person was to draw their sword to defend the senior.)

• When outdoors, one must always wear a cover (hat or beret). he camo hat is called a patrol cap and the dress blues hat is referred to colloquially as the bus driver cap. The exception to this rule is that a cover is not required after retreat (5pm) if one is in the Dress Blues.

• Each branch (job) within the Army has its own color. The color is used on the dress blue uniform to identify members of the branches. If you look at the sleeves on the dress blues, you will see two gold stripes at the bottom framing a dark blue section. That blue is actually a ribbon — it is not the uniform sleeve itself. The Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps (Army lawyers and paralegals) branch color is dark blue with white trim. The same color would appear around the bus driver cap, if worn, and the shoulder boards also bear the color.

Here is my right sleeve:

You can see the JAG Corps blue ribbon framed by the gold. This color would be different on the uniforms of Officers in other branches. Enlisted personnel do not have this on their uniform sleeve; they have a gold ribbon that goes around without branch color. The two gold tick marks each represent six months deployed to a combat zone. I did a year in Afghanistan, so I have two tick marks. This is on every uniform, officer or enlisted. This is another check Army personnel make on each other: If you see someone has a deployment badge (Combat Service ID Badge, or CSIB) on their right pocket, but no tick marks on the sleeve, that means they deployed but it was for less than six months. A CSIB with one tick mark, but no Overseas Service Ribbon (OSR) in the ribbon rack, would mean they were deployed for at least six months but less than 10. You have to do 80% of 365, or 292, days to qualify for an OSR. These are just small ways we check each other’s uniform before ever talking to each other.

• Other colors: infantry (sky blue); artillery (red); Special Forces (green). Each branch has an insignia as well. The JAG Corps insignia is a laurel with a crossed quill and sword. You can see it on the lapel of my dress blues. Enlisted personnel wear circular discs on their lapels. More info here and here.

• The sleeves of the camouflage uniform have Velcro, but we don’t call it Velcro because that is a brand name. We call it hook-and-loop fasteners. The Velcro/fasteners are for patches: A soldier wears the patch of the unit s/he is currently assigned to on the left sleeve and the patch of the unit s/he deployed with to a warzone or area of active hostilities on the right sleeve. It is known as the right shoulder sleeve insignia for former wartime service. If a Soldier has deployed more than once, it is the Soldier’s choice of which unit patch to wear on the right sleeve. The same patch, rendered in color — but different dimensions — is worn on the right front pocket of the dress blues. (Female dress uniforms have no pockets, so it would simply be the right side.) You can see I have the same patch on my right camo sleeve as I do in color on my blues.

• Here is my Army Combat Uniform (ACU), aka the cammies:

We refer to these as OCPs, which stands for Operational Camouflage Pattern. The uniform is actually called the ACU, but that’s what we called our old digital cammies, even though they were officially the Universal Camouflage Pattern or UCP. Yes, it’s confusing, and no, I have no idea why we do it, but yes, we all understand which uniform people are talking about.

On my left sleeve is my current unit, Trial Defense Service (TDS). I am assigned to the 154th Legal Operations Detachment TDS. On my right sleeve is the unit I deployed with, the Special Operations Joint Task Force Afghanistan, along with my American flag. Someone who has not deployed can be referred to by the pejorative term “slick sleeve,” for having nothing on the right side. Another term is “light on the right.” It’s our own internal way of insulting someone who has not deployed — a classic example of Army culture.

• Here’s the tag from that uniform:

I added the “1.” It corresponds to a pair of pants whose tag also has a “1.” When you buy the uniform from the clothing store on base, each piece (top and bottom) has slight variations in color. You want to buy a set that matches as best as possible and then wash them together. You always need to keep the set together because you never want to wear a new top with old pants — the top would be fresh and the bottom faded. I go through a ritual with new uniforms that includes washing them at least five times before wear, rubbing lotion on the inside to simulate body oils to soften them, and taking a lighter to the outside. The OCPs come with what can best be described as a sheen on them, and the threads often have loose hanging threads, so the lighter helps soften the uniform and get rid of the sheen, while simultaneously getting rid of any loose threads.

Wow! That’s some serious info and knowledge that Timmy’s dropping on us there.

