News: Marines pleased over new policy on KIA bracelets
Story by Lance Cpl. Joshua Young
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Sgt. Pablo Rochenatera, an administration clerk with I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group is pleased with the new policy that allows Marines to wear killed-in-action bracelets.
The 36-year-old sergeant served in Iraq in 2005. Two Marine aviators he served with during combat operations were killed. He wears a bracelet stamped with the names of his fallen friends to commemorate and honor their sacrifice.
Until this week the Marine Corps order on uniforms restricted any jewelry on the wrist except inconspicuous watches and missing in action and prisoners of war bracelets only.
According to a statement made by the commandant Oct. 18, the KIA bracelets will now be authorized for wear. Some Marines are very passionate in their feelings about it and are relieved that the order will be changed.
“I feel that it is my right,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Marcusen, a hospitalman and a 27-year-old combat lifesaver instructor with the I MEF Advisor Training Cell. “I’ve earned the privilege to wear it. It would be disrespecting the individuals lost in country if I had to take it off.”
Although the order restricts wearing any other bracelet besides the POW/MIA bracelet, many Marines have worn KIA bracelets to remember the men and women who have died in recent conflicts.
“It’s been worn for years, since way before I was in the Marine Corps,” said Rochenatera, who was eager to speak of the people who he had on his wrist. “I believe that if you wear one it is because that individual on your wrist had a lot of meaning to you and definitely had an impact on your career at one point.”
Rochenatera and Marcusen both have strong feelings about wearing their KIA bracelets.
“We just had a rough deployment and we took a lot of KIAs,” said Marcusen who had a hard time opening up about his experiences. “A lot of Marines – we were having hard times. The bracelets were the only things we could have where we could actually still feel connected with the members lost.”
For Rochenatera, the bracelet is a way to cope.
“I’m glad the commandant decided to keep them, because it really does go back to our Marine Corps ethos that we never leave a Marine behind,” Rochenatara said. “It doesn’t matter if they are alive or passed away you never leave a Marine behind. I can bring their memory home with the bracelet.”
Many Marines wear it with the hope that someone will ask them whose name they have and how they died and they are eager to tell their story. Others have a harder time speaking of their fallen brothers.
“All these guys were good friends of mine,” said Marcusen who has four Marines that he served with on his KIA bracelet. “I don’t really talk about a whole lot of what happened without triggering the certain emotional responses.”
Whatever the story is behind the bracelet, Rochenatera, Marcusen and other Marines will now be able to wear their bracelets in uniform and commemorate and honor the fallen.