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Marine Corps Challenge Coin History

Discover the profound history of challenge coins, a military tradition dating back to the Roman Empire and evolving through the ages to symbolize honor and camaraderie in the Marine Corps.

The Deep Roots of Challenge Coins

The tradition of challenge coins, deeply entrenched in military history, spans millennia. This tradition has not only persisted through the ages but has also evolved, maintaining its core symbolism of honor and recognition.

Ancient Beginnings

The earliest known instances of challenge coins date back to the Roman Empire. 

These coins were not standard currency but special mintings awarded to soldiers as a recognition of their valor or remarkable achievements. They often bore distinctive markings, signifying the soldier’s unit or the specific battle in which they had distinguished themselves.

The Renaissance Era

Centuries later, during the Renaissance, the use of coins evolved into what were known as “Portrait Medals.” These were crafted to commemorate significant events involving the nobility or other high-ranking figures. 

Unlike their Roman predecessors, these medals served more as mementos or artistic representations of influential individuals and their deeds, rather than direct rewards for military valor.

The World Wars: A Turning Point

The tradition of challenge coins took on a new dimension during the World Wars. 

A notable story from World War I tells of an American pilot who was captured by German forces but escaped. He narrowly avoided execution by presenting a medallion with his squadron’s insignia to his French allies, thereby proving his identity. 

This incident not only highlights the potential life-saving role of these coins but also marks a pivot towards their modern use as identifiers and symbols of camaraderie.

World War II and Beyond

During World War II, the use of challenge coins expanded. 

One significant development was the adoption of these coins by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) personnel. They used them as bona fides during secret meetings to confirm their identity. This practice was crucial for operations in Nazi-held territories.

Post-War Era and Special Forces

The tradition of challenge coins flourished in the post-Korean War era of the United States military. Colonel William “Buffalo Bill” Quinn of the 17th Infantry Regiment created one of the earliest known U.S. military challenge coins from 1950-1958. 

By the 1960s, Special Forces units had adopted the challenge coin custom, further cementing its place in military culture.

The Marine Corps Adoption

Within the Marine Corps, challenge coins became prevalent as symbols of unity and morale boosters. These coins are not only awarded for achievements but also to signify membership in particular units or groups within the Corps. 

Challenge coins have become a valued part of Marine tradition, symbolizing the esprit de corps and the storied history of the Marines.

Marine Challenge Coins Today

In contemporary times, challenge coins have found a broader role across various branches of the U.S. military and even beyond. They are used to honor service, commemorate milestones, and reinforce bonds within units. Each coin is a small yet powerful emblem of a shared experience, a memory of a significant achievement, or a symbol of a special affiliation.

The evolution of challenge coins from ancient symbols of battlefield valor to modern tokens of camaraderie reflects the dynamic nature of military tradition. 

Marine Corps challenge coins are a cherished part of the military experience. They bridge the past with the present and symbolize the enduring spirit of the Corps. Learn more about USMC challenge coins here, and be sure to check out our complete selection of Marine Corps coins

What is a Marine Corps Challenge Coin?

Marine Corps challenge coins are tokens of honor and are deeply rooted in military tradition. These coins represent more than just physical tokens. Marine Corps challenge coins are emblems of esprit de corps and individual accomplishment in the U.S. Marine Corps.

This article provides an overview of the traditions and practices of Marine Corps challenge coins. Take a deeper dive into these topics with our USMC challenge coin guide

From Rome to the USMC: Evolution of Challenge Coins 

It’s debatable when challenge coins were created, but their predecessors began in the Roman era. Soldiers were awarded custom coins for achievements in battle and great feats. Whether this practice continued after the fall of the Roman Empire is unclear. 

By the Renaissance, challenge coins evolved to depict influential individuals and their noteworthy deeds. They were called “portrait medals” at this time. 

In the early years of the US military, challenge coins were confined to high-ranking officers who presented them as recognition of exceptional achievements within their units. 

A notable story from World War I, where a pilot’s medallion proved his identity and saved his life, underscores the coins’ significance as symbols of belonging and survival.

Some military historians argue that modern challenge coin traditions evolved from the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Coins were used to provide entry into bars for combat troops. 

The use of challenge coins soon became a widespread practice across the military, including the USMC. 

Learn more about Marine Corps challenge coin history here. 

Modern-Day Significance

The US Marine Corps is awash in tradition. From an entire dictionary of colorful Marine Corps slang to a multitude of Marine Corps birthday traditions, the Marines honor their history and traditions. The challenge coin, “coining,” and the challenge are all extensions of practices meant to create unity and pride.  

In today’s military, receiving a challenge coin is a distinctive honor. It represents a specific achievement or outstanding service. Receiving a challenge coin goes beyond a simple acknowledgment – it’s a tangible reminder of a significant moment or exceptional performance.

A Marine’s challenge coin collection tells a story of their service. But there’s more to Marine Corps coins than just achievements and memories. 

The Challenge: Traditions and Rules

It’s commonplace for Marines to carry their unit’s coin. This isn’t just for pride and camaraderie–a challenge may be issued at any time.

Marine Corps challenge coin practices center around the “coin check,” where members must quickly display their coin. Rules are informal, varying by unit. Dropping a coin counts as a deliberate challenge to those nearby. If a member can’t produce their coin, they buy drinks; if all do, the challenger pays. 

Coins are typically carried in pockets, with “a step and a reach” rule for accessibility. Unconventional carrying methods like belt buckles aren’t accepted. The tradition also includes stealing coins, ranking based on the giver, and subtle exchanges during handshakes.

Learn more about Marine challenge coin rules here.

Uses of Challenge Coins

Marine Corps challenge coins are used as awards for outstanding service, marking military and civilian life milestones. They commemorate achievements and are presented during significant moments like graduations or in recognition of special acts. These coins carry immense sentimental value and attract numismatic interest for their history and uniqueness.

USMC Coins: A Legacy of Brotherhood

Marine Corps challenge coins are more than just awards; they are cherished symbols of a proud military legacy. They embody the history, achievements, and unbreakable bond of brotherhood within the USMC. Challenge coins serve as reminders of the journey and the shared experiences of those who serve.

In essence, Marine Corps challenge coins are multifaceted symbols of recognition, history, and camaraderie. They play a vital role in the life and culture of the Marine Corps. They connect the past to the present, honoring the legacy and the ongoing journey of every Marine.

Check out our selection of USMC challenge coins and rank coins for more leatherneck inspiration. 

The Challenge: USMC Challenge Coin Rules, Coin Check Traditions

The US Marine Corps is full of traditions, and none are more fun than the challenge coin. If you are unfamiliar with the rules, this article will give you a heads-up on how to respond to coin check. Additionally, you’ll learn how to use coins to build camaraderie with your unit and those serving under you. 

USMC Challenge Coin Tradition

Marine Corps challenge coins are more than just collectibles; they serve a pivotal role in unit cohesion and morale. The primary purpose of these coins is to ensure that members carry their unit’s coin as a symbol of pride and belonging. This tradition also includes the “coin check,” a loudly announced challenge for members to produce their coins.

Challenge Coin Rules and Initiation

The rules for coin checks are informal and vary by organization. But in general, coin checks can be issued anywhere at any time by drawing and displaying the coin. A coin check begins by holding your coin up in the air or by slamming it on a table or floor and shouting “coin check!”

Interestingly, accidentally dropping a challenge coin is considered a deliberate challenge to all present.

Marines who are challenged have ten seconds to respond by showing a coin with their unit’s logo. 

Consequences of the Challenge

The consequences of a coin check add a playful yet meaningful aspect to the tradition. If a member is challenged and cannot produce their coin, they must buy drinks for the challenger and other coin holders. 

Conversely, if everyone challenged presents their coin, the challenger must buy a round for the group.