One final thought: While I appreciate Timmy’s service in the military, I also greatly respect his choice to begin his civilian law career with the Legal Aid Society, which does such important work. I mentioned that to him, and he said, “Thank you for that. We take great pride in representing New Yorkers who need assistance. I know that often times public defenders get a bad rap, but they are truly some of the finest, most caring people one could ever meet. I see being a public defender as an extension of service in the Army, standing up for those who need help, often the most vulnerable of society.”

Nicely put. It’s also worth noting that Timmy’s Legal Aid “uniform” has on at least one occasion included an accessory that might not be up to military standard but nonetheless makes me quite proud:

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Really good project: I think I speak for most of us when I say that the NFL’s use of generic lookalike Super Bowl logos over the past decade has been a major drag. Wouldn’t it have been better if they’d kept coming up with a fresh logo for each Supe?

A new website called Second and 10 has taken aim at that problem. Each Wednesday, the professional designers who run the site roll out their own logo concept for one of the recent logo-orphaned Super Bowls (like the Super XLVI concept shown here), plus they also have some fun Super Bowl logo rankings. It’s good stuff — well worth a few minutes of your time. Enjoy.

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ITEM! One-day merch sale: I’m running a bunch of holiday sales on various Uni Watch products today. Check it out:

• For today — and only today — you can get 20% off of anything in the our Teespring shop (which includes Uni Watch shirts, hoodies, mugs, pins, cufflinks, and stickers) and the Naming Wrongs shop by using the checkout code UW20.

• Also today, our Uni Watch Classic Cap is available for $31.99 (that’s 20% off the usual price of $39.99).

• Also today, you can get a Uni Watch gumball helmet for $9.99 (that’s nearly 30% off the usual price of $13.99).

• And also for today, Uni Watch memberships are available for $20 (that’s 20% off the usual price of $25).

These discounts are only for today. Enjoy!

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rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

ITEM! Yet another membership raffle: Today is reader Mike Rosenberg’s birthday. He recently won one of our membership raffles and is paying it forward by donating a membership that I’m raffling off today.

This will be a one-day raffle. To enter, send an email to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tonight. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Big thanks to Mike for sponsoring this raffle (and happy birthday to boot!).

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The White Sox tweeted that C Yasmani Grandal will wear No. 24 with the club, and they did it using a Majestic-era jersey (from multiple readers). … A contestant on The Price Is Right‘s latest episode wore a No. 25 Yankees jersey. Here are all the possible Yankees the contestant could be paying tribute to (from multiple readers). … A Houston-area floor resurfacing company advertised an Astros-themed option using a hybrid of old and new Astros logos (from Scott Campbell). … A few weeks ago we featured @PaperStadiums in the Ticker — a fan who builds sports venues out of paper. Check out his progress on his rendition of Wrigley Field. … “MLB’s Cut4 Twitter account always does intentionally bad job of mocking up players in their new uniforms when they change teams,” says Andrew Cosentino. “But for newly signed Yankees P Gerrit Cole, they went the extra mile by painting over his beard and long hair,” both of which he’ll presumably have to shed with the Yanks. …, meanwhile, also removed Cole’s beard but left his long hair intact and didn’t include the new Nike maker’s mark on his jersey.

NFL News: According to an interview with the team’s equipment manager, the Chargers equipment staff removes the lightning bolt decals from every helmet whenever the team wears its Color Rash jerseys and replaces them with special ones only to be worn with that uniform. The difference is the color of the blue outlining on the bolts (from Brian Taylor). … Speaking of the Rash, the Steelers will be wearing theirs when they face the Bills this weekend (from Jerry Wolper). … The Frisco Fire Department of Frisco, Texas, revealed a Cowboys-themed fire truck yesterday. The Cowboys’ front office is located next to the Frisco Fire station where the fire truck is housed (from Dustin Perez). … The NHL’s L.A. Kings held Rams Night last night, so the hockey team suited up in Rams-themed warmups, complete with “C” and “A” designations modeled after NFL captaincy patches. Rams players returned the favor by wearing Kings jerseys for the ceremonial puck drop. The Kings also gave away Kings/Rams co-branded caps. Kings mascot Bailey even got in the act, wearing a blue and white Rams helmet (from Jakob Fox, among several others). … Someone turned Browns DE Myles Garrett’s helmet attack on Steelers QB Mason Rudolph into a bizarre Christmas ornament (from our own Phil Hecken). … Reader Jason Diebold stumbled upon two Tampa-related pennants: one featuring the Super Bowl XVIII logo in Buccaneers creamsicle colors, and another of USFL team Tampa Bay Bandits. … ESPN sublimated the Patriots logo on an LSU-related graphic (from Ben Whitehead). … A dinosaur skeleton at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is wearing a giant Bears throwback jersey (from David Halstrom).

