Ties that remind
November 9, 2003
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — You’re tough. You’ve done your time: 20, maybe 30 years in the service. You’re also decorated — and you’re proud of it.
But when your time’s through, and you’ve hung up your uniform, how — now — do you show your pride?
The answer is “Medals of America,” in Fountain, S.C., which has a Web site, www.usmedals.com.
While selling military medals, hatpins and more, they also offer a very civilian-friendly medal replacement: a necktie. The ties are designed using the colors of particular military medals, including the Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart, and service ties.
“We are basically a catalog company,” said Steve Russ, a company manager. “We target veterans and veterans’ families.” The necktie division is titled “Ties of Honor.”
The site offers a Korean War Service Tie, Vietnam War Service Tie, U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division Tie, 2nd Marine Division Tie, POW/MIA Tie, 65th Armor Regimental Tie, Distinguished Service Cross Tie, WWII Victory Medal Tie, Combat Action Ribbon Tie, the Desert Storm Tie and a Confederate Air Force Tie.
Most are silk, and sell for $32 apiece.
The military neckties have been around for about 20 years, a line started by a veteran who later sold the business to the current owners, Russ said.
“Obviously, we make these toward a certain group of people — veterans’ associations … military museums, gift shops, as well as any veteran that wants one,” Russ said.
Many veterans’ groups order from the company, sometimes using the ties as gifts for members. “Instead of everybody having a T-shirt,” Russ said, “they want to have ties.
“There’s a lot of occasions that people want to wear these ties,” Russ said. “For some of our regimental ties, you know a lot of the regiments will initially come to us and they might have an idea for a tie and a lot of them will do vets’ scholarships, raise money.”
Some of the ties have sold especially well over the years, said Russ. “Our Bronze Star tie, a lot of people have Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts, even Air Medals … and those have always been good-selling ties for us. Just the classic Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard ties have done well for us, also,” he said.
“When you’re walking down the street, someone in the same association will just automatically spot it and say, ‘I used to be in that regiment,’ or that division,” said Russ.
“And that’s what these ties do,” he said, “they just bring people closer together.”