Coin Theft and Ranking

The tradition also includes variations such as the stealing of a challenge coin; if successful, the thief is owed a drink by the group. 

Furthermore, the highest-ranking coin, determined by the rank of the giver, holds a special status during challenges.

Carrying a Challenge Coin

Typically, challenge coins are carried in pockets or other easily accessible places on one’s person. A challenge can be initiated anywhere, even when undressed. The widely accepted rule is “a step and a reach,” allowing a brief moment to produce the coin. 

Presentation and Handling

Presentation of these coins is often done during a handshake, subtly transferring the coin from one individual to another. Coins are ranked not only by the rank of the giver but also by the difficulty in attaining them. 

A Coin is a Coin

Alterations such as drilling holes or attaching coins to belt buckles invalidate them as challenge coins – so no necklaces or keychains either. Coins can be worn around the neck in a pouch if not modified. 

Uses of Marine Corps Challenge Coins

Challenge coins are more than just a game to Marines. 

Recognition and Reward

Challenge coins are used as a form of recognition for outstanding service or performance, both in military and civilian spheres. They are often awarded to mark significant accomplishments, acting as a morale booster.

Career Milestones

In the Marine Corps, officers carry on the tradition of challenge coins as they progress through their careers. These coins often mark milestones and achievements, serving as a testament to a service member’s journey.

Military and Non-Military Recognition

While their origin lies in military practices, likely starting with special forces in the Vietnam War era, these coins have found their way into non-military recognition as well. For instance, student-athletes at Northeastern University have been awarded such coins.

Special Coins and Their Significance

An example of a unique challenge coin is the “Bull Dog” coin, exclusive to B-52 enlisted tail gunners. This coin symbolizes strength and courage and has become rarer since 1991.

These coins are often presented upon graduation or for exemplary acts, with the act of giving the coin typically accompanied by a handshake and a brief explanation of its significance.

The Collecting Aspect

Beyond their symbolic value, some challenge coins are also valued for their numismatic aspects. Collectors and service members alike treasure these coins, not just for their material worth but for the stories and memories they represent.

Probably the most sought after Marine Corps coin today is the USMC Armor of God challenge coin. This commemorative coin has biblical overtones and signifies faith and doing the right thing.

Though not technically challenge coins, Marine Corps silver coins are highly sought-after. 

More Than a Game

Marine Corps challenge coins are a time-honored tradition within an organization steeped in history. They are a light-hearted way to build unity, let loose, and reflect on your service.

Get inspired by our complete selection of USMC rank coins and unique Marine challenge coins

USMC Challenge Coins: Origins, Rules, & More

Charge into the revered tradition of Marine Corps challenge coins. From their historical roots in the Roman Empire to their pivotal role in the World Wars and their adoption by the U.S. Marine Corps. 

We explore the evolution of getting “coined,” its significance in modern military life, and the personal stories attached to these tokens of honor. Discover the profound impact of USMC challenge coins on unit morale, camaraderie, and the celebration of exceptional service.

Getting “Coined”

Getting “coined” in the US military evolved from a simple recognition by commanders to a widespread symbol of honor and achievement. This historical practice is an important form of acknowledgment and appreciation within the armed forces, including the USMC. 

The Tradition and Its Evolution

Getting “coined” in the military, once known as receiving a challenge coin, is a tradition that has evolved significantly over the years. 

Initially, challenge coins were exclusive to commanders, who used them to recognize exceptional achievements within their units. The practice, believed to have roots in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War era, has since become a widespread symbol of acknowledgment and appreciation in the military.

The Historical Backdrop

One prevalent origin story, highlighted in a 1994 issue of Soldiers Magazine, dates back to World War I. A wealthy lieutenant issued medallions with his squadron’s emblem to each member. The legend of a pilot escaping execution thanks to his squadron medallion has become a cornerstone of the tradition. 

Challenge coins hold significance as more than mere tokens but as lifesavers and identifiers. We’ll dive into this more later in the article. 

Modern-Day Significance

Today, getting coined is a unique honor. It symbolizes a specific achievement or outstanding service. High-ranking officers present these coins as a form of immediate and tangible recognition. It goes beyond a simple thank-you, serving as a physical token of a memorable moment or a job exceptionally done.

Meaning of USMC Challenge Coins

Marine Corps challenge coins are more than symbols; they encapsulate personal valor, unity, and memorable milestones in a Marine’s career.

A Legacy of Stories and Memories

Every challenge coin carries a unique story, representing a particular event, achievement, or personal milestone. Each coin in a Marine’s collection symbolizes a different memory – from specific missions to personal accomplishments.

The Personal Touch

Challenge coins often hold immense personal value for their recipients. They embody not just a moment of professional recognition but also the camaraderie and collective spirit of the unit. Challenge coins can hold special significance, immortalizing extraordinary experiences.

Recognition in the Moment

Marine Corps commanders often see coining as a way to immediately recognize service members who demonstrate exceptional values or achievements. This practice of on-the-spot recognition not only honors the individual but also fosters a culture of excellence and motivation among peers.

The Tradition Today

Today’s Marine Corps challenge coins tradition transcends mere recognition, fostering morale, unity, and a profound sense of belonging among Marines.

A Symbol of Belonging and Morale

Today, getting coined is still a means for commanders to boost unit morale and give a sense of belonging. It’s a tradition that carries on as an integral part of military life, symbolizing unity, honor, and the acknowledgment of one’s contributions to the mission and the team.

More Than Just a Token

For the recipients, a commander’s coin is more than a physical object; it’s a sign of gratitude and respect for a job well done. It’s a part of a thoughtful and long-standing military tradition, holding a place of honor in the lives of those who receive them. 

Whether a service member becomes a collector or not, each coin they receive will always be linked to an important moment in their career, a tangible reminder of their dedication and excellence.

History of Marine Challenge Coins

Challenge coins date back to the Roman Empire, awarded to soldiers for valor. They evolved during the Renaissance into “Portrait Medals,” commemorating notable figures and events.

The ancient practice of giving soldiers coins for achievements continued in the US military. 

World Wars: A Pivotal Era

In World War I, a pilot used a medallion with his squadron’s insignia to prove his identity, highlighting the life-saving potential of these coins. World War II saw their use by the OSS for identity confirmation in covert operations.

Post-War and Special Forces Adoption

After the Korean War, U.S. military units, particularly Special Forces, began adopting challenge coins. Colonel William “Buffalo Bill” Quinn created one of the earliest known U.S. military challenge coins in the 1950s.

Marine Corps Adoption

The Marine Corps embraced challenge coins as symbols of unity and morale. They signify achievements, membership in specific units, and the Corps’ esprit de corps.

Take a deeper look at Marine Corps challenge coin history here.

The Challenge: Traditions and Rules

There are intricate customs and practices of Marine Corps challenge coins. These traditions are steeped in unity and morale. 

From the lively “coin check” to the subtle art of presentation, discover the rules and spirit that define this enduring symbol of brotherhood and honor.

The Coin Check

In the Marine Corps, challenge coins symbolize unity and morale. The key practice, the “coin check,” is a lively challenge where members must promptly present their coins.

Rules and Rituals

The rules, largely informal, revolve around the spontaneous display of coins. Uniquely, an accidental drop is deemed a challenge to all present. The ensuing tradition is both a test of readiness and a playful interaction among comrades.

The Spirit of the Challenge

If a member fails to produce their coin during a check, they owe drinks to the challenger and others who succeeded. However, if all present display their coins, the challenger buys the round. This ritual reinforces camaraderie and a sense of collective pride.

Carrying the Coin

Typically carried in pockets or close at hand, the “step and a reach” rule allows a brief moment for presentation. Coins on belt buckles or keychains don’t qualify, while neck pouches are acceptable.

