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Eddie Benitez, a fitter and tailor for the Marine Corps Community Services Dry Cleaners and Tailor Shop, fits on an ornamentation sleeve to a Marine Officer’s Evening Dress Uniform in preparation for the Marine Corps ball Oct. 7.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

Squared away for the Marine Corps Ball?

10 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

The Marine Corps Birthday Ball is just around the corner, and Marine Corps Community Services’ Military Clothing Sales store, Dry Cleaners and Tailor Shop want to make sure every Marine has their uniform squared away before it is too late.

When a Marine waits until the last minute to check their uniform, they run the risk of having an unserviceable uniform or the clothing store running out of their size.

“The Marine Corps Ball is when all the Marines are really publicized,” said Lance Cpl. Geoff Rapp, a mechanic with Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, who got his uniform dry-cleaned early. “It is important to take time and make sure everything is correct so you don’t show up to the ball looking like crap.”

Donna Miller, the Military Clothing Sales store manager, who has been working there since 1984, says she tries to urge Marines to get their uniforms prepared before it is too late, but normally notices Marines in the store trying to buy their entire uniform 10 days before the actual ball.

“Marines should be checking their uniform at least 30 days before they have to wear it,” said Miller, a Twentynine Palms, Calif., native. “That way if they find out they’re missing something or their uniform doesn’t fit, they have time to fix it.”

The Military Clothing Sales store is already running low on men’s enlisted dress blue blouses, staff noncommissioned officer and officer’s evening dress uniform. They have also begun mounting medals, which takes seven to 10 days to complete.

“It is hard to accommodate the latecomers,” Miller said. “I will call all around the Marine Corps from Barstow [Calif.,] to Hawaii to see if anyone has the item they need, but it is nearly impossible to get it in their size if they come in too late.”

Marines can also take their uniform items to the Military Clothing Sales store or Dry Cleaners and Tailor Shop to ensure they fit properly.

Kyle Smith, a dry cleaning leader at the Dry Cleaners and Tailor Shop, says they are already beginning to get overloaded with ball items.

“It can take up to three weeks for us to complete a uniform depending on what was needed,” said Smith, a Renton, Wash., native.

Although the time is constantly changing, it takes approximately three days to put chevrons or a blood stripe on a uniform, around two weeks for dry cleaning, and three weeks for tailoring and dry cleaning.

“We always try to stress to the Marines to get their uniforms in early,” Smith said. “As soon as October hits we are slammed. Marines end up going to the ball in their alpha’s because they didn’t get their dress blues into us on time.”

Miller constantly gives tips to Marines and sailors’ regarding uniform preparation to ensure their ball goes as smoothly as possible.

“I tell the Marines to make a checklist of everything they need for the ball,” Miller said. “Especially if the ball is far away. You would be surprised how many Marines called our office from Las Vegas last year to see if anybody could take them something they forgot.”

It is important for Marines, who are going to the ball, to square away their uniform and look their best as they celebrate the birth of the Marine Corps.           


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms