When a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support customer account specialist received a custom item order for a Marine receiving the highest U.S. military decoration, she cancelled leave for the remainder of the day to support the request.
Diane Gordon worked with Clothing and Textiles’ special measurements team to create a unique pattern of the Marine Corps dress coat order she received from the Marine Corps Exchange on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia. The order was for retired Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley, who was going to wear the coat during a ceremony where he was going to receive the Medal of Honor.
“I know the [clothing designers] and [contracting specialists] will do everything they can if there’s a rush for an order,” Gordon said.
Any military customer that doesn’t fit in a standard uniform size, due to height, arm length or other variations, can request special measurement orders, C&T clothing designer Sarah Wyatt explained. Canley required special alterations for his respective waist and collar sizes.
Wyatt manually completed a sewing pattern to Canley’s measurements within an hour and sent it back to Gordon to submit to contract specialist Kyle Maccia. Maccia coordinated with the vendor to expedite the order and ensure it would not affect other orders being worked on, he explained.
“Special measurement orders have a 30-day delivery period,” Maccia said. “I asked the vendor if it was possible to expedite this order because of the nature of the request. The vendor did not have to agree to this request for expediting, but accommodated [anyway].”
This accommodation ensured the coat was delivered within two weeks of the order being placed, and more than a month before Canley’s Medal of Honor ceremony Oct. 17.
“When the newspaper came to my house that [next] day and I opened it and saw the picture of John Canley getting the Medal of Honor, I got so excited,” Gordon said. “I told my husband, ‘we make this coat!’ It’s important [work] and it makes you feel proud.”
Canley received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions fighting off enemy attacks and carrying wounded Marines to safety in Hue City, Vietnam in 1968, according to a White House statement.
“This is 100 percent why we do what we do,” Wyatt said. “There was no extra special process. We just worked a lot quicker for him because we wanted to make sure he got [the coat in time].”
While the daily churn of special measurement requests makes processing non-standard sizes routine, this one stood out, Director of Supplier Operations Steve Merch said.
“The expertise and hard work that goes into ensuring the right-sized garment is developed and delivered made a significant impact on Canley being well-dressed and ready for the prestigious Medal of Honor ceremony,” Merch said.
Of the nearly 4,000 special measurement requests C&T processes annually, Canley’s dress coat was one of the more complex items that required clothing designers to manually prepare the pattern, C&T Technical Quality Division Chief Dr. Ali Ahmed said.
Approximately 70 percent of the uniform items customers require special alterations for, including dress shirts, have patterns that can be adjusted using Made-to-Measure technology, Ahmed explained.
“It frees up our time so that our designers can immediately jump in to special orders like the Medal of Honor and can do it within the shortest possible time,” Ahmed said.
C&T also provides the ribbon used for the Medal of Honor decoration.