Commandant Gen. Jim Amos wears his sleeves rolled at a 2011 reception. His wife, Bonnie, gave him a hard time when he banned the uniform tradition later that same year. (Sgt. Ben J. Flores / Marine Corps)
Marine noncommissioned officers weren’t the only ones complaining after the Marine Corps banned rolled sleeves on camouflage utilities in 2011. Gen. Jim Amos’ wife, Bonnie, also opposed the change.
The commandant himself made the startling admission during a Feb. 27 awards dinner for Marine logisticians in Arlington, Va., just two days after announcing the Corps would return to rolled sleeves in warm months.
“My wife has beat the crap out of me for the last two-and-a-half, three years over that decision,” Amos said, “and she has ... all you sleeves-up aficionados, she has been on me.”
Reached for comment, Bonnie Amos declined to discuss what she had told the commandant that might have helped to change his mind.
The disclosure about Bonnie Amos’ opinion was one of several interesting revelations the general made during his first public conversation about the reversal of the uniform policy.
Knowing the “sun’s out, guns out” order would spread like wildfire through the Corps, Amos said he devised a news release strategy that involved the compilation of an email list of every active-duty corporal and sergeant in the Marine Corps — 64,000 names.
During his “reawakening” tour of Marine Corps installations, intended to reinforce discipline and military standards in garrison, Amos has focused on the critical importance of NCOs, and he acknowledged that many have pleaded with him to return to the distinctive rolled-sleeve look. It was appropriate, he said, that they got the news first.
“So at one time, traveling at the speed of light, it populated their usmc.mil email accounts,” Amos said. “... And I went to bed with a smile on my face, thinking, ‘This is good.’ ”
Amos admitted he had been adamantly opposed to changing the sleeves-down policy.
Marines in combat zones wear their sleeves down, he reasoned, and troops at home ought to train as they fight. He expected the angst over the sleeves-down policy to subside, but was surprised as years passed and the complaints continued.
“What really surprised me ... it kind of became the heart. It was a visceral thing for Marines,” Amos said. “And there was only one person who could change it. And it was me.”
The Corps returned to sleeves up March 9, the beginning of Daylight Saving Time.