In Uniform, 1952

I found these two images in Dean Hill’s scrapbook, both taken at parades in downtown Houston by someone who liked to station themselves in front of Foley’s:



I am forced to admit here that I don’t understand the uniforms–why one and not the other? I’m too embarrassed to guess that they’re warm and cold season. Don’t laugh–I’m trying to educate myself here! Any assistance is appreciated.




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9 Responses to In Uniform, 1952

  1. marmer01 says:

    Yes, your seasonal instinct is correct. The dark uniform is an early appearance of the “Winter Blue” uniform (which is really black) with a black shirt, pants, and tie, with collar brass for rank. The older man in the double-breasted coat is a Chief Petty Officer, one of the NROTC staff (a senior enlisted man). Because they are “under arms” (carrying rifles) they wear a white belt, white leggings, and white gloves. Navy tradition. Winter Blue is more or less worn October through March depending on temperature. The khaki uniform is the old style khaki working uniform worn with black long tie. There is a service dress variant of that with a khaki coat (this was often seen in the TV comedy _McHale’s Navy._ This is worn in the hot months, again with rank on the collar. There is a difference between “hard shoulder boards” and “soft shoulder boards.” Hard shoulder boards are worn on the white uniform, not pictured here but featured prominently in the movie _An Officer And A Gentleman._ Soft shoulder boards are worn on the white shirt worn with the double breasted dark coat as seen on the Chief Petty Officer above. That is so rank can be seen when the shirt is worn without the jacket, but they are flexible so as not to be visible under the jacket.

  2. marmer01 says:

    The Wikipedia article has pretty good descriptions of current and past Navy uniforms and some pictures. Other pictures are easily found by Googling the name of the uniform. Here is a quick survey of twentieth-century US service uniforms with lots of pictures.

  3. Wanna Hadnott Class of 1984 says:

    Marty you are amazing

  4. Ron Ladd says:

    I wrote up this comment a few years ago, but I guess there was a problem with the posting. Since I wrote it up in another application, I had a copy. I noticed it missing with the recent posts about the NROTC building. Anywhere, here is some more information about the uniforms.

    I was in Navy ROTC (NROTC) at Rice from the fall of 1968 through the spring of 1973 (with one year off to avoid finishing NROTC before getting my Masters of EE degree in the 5th year). I was also on the NROTC Drill Team from the fall of 1968 through the spring of 1970. The uniforms have stayed pretty much the same over the (many) decades. Current uniform regulations are provided at a Rice website for the NROTC unit in the pdf file A web version of the regulations is availabe at The uniforms I remember are the same as in the pictures and the same as in the current uniform regulations. Note that there is a special section on midshipmen uniforms (Section 6101, Office Accession Programs), showing the slight uniform modifications for them.

    The first picture is the summer uniforms. Based on the number of midshipmen marching, this first picture appears to be the NROTC unit marching in a parade. The main part of the picture appears to be a company of midshipmen. The notation “Squad leader” in the picture refers to the second row of midshipmen. The midshipmen in the front right is the company midshipman commanding officer and the front row left is the company midshipman executive officer. The next row of 3 midshipmen are the 3 squad leaders of the company, who are in charge of their squad, who are the about 15 midshipmen behind them in the formation. (The number of squad members varied over the years as the size of the NROTC unit varied.) At the back of this company there is a gap and another company follows.

    The second picture is the NROTC Drill Team. They were a much smaller subset of the NROTC unit (usually about 15 to 24) that are carrying rifles. The Drill Team practiced a few hours a week to become proficient at some relatively fancy rifle handling routines that were performed while they were marching in parades, and occasionally during drill team competitions. It was a totally upperclassmen run organization, who did the training of the underclassmen. The person in the double breasted coat is an upperclass midshipmen in charge of the Drill Team, who gave commands during the parade as to what rifle routines to perform and calling out cadence to keep all the Drill Team members in step with each other. (He is not a Chief Petty Office (CPO) as Marty thought; see the uniform comments below to see why this is a midshipman vice a CPO.)

    The uniforms in the first picture are Service Dress Khaki, which is no longer used. The current Working Khaki uniform (Section 3233 in the Uniform Regs) is similar, with an open neck, short sleeve shirt, vice the long sleeve shit with tie in the picture of the Dress Khaki uniform. Since the midshipmen only wore uniforms for marching drill periods, the working khaki was not part of the midshipmen uniforms during the school year. During the winter months the midshipmen shifted to the Winter Blue uniform (Section 3229 in the Uniform Regs).

    The drill team uniforms are an allowed modification of the Winter Blue uniform covered in Section 6201, Ceremonial Uniforms, in the Uniform Regs. During my years on the Drill Team we wore white ascots instead of the black tie, as allowed in the Ceremonial Uniforms regulations. These modifications are allowed to the Winter Blue uniforms and looked pretty sharp, but there was no equivalent for the Khaki uniforms, so the Drill Team always wore the Ceremonial Blue uniforms when in parades or competitions. So both of these pictures could have been taken during the same parade.

    The reason the person in the double breasted coat is a midshipman vice a Chief Petty Officer:
    The chin strap (the band across the front of the cap just above the visor) is that of a midshipman (3/8 inch wide, faced with gold lace (Section 6101.2.a(2)), vice a CPO, black patent leather or vinyl (Section 4321.2). (An officer chin strap is 1/2 inch wide, faced with gold lace (Section 4311.3).)
    The anchors on the coat lapels are a unique midshipman device (Section 6101.10.b). The officer and CPO double breasted coats do not have these anchors (Section 3217 for officers and Section 3315 for CPOs).

    Marty mentioned the soft shoulder boards worn on the white shirt under the double breasted coat. These did not become part of the Service Dress Blue uniform with the coat until the later 1980s or so. They came about to solve the problem of not being able to determine anyone’s rank indoors, where caps were not worn, and coats were mostly removed for more comfort. Anyone could be a Chief Petty officer to the highest admiral, and there would be no way to determine by looking at them. (The silver CPO belt buckle versus the gold or brass officer belt buckle was mostly hidden by the black tie or a desk or table if the tie was short for the person.)

    I hope this detail helps and is not too into the fine detail weeds.

    Ron Ladd
    ’72 BA Math, EE
    ’73 MEE

  5. Bruce Grooms says:

    Hi Ron, You probably don’t remember me but I am Bruce Grooms and was one of the sailors under your command of USS John C. Calhoun. My wife, Emily was a huge fan of your wife, Robin. This is to send a long overdue thank you for all of your support for Emily and me during our wonderful tour aboard Calhoun. You were a superb Commanding Officer and we just wanted you to know how much we appreciated your leadership. Best wishes to you and Robin that your golden years are as wonderful as you deserve. Warmest regards and very respectfully, Bruce & Emily

  6. Ron Ladd says:

    Greetings Bruce from retirement on Turkey Creek TN.
    How did you come across this post?

    Email me at

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