College Football News: Here’s this season’s bowl schedule in helmet form (from our own Phil Hecken). … UAB RB Spencer Brown had his number fall off his jersey during the Conference USA Championship on Saturday (from Eric Espada). … The Redbox Bowl botched Cal’s name, referring to it as Cal State, the name of California’s other large university system (from @TwoSeamGripe). … An Ohio State fan started a petition imploring the team to go with grey stripes on their home unis for all home games (from Ian Rhoades). … Today’s helmet history with Blaise D’Sylva features Stanford. … Cross-listed from the NFL section: ESPN sublimated the Patriots logo on an LSU-related graphic (from Ben Whitehead).

Hockey News: Cross-listed from the NFL section: The Kings held Rams Night last night, so the hockey team suited up in warmups honoring the NFL’s L.A. Rams, complete with “C” and “A” designations modeled after NFL captaincy patches. Rams players returned the favor by wearing Kings jerseys for the ceremonial puck drop. The Kings also gave away Kings/Rams co-branded caps. Kings mascot Bailey even got in the act, wearing a blue and white Rams helmet (from Jakob Fox, among several others). … A Predators fan received a C Colton Sissons sweater they ordered from Fanatics, but the NOB was placed upside down (from @Wilds_Lee). … The winner of a contest held by a DC-area brewery for the best Capitals-themed beer can wants to turn his graphic design skills into a career (from Wolfie Browender). … The Capitals’ minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears, recently released throwbacks (from Adam Triesler).

Basketball News: Here’s a good article on the Hornets’ seamstress (paywalled) (from William I. Wells). … The National Basketball League of Australia released Looney Tunes-themed uniforms yesterday (from Dan Howe). .. Colorado State men’s has at least inconsistent NOB typography (from @youngreid71).

Soccer News: Chelsea’s fourth shirt has leaked. It’s on the kit they wore when they won the 1970 FA Cup (from @DukeStJournal). … Nashville SC’s home kit has potentially leaked through the club’s youth team (from Josh Hinton). … For more kit-related news from around the world, make sure to check out Josh’s Twitter feed. … Valencia wore ad-free shirts against Ajax in their Champions League match yesterday, because the Netherlands doesn’t allow gambling ads outside the state-run gambling company (from multiple readers). … “Scottish team Livingston now has a women’s team called Livingston Women’s FC,” says our own Jamie Rathjen. “They’re going to wear the same kit as the men’s side, but the women’s reserve/youth teams will keep the identity of Blackburn United, the club Livingston affiliated with to do this, creating an interesting situation in which a player progressing through the youth teams to the first team would at the last step wear a different kit than they wore previously.”

Grab Bag: A man dressed as Santa was kicked out of a South Carolina mall because the mall had already contracted with another Santa (from Jack Wade). … Someone is putting cowboy hats on pigeons (NYT link) in Las Vegas. … From our own Phil Hecken, Nike has debuted a new modesty swimsuit for Muslim and body-conscious women.

Comments (69)

    Don’t have to remember. You can look it up in Army Regulation 670-1 which is now available online in pdf format. I posted a link at the bottom of the thread.

    Timmy gave a great account. Military people tend to notice the smallest details on someone wearing the uniform. Make great uni-watchers. I didn’t have to deal with the camo matching, we still wore working khakis, but sometimes the shirt and the pant color of khaki didn’t match. Looked really bad. Then double knit came out. Colors matched but damn they were hideous looking.

    Agreed, one time I was with a friend and her friend (who had just enlisted in the Army I think) while hanging out in the city during Fleet Week festivities.