Coin Ranking and Variations

The challenge coin tradition includes variations like the “stealing” rule, where successfully taking another’s coin obligates the group to buy the thief a drink. Coins are also ranked, with the highest-ranking coin, bestowed by the highest-ranking official, earning drinks from the group.

Presentation and Handling

These coins are often exchanged discreetly during handshakes. They are valued based on the difficulty of obtaining them, and any alterations like drilling holes render them invalid as challenge coins.

Learn more about USMC challenge coin checks with this useful guide.

Other Uses of Challenge Coins

Challenge coins in the Marine Corps transcend mere accolades, embodying diverse roles in recognition, milestone commemoration, and as coveted collectibles with rich histories.

Beyond Recognition: A Symbol of Achievement

Marine Corps challenge coins are awards for outstanding service and boost morale across military and civilian sectors. 

Today, they’ve taken on a life of their own. Many active duty and retired Marines collect rare challenge coins, while many others cherish the coins they received during their service and display them proudly. 

Commemorating Milestones

Officers use these coins to mark career milestones, embodying the journey and achievements of service members. In this way, each challenge coin tells a story. 

Unique and Valuable Challenge Coins

The “Bull Dog” coin, exclusive to B-52 tail gunners, exemplifies the uniqueness of some challenge coins. Presented for special achievements or at significant moments like graduations, these coins often come with a story, enhancing their value.

Challenge coins issued by US presidents have become a rich tradition over the last couple of decades. These coins hold immense value to their recipients and can be highly collectible. 

Rare Marine Corps silver coins are also extremely collectible and valuable. 

The Collector’s Pride

While these coins hold immense sentimental value, they also attract numismatic interest. Collectors and service members cherish these coins for the rich histories and personal narratives they encapsulate.

From Marine silver coins to the popular Marines Armor of God coin, many challenge coins have been elevated to collector class.

USMC Coins

Marine Corps Challenge Coins embody a rich tradition that transcends their physical form. They represent history, achievements, and the unbreakable bond of military brotherhood. 

Whether used to recognize excellence, foster unity, or simply as a reminder of one’s journey, these coins are cherished symbols of a proud military legacy.

Check out our robust selection of USMC challenge coins and pass on this time-honored tradition to your brothers!

Knife Fighting Like a Marine

The Marine Corps extensively integrates knife combat into its training via the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). Masters of the KA-BAR knife, there is no better organization to learn about knife fighting principles and techniques. 

USMC knife fighting training encompasses fundamental techniques and practical applications, revealing the swiftness of such confrontations. 

It’s vital to note that proper knife training should solely occur under expert supervision, emphasizing safety. This article plunges into the fundamental aspects of Marine Corps knife training.

Safety Considerations of Knife Fighting

Safety considerations are paramount in knife fighting training. 

To minimize the risk of injury, students should use training knives, eye protection, and groin protection during all training sessions. Techniques should never be executed at full speed or with full body contact.

Training for knife techniques should be conducted in two stages. Initially, students should practice techniques “in the air” without contacting opponents or targets. This phase focuses on skill acquisition. 

As students become more proficient, they can pair up. But both they and their opponents should remain stationary, with no physical contact permitted during this stage of training.

The Goal of a Knife Fight

The primary purpose of knife fighting in combat is to inflict severe damage and massive trauma on the opponent, effectively incapacitating them.

a group of Marines practicing knife fighting techniques

Angles of Attack

In a knife fight, understanding the angles of attack is vital for effective combat. 

There are six primary angles from which an attack can be initiated. These include a vertical strike, descending straight onto the opponent, forward diagonal strikes at a 45-degree angle, and reverse diagonal strikes also at a 45-degree angle. 

Additionally, forward horizontal strikes, parallel to the deck, and reverse horizontal strikes are employed. 

Lastly, a forward thrust delivers a straight, linear attack directly toward the opponent. Mastery of these angles allows for versatile and strategic knife combat tactics.

Primary Targets in a Knife Fight

In a knife fight, targeting primary areas of the body is crucial for maximum impact. The objective is to strike soft body vital targets that are readily accessible, such as the face, sides, and front of the neck, as well as the lower abdomen or groin. 

The neck, with its carotid arteries exposed and lacking protective coverage, is a prime target. 

Similarly, the lower abdomen and groin region are vulnerable areas not typically protected by body armor. 

Striking the aorta, if unprotected, can be rapidly fatal, causing incapacitation within seconds or minutes, making it a highly effective primary target.

Secondary Targets in Knife Fighting

Secondary targets in a knife fight can be crucial for causing significant bleeding due to severed arteries. While these targets might not be immediately fatal, they can become so if untreated. 

Striking areas such as the legs can inflict substantial trauma. For instance, severing the femoral artery in the thigh can lead to severe blood loss. 

Attacks on the brachial artery, situated inside the arm between the biceps and triceps, can also result in extensive bleeding and damage. Additionally, targeting the radial and ulnar nerves of the arm can lead to substantial bleeding and damage, making these secondary targets of strategic importance.

blocking a knife strike
blocking a knife strike

Movement in a Knife Fight

In a knife fight, understanding movement is crucial. Visualize a 360-degree circle around your opponent and strategically position yourself within this circle to gain advantages and target different areas of their body. 

Being directly in front of an opponent is the least favorable position, as it allows them to use forward momentum and linear power. 

Instead, moving at a 45-degree angle to either side of your opponent is optimal. This not only helps you avoid their strikes but also positions you for a more effective counterattack.

Wearing a Combat Knife

Marines wear combat knives, whether bayonets or fighting knives, for easy access and retention. It’s advisable to wear the knife on the weak-side hip, blade down, positioned behind the magazine pouch for accessibility while preventing it from being grabbed by an opponent. 

Care should be taken to avoid wearing it next to a canteen, as this could lead to the knife becoming inaccessible due to the canteen sliding on the cartridge belt.

How to Grip a Combat Knife

In knife fighting, the grip is crucial. It should be natural, with your fingers wrapped around the knife’s grip as you pull it from its sheath. This grip is commonly referred to as a “hammer grip,” where the blade end always faces the opponent.

knife fighting stance and thrusting techniques

Knife Fighting Stance

In knife fighting, the stance is critical. 

The basic warrior stance forms the basis for all knife techniques. The left hand acts as a vertical shield to protect the ribs or the head and neck. The right elbow should be bent, with the blade pointing forward towards the opponent’s head, serving as an index point for all techniques. 

The weapon should be held at a level roughly from the top of the belt to chest high, kept close to the body to aid in weapon retention.

Principles of Knife Fighting

Several key principles should be followed for effective combat. 

Firstly, when executing movements with the knife blade, it’s crucial to keep them within a defined box, running from shoulder-width across, starting from your neck down to your waistline. This approach ensures that your attacks remain precise. It also prevents the opponent from easily blocking your movements.

Secondly, maintaining the knife’s blade tip forward and pointed towards the opponent is essential. This positioning maximizes the readiness of your blade for any counteractions.

Lastly, for each knife technique, apply your full body weight and power. Your body’s weight should be directed into the attack, whether it’s a slash or thrust, in the direction of the blade’s movement. By doing so, you apply constant forward pressure with both your body and blade. This keeps the opponent off-balance and enhances the effectiveness of your attacks.

knife fighting practice with a dummy knife
Knife fight training with a dummy knife.

Intro To Knife Fighting Techniques

Vertical slashing techniques serve the purpose of closing the distance between the wielder and the opponent. These techniques are employed to distract the adversary or cause sufficient damage to enable a closer approach. Typically, the targets for vertical slashes are limbs or any vulnerable part of the opponent’s body. 

The technique involves standing face-to-face with the opponent, extending the right hand, and bringing the weapon down in a straight motion along the opponent’s body. The knife maintains contact with the opponent’s body throughout the slashing motion, following a vertical line down the target area. After the slash, the modified basic warrior stance is resumed.

