Marines stopped rolling up their sleeves in 2011 until the Corps reinstated the practice in 2014.

Marines stopped rolling up their sleeves in 2011 until the Corps reinstated the practice in 2014. (Adam Korolev/U.S. Marine Corps)

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — It’s no joke; some Marines in Japan and South Korea can keep their sleeves down until April Fools’ Day.

The annual gun-unholstering ritual, like swallows to Capistrano, signifies the coming of spring for Marines in the loose-fitting, green camouflage-patterned combat utility uniform.

The signal for sleeves down in the fall or sleeves up in the spring follows daylight saving time, which took place Sunday in the United States.

But cooler-than-usual weather has spurred some Marine bases in Japan and South Korea to postpone the mandatory sleeves-up order until April 1. These include MCAS Iwakuni, south of Hiroshima, base spokesman 1st Lt. Aaron Ellis said by email Tuesday.

“In order to account for expected cooler temperatures, [Marine Corps Installations Pacific] delayed the seasonal uniform change,” he wrote.

Such seasonal delays are not uncommon; last year’s change took place on April 9 at MCAS Iwakuni for the same reason, Ellis said.

“Certain regions don’t follow these guidelines as strictly but rather work more with the changing of weather,” Marine Corps Installations Pacific spokeswoman 2nd Lt. Kelsey Enlow told Stars and Stripes by email Monday.

Sleeves are slated to go up March 31 at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji and on April 1 at Camp Mujuk in South Korea, Enlow said. Marines at Yokosuka Naval Base south of Tokyo were also still in long sleeves Monday.

Sleeves went up on schedule at Marine bases on Okinawa, the southernmost Japanese prefecture, she said. Marines on Hawaii wear their sleeves up year-round.

Spring and summer sleeves on the Marines’ combat utility uniform should look “tight and professional,” Sgt. Maj. Enrique Gato, of the 2nd Combat Readiness Regiment, said in video posted Feb. 8 on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System.

Gato demonstrates how to properly roll the tunic sleeves into a Marine-worthy bicep cuff. Using two-points of contact — index finger and thumb — he rolls the sleeve high enough to rest comfortably above his elbow.

Marines stopped rolling their sleeves up in 2011 until the Corps reinstated the practice in 2014.

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Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.

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