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NEWS | April 1, 2021

NH Guardsmen sport tiger stripes one last time

By Staff Sgt. Charles Johnston

The Airman Battle Uniform or ABU, notorious for its pixelated gray-blue tiger stripes and sage green combat boots, was officially decommissioned today.

In its place, the Air Force adopted the Army's Operational Camouflage Pattern or OCP, which was unveiled in 2015. New Hampshire Air Guardsmen were issued the new look months ago, but a handful of airmen assigned to Task Force Distro wore their ABUs to work one final time at the state’s COVID-19 PPE warehouse in Concord on March 31.

“It’s the last day,” said Senior Airman Christopher Parent, an air traffic controller with Pease Air National Guard Base's 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron. “I’ve got to wear the uniform I came in with. Plus it fits better.”

Parent likes the enhanced camouflage color scheme of the OCP, but admitted he’ll miss how the ABU better concealed him indoors.

“I blend right into this warehouse,” he joked. “I think it blends really well with the concrete floor.”

Others will grieve the ease and comfort of being able to roll the ABU sleeves in hot weather, said Staff Sgt. Dexter Stone of the 157th Civil Engineering Squadron. The old uniform featured only enlisted rank insignia on the upper arm, making for a neat and tightly cuffed roll. By contrast, Stone pointed to the OCP's thick upper-sleeve pockets as a hindrance, which puts Guardsmen in long sleeves year-round.

Stone will also miss the Air Force-specific branding of the tiger stripes, which had a 13-year run.

“I don’t think (the ABU camouflage pattern) is effective at all for anything, except you know it’s Air Force,” he said. “Now it looks like everyone’s in the Army.”

Parent agreed.

“You lose five brain cells looking like the Army,” he said with a rueful smile.

Joking aside, the airmen were genuinely nostalgic about shelving a look they had sported with pride since basic training.

“We wanted to go out with a bang,” said Senior Airman Christopher Albertelli of Pease's 157th Maintenance Squadron. “But I am personally a fan of the new uniform.”