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The Navy allows sailors to wear one “wristwatch/bracelet” on each arm. The Air Force bans bracelets “espousing support for a cause, philosophy, individual or group” with the exception of those for prisoners of war, the missing in action and the killed in action.

Part of the upset for Marines was that they were allowed to wear the POW/MIA wristbands that came into wide use in the Vietnam era, though not the now more popular KIA bands.

The POW/MIA bracelets were authorized by the Navy secretary in September 1972, with the following message: “Wearing of POW/MIA bracelets is authorized for Navy and Marine Corps personnel — at any time they desire, including while in uniform — as an expression of concern for their fellow servicemen who are prisoners of war or missing in action. This bracelet shall be of simple design, not more than one-half inch wide and containing rank/rate, name of the POW/MIA and date of capture or date missing.”

That authority had never been rescinded or modified to include the KIA bracelet for Marines.