    The new recruit was essentially wearing his undershirt in public and not his uniform and I distinctly remember a higher ranking person looking at him and tugging his shirt, nonverbally expressing his displeasure. The recruit also admitted to me and the friend privately his mistake, he was lucky not to have been chewed out even worse.

    Great interview, Paul, very informative.

    As the son of a Navy veteran and as a Navy Vet, it often bothers me when I see details of uniforms not done correctly. Glad to know I am not the only one. Great article. Thank you, sir and Timmy too.

    I’m a Navy vet myself and I still check the gig line and for irish pennants. Other habits still hold too years later like walking to as right as practical down p-ways.

    Fascinating interview, Paul!
    Thank you for your service, Major. I learned so much about Armed Forces aesthetics and protocol, which is something I don’t get in my day to day. I’m a lawyer for the VA, helping a Veterans Law Judge decide disability claims, so I don’t see medals, but I can certainly read a DD-214 (that’s a discharge form) in case it’s relevant. Thanks again, and also thanks for using your work talents to help the underserved. It’s a noble cause. Justice for all!

    Great stuff from Timmy. We did a lot of the same things in the Navy when I was in back 79-84. Timmy brings back a lot of uniform memories! One thing to always count on are uniform changes. Navy had the god awful blueberry camos which have been replaced with Marine Corps camos with Navy insignia. Also was a period in the 70s when the Navy got away from the crackerjacks for enlisted personnel for a uni set that was more Chief and Officer in orientation. Combination cover instead of dixie cup.

    Thanks Timmy! Loved your comments and damn it bring back my service years. Check for Irish pennants!

    Thanks Timmy! Great interview. Brought back my Navy days and the uni tricks we did. Some of them you mentioned were in use back then. Hardest thing for a Navy officer is keeping those dress white shoe soles clean. Formula 409 works pretty well. Thanks again Timmy. Great interview!

    “Instead of MacGyvering a solution with cardboard, why not just have the pins made with the spike a few millimeters shorter?”
    The problem isn’t so much about the length of the spikes, but that they’re usually a bit away from the edge. For the name tags in particular, they’re vertically centered. That means that even if the spikes were super short, the top and or bottom of the name tag would not be up against the fabric in most cases. It’s pretty obvious when we’re interviewing our cadets for Wing Staff positions (I’m an Air Force ROTC instructor myself) when they haven’t added backing to their ribbon rack, name tag, or any other accouterments. In addition, we’re encouraged to slip a piece of cardboard inside the soft rank we wear on the shirt epaulets so they don’t arch up when we move our arm.

    And as for Gen Odierno wearing his short sleeve shirt with his dress blues jacket, oh my God it makes me shudder every time someone does it. I’ve done it once before and I felt so awkward and I (jokingly) give my cadets crap any time they do it haha.

    The jackets, at least on the Air Force side, are also tailored very awkwardly. You can barely move your arms in them. As a result of that and the general discomfort of wearing service dress, we tend to minimize how much we wear them overall (some units will have Blues Mondays as their mandatory service dress days, some units only have it once a month) in favor of wearing utilities/camo.

    And as a side note, if you want a crazy military uniform, here’s an article about the camo uniform the Air Force *almost* introduced in the early 2000s (link) plus a comparison between it and what we eventually got (link). Granted, as awful and pointless as the blue tiger stripe uniform would have been, as a fan of blue, part of me kinda loves it and wanted to grab one of the test items when I found one in storage at my last job. Now we’re phasing out both of the uniforms there entirely and have started wearing the same camouflage uniform to which the Army has transitioned, as shown in the pictures. I actually approve of us wearing the same uniform because it reduces costs overall by buying uniforms in larger bulk. However, our name tapes on the green and brown uniforms are “spice brown”, a sort of rust-like color, which is nearly impossible to read on the uniform, so…that’s a questionable move on our part.

    Great interview.

    My first job after leaving sports writing was as a copy editor for military photo captions at the Pentagon. My favorite part of it was learning all the uniforms, patches, ranks, unit names, equipment and other military minutia for not only the US, but other countries as well. Also, seeing a person wearing an unusual or new uniform around the office was always interesting.

    I don’t think I ever made a strong connection between that and sports uniforms until now.

    That sounds like a really interesting job! (at first) I think i’d get bored of it quickly though.

