Veteran U.S. mailman Bob Georgetti wanted to deliver a message of support for the American hostages being held in Iran, so he wore a white armband to work yesterday over his official Postal Service uniform.

Georgetti, 28, was told to take off the armband or go home.

"They said it was a violation of the dress code" which prohibits unauthorized additions to the pale-blue uniforms, Georgetti said yesterday. "I said it was a peaceful protest against the treatment of the hostages, and I wasn't going to take it off. They said I would have to leave and I did." i

"This has probably been blown all out of proportion," said Richard Klare, postmaster at the Herndon, Va., facility where Georgetti has worked for nearly seven years. "I think we both over-reacted. I'm as sympathetic to the situation as he is, I can't change the dress code."

Georgetti, whose only previous protest was against the American involvement in the Vietnam war, said he had heard a radio disc jockey on Thursday morning suggest the wearing of armbands as a visible sign of encouragement for the hostages.

"I thought about it all day long. It's unjust that the Americans are being held. It was just a gut feeling, I wanted to do something, and then this idea came along. I figured, why not?" he said.

The idea of wearing white armbands as a public protest was proposed by an anonymous woman caller to radio station WSOC in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this week and given greater exposure by Sen. Robert Mocgan (D-N.C.) in remarks on the Senate floor, according to news reports. m

"I thought it was President Carter's idea, but I still don't think it was such a bad thing to do," Georgetti said.

Thursday night he cut up an old T-shirt, rummaged around in a drawer until he found a safety pin, and then prepared for work the next day.

"I got there about 7 a.m., and nobody saw me because I was in back, sorting mail. But about 8:45 a.m. the supervisors came up, and told me I had to take it off," said Georgetti, who lives in Herndon.

"That's when I left," he said.

Then, he said, he drove to the White House in an unsuccessful effort to find a liaison officer who worked with both the executive branch and the Postal Service.

Rebuffed there, he sought out a reporter.

"It's ironic that I can't wear this armband at work. I mean, what better support for the president would there be than government workers showing they support what he's doing" said Georgetti, who earns $19,500 a year.

Postmaster Klare said: "We will welcome Bob back Saturday morning, and I'm not going to dock him in pay for leaving" on Friday. "But wearing the armband is against regulations. I'm going to try to find out what I can do about that."