By Samantha Belles, National Museum of the American Sailor Collections Manager
The National Museum of the American Sailor’s collections are comprised of numerous artifacts, each telling a unique story of an enlisted Sailor’s career. When taken together, these stories help illuminate just what it was like to be a Sailor in the United States Navy. In particular, uniforms play a key role in helping the museum tell the Navy’s history.
In looking through our collections, we came across the jumper of George Gene Koplos. Koplos enlisted in the United States Navy on September 1, 1944, when he was only seventeen years old and America was in the midst of World War II. After his enlistment in the United States Navy, Koplos went through seven weeks of training at the U.S. Naval Training Station, Farragut, Idaho. An active training site for the Navy where 293,381 recruits passed through the center from September 1942 to March 1945.
The National Museum of the American Sailor has in its permanent collection the 1944 – 1946 Dress Blue Wool Jumper that George G. Koplos’ is pictured wearing in the accompanying photograph. On the left sleeve of his jumper there is a Machinist’s Mate 3rd class rating patch as well as a The Fighting Bee Seabee patch. Currently, there are around 6,300 men and women serving both at sea and on shore who hold the rating of Machinist’s Mate.
The Navy established the first version of this rating, Machinist, in 1866, just after the end of the Civil War. The name was changed from Machinist to Finisher (ca. 1880), back to Machinist (ca. 1884), and finally Machinist’s Mate (ca. 1904). After attending boot camp, current Machinist’s Mate enlistees attend a nine-week “A” school at Naval Station Great Lakes. During training, Machinist’s Mates learn how to “maintain engines, compressors and gears, refrigeration, air-conditioning, gas-operated equipment, and other types of machinery afloat and ashore. MMS are also responsible for the ship’s steam propulsion and auxiliary equipment and the outside (desk) machinery.” 
Koplos’ jumper also has an Honorable Service Lapel Patch, more commonly known as a “Ruptured Duck” patch on the right chest. This patch signifies that Koplos was Honorably Discharged. On May 8, 1946, at the age of nineteen, George Gene Koplos was discharged from the United States Navy with the rank of Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class (CB). The “CB” stands for “Construction Battalion” also known as the Seabees.
George G. Koplos’ Dress Blue Wool Jumper, is much more than a wool shirt with some patches. It tells a story, the story of a Machinist’s Mate, a Seabee, a United States Navy Sailor representing his country.
To learn more about the museum’s collections, visit the Historical Collections and Research page on our website.
Cover Image: Company 1118-43, Regiment 3, Battalion 10, U.S. Naval Training Station, Farragut, Idaho, February 1944. Naval History and Heritage Collection Catalog #: UA 571.100.
 Cutler, Thomas J. (2009). The Bluejacket’s Manual: United States Navy 24th Edition. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.