    Thank you Timmy, for your service (military, public, and to Uni Watch) and for all the amazing ‘inside baseball’ information.
    Thank you Paul, for conducting this interview and sharing it with us.

    Fantastic interview Paul!

    Timmy, thank you for sharing so much info and thank you for your service, in the past and currently.

    (Also, great job going with the old-school Eagles gear for you & your daughter!)

    The Price is Right contestant who wore a #25 Yankees jersey may have been paying tribute to Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 6, Episode 2, “Anonymous Donor” in which he wore a #25 Yankees jersey in tribute to Joe Pepitone.

    The same Joe Pepitone who in 1850 designed Central Park so the Union army could practice fighting on grass.

    Wow. That was an amazing interview! Both of my daughters are dating/married to soldiers and I just learned more in 10 min of reading than I ever learned in the last year of conversations with them.

    Thanks for sharing so much with us, Timmy!

    Fascinating read this morning…Thanks for your service Timmy and thanks for another great interview and topic Paul….!

    Thank you Paul and Timmy for an informative interview. My father served in the Naval Reserve for many years and I was always fascinated by his uniforms. The start of my uni-obsession, I guess.

    I’m so happy to see how much people are enjoying this entry! All credit goes to Timmy — I mostly just got out the way and let him share his considerable knowledge!!

    He has a ton of it. Great interview session. Said in another post how we didn’t wear camo but wore working khakis as an officer. Sometimes the khaki of the shirt didn’t match with the pants. Looked terrible. Worse than that were the double knit khakis. Good lord those were horrible. Looked cheap, were hot and too dark of a khaki.

    Great Interview, great topic – more like this please.

    There once was a brief moment in time (late 1980’s) that the USAF, ARMY, and USMC all wore the same BDU’s (battle dress uniform). Totally made sense, and of course that didn’t last. What a shock. My wife always tell me to say something nice about the subject if you are going to say something harsh… so here it is.

    I saw the new USARMY pink and tan unis for the first time in person last week, standing in line at REAGAN Airport. I was impressed with the look, even the brown shoes worked. Felt like I just came out of a time machine and landed in the old Washington National Airport terminal.

    I hope they keep this look. It is rare, UNI speaking when our military gets it right, for countless reasons the military uni design process is a soul crushing ordeal,
    but damn that is a good look.

    Tip o’ the hat to the no longer just green army men.

    p.s. I meant to type PINK and GREENS in describing the new US Army UNI’s. Too excited to review the copy. I suppose thats what a good story does to someone who gets it.

    example here


    Absolutely one of the most fascinating interviews you’ve ever presented, because it is so far outside the normal range of knowledge for most of us. Thanks to you and Timmy.


    That was one of the best Uni-watch entries ever! My father was in the National Guard for 38 years and obsessed over the appearance of his uniform. I remember his joy in the 1970s when the Army allowed troops to wear patent leather shiny shoes and boots (they were called “corfams” back then, for the leather) because he no longer had to spend an hour shining his shoes or boots the night before a drill.

    There is a huge uni related development in the Army going on. I was surprised that Major Donahue did not discuss it. A decision was recently made that the Army will go to a “throwback” – an updated version of the famous “Pinks and Greens” WWII uniform. (Think Bing Crosby in ‘White Christmas’) This uniform will be worn in office settings. The transition will take place over the next several years. My father thought it was the best looking Army uniform he ever wore. I would be very curious to know what Timmy thinks of the change.

    Here is an example:


    That is one of your best interviews, which is saying something because I find your interviews fascinating and insightful. There’s tremendous insight into a world I know nothing about.
    One thing though – as a fellow Eagles fan, we need to find Timmy a proper throwback – Reggie White never wore sewn-on numbers with the Eagles, all heat-pressed. Most throwback makers (especially Philadelphia’s own Mitchell & Ness) get this wrong with most of their ’80s NFL throwbacks. I looked for months until I found one of that era with the heat-pressed numbers. It’s frustrating that a company with a decent eye for detail messes this up on almost every NFL team.

    When i saw that first picture of Donahue I immediately thought “looks just like the Rams -Navy helmet and Royal blue pants/jerseys”.

    does that make me Uni-Watchlike?