Vertical thrusting techniques, on the other hand, are considered more effective than slashing techniques due to their potential to cause severe damage. However, slashing techniques are used initially to close the distance with the enemy, allowing for thrusting techniques. The thrusting motion follows a vertical line either upward into the abdomen region or high into the neck. 

To execute a vertical thrust, one stands facing the aggressor in the modified basic warrior stance, thrusts the right hand towards the target, inserts the knife blade straight into the aggressor, withdraws the knife, and then resumes the modified basic warrior stance.

a leatherneck armed with an M4 and bayonet
bayonet training

Bayonet vs Fighting Knife

When considering the use of both the bayonet and fighting knife, it’s essential to understand their distinctions. The fighting knife is a sharp, single-bladed tool primarily designed for cutting and tearing. 

In contrast, the bayonet is a dual-bladed knife with one edge being narrower and duller. The bayonet’s design makes it more effective for thrusting motions rather than slashing actions. 

These considerations are crucial in determining the appropriate tool for specific combat situations and tactics.

the classic Marine Corps combat knife
The classic Marine Corps Ka-Bar combat knife.

Marine Corps Knife Training

Hopefully this article gave you a good overview of the principles and techniques of knife fighting. Check out our selection of training knives, KA-BAR combat knives, and bayonets to continue your self-defense and combat training.

Marine Corps Birthday Celebration: History & Traditions

The Marine Corps Birthday is a cherished tradition observed worldwide by the U.S. Marines past and present. This annual event features special exhibits, parades, drill team performances, and inspirational speeches by top leaders, highlighted by the Birthday Ball and ceremonial cake-cutting.

This article breaks down the history of the infamous and highly celebrated Marine Corps Birthday. 

a painting from the early history of the US Marine Corps
Continental Marines at the Battle of Nassau

Establishment of the Continental Marines 

On November 10, 1775, the Continental Marines were officially established by the Continental Marine Act of 1775. This Second Continental Congress decree marked the birth of what would later become the United States Marine Corps. 

The American Continental Marines were designated amphibious infantry. Their duties included safeguarding ship captains and officers, operating cannons, and utilizing sharpshooters in naval battles. Initially deployed as sharpshooters on Continental Congress Navy vessels, these early Marines distinguished themselves as exceptional marksmen.

The Act outlined the formation of two battalions of Marines, each led by a Colonel, two lieutenant colonels, and two majors. Emphasizing maritime expertise, enlistees had to be skilled seamen or well-versed in maritime affairs.

That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates as with other battalions, that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices, or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies; unless dismissed by Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalions of Marines.

It all started at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Captain Samuel Nicholas established Tun Tavern as the recruiting headquarters, where the first Marines enlisted. While some dispute the possibility of earlier recruiting at Nicholas’s family tavern, the Conestoga Waggon, Tun Tavern is widely regarded as the birthplace of the Marines. 

Besides being the birthplace of the Marines, Benjamin Franklin had previously recruited a militia at the tavern in 1756 to address a Native American uprising. The tavern also hosted a crucial meeting between George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Continental Congress. 

an illustration of the Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the US Marines
An illustration of the Tun Tavern, birthplace of the Marines

End of the Continental Marine, Birth of the Corps 

At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783 the Continental Marines were disbanded. 

However, on July 11, 1798, President John Adams reestablished the force, renaming it the United States Marine Corps. This historic revival marked the birth of the modern USMC, continuing its service to the nation.

an officer reads the Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921 at a Marine Corps ball
Reading Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921 at a Marine Corps birthday celebration.

Evolution of Marine Corps Birthday Celebrations 

From 1799 to 1921, the Marine Corps Birthday was July 11. However, in 1921, the date was officially changed to November 10. 

The formal commemoration of the Marine Corps Birthday was initiated by Major Edwin McClellan’s suggestion to Major General Commandant Lejeune. 

This led to the issuance of Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921 by Major General John A. Lejeune. The order contained a historical summary, mission statement, and the rich traditions of the Corps. It also directed that the order be read aloud on November 10th each year.

a black and white photo from a Marine Corps ball dinner just after WWII
A 1947 Marine Corps Birthday Ball.

Early Celebrations 

In the early years of Marine Corps Birthday celebrations, various commands expanded the festivities. 

In 1923, at Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania, the 148th birthday was celebrated with a barracks dance. In Norfolk, Virginia, Marines staged a parade ground sham battle, watched by local citizens. At Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, festivities included a baseball win against a Cuban team, a variety show, and boxing bouts. These early celebrations showcased the diversity and enthusiasm of Marine Corps Birthday festivities.

The first “Birthday Ball” likely occurred in 1925 in Philadelphia; no records exist of earlier ones. Distinguished guests included Secretaries of War and Navy, Major General Commandant Lejeune, and prominent figures. 

The main event was unveiling a Tun Tavern tablet, a gift from the Thomas Roberts Reath Post, composed solely of Marines, during the Marine Corps League’s annual convention. 

A parade featured Marines, Regular Army, Navy detachments, National Guard, and other units. An evening banquet was at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel, followed by a ball at the Bellevue-Stratford.

cutting the Marine Corps birthday cake with an officer sword
Marine Corps General Robert Neller cutting the USMC birthday cake with an officer sword.

Cake-Cutting Tradition 

The first Marine Corps cake-cutting ceremony is uncertain but noted at Quantico, Virginia, in 1935. Another event occurred at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., in 1937, presided by Major General Commandant Thomas Holcomb. Officers celebrated with a cake resembling Tun Tavern.

The cake-cutting ceremony tradition involves presenting the first slice to the oldest Marine present, who then passes it to the youngest Marine. This tradition symbolizes the transfer of knowledge from experienced Marines to the new generation, emphasizing the passing of wisdom and heritage within the Marine Corps.

Marines in pt gear on a moto run celebrating the Marine Corps birthday
Marines in PT gear on a moto run celebrating the Marine Corps birthday, a newer tradition.

Present-Day Celebrations 

Present-day Marine Corps Birthday celebrations vary across posts and stations but share common elements. 

Reading Marine Corps Order No. 47 and the Commandant’s message reflects on the Corps’ history. A pageant featuring current and historical uniforms highlights the evolution of attire. The Marine Corps Birthday Run, initiated in 2007, promotes camaraderie and fitness. 

Remarkably, Marines worldwide celebrate, even in austere environments or combat, emphasizing their commitment to tradition, values, and legacy. The global festivities unite Marines past and present, fostering pride and camaraderie.

the grave of Samuel Nicholas, the original leatherneck
The grave of Samuel Nicholas

Somber Traditions

In addition to the jubilant celebrations, the Marine Corps Birthday holds a somber tradition. Each year on November 10th, Marines pay their respects with an annual wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of Samuel Nicholas.

This solemn gesture honors Nicholas’s pivotal role in founding the Marine Corps, reminding all of the sacrifices and dedication that shaped the Corps throughout its storied history.

Marines in dress blues marching with birthday cake
Marines in Dress Blues march with USMC birthday cake.

An Annual Marine Corps Tradition

With such a rich, storied history, it’s no surprise the Marine Corps developed a diverse array of birthday traditions. The US Marine Corps birthday honors its profound history, as well as the past and present Marines that make this military branch so special. 

Check out our full assortment of USMC uniform accessories to celebrate your service in style. 

What’s the Best Bug-Out Survival Food: MRE, Hardtack, & More

What is the best survival food to carry in your bug out bag? This article breaks down the top emergency rations from the military’s MRE to classic survival food like hardtack. Learn the pros and cons of each to help you make the right choice for your needs. 

hardtack is an old school survival food that gives you basic calories with an incredibly long shelf life

Hardtack: Classic Military Sustenance

Hardtack is a very dry biscuit or cracker. Flour, water, and sometimes salt are the only ingredients. But this simple combination results in one of the best survival foods available. 

