Skip to content
Free standard shipping on orders over $70. Use code SHIP70 at checkout
Free standard shipping on orders over $70. Use code SHIP70 at checkout

Gig Line

This isn’t a story, really. It’s an observation, and I guess a gripe. In September 1967 I arrived in country on the day that my recruit Platoon Commander (MCRD San Diego, Platoon 356, April 1966 ) GySgt Robert C. Roper was killed on Con Thien while serving as company gunny of H/2/9. Gunny Roper was the inspiration for the current DI Statue on the edge of the grinder at MCRD. Then SSgt Roper was the poster quintessential image of a Marine, an infantry veteran of Korea who enlisted in the Corps at 17, and the first Marine I saw at 2100 hours when I stood on the yellow footprints and began to wonder what I had gotten myself into. I write this to draw attention to a situation that to my eye, is all to prevalent in the way Marines of today present themselves in any uniform other than utilities. Call it bitchy if you wish, but here it is: we learned, well, we were forced to learn, that pride in the uniform we were about to earn the honor of wearing was paramount in how we viewed and would present ourselves as Marines. We shined our brass every day, and spit shined our boots every day, and, when we were given them before graduation, spit shined our dress shoes, and the visor of our barracks cover frame. Our gig lines, when first standing final inspection in, for me, the tropical uniform, was perfect, from the platen of the tropical shirt, through the belt buckle, and through the fly. I recently attended a “welcome home Vietnam veterans” ceremony at the DLI in Monterey where I observed two Marine sergeants, recruiters, both of whom had gig lines that made me cringe. Then, in the recent edition of Leatherneck, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps appears on the cover with his belt buckle completely off the gig line. GySgt Roper is spinning in his casket, and I, for one, long for the day when the one thing, in garrison, that caused us to stand out from all the other services was the absolute perfection in the appearance of our uniforms. we had no anodized anything, including decorations. It was a difficult mindset to reacquire, after returning from Vietnam where we shined and polished nothing, and wore no rank insignia except on our soft utility covers, and of course never bathed, but reacquire it we did. I guess the old Corps is gone forever. Why? Stateside Marines are supposed to be perfect in uniform, from the Commandant on down. That is apparently not the case any longer. Do current Marines find that acceptable, or am I just an old fart learning for another era?
Previous article Lineage of the USMC Eagle, Globe and Anchor


Alicia Gunn - March 12, 2021

Thank you for bringing things to light that many (non-military) folks would think stupid and trivial but as the daughter of a Marine, the wife of an Army combat vet, and being Retired USAF myself it is anything but trivial. Being a military member of ANY branch, ANY rank, active, guard, reserve, or retired…matters; WE are the true representatives of the United States of America. How we carry ourselves in/out of uniform matters! The gig line is a simple but important aspect of attention to detail and pride in ourselves as service members and Americans matters! TSgt Gunn, USAF Retired

Rudy Romo - May 4, 2020

In reply to Cpl Bob.
Awesome story, Bob. Semper Fidelis.

Tom Wheeler - May 4, 2020

In reply to A. Troy Morris, Sgt. USMC 1964-68.
Parris Island 1961 We also called it Military Alignment,,,,,,,,,After all these years, still do it to stay squared away every day.

Marshall - May 4, 2020

I watched the Presidents speech last evening and was amazed that the audience were all wearing their services working uniform, if they can’t wear their class A uniform for the President why even have them?

Lionel “Leo” Caldeira - May 4, 2020

No F’n excuse Sgt Major of the Marine Corps….resign.

Rudy Romo - May 4, 2020

In reply to Henry young.
Semper fidelis, Henry. God bless you, you old turd.

Rudy Romo - May 4, 2020

In reply to the “infamous” Cpl. Murphy.

Henry young - May 4, 2020

Sirs, you old TURDS amaze me.. 48 years after getting out we can still have a conversation about military allotment… Yes I still line things up, it’s a task sometime (I’m 71) but pride wins every time… Stay sharp brothers.. Semper Fi… L/cpl Henry young, RVN 65/66/69

Mark - May 4, 2020

So I see most of these are from the real Old Corps. I graduated Parris Island in 1992. I still cannot walk out the door without checking my trousers, shirt, and belt for proper alignment. I also do not wear any headgear indoors. In fact, I told my son to remove his this morning while we were shopping when we walked inside. One must have some pride in their own personal appearance.

Cpl. RC Binns, USMC Ret. (NC) - May 4, 2020

Graduated Parris Island SC in 1963. We called it, our “Military Alignment.” My last day of active duty was 16 June 1966, which was the second time I was officially wounded in Vietnam… That was when the Corps seemed to start changing, and politics started controlling the mindset of the Corps. Don’t feel alone, a lot more than military alignment slipped away from the Marine Corps in the last few decades. Most people don’t realize that the abolishment of the draft was also a factor to all the services overall… And the kind of “wars” the men have to fight now… Then have to come back to a VA filled of strange people that treat veterans like they are from a different planet. All I can say is, time changes things. Cpl. RC Binns, USMC Ret. Navy Cross. (Highest decorated living survivor of The Battle of Hill 488). Author of “The Price of Glory / Battle of Hill 488. If you want to hear about changes read it, it’s on Amazon as an eBook.

Leave a comment

* Required fields