    PS thanks for your service

    Awesome article, as a football player at The Citadel I have my feet in both the military and athletic uni world. Although not as serious as actual army service, I use a lot of the same uniform tricks lol. Totally loved the military perspective on it!!!

    Thank you for your service, sir!

    Outstanding interview! Being a US Army Vetern (Desert Storm Era), I can appreciate CAPT Donahue’s service and attention to details. I was a Specalist (E-4) and promotable to Sgt E-5 (but my cut off score was too high to get the promotion). I served as a Chapalin’s Assistant while stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany from 1987 to 1991 (3rd Fwd Support BN, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division) and had to have a “Super Squared Away” Dress Uniform for chapel services. It is not easy to line everything up on the uniform, but looking sharp is important. It’s the soldiers “Story” for their MOS, rank, awards, unit history, and special events (War time deplymanets, and Authorized Foreign awards).

    Great interview. My father is a retired Army JAG officer and he would always voice his displeasure at the uniform errors in the TV show JAG (which was about Naval JAGs).

    We were just discussing an incident where his unit had a family Christmas party and I, a young boy at the time, asked why “Santa” was wearing “Army boots.” An early bit of Uni Watching for me!

    -Fascinating interview. Thanks for your service Timmy, both in the military and as a public defender.

    -RE: the Yankees jersey on The Price is Right. While obviously the contestant could have been honoring any Yankees number 25, the “diaper” on the back of the jersey means it was almost certainly sold as a Gleyber Torres.

    Awesome interview. I love these types of stories. And Timmy if you’re reading this, thank you for your service.

    PS, I’m also from North Texas and I also hate the Rangers new uniforms.

    Question for Timmy…
    What are your thoughts on the new Army “green uniform”, the new everyday service uniform? This is also nicknamed “pinks and greens”, after the old WWII uniforms this is based on. I love them, and also love that an option of this includes a leather jacket.

    First off, thank you to Paul for allowing me to discuss Army uniforms, and second thank you to everyone for their interest in the topic. With regard to the new version of the Pinks and Greens, I agree it is a sharp looking uniform that allows the Army to stand out from the other services. I did not discuss it with Paul since I left Active Duty and do not have an occasion for its wear. As far as I know they are still in the “test” phase with roll out starting in 2020. It is the 2d change to the uniform since 2010 when the Green Service Uniform began to be phased out for the Army Service Uniform (ASU). The ASU became the main uniform in 2015 and can be worn for formal events or daily activities, such as a court-martial. It is my understanding that the new uniform will be for daily wear and the ASU elevated to formal wear only. Currently, in garrison, the wear of the OCP is authorized for all but I heard rumors that certain MOS (military occupational specialities, i.e. jobs) will switch to the pinks and greens in garrison, especially if they have an office job. The new uniform separates the Army from the other branches, which I like because I was often asked if I was a Marine or in the Navy when in my ASUs. I also think my grandfather, who served as an infantryman in the China-Burma-India theater during WWII, would like it.
    Please let me know if that answers your questions. Thanks again for your comments.

    Timmy, thank you for your service, and thank you for your thoughts on the new Pinks and Greens uniform. I was surprised to see the Army go to the ASU as a duty uniform. That look always seemed overly formal in relation to the Green Service Uniform my father wore, especially during daytime activities.

    How often do you drill as a member of the Army Reserve? When my father was in the National Guard, they would have one drill weekend each year wearing Green Service Uniforms so the Guardsmen would keep their dress green uniform current.

    Sir, as part of a unit of just defense attorneys, we do not drill like ordinary Reservists. The easiest way to explain it is that when the Army wants to separate someone, i.e. fire them, from the Reserves–usually for misconduct–often times that individual is entitled to a Board where 3 people decide if the misconduct warrants separation. The Soldier is entitled to free defense counsel provided by the Army, that’s me.

    Boards are like mini-trials with a government lawyer and a defense lawyer, with the Board deciding all matters. I recieve packets via email regarding Soldiers and work on their cases, pretty much doing billable hours (16-24 a month) on nights and weekends. Then when the Board occur I get put on orders and I travel from my home in NYC to the location of the unit. My team covers Mississippi and Louisiana.

