Breaking starch refers to the age-old military act of putting on a fresh uniform, usually first thing in the morning, and always by garrison troops, i.e. those who aren't actually engaged in combat and who therefore have the opportunity to wear clean clothes.

I don't recall ever washing my own clothes at any point during my non-combative military service. Our uniforms, both "Class-A" khakis and olive drab "fatigues," were carefully identified with indelible ink, collected and returned, impeccably laundered.

You get those sharp creases in trousers and shirts by using lots and lots of starch in the final rinse. The physical act of breaking starch, sticking your limbs through clothes as hard as cardboard, with the pants legs and sleeves actually stuck together can only be described in terms usually reserved for the act of making love.

Breaking starch is all about that elusive military esprit d' corps. It's one of the things that separates a soldier from a civilian.

Be glad you've never experienced it.

On Vietnam:


  1. I was a prisoner in a Mexican Whorehouse
  2. A long time gone
  3. How to brush your teeth in a combat zone
  4. Libber and I go to war
  5. Fate takes a piss
  6. Thanks For the Memory
  7. Back in the Shit
  8. LZ Waterloo
  9. Saturday Night, Numbah Ten


a long commute
Andy X Kirby True
a tale of two Woodstocks
Buy a Gun
Dawn at The Wall
Feat of Clay
Funeral Detail
I was a free man once, in Saigon
The Joint Chiefs of Staff
the shit we ate

Breaking Starch
Combat Infantryman Badge
David Dellinger
Dickey Chapelle
Firebase Mary Ann
Garry Owen
Gloria Emerson
Graves Registration
I Corps
Project 100,000
the 1st Cav
The Highest Traditions
Those Who Forget
Under the Southern Cross
Whither the Phoenix?

A Bright Shining Lie
Apocalypse Now Redux
Hearts and Minds
We Were Soldiers