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View Full Version : What is the "True" origin of the Wetting Down?


doc1buc
07-23-2009, 7:32 PM
I have had the opportunity to attend two of these. Both of them were very well funded since it was like 8 "en-swines" jumping up to JG. From what I can remember during the celebrating there are two main theories:

1: During the big sail days, the parchment on which the advancement orders were written was very brittle and needed to be wetted down to prevent from crumbling.

2: The wetting process was supposed to scrub the green of inexperience away as you advance through the ranks.

If you have had experienced with a wetting down, you can understand the state of mind I was in when I heard this scuttlebutt.

So what version have you heard?

:party:

Once A Marine
07-23-2009, 8:18 PM
My understanding is that when one was promoted in the days of old, they'd get a new stripe for their uniform. The new cloth stripe would look out of place alongside the weathered stripes on the uniform, so they'd put the new stripe in a liquid (some say seawater, some say "spirits") to help fade the stripe to look more like the older ones.

RANDO
07-23-2009, 10:45 PM
i should have a wetting down from e4 to e5, watch out mac donalds

Decoligny
07-24-2009, 10:44 AM
My understanding is that when one was promoted in the days of old, they'd get a new stripe for their uniform. The new cloth stripe would look out of place alongside the weathered stripes on the uniform, so they'd put the new stripe in a liquid (some say seawater, some say "spirits") to help fade the stripe to look more like the older ones.

Actually it wasn't the fading they were worried about, it was the shrinking. As with any new cloth, the first time it is washed, it shrinks. The new stripes would have needed to be wet down in order for the first shrink to happen before being sewn onto the uniform. If this wasn't done, the first time the uniform with the new stripes was washed, the stripes would shrink, the stitching would break, and the stripe would fall off.

So the "wetting down" is to ensure that the newly acquired rank won't "fall off".

PatriotnMore
07-24-2009, 10:47 AM
Wetting Down a commission
In the old Navy, an officer's commission was hand-written on heavy parchment. According to some sources, the newly commissioned or promoted officer held a dinner for his shipmates and friends. During the course of the evening, the new commission was rolled into a cone, the small end folded up to form a cup. This paper cup was passed around the table for all the guests to toast the new officer. Thus, the new commission was "wetted down." Considering the importance of the document, however, this interpretation may be doubtful. Commissions in the early U.S. Navy were signed and issued by the President and were of great legal and personal value.

According to other sources, the wetting down party was once quite a rough and tumble affair. It was the custom for the officer to wear his new uniform or stripes for the first time at the wetting down. The guests would then proceed to christen the uniform, the occupant, and the commission with whatever liquid refreshment (paid for by the victim) was available. Over the years, however, Navy life has became more calm, the price of gold braid has skyrocketed and a literal christening is not usually condoned. It might even be considered downright unsociable.http://www.history.navy.mil/trivia/trivia01.htm#anchor253700

Desert_Rat
07-24-2009, 3:42 PM
:43:I just thought it was another reason to get everybody you know effed up!:43:

doc1buc
07-27-2009, 7:39 PM
:43:I just thought it was another reason to get everybody you know effed up!:43:
Yeah twenty years ago, now you are really risking an alcohal incident if you don't mind your P's and Q's

Desert_Rat
07-27-2009, 8:17 PM
Yeah twenty years ago, now you are really risking an alcohal incident if you don't mind your P's and Q's

Hey,I'm not that old:43: but I am talking 11 years ago.....AH Yes the infamous alcohol related incident!!It used to just get you a few extra days of Duty NCO or Asst.duty NCO at the barracks.