    Since Boards are conducted in OCPs, I have not found a need to buy the new uniform, which I’m not sure is even available yet. I keep my ASUs in working condition in the event I need them for whatever reason. I actually have 2 complete sets because they would get so hot in court and would need to be traded out. Our unit also does the standard 2 weeks a year, where we go conduct training exercises, but once again that would require OCPs.

    Please let me know if that answered your inquiry.

    One final thought on all of the military uniform discussions . . . GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!


    Yes, great information, and thank you. Your service in the Army Reserve is much different than what I remember my father experiencing in the National Guard. Best wishes –

    Thanks! I think they are now rolling it out. The uniform, especially the coat, reminds me a little of the Marines uniform.

    Awesome entry today! Seeing the thick poly blend fabric brings back old, sweaty, memories of marching band uniforms. I understand you need a fabric that will last forever without showing its age, but my god, let them breath a little.

    Paul, thanks for the shout-out for Legal Aid. Like Timmy, my sister is an attorney for Legal Aid (in her case, in Gastonia, NC). She attended Columbia Law in NYC and got involved with Legal Aid because Columbia offers a program that forgives a graduate’s student loans if they participate in a public service job for a certain number of years. My sister has fulfilled her requirements but remains with Legal Aid because she finds the work rewarding, because navigating “the system” is almost impossible without legal help, and it’s difficult for many to afford. Thanks to Timmy as well for continuing to serve the community.

    Plus, getting to visit her twice while she was a student is what made me such an expert on all things NYC. ;)

    Loved this interview. I’ve always found military uniforms interesting, and it was really exciting to get an education during my morning read. Thanks Timmy for sharing!

    Thanks, Paul & Timmy for a thoroughly entertaining and educational interview but the more I read, the angrier I got…..about football players with their tee shirts hanging out, baseball pajama pants, mismatched shoes and every other uni crime documented on this site. It is always heartening to hear from someone who adheres to standards and has pride in their appearance. Timmy, you are someone who truly “gets it.” Thanks for your military service and your work as a public defender. Also, thanks for reminding me that I could be a little more polite in my daily interactions.

    Yes I understand that point. I was making a joke about micro brewers. Enough with the IPA’s already!

    I thought movie and tv actors dressed in military uniforms regularly had intentional mistakes on their costumes to prevent someone using the image as a roadmap for creating a legitimate uniform. Anyone using a movie prop uniform would be spotted and called out on their inconsistency quickly.

    Couldn’t anyone who wanted a “roadmap” simply look at photos of real military personnel (among many other possible sources of legit military uniform imagery)?

    Yes, exactly. There are all kinds of materials available that explain how to wear the uniform properly.

    Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, and Dept. of the Army Pamphlet 670-1, Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia are the complete rules for how to properly wear every feasible time of Army uniform. Soldiers are expected to know and follow the rules contained in those documents.

    The idea that actors have to have mistakes in their uniform–often thought because one must avoid stolen valor–is not correct. Actors have a 1st Amendment right to wear the uniform during a performance, regardless of the portrayal of the military in said performance. This was decided by the Supreme Court in Schacht v. United States, 398 U.S. 58 (1970).

    Fantastic interview! I am a military uniform enthusiast as well and the love of the minutiae of it is applied bilaterally to sports and military. love hearing the tips and tricks of a new Uniform and how to get it into shape to wear. Heard of stories of newly promoted navy officers dipping their new gold shoulder stopes in sea water to make them look more worn and blend better with the existing ones. I don’t know if that is true but it sounds cool! I would love to hear more on military uniforms especially with the army going back to the WW2 style “pinks and greens”

    Canadian military testing a prototype for a new camo uniform:

    Canadian Armed forces ranks, badges, official dress etc. here:

    In case anyone happens to be going through O’Hare and is looking for the dinosaur skeleton, it is located in Terminal 1, on the B Concourse where it connects to the underground walkway to C Concourse, pretty close to Gate B8. It’s a replica skeleton, more info at: link

    As noted in the article, they’ve also replaced the gate identifier signs on the B and C Concourses with Bears-style lettering (the B looks like a cursive B that shows up on some team merchandise, and the C is the helmet logo) and stripes that look like the Bears orange sleeve stripes on their blue jerseys.

    There is a great blog out of Canada at link that documents officials from the Great White North who wear their orders, decorations, and medals incorrectly.

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