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Green River Composite Squadron

Uniform Info

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Green River Composite Squadron

Civil Air Patrol – US Air Force Auxiliary

Drug Free and Proud!


Buying, Preparing, and Maintaining Uniforms

A Guide for New Cadet Members


Complied by Pat Amann, 1st Lt, CAP, Current 8/1/06

First Things First


You will need two types of uniforms: “blues” and BDU’s.  Resist the temptation to buy all your uniform items in a big rush!  No one expects you to be in uniform yet and some parts of the uniform take several weeks to arrive.  Every cadet has gone through the same process you’re going through now and understands.  Until you have your CAP uniform, your uniform will be jeans and a black T-shirt, with athletic shoes.


It’s a good idea to look at the clothing at McChord Air Force Base and try it on to determine best sizes (and note prices) before shopping at surplus stores.  The “good” used stuff at surplus might be as expensive as brand new items at McChord – or even more expensive based on what I’ve seen.


You have plenty of time to get it all together, and you’ll be happier in the long run if you take it slow and get it right.  Try various sizes on and find out what the proper fit is for you.  Get boots that are comfortable and give you plenty of room.  Comparison shop and save some money.

Getting Onto McChord AFB and Visiting the Clothing Store


The CAP ID card that’s coming in the mail enables the cadet to be driven onto McChord AFB by a card-carrying CAP senior member or the cadet’s parent(s) for the purpose of going to the Military Clothing Sales Store (MCSS).  Uniform items may be purchased at Air Force bases or Army posts, but it is much easier to get onto McChord than it is to gain access to Ft. Lewis.  See further details about what you’re allowed to buy on base/post on page 6 of this document.


Read this first!  The only people authorized to drive card-carrying cadet members onto base are: parent/guardian of at least one cadet in the vehicle; other CAP members; or military personnel.  Cadets who are licensed drivers are allowed to drive onto the base.  Contact the Visitor Center at (253)982-2119. 


To get on base:

            1. The driver must carry all of the following:

                        a) Valid driver's license

                        b) Proof of current vehicle insurance

                        c) Vehicle registration

                        d) (Must also have CAPID card if he/she is a member)

            2. The cadet must be carrying his/her CAP ID card

All of the above items will need to be taken into the Visitor Center at the base entrance.  All the other occupants of the vehicle will need to go into the visitor center as well, and all adults must have photo ID. Ask the clerk at the Visitor Center to give you directions to the Military Clothing Sales Store.

Don’t use your cell phone while you’re driving a vehicle on a military installation: $50 fine!

“The ladies” who work at the Military Clothing Sales Store are excellent at offering advice on size and proper fit.  Clothing that was/will be shipped to you by CAP (the blues uniform) can be exchanged there - if in original packaging (plastic bag) with the tags still attached.  If you bought something from a non-official source, it probably cannot be exchanged there.  The MCSS carries USAF clothing and ancillary items, including underwear, socks, shoes, boots, and much more.  I strongly advise you to look here and check the prices before buying surplus items.  It helps that there’s no sales tax at McChord.  Military Clothing Sales Store phone number: (253)584-9308.



Your “Blues” Air Force Style Uniform



            1) Blues Shirt/Blouse   2) Blues Pants/Skirt   3) Belt with shiny buckle   4) Flight cap


Remember, this remains CAP property unless the cadet remains in the program for a full year.  It will need to be turned back in to the squadron if the cadet leaves the program before that time.


It takes an average of about 5 weeks for delivery, and it is possible that the "blues" uniform that will be shipped to you might not fit properly.  Try it on at home but leave the tags on and save all the packaging if you’re not sure about the fit.



 - Don’t copy this – a shopping list is provided for you in the last two pages of this document -

            Tie Males only, Air Force style (plain blue), clip-on or the kind you tie, polyester, inexpensive - cheapest at McChord.

