If you believe that "clothes make the man" in civilian life, then you would have to agree that "uniforms make the soldier" in the army and "make the sailor" in the navy. Part of the rationale behind the uniform clothing of the military is to instill a sense of pride in the unit, thereby improving morale and, consequently, combat performance. Uniforms provide an historical link with the glories of the past, with the current members building upon the honors of the whole organization by their own individual exploits.

Although people usually think of sailors wearing the famous "Cracker Jack" white or blue uniform, US Navy chief petty officers wear a "navy blue" uniform with coat similar to that worn by officers. (Please don't call it a "suit!") The Museum displays one that was worn by George S. Collins, a personnelman who held the rank of master chief petty officer. In typical Navy fashion, this is abbreviated as "PNMC," for "Personnelman, Master Chief." On the left shoulder are three downward-pointing chevrons with an arc across the top, surmounted by an eagle (called a "crow" by those in the trade), the insignia of a petty officer. Two stars above the eagle designate a master chief. Under the eagle, an embroidered quill pen and tablet designate a personnelman. Naval enlisted rank insignia since World War Two have been worn on only the left shoulder, unlike military insignia.

Below the chevrons are four large "hash marks." Each of these diagonal stripes indicates four years of service, making for a total of at least sixteen years of service (but less than twenty). Ribbons worn over the heart indicate service in the Pacific Theatre of Operations and recognition by The Republic of Vietnam.

Come and see this bit of history in "Granny's Attic," the Belhaven Memorial Museum.

Belhaven Treasure #35

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Diane K. Mason, HTML Editor 1998