Hardtack has been around for centuries. It’s a classic survival food with an incredibly long shelf life. Hardtack is lightweight, highly durable, and resistant to spoilage. This led to it being a military staple and common on ships. Hardtack was a common component of the MCI.

The downside of hardtack is the limited nutritional value, primarily consisting of carbohydrates. It can also be hard to eat. It has an extremely hard texture, which can potentially cause dental issues. So it’s often soaked in water, milk, or soup before consumption. 

military MRE meal packs

The Military MRE as Survival Food

MRE stands for “Meal, Ready-to-Eat.” It’s a self-contained military ration that replaced the MCI in 1981. MREs are designed to be nutritious, lightweight, durable, and long-lasting. This makes them ideal as survival food and for bug out bags.  

A variety of food items are included in an MRE. They are pre-cooked and ready to eat, requiring minimal preparation. A few need heating or water for optimal consumption. 

While they are relatively lightweight and compact, MREs can be more expensive compared to other options.

canned vegetables in a root cellar make excellent survival food

Survival Food in a Can

Canned food offers a moderate to long shelf life and a variety of food options. They are pre-cooked and ready to eat, providing balanced nutrition. 

However, canned food can add weight to your bug out bag. Some canned food may lack flavor, and the cost can vary from moderate to expensive.

HardtackMREsCanned Food
Shelf LifeVery long (months to years)Moderate (3-5 years)Moderate to long (2-5 years or more)
Nutritional ValueLimited nutritional value, primarily carbohydratesBalanced nutrition with protein, carbs, and vitaminsBalanced nutrition with protein, carbs, and vitamins
PortabilityLightweight and compactlightweight and compactHeavy, slightly bulky
PreparationReady to eat, may require soaking Pre-cooked and ready to eatPre-cooked and ready to eat
TasteDry and plain, may require flavoring; very hardVaries, some meals are flavorfulVaries, some canned food may lack flavor
VarietyLimited options, lacks varietyWide variety of meal optionsWide variety of food options
CostInexpensiveRelatively expensiveModerate to expensive
Special ConsiderationsExtremely hard texture, may cause dental issuesSome meals require heating or water for preparationWeight of cans may add up in bulk
home made jerky makes a lightweight and transportable survival food

Other Survival Foods Worth Considering

MREs, hardtack, and canned food are the most popular bugout bag emergency rations. But there are others worth considering for your bag. 

Pilot Bread

Also known as ship’s biscuits or sea biscuits, pilot bread is a type of hard, dry cracker that was historically used as a staple food on long voyages. Pilot bread has a similar composition to hardtack but is softer. Like hardtack, it can be stored for extended periods.

Rice Cakes

Rice cakes are compact, lightweight, and have a long shelf life. They are made from puffed rice and provide a source of carbohydrates. However, they may not offer the same durability as hardtack.

Energy Bars

Energy bars, such as granola bars or protein bars, are convenient survival foods that are designed to provide a quick source of energy. They often have a long shelf life and come in a variety of flavors and nutritional compositions.

Jerky

Jerky is dried and preserved food, typically meat like beef, pork, poultry, or fish. It offers a good source of protein and can be stored for a considerable amount of time. Fruit jerky is also a great survival options for lots of calories in a small package.

Jerky is lightweight and suitable for on-the-go snacking, making it a solid addition to a bug-out bag.

three US military MREs, the ultimate survival food

The Best Survival Food? MREs

Considering the factors mentioned, MREs are ideal in a bug out situation due to their balanced nutrition, wide meal variety, low weight, and long shelf life. 

MREs are the ultimate survival food for your bug out bag. But stocking a combination of items might be the best strategy to ensure preparedness across many scenarios. 

However you prep, the above survival foods are the best of the best when it comes to bug out bags. 

Surviving Disaster: EDC, Survival Kits, Bug Out Bags & Boxes

When faced with disaster, being prepared can mean the difference between life and death. 

Bug out bags aren’t the only option. From everyday carry to a full-on bug out box, learn the various ways to prep for a major emergency. 

a selection of every day carry items

Every Day Carry

Everyday carry (EDC) refers to the essential items you carry everywhere. We all have them, but some are more useful than others in disaster scenarios. 

Top survival EDC items include pocket knives, multitools, pepper spray, and, where legal to carry, firearms*. These tools provide versatility and security. Smart EDC boosts your chances and complements your bug out kits. 

*Adhere to local laws and regulations regarding the possession and carrying of firearms for personal safety and protection.

Survival Kit

A survival kit is a comprehensive set of meticulously curated gear to help you overcome a distaster. Compact and portable, it’s easy to carry and store in backpacks, vehicles, or other emergency preparedness kits. 

Essential items include a robust knife, multitool, reliable fire starter, water purification gear, and comprehensive first aid supplies. A well-rounded survival kit also includes an emergency shelter and blanket. 

Additional provisions like signaling devices, compact cooking utensils, navigation tools, and personal hygiene items are also worth considering. 

A properly equipped survival kit can provide crucial support and enhance the chances of overcoming adversity in unforeseen circumstances.

a Marine with a FILBE bag, which makes an excellent bugout bag

Bug Out Bag

A bug out bag (BOB) is a strategically packed bag containing a comprehensive collection of supplies and gear. It’s a survival kit with more stuff in it. Bug out bags help you survive over a short period. 

The contents typically encompass a wide range of items, including non-perishable food, water or water purification methods for hydration, fire starter, appropriate clothing, temporary shelter, versatile tools for various tasks and repairs, and essential personal documents for identification and documentation purposes. 

You never know when a disaster will strike. A well-prepped bug out bag that’s readily accessible can help you survive.

a military lensatic compass and a map

Get Home Bag

When you’re away and disaster strikes, a get home bag gets you home or to a predetermined location safely. 

Core items include a map, compass, flashlight, extra clothing, snacks, water, and means of communication. A small first aid kit, cash, compact tools, a portable charger, and personal defense items are also worth considering.

The name says it all with the get home bag. Get home safely during a challenging situation.

a Jeep box, perfect for a bug-out box

Bug Out Box

Similar to a large bug out bag, a bug out box stores supplies and tools for a short-term evacuation or emergency. It should be a sturdy, weather-resistant container like a plastic or metal box. 

Boxes fit more gear, including specialized equipment. They’re durable, easily accessible, and protect the contents from the elements. So they’re suitable for mid to long-term storage in emergencies.

The main downside of bug out boxes is they can be difficult or impractical to transport on foot. 

An e-tool sits atop sandbags with one side flooded, and the other side dry

Considerations of Bug Out Gear

Consider your specific needs, locations, climate, and duration of the bug-out situation to fully prepare. It’s important to regularly evaluate and update your bug-out bag contents to ensure they align with your circumstances and preparedness goals.

Versatility is also extremely important. A multitool is an obvious example, but an e-tool also excels at versatility. It can help with fire, shelter, and self protection. 

How much you can carry and means of transport are other factors. A bug out box is great for vehicle transport. But you may need to carry this stuff into the field, which is where the bug out bag comes into play. 

What Bug Out Option is Best?

All of the above. Each has its own utility, but you don’t know when disaster might strike or where you’ll be. So having multiple kits, bug out bags, and boxes are better than just one. Think about the vehicles you drive, your everyday carry, and different bags to get home or get away to develop a comprehensive set of survival tools. 

Check out our selection of Marine Corps survival gear and GI packs and bags to prepare yourself for whatever life throws your way.

Marine Corps Maneuver Warfare Doctrine Principles & Concepts

The Marine Corps doctrine of maneuver warfare revolutionized combat. This article breaks down the key components and strategies that make this flexible methodology so effective. 

