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A Wet Military Is Better Than an Affected Military

January 18, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Army’s top brass decreed today its servicemen may not carry umbrellas while in uniform.

Army Secretary John O. Marsh Jr. and Gen. John A. Wickham Jr., the Army’s chief of staff, ″have disapproved the use of umbrellas,″ Lt. Col. Miguel E. Monteverde, a spokesman, announced.

″The decision has been made″ Monteverde said, adding that it will be Army policy ″as long as they remain in office.″

Monteverde would not discuss the reasoning behind the decision, but a source who demanded anonymity would.

″It’s very simple,″ he said. ″They (Marsh and Wickham) feel the image of male Army officers walking around with umbrellas is somehow intrinsically unmilitary. They feel it is an artificial affectation that Army officers need not have.″

Today’s announcement followed a report earlier in the week by The Associated Press that the Army Clothing and Equipment Board was considering a recommendation to allow men in uniform to carry an umbrella.

Now, only the Air Force allows men to carry an umbrella. The Navy, Marines and Army allow military women to carry an umbrella.

Last year, the Army clothing board rejected the idea. This time, the source said, the board went on record supporting the option, only to have it shot down.

According to Maj. Robert Mirelson, another Army spokesman, the Army has prohibited the use of umbrellas by men in uniform ever since its creation in 1775. The Air Force, without that long tradition, allowed the practice in 1979.

Last year, the issue arose in the Marines. But Gen. Paul X. Kelley, the commandant of the corps, quickly nixed the idea, reportedly offering a vow similar to that of Marsh and Wickham that it would never happen while he was in charge.

The Army decision means male soldiers can still put covers on their hats, but if rain or snow falls down their neck, they’ll just have to get wet.

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