From Information to Intelligence
Korea, 1952

Five short years after the end of World War II, American NCOs were once again in combat. Much of the fighting in Korea resembled the trench warfare of World War I. Consequently, NCOs skilled in patrolling to gather information were especially important. Here a sergeant, first class, from the regimental headquarters intelligence section (S-2) debriefs a sergeant from a reconnaissance platoon just back from a nighttime mission into no-man's-land.

The uniforms worn in the Korean War were those of an Army in transition and, like the weapons employed, reflected innovations from the closing days of World War II. The herringbone twill (HBT) cotton clothing in a dark olive drab shade, originally intended as a work uniform, had become a practical battle dress, with large pockets providing a convenient means to store rations and other vital items. Similarly, improved field equipment, such as the M1945 combat pack depicted here, and the lighter .30-caliber M1 or M2 carbine quickly proved its worth, especially to experienced NCOs. The combat boot widely used in Korea was actually the old service shoe with a double-buckle cuff. Its flesh-out leather was no longer treated with dubbin, but instead was rubbed smooth to accept polish.

The proliferation of specialist positions after World War II resulted in a revision of grade structure and rank insignia in 1948. The new system identified combat and noncombat (or technical) functions by smaller size chevrons of reversed color scheme. Combat leaders, such as a sergeant from a reconnaissance platoon, now wore three stripes and one rocker in blue on a goldenlite background; contrasting colors like those worn by the sergeant, first class, on the left indicated noncombat duties.