Maneuver Warfare and the Marine Corps

The Marine Corps has a warfighting doctrine centered around maneuver warfare. It focuses on fast, adaptable, and opportunistic operations. Instead of engaging in prolonged battles of attrition, maneuver warfare aims to bypass the enemy’s defenses. 

The objective is to swiftly penetrate the enemy system and dismantle it. This approach recognizes the importance of speed and agility in achieving victory. By avoiding the enemy’s strongholds, we can disrupt their operations and exploit their weaknesses. 

Outsmarting the adversary and striking where they least expect it are core tenets of maneuver warfare. It’s a strategy emphasizing efficiency and effectiveness in accomplishing a mission.

US Marine Corps attacks an enemy position

A Winning Objective

The ultimate goal of maneuver warfare is to render the enemy incapable of resisting. This is done by shattering the enemy’s morale, breaking them mentally, and shredding their physical cohesion. Properly executed, this disrupts the enemy’s ability to fight as a coordinated whole. 

Maneuver warfare doesn’t seek to destroy the enemy physically through gradual attrition. Instead, it aims to achieve a decisive impact in a shorter time frame. By inducing panic and paralysis, the enemy isn’t able to mount an effective defense. 

Maneuver warfare seeks to achieve victory swiftly and with minimal cost and resources by targeting the enemy’s ability to function together. 

a Marine running with rifle ready

Speed Kills

Speed is crucial in effective maneuver warfare. Seizing the initiative dictates the terms of action, which puts the enemy at a disadvantage. 

A high tempo keeps the enemy off balance and increases their friction. Establish a pace that the enemy cannot match or sustain. Swift action means the enemy’s reactions become progressively delayed and unable to keep up with events. 

The ability to maintain speed and outpace the enemy is a key component of maneuver warfare.

Concentrated Fire Upon Weaknesses

Concentrating fire and forces at decisive points is another key aspect of maneuver warfare. When the opportunity arises and aligns with broader objectives, destroy enemy elements. 

Focused firepower against critical enemy weaknesses results in a high attrition rate for selected enemy forces. But the greatest impact of firepower isn’t physical destruction, which takes time to add up. Instead, the disruption it causes is critical. The bold and rapid striking of the enemy’s ability to fight inflicts the most damage. 

Once an advantage is identified, action must be relentless and without hesitation. Any signs of weakness are sought out and exploited with all available combat power. 

When the decisive opportunity presents itself, maneuver warfare stresses aggressive action until victory is achieved.

Marine close air support

Focused Effort in Maneuver Warfare

In Maneuver Warfare, focus is critical for maximum effect. Concentrated effort maximizes the impact on the enemy. Focused resources and violent combat induce shock effects that disrupt the enemy’s capabilities and cohesion. 

The goal is a state of confusion and disarray among the enemy forces. Reeling, the enemy is unable to effectively respond.

The Element of Surprise in Combat

Surprise is a key element of maneuver warfare. To surprise the enemy requires studying him. Understanding his thoughts and perspective of you is key. 

Once an understanding of the enemy develops, deception shapes his expectations, making him believe you will act in a certain way. 

However, these expectations are used against him by striking at unexpected times and places. By appearing unpredictable, the enemy becomes off balance and can’t effectively counter combat actions. 

Maneuver warfare requires avoiding adherence to rules and patterns which limit imagination and initiative. Instead, cultivating ambiguity and appearing dangerous is vital. Loosely prepare for numerous options for action. This keeps the enemy uncertain about your intentions and forces him to react defensively.

Marines resting between battles

Temperament of a US Marine

Temperament plays a crucial role in maneuver warfare. This is why the Marine Corps works so hard to develop key traits in its ranks. 

To win requires individuals who can handle uncertainty and embrace the unpredictable nature of the battlefield. Flexibility and adaptability with strong decision-making in fluid situations are key traits.

Those who possess an exploitative mindset are always ready to seize every opportunity that presents itself. However, this requires moral courage and the willingness to take responsibility for one’s actions. 

Self-discipline and loyalty to the objectives set by our superiors are critical to success. Additionally, the ability to think beyond your own level and act in a manner that aligns with the larger objective is important. 

soldiers of Al Shabab wearing masks and carrying flag

Orienting the Enemy

When engaging in maneuver warfare, you must orient yourself to the enemy. This means you must understand the characteristics allowing their system to function. 

With this understanding, you can effectively exploit the enemy’s weaknesses and set them up for defeat. 

It’s crucial not to assume that the enemy thinks like us or shares the same values and objectives. Each adversary has their perspective and motivations, which you must comprehend to outmaneuver and overcome. 

By gaining insights into the enemy’s thoughts and mindset, you can better anticipate their actions and develop strategies to defeat them.

Marines discuss the next mission objective

Command Philosophy of Maneuver Warfare

In maneuver warfare, the command philosophy emphasizes decentralized command and control. This means subordinate commanders are empowered to make decisions based on their understanding of their senior’s intent. There’s no need to constantly seek approval from higher levels. 

A decentralized command is implemented through mission tactics. This means focusing on human characteristics like boldness, initiative, strength of will, and imagination. Reliance on procedure and equipment is frowned upon. 

Effective communication is vital to this command philosophy. Key personnel must communicate enough to understand each other intuitively. Long-term working relationships enhance communication and coordination through understanding.  

Another principle of maneuver warfare is the commanders’ position close to the action. This enables proper assessment of the current situation. It also helps maintain camaraderie with their subordinates. However, this doesn’t mean micromanaging, as soldiers are trusted to exercise their own initiative.

A central location like a combat operation center is ideal for an overall appraisal of the situation. This allows for a balance between maintaining the big picture and having situational awareness at the forward command level.

Finally, embracing uncertainty is crucial in maneuver warfare. Combat inherently involves chaos. Instead of trying to maintain absolute control or certainty in all actions, maneuver warfare leverages the chaotic nature of warfare as a weapon against adversaries who struggle to cope with uncertainty.

A US Marine studies a map, a feature of maneuver warfare

Shaping the Action of Combat

In Maneuver Warfare, shaping the action is critical to achieving victory. It’s essential to establish clear objectives, understand their reasons, and determine how to accomplish them. 

Identifying the enemy’s vulnerabilities is crucial in undermining their strength and achieving mission success. By viewing things from the enemy’s perspective, surprises can be avoided, and preparations can be made to exploit their weaknesses. By shaping the action, the enemy is vulnerable to attack, friendly forces’ maneuvers are aided, and the time and place of decisive battles are dictated. Additionally, stockpiling critical supplies for future operations is part of the shaping process.

Influencing the action to one’s advantage is achieved through careful planning. But rather than trying to control every aspect of the timeline, the focus is on shaping the general conditions of war. This involves a combination of lethal and nonlethal actions, such as direct attacks, psychological operations, and electronic warfare. The aim is to target specific enemy capabilities that allow friendly forces to maximize their own capabilities. 

Various plans are employed to achieve this. Examples include funneling the enemy in a desired direction, psychological operations, blocking or delaying their reinforcements, and shaping enemy expectations through deception. 

Planning ahead involves laying the groundwork for future actions, anticipating events, and developing an understanding of the situation. As the level of command increases, so does the need to shape the action further ahead in time and space. 

An advantage in maneuver warfare is obtained by proactively shaping the conditions. This sets the stage for success in upcoming battles and operations.

USMC Officer Leading Marines in Combat

Decision Making: Decisive, Rapid Execution

All actions in combat are the result of decisions or the lack thereof. To make effective decisions, situational awareness, and creative thinking are essential in devising practical solutions. Consider the enemy’s anticipated reactions and counteractions when making decisions.

Time is of the essence in decision-making. Recognizing how much time is available and utilizing it effectively is vital for victory. The advantage lies with those who consistently make decisions faster and execute them promptly. 