                Black shoes Plain black that can be polished or patent leather.  Females can wear low high-heel-style or lace-up.                                                  Look at them at McChord so you’ll know what to get if you buy elsewhere

            Nameplate – Civil Air Patrol 3-line style for cadet blues uniform, blue plastic engraved with last name – order this item

            Cadet Hat Device for Cap/Hat Not available locally, must order this item

                Tie tack or clasp Males only, must be the official CAP type, must order this item

            CAP cutouts Collar insignia that will be worn on blues and BDU uniforms, must order this item

            (Blues jacket) -  Is optional.  Don’t buy one yet!, check with the squadron – we may have one that will fit you (we                                                mostly just have them for males) and would be free

Your Other Air Force Style Uniform: BDU’s

 (By the way, BDU stands for Battle Dress Utility uniform)



 - Don’t copy this either– a shopping list is provided for you in the last two pages of this document -

            BDU Pants - woodland green camo, Army/Air Force style (not Marine) in either rip-stop (summer weight) or                                               poly/cotton (winter weight) – [see note regarding fabric on next page]

                BDU Shirt (called a blouse) same as above

T-Shirt solid black, no pocket or decoration

Cap (hat) Match cap to BDU fabric – [see note regarding cap on next page]

                Bootssee note on next page

                Boot socks if buying at McChord or a store, go for wool or the hi-tech cushiony type that keep feet dry

                BDU belt and subdued buckle blue official Air Force belt and flat black buckle (won’t find at Ft. Lewis)

                "CIVIL AIR PATROL" breast tape hand embroidered fabric, white on blue background, to match nametape,                                   will need to be sewn above left breast pocket of BDU’s – must order this item

Nametape - last name only, come as sets of 2, hand embroidered with cadet’s last name only, white on blue                                             background, will need to be sewn above right breast pocket of BDU’s – must order this item

            Reversed field American flag approx. 2X3.5 inches, full color, will need to be sewn to top of right sleeve of                                  BDU blouse - McChord has these at 2/$3

            Washington Wing Patch – will need to be sewn to top of left sleeve of BDU blouse.  Get one from the squadron or                             order this item

(Cloth rank) - is not needed by cadets




BDU fabric type

When shopping for BDU’s, my advice is to get the rip-stop type, not the heavier cotton "winter" weight.  Even the lighter type is still quite warm, and something else will be worn in cold weather anyway (or long undies will be worn underneath) - it's easy to add layers.  There are many summer activities where BDU’s are worn, and individuals are much more likely to have trouble with heat if they have the heavier type uniform.


BDU hat

I advise that you buy the BDU cap at McChord AFB rather than a surplus store, as CAP is restricted to wearing certain type of caps (AF and Army) and not others.  All the ones at McChord are allowed as they're the correct type, and they're really quite inexpensive.  If you get a rip-stop uniform, you should get a rip-stop hat. 



The only requirement is that they be solid black “combat style” (and there are many styles to choose from) and that the toes can be polished to a high shine (don’t buy a pair that is terribly scuffed).  They can be solid leather (as in standard issue type), or leather plus fabric (jungle style).  Quick-lace systems are GOOD, but a small consideration compared to price if a cadet is growing fast and the boots will soon be too small anyway.  Get them big enough to allow plenty of room in both width and length to accommodate heavy socks and growing feet.  One of the new parents told me about a great deal on boots at one of our local stores (a sporting goods store like GI Joes?), so you might want to check that out.  New boots cost about $50 and up at McChord.  Look at them (and try on) there before you buy boots elsewhere.




You can save money by buying a BDU uniform package from The Hock Shop, an internet store that has a very good reputation. The base price is $89.95, plus $5 shipping, with no sales tax.  This is very best price I know of for a complete set of new BDU’s, including boots and all the other items like t-shirt, socks, belt, tapes, etc.  The shopping list at the end of this document indicates which items are included in this package.  (You’ll still need to buy some other items for the blues uniform.)  If you’re going to go this route, it would be especially important to visit McChord before ordering, as you’ll need to know exactly what sizes to order.  I don’t think you could exchange any of these items at McChord.


Here’s how to navigate to The Hock Shop:

            Go to:    

            Click on “Package Deals” in the blue rectangle, which takes you to:


            Once you’re there, scroll down to:

                        Complete Basic Woodland Camo BDU Uniform – Cadet

            Start clicking there if you want to order or take a further look.


I’ve seen the uniforms people got at The Hock Shop, and they seem first rate and come complete, including belt, hat, and patches ready to be sewn on.  (But remember; go to McChord first to determine what sizes you need!)




