- Corps permits Marines to wear bands in honor of absent comrades
- Commandant: "We are acknowledging ... the strong bonds" among Marines
- Troops previously were allowed to wear POW/MIA bracelets
In a change of policy, U.S. Marines are now allowed to wear bracelets in memory of fallen comrades.
The metal or rubber bracelets can honor "prisoners of war, missing in action, killed in action, and those who died of wounds or injuries sustained in a combat theater," the Marine Corps said in a statement Tuesday.
Some Marines had been wearing the bracelets -- which list names of those killed in Afghanistan, Iraq or other zones -- despite their not being permitted by regulations. There had been questions about enforcement of the policy.
The decision came out of a symposium last week at which the issue was discussed by the Marine commandant, Gen. James F. Amos, and his senior officers, the statement said.
"We are acknowledging the close personal nature of our 10 years at war and the strong bonds of fidelity that Marines have for one another, especially for those fellow Marines who we have lost," Amos said in the release.
Amos on Monday met Marines who had returned to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California, from Afghanistan. He noticed bracelets and received "positive feedback" on the wearing of the them, said Maj. Stewart T. Upton, a Marine spokesman.
About 360 members of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, were welcomed home. They had five comrades killed during their seven-month deployment in Helmand Province, said center spokesman Capt. Nicholas Mannweiler.
"They are typically providing security," said Mannweiler. "They made a lot of improvements."
The captain said the policy decision on the bracelets signified "we get why you're wearing it and it's blessed."
Guidance on "standardization and uniformity" will be distributed to Marines by the end of next week, the Corps said.
Marines had been permitted to wear the long-familiar POW/MIA bracelets since 1972, during the Vietnam War, Upton said.