Timely decisions require rapid thinking while considering only the essential factors. However, there are situations, such as deliberate planning, where time is not a limiting factor, and we should avoid rushing decisions unnecessarily.

It is important not to dwell on finding the perfect solution. Every decision is made in the face of uncertainty. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to battlefield problems. Instead, select a solid course of action with an acceptable level of risk and do so more quickly than your adversary. 

As the saying goes, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

Awareness should drive decisions rather than habit. One must have the moral courage to make tough decisions in uncertain situations. Furthermore, accountability for those decisions is required. Through decisive and accountable decision-making, you can navigate the complexities of warfare and increase the chances of success.

Marines improvise and adapt

Mission Tactics of Maneuver Warfare

Mission tactics are vital in maneuver warfare. Subordinates are assigned specific missions without dictating the exact methods to employ. Instead, they have freedom and responsibility to determine the necessary steps based on the current situation. This approach allows senior commanders to focus on broader strategic concerns.

The role of senior commanders in mission tactics is to provide support and guidance. The senior commander’s intervention in subordinate execution is minimal, occurring only in exceptional cases. This approach enables high-tempo operations and adaptability to changing situations.

Mission tactics encourage subordinates to think beyond their own levels and contribute to the overall mission. Unity is achieved through the harmonious initiative and lateral coordination of all forces rather than through imposed control.

By embracing mission tactics, military units can leverage their collective expertise and the adaptability of their personnel. Effective and efficient operations on the battlefield are the result. It fosters a culture of initiative, responsibility, and coordination, enabling units to achieve their objectives while maintaining flexibility in the face of evolving circumstances.

USMC discussing the plan

Maneuver Warfare Commander’s Intent

The Marine Corps concept of the commander’s intent plays a vital role in achieving harmonious initiative. The commander’s intent of maneuver warfare is a guiding principle for subordinates. It helps them grasp the broader context and purpose of their actions. By understanding the intent, subordinates can exercise their judgment and initiative while staying aligned with the higher commander’s objectives.

Every mission consists of a task and an intent. A task outlines what needs to be done, and the intent explains why. A task may change based on evolving circumstances, but the intent remains constant, serving as a guiding light for our actions. Through a clear understanding of the commander’s intent, subordinates can properly exercise their initiative.

The commander’s intent is established by assigning the mission and is reflected in each subordinate’s mission statement, contributing to the overall intent of higher commanders. This ensures consistency and continuity throughout the chain of command, allowing for effective bottom-up initiative. The intent can be expressed concisely, often focusing on the enemy and articulated in an “in order to” phrase.

Both senior and subordinate personnel bear the responsibility of comprehending the commander’s intent. Seniors should communicate their purposes clearly, without stifling subordinate initiative. Subordinates, in turn, should strive to understand the intent at least two levels up the chain of command. By embracing and internalizing the commander’s intent, military units can operate cohesively, with each individual understanding their role in achieving the larger mission’s success.

Amphibious Assault with Marine Corps

Main Effort: Focusing on Mission Critical

The concept of the main effort serves as a crucial tool for achieving unity in command. It involves designating one specific mission as the most critical to success at a given moment. This outlines a path to victory.

The unit responsible for the main effort receives priority support, while all other units provide assistance.

The main effort is a unifying force, harmonizing subordinate initiatives around a common objective. All decisions should support the main effort. Ensuring the success of the main effort becomes the linchpin for success. 

The main effort is directed at the enemy’s center of gravity and critical vulnerabilities. It requires a commitment of combat power and a willingness to accept risks. Commanders should establish a main effort for each operation. As the situation evolves, the main effort may shift to support the unit most critical to success.

When shifting the main effort, the aim is to exploit success rather than reinforce failure. This flexible approach ensures that resources and efforts are directed where they can have the greatest impact. By prioritizing and supporting the main effort, military units can enhance their effectiveness and increase the likelihood of achieving the desired outcomes in the face of dynamic and challenging situations.

maneuver warfare attacking a weak point

Surfaces and Gaps: Exploiting Weakness, Avoiding Strength

The concepts of surfaces and gaps are crucial for effective operations of maneuver warfare. Surfaces refer to the enemy’s strengths, while gaps represent their weaknesses. 

The focus is on targeting and exploiting enemy weaknesses while avoiding their strengths. By pitting strength against their weaknesses, you can reduce casualties and increase the chances of achieving decisive results.

Existing gaps should be exploited whenever possible. But if they’re not readily available, we must create them. 

Gaps can manifest as physical openings in the enemy’s defenses or vulnerabilities in time, space, or capability. Identifying surfaces and gaps requires sound judgment, as they can vary in each situation. It is important to note that the enemy may try to deceive by disguising surfaces as gaps.

Gaps are rarely permanent and demand flexibility and speed to exploit. Continuous and aggressive reconnaissance is essential for locating these gaps. Once identified, swiftly channel forces through these gaps, taking advantage of the opportunity. 

If the main effort encounters a surface, we designate another unit operating within a gap as the new main effort and redirect support to it.

Combat power is pulled through gaps from the front rather than pushed from the rear. 

Commanders rely on the initiative of subordinates to locate and exploit gaps, emphasizing the need for flexibility and quick response to opportunities. Blindly adhering to predetermined plans is discouraged, as adaptability and responsiveness are key to success in maneuver warfare.

firing artillery as combined arms

Max Power Through Combined Arms 

Combined arms is a fundamental principle of maneuver warfare that maximizes combat power by effectively utilizing all available resources. It involves integrating different types of units and weapons to achieve synergy on the battlefield. The enemy is confronted with a dilemma, as countering one arm leaves them vulnerable to another.

Achieving combined arms effectiveness requires appropriate tactics, techniques, and task organization. Each type of unit brings unique strengths that enhance mobility and firepower. 

Air-to-ground coordination is especially critical. Assault support aircraft concentrate ground forces, while artillery and close air support provide fire support to the infantry. Additionally, deep air support suppresses enemy reinforcements. 

By employing this approach, the enemy must make hard decisions. To defend against the infantry, they must expose themselves to supporting arms. Conversely, blocking the penetration necessitates quick reinforcement, but avoiding deep air support results in slower movement.

Maneuver warfare seeks to put the enemy in a dilemma, forcing difficult choices that leave them vulnerable. The combined arms concept plays a crucial role in leveraging strengths and exploiting the enemy’s weaknesses.

maneuver warfare and determination helped the Marine Corps win on Iwo Jima

Maneuver Warfare to Victory

As you now understand, maneuver warfare is not a set of specific methods but a mindset. It applies to all levels of command, regardless of the type of adversary or environment.

Maneuver warfare is a way of thinking that shapes every action on the battlefield. The ultimate objective is to morally and physically shatter the enemy, leaving them paralyzed and confounded.

The essence of maneuver warfare lies in avoiding the enemy’s strengths, aggressively exploiting their vulnerabilities, and striking them where it hurts the most. It’s a philosophy of “fighting smart” to achieve victory. It requires critical thinking, decisive action, and adaptability to changing circumstances. 

Embracing the US Marine Corps principles of maneuver warfare empowers you to become agile, terrifying, and effective warriors.

Boonie Hat History, Hacks, and Uses

The boonie hat is a practical and versatile cover specially crafted for hot tropical climates and summer sun. A long-time favorite of military forces, boonies are gaining popularity with a wider audience because of their versatility. 

This article covers all things boonie cover. Learn what makes this hat great, how it evolved, and its many uses and hacks. 

usmc vietnam EDRL Boonie Cover

Anatomy of a Boonie Cover

Boonie hats are wide-brim military hats specifically designed for hot climates, offering essential protection from the sun and rain. 

