Modern Warfare Week

You don’t wear tiger stripes in Japan

You don’t wear tiger stripes in Japan. They’re not authorized. Jungle fatigues, regular fatigues, class-A khakis, summer or winter greens, even Army shorts are OK, but not tiger stripes. With their jagged slashes of black and green, it’s hard to pass them off as being defensive. They’re for the jungle, for tracking and killing without being seen. So to spare the sensitivities of our Japanese hosts, the United States Army had ruled that tiger stripes were not to be worn in that country. Every now and then, though, someone ignores the regulations. Usually, after a little official harassment, he gives in and takes them off. Some, though, don’t. A few, simply because they’ve been through it all and don’t give a shit; others, because even in Japan, their war’s not over; some, a little of both. These are the ones you can’t push around, and if you hassle them about anything – even their uniforms – you’d better be ready to go all the way, because they’ll take you there whether you want to go or not. Brock noticed the Major glaring at him, but kept rignt on walking. “He you…you in the camies.” Camies…! Camies…? Jesus! Without turning around, Brock came slowly to a stop. “Yes you, soldier.” Amused, Brock turned around. “Come here!” Smiling, Brock walked slowly back down to corridor. He was carrying his bush hat. His short blond hair had been bleached almost white by the sun, and he had the pinched, drawn look of having been outdoors too long. Except for his first lieutenant’s bars and jump wings, there was nothing else on his tiger stripes, not even a unit patch. “We don’t wear that uniform around here,” the Major said. “But I’m not from around here,” Brock said pleasantly enough. “Where you from?” “Sorry, can’t tell you that.” “Sir,” the Major corrected sharply. “What unit are you with?” “Sorry, can’t tell you that, either.” “What are you doing here?” “I’m afraid I can’t tell you that…sir.” The Major flushed. “Lieutenant,” he said angrily, “you’re getting yourself into trouble.” Unmoved, Brock remained silent, offering nothing. “Who’s your commanding officer!” “Right now,” Brock said, turning to observe a patient being rolled past him, “I am.” “Lieutenant,” the Major barked, his voice echoing up and down the corridor, “junior officers stand at attention when they are talking to the seniors.” With people stopping nearby, he was gathering himself to go on when Brock suddenly turned on him. His whole posture had changed. The calm indifference had vanished and now the major found himself facing a cold furious young man. “You!” Brock said contemptuously. “You, senior! A hospital personnel officer.” The change had been so abrupt, Brock’s contempt so brazenly expressed, that for a moment the Major was startled. ” “I want you in my office this afternoon,” he stammered, his face purple with fury. “I won’t be there,” Brock said quietly. “You’ll be there, dammit, and when you walk into my office, Lieutenant, I want you in class-A kahakis, or you’ll go back to Nam in cuffs. Understand?” Brock didn’t even bother to answer. He simply turned his back on the Major and continued on his way to the admissions office. The med evacs had already come in for that day and the admissions clerk had just finished typing up the daily census when Brock walked into the office. Ignoring the Corporal’s stare at his tiger stripes, he handed him a piece of paper. “Could you tell me if these men are still here?” It is not uncommon for an officer if he is in Japan to visit his men. Almost all the wounded from Nam come there. What was uncommon was the Lieutenant’s list. Everyone was ranger-qualified. Everyone was Special Forces. Each had graduated from Recondo School, spent time at the Royal Jungle Tracking School of Malaysia, had been HALO trained – and each had been shot. There was not a frag wound or booby-trap injury among them. In a hospital full of idiotic blunders, miscalculations, and stupid mistakes, it was an extraordinary group.

365 Days
By Ronald Glasser

6 Responses to “You don’t wear tiger stripes in Japan”

  1. Roger says:

    Had not heard of this.
    Quick search turned up this article-
    Thanks for posting the excerpt. 365 Days is now on my target list at the bookstore.

  2. Mayflower says:

    I have ten plus similar stories but they all revolve around the the chow hall, my beard and the active duty versus the contractor line. Because privates can’t read an ID card and then officers don’t think the private checked it. Oh and “excuse me sir do you know your pistol is on cock” (.45 with he hammer back).

    • Gene says:

      Yeah, sterile DCUs, ball cap, etc, gets just a bit of attention, but with appropriate creds, that goes away.

  3. Gene says:

    Just purchased this on Kindle. Thanks, it looks interesting.

  4. Will says:

    “We got caught”

    “Nobody gets caught”

    “We did”

    “You don’t get caught, you just f up”

  5. Loopy says:

    Most of the stories I’ve heard like this, were of guys actively looking to create stories like this.