Yes, you may find decent uniform articles at surplus shops.  Try to get items that match each other in fabric, color and wear and that aren’t too beat up, as cadets want to look good.  I’d suggest trying e-Bay, but inquire about the condition and know exact sizes needed before you bid or buy.  This is a fantastic way to buy BDU jackets, especially Gore-Tex ones that cost $120 at McChord/Ft. Lewis.  By the way, don’t feel you need to buy a jacket immediately.  Hold off until you see there’s a definite need and know your preference.

Putting It All Together!

(Now Where Does All This Stuff Go And How Do I Attach It?)



The blue zippered binder that you will receive in the mail will have pictures that indicate how you wear the uniform and show where things go on your uniforms (blues and BDU).


For more specifics, look in the Uniform manual (CAP Manual 39-1) - it’s on the CD in your binder, or you can look here, at pages 15-66:

There have been recent changes that aren’t shown in the manual yet, so follow the instructions below!


Important: BEFORE sewing anything on your BDU’s, wash and machine dry both the uniform and the patches/tapes.  If they’re sewn on before any shrinkage has occurred, they’ll cause puckering.  And don’t even think about using glue – it will ruin any uniform.




        Do NOT sew ANYTHING onto the blues shirt or blues jacket.  (And remember, the blues jacket is optional - and you might be able to get one for free from the squadron.)  The wing patch is no longer used on any blues garment.


        You WILL need to sew tapes, wing patch, and the flag onto BDU blouse as described below.  Always match thread color to patch/tape edge where sewn.


  1. “Civil Air Patrol” tape goes above upper LEFT pocket (“heart” side as you wear the shirt), and name tape goes above wearer’s RIGHT pocket.  Both tapes should extend the full width of the pocket, and should rest directly above and even with the top edge of the breast pocket.  Turn raw edges under at left and right ends before sewing for a neat appearance.  Consult uniform manual and photos.


  1. The reversed field American Flag patch will need to be sewn near the top of the RIGHT sleeve, centered inch below the top shoulder seam. (The outer edges of the rectangular flag will be less than inch below the top of the sleeve due to the curve, but the center of the flag should be exactly inch below the shoulder seam where it meets the top of the sleeve).  Do not put a crease in the flag.  (All of this is new and hasn’t been included in the Uniform Manual 39-1 yet.


  1. The Washington Wing patch:
    1. Must be firmly creased with an iron before it is sewn onto the uniform.  Crease it from top to bottom (straight down the center – from between the I and N in WASHINGTON, through the center of the top red propeller blade, continuing down between the trees to the bottom of the patch).  If this isn’t done before it is sewn on, you will never be able to get a sharp crease in the future.  Also, crease the sleeve before centering the creased patch directly over it, lining up the creases.  (The crease in the sleeve should begin exactly where the top shoulder seam meets the sleeve, and continue straight down the length of the arm.)
    2. The patch will need to be sewn near the top of the LEFT sleeve, with the top of the round patch centered inch below the top shoulder seam.




  1. Flight Cap Device – (blues only) will be placed as shown on flight cap, centered on L side, 1-1-1/2 inch behind front edge of cap


  1. Nameplate  - (blues only) will be worn above wearer’s right pocket of light blue uniform shirt as described and pictured


CAP cutouts – (blues and BDU’s) will be worn on collar of light blue uniform shirt and on collar of BDU blouse as well

How Do I Take Care of My Uniforms?


Blues pants will need to be hemmed.  Make them as long as possible to allow for growth, if needed, but without touching the ground or looking baggy/droopy.  Try to leave extra hem length to let out later, but make it as unobtrusive as possible – the hem should be invisible. Per Uniform Manual 39-1: “Front of trouser leg should rest on the front of shoe with a slight break in the crease; back of trouser legs will be approx. 7/8 of an inch longer than the front.  Trousers must be worn at the natural waist line and not resting on hips.  Skirts should be hemmed to fall anywhere between the top and bottom of the kneecap.”


Never machine wash your blues pants/skirt, because it would never look the same again.  Don’t believe that part about it being “washable”.  This is an article that’s worth the cost of dry cleaning.  Treat it well and keep it clean.  Hang in the bathroom while the shower is running to get the wrinkles out, and store neatly on a hanger.


Your blues shirt and BDU’s can go in the washing machine and dryer.  After they’ve dried, take them out before they get too wrinkled and hang them up.


Touch up any wrinkles with a cool iron – a hot iron will melt rip-stop fabric.  Don’t wear a wrinkled or dirty uniform, or one with holes in it (the only exception is if you’re in the middle of an emergency services event!)


Your BDU’s will need to be ironed VERY WELL, and starched in places such as the front of the collar, lapels, and sleeves.  Your flight sergeant or an instructor cadet will explain this to you, and will even teach you how to iron your own uniform.


Do not press directly over the top of buttons on BDU’s, or you will get prominent (and permanent) “circles”.  If buttons are removed in order to prevent this, be careful not to cut fabric!


Carefully trim ALL loose or hanging threads – and check again every time you iron your uniform.


Trousers and sleeves of light blue shirt and BDU’s need to be neatly creased. 


On BDU’s, do put a crease through the center of the Wing Patch, and continue the crease up and down the remainder of the sleeve.  But DO NOT PUT A CREASE THROUGH THE AMERICAN FLAG - to do so would be considered disrespectful and is improper.  Start the crease below the center of the flag, pressing both sleeves in the same place: beginning at the top shoulder seam where it meets the sleeve.  Professional laundries often put the crease behind the back edge of the flag, and that’s fine.



CAP Members’ Privileges (and Restrictions) at McChord & Ft. Lewis


You can go to either McChord or Ft. Lewis to buy uniform items, but it is much easier to get onto McChord with your CAP ID card than it is to get onto Ft. Lewis.  However, Army Regulation 60-20 is the source of authority on CAP members being able to enter the post and buy uniform items, and you can have the person at the visitor center look up the regulation.  If you keep a copy of CAP Regulation 147-1 (“Army and Air Force Exchange Privileges of Civil Air Patrol Members”) in your vehicle, you can take it into the Ft. Lewis visitor center to help you gain access, as it refers to the Army regulation and may help clarify things.  A copy of that regulation has been made available for you to print – see the document titled: “Army and AF exchange privileges of CAP members.pdf”.


            However, there are strict limitations at both AF bases and Army posts.  Unless a CAP member is housed at a base or post for some special activity and is carrying orders authorizing them to do so, CAP members are NOT allowed to make purchases at base/post exchanges (these are not the stores where uniforms are sold).  Our privileges are limited to Military Clothing Sales Stores only, and strictly speaking, for uniform items only, although McChord allows purchase of anything in the store.  (At the “mall” housing McChord’s clothing store, you can also get your hair cut; buy lunch in the food court; or visit the laundry where you can pay to have patches sewn onto your uniform, have your uniform cleaned, or get tailoring done.)



Save your receipts!

(All expenses for CAP (including uniforms, equipment, and transportation) are tax-deductible!)


See the squadron’s document titled New Member Info on Tax Deductible Expenses for details.

Your Shopping List:

What to Buy, Where to Get It, & Cost for New Items


The uniform items that every cadet needs as a member of Civil Air Patrol are listed below.  Although the Air Force is providing a basic blues uniform at no cost to you (it was ordered at the time the membership application was completed), there are additional uniform items that will be needed before the uniform can be worn.  Some of the items complete the blues uniform.  Others are components of a second style of uniform: the BDU’s.


The very best price available for a complete BDU set is a package deal from The Hock Shop for $89.95 and up depending on options.  The package is called the “Complete Basic Woodland Camo BDU Uniform for Cadets”, sku #7811 (see note below table).  The items included in that package are marked with an (#) in the far-right column below.


*MUST be ordered, not available locally / **Can be ordered -or- made at a shop in Lakewood

(#) Included in complete package BDU set from The Hock Shop  




McChord AFB

Vanguard (order #)

Hock Shop (order #)


See page 3 of this document re boots

Try here first for size with heavy socks!

$45 and up

$24.95 (jungle) and up                         (#)

BDU Pants

Woodland green camo, Army/AF style (not Marine) in either rip-stop (summer weight) or poly/cotton (winter weight) - see page 3 of this document re fabric

$27.30 (rip-stop)

$24.00 (winter)


$26.45 both types


$25.00 both types




BDU Shirt (Called a blouse) - same as  above - fabric must match pants (don’t combine rip-stop and poly/cotton)

$25.60 (rip-stop)

$22.50 (winter)


$26.45 both types


$25.00 both types




Solid black, no pocket or decoration

4.95/pkg of 1

$12.00/pkg of 3



$4.50                    (#)

Cap (hat)

Match to BDU fabric

$4.25 (rip-stop)

$6.95 (winter)


2429X (rip-stop) - $6.95

2430X (winter weight) - $9.00     (#)     

Boot Socks

Wool or hi-tech cushiony type that keep feet dry

Wide variety, very inexpensive to costly, but best prices

$10.25 for Thorlo

Type & price varies




BDU Belt w/ Subdued Buckle

Official blue AF style – not available at Ft. Lewis -  flat black buckle

$2.10 – blue belt $0.45 – black buckle







*CAP Cutouts

CAP collar insignia, mirror finish





$3.25/pair             (#)





McChord AFB

Vanguard (order #)

Hock Shop (order #)

Washington Wing Patch


CAP0638U - $1.75

63WA - $1.65


**Civil Air Patrol Breast Tape

Hand embroidered white on blue background, to match nametape.



(matches CAP0599HA)



(matches 1743 & 1744)

$1.20                    (#)


Hand embroidered white on blue background to breasttape, cadet’s last name only.



(matches CAP0599K)



(matches 1732)


$2.95/set of 2       (#)


Civil Air Patrol 3-line style for cadet blues uniform, blue plastic engraved with last name






* Flight Cap Device for Enlisted Cadet






*Tie Tack or Clasp

(males only)

Official CAP style.  Clasp doesn’t snag tie as much as tack does


CAP0918 tie tack-

$4.05   CAP0918D tie bar- $4.10

9205 tie tack- $3.95

9204 tie bar- $3.95

Tie (males only)

AF issue, plain blue, polyester, clip-on or four in hand

$3.45 - 4 in hand

$3.00 - clip on

CAP0976 -four in hand- $6.15

CAP0976A -clip on- $6.05

9202 four in hand- $5.95

9203 clip on- $5.75

Black shoes

“Low quarters” dress shoes for men / Females: see types at McChord before buying

Varies, has both male and female styles of all types


7905XXX- $46.00 (adult men’s sizes only)

Trouser Blousers


CAP1018E- $1.05

9021- $0.75

American Flag

Patch, Reversed Field

Approx 2/3.5 inches, full color – “backwards facing”




$1.40 (sale)

$1.65 (regular price)

Shipping / Tax

N/A / no tax

USPS / FedEx Ground: $7.00 / no tax

$5.00 / no tax


McChord Air Force Base, Military Clothing Sales Store:  1-253-584-9308

            Store hours: M-F 9-6, Sat 9-5, Sun 11-5


Vanguard: , 1-800-221-1264


The Hock Shop: , 1-800-THE-HOCK (1-800-843-4625)

            Note if ordering BDU package from The Hock Shop:

            Be sure to order the Washington State wing patch (round, with mountain & 2 trees)

            Cloth grade insignia is not used by cadets until officer grade, so no need to order

**There is a "local" store that can make Civil Air Patrol breast tapes and name tapes for the BDU uniform, as well as the CAP plastic name tags for blues - which means you can get them right away without high shipping charges.  However, it will involve a drive to Lakewood, which is just south of Tacoma, between McChord and Ft. Lewis (same exit as Camp Murray).


The company name is GAEY Specialties & Awards


Location: Just off I-5 between McChord and Ft. Lewis, at 15101 Union Ave SW, Lakewood, WA 98409.  (From I-5, take the Camp Murray exit, then turn west. Turn right (north) at the first cross street onto Union.  The store is just a short distance north, on the right side opposite The Foxhole.)


1-800-544-3973 / (253) 588-6183 / Fax:(253)584-2082 / E-mail:

Hrs of operation: Mon-Fri 9-6 / Sat 10-5


Blue fabric Civil Air Patrol tapes and Nametapes cost:

$1.95 each per single item if you order a day in advance


$3.95 each - "rush price" if you stand and wait for them while they're made right then (takes about a half hour).


If you order tapes by phone, you must pay in advance (at the time the order is placed) by credit card or debit card.  If you call early in the day, you might be able to pick them up later in the day without having to pay the "rush" price.


The blue, three-line cadet name tags for blues are $4.60, and are made while you wait.

            Top line: “Civil Air Patrol”

            2nd line: “United States Air Force Auxiliary”

            Bottom line (in much larger letters that are 2x the height of those above): cadet’s last name only


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