The crown of the boonie hat may feature vented eyelets or small mesh panels, promoting increased breathability during wear. These hats evolved as cool and functional headwear for troops navigating the hot jungles of Southeast Asia. Boonie covers provide an effective means to break up the wearer’s head shape in foliage—beneficial for snipers and recon missions. 

These hats have a fabric tape band called “branch loops” encircling the crown. They enable wearers to attach additional vegetation for camouflage, creating a “foliage ring” effect. 

A chin strap helps secure boonies in windy conditions. But it’s more comfortable for many to fasten it around the back of the head.  

The brim of the boonie cover has many advantages. It’s semi-stiff and effectively keeps most branches out of the wearer’s eyes. It’s also flexible enough to allow for rolling up the front or back, which ensures better sightlines and prevents interference when wearing packs.

The “Cowboy roll” is a popular modification, achieved by using the chin strap to roll up the sides of the hat, resulting in a stylish appearance. However, it’s worth noting that this method may diminish the sun protection and concealment factor of the hat. Additionally, many boonie hat users modify the brim to suit their preferences. More on that later.

One of the boonie hat’s primary features is its portability and lightweight nature, making it easy to pack and carry. Ripstop boonies are highly favored for their durability, as they last for extended periods, withstanding harsh conditions and providing reliable performance over time.

a black and white photo of a Marine (pre WWII) wearing a stiff campaign hat

Military Hats Before the Boonie

The roots of boonie covers run deep. In the late 1900s through WWII, stiff campaign hats with the Marine Corps EGA were widely used. It’s a design that’s still used today, especially among officers. The blue Daisy Mae hat from the 1937 blue denim fatigue uniform evolved from this design. It was soft but durable. 

In 1941 the Marine Corps and Army adopted the olive drab M1941 herringbone twill cloth uniforms. A few full-brim hats were around in WWII, but most were patrol caps, utility covers, and piss cutters. 

At the time, Johnny Jeep hats were trendy domestically. They were inspired by full-brim military caps and even appeared in a 1942 issue of LIFE magazine. However, these short-brimmed hats were primarily considered fashion accessories.

It wasn’t until the Vietnam War that the boonie cover emerged. 

a man wears a jungle hat in the streets of Hanoi in the 1970s

Vietnam and the Introduction of the Boonie

The earliest boonies were introduced to the Army in Vietnam around 1966. At that time, they were known as “Hat, Jungle, with Head Net” and crafted from cotton and wind-resistant poplin materials. They evolved from the trilby-style Special Forces Jungle Hat and Mosquito Net. 

These hats served a specific purpose, aiming to replace the patrol and baseball caps that had been in use since World War II. While the overall shape remained similar, the distinctive feature of the boonie hat was its full brim, encircling the entire hat. Baseball and patrol caps were deemed inadequate for hot climate conditions. 

Many early boonies were locally procured and made from salvaged camouflage cloth or repurposed uniform items, often displaying patterns like leopard spots and tigerstripe. Initially made of cotton with an insect net, some early versions faced durability challenges.

Their popularity and adoption began with the U.S. Army Green Berets of the 5th Special Forces Group, who started wearing them in the field. Australian and South Vietnamese units also embraced the boonie.

The term “boonie” originates from American military slang derived from “boondocks,” a term believed to have evolved during the Philippine–American War. “Boondocks” is an Anglicized version of the Tagalog word “bundok,” which translates to “mountain.” Over time boonie became synonymous with anything associated with the jungle or remote wilderness, eventually becoming the colloquial name for these wide-brimmed hats.

A US Marine and Army soldier wearing boonie hats in Afghanistan

US Military Adopts the Boonie Cover

Remarkably, the boonie cover design has remained relatively unchanged since the Vietnam War. It became a familiar sight in subsequent conflicts like the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan, often serving as a practical alternative to the patrol cap.

Having proven its usefulness, the boonie hat has seen extensive use in various U.S. military conflicts. Besides Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it served in engagements in Grenada, Panama, Africa, and beyond. 

a Marine camouflaged in the jungle

Boonie Hat Evolution

In 1968, the U.S. Army introduced the woodland ERDL pattern, crafted from durable cotton ripstop material. It was designated “Hat, Camouflage (Tropical Combat) Type II.” 

The woodland ERDL pattern boonie hats quickly found favor among both Army and Air Force personnel. Soon after, from 1969 to 1970, the US Marine Corps and Navy also embraced them.

As time passed, subsequent iterations of the boonie hat emerged, named “Hat, Sun” or “Hat, Sun, Hot Weather.” Many distinctive patterns emerged for different climates and camouflage requirements. From classic Woodland and three-color desert to modern iterations like UCP, MultiCam, desert and woodland MARPAT, as well as the Air Force ABU pattern, the boonie hat has continuously adapted to suit the changing needs of military operations.

Despite the many apparent variations of boonie covers, the core features remain relatively unchanged. 

a sniper wearing a jungle hat looks through a rifle scope

Practicality and Style of the Boonie

Individual creativity led to the further evolution of the boonie hat. 

A common practice among soldiers was to roll up the front and back of their boonies. This adjustment offered better vision while maintaining comfort during prolonged wear. Interestingly, some individuals began cutting their boonies short, leading to the evolution of the short-brim shooter’s cap.

The boonie hat is frequently issued as part of deployment gear. And these hats often hold sentimental value to personnel, who often keep them as memorabilia. Notably, the boonie hat has become a favorite canvas for customization and personalization, prompting many soldiers to modify their boonie covers to suit their preferences and unique style.

Non-Military Uses of the Boonie Cover

The boonie cover isn’t just popular with military personnel and veterans. Its protection against the elements and versatility have made it a staple among outdoor enthusiasts.

Boonie hats offer excellent camouflage in outdoor environments, making them ideal for hunters trying to blend into their surroundings and avoid detection by game animals. Shorter or modified brims are preferred for archery and shooting. 

In safari and wildlife photography, a boonie hat with a camouflage pattern helps blend into natural surroundings for better observation of animals. Local foliage in the branch loops adds another layer of concealment from wild animals. The boonie’s versatility extends to being strapped onto a camera, serving as a rain canopy or lens hood.  

Boonie covers are popular with anglers. They provide protection from the sun and reduce glare on the water for better visibility. Additionally, boonies are excellent at holding lightweight items like flies, lures, leaders, and accessories, such as fingernail clippers and hook sharpeners. 

Rafters, kayakers, hikers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts also benefit from the sun protection and comfort boonies provide. These lightweight hats roll up tight and pack easily when not in use. 

Workers in outdoor industries, such as construction, landscaping, and agriculture, as well as gardeners, have adopted the boonie cover for obvious reasons. 

Boonie hats are also practical for travelers visiting sunny and warm destinations. They’re great for the beach and watersports, offering protection from the sun during sightseeing and outdoor activities.

a man's face is shaded under his boonie hat

The Ultimate Survival Hat

Few hats qualify as survival tools, but the boonie hat is an exception. It can help you find food, drink water, and reduce exposure to the elements. Boonies excel in hot conditions, making it great for everyday carry in warmer climates. And because of its lightweight and compact design, it’s a must-have in bug-out and get-home bags. 

Concealment is a key feature of boonies. In a survival situation, a successful hunt can be a difference maker. A boonie cover matched with the terrain or local foliage in the branch loops can increase your odds of success. 

Boonie cover branch loops have many applications besides camouflage. They can hold shotgun shells, flies, and fishing lures. Paracord can also be woven through the loops to create additional functionality and an emergency supply. Film canisters attached to the loops are perfect for holding survival matches, petroleum cotton balls, and other lightweight survival supplies. However, overloading the boonie with too much stuff will impact its functionality. 

Filter water by placing the hat over a receptacle, like a canteen cup, if it isn’t waterproof style. The boonie’s grommets will drain water, so to hold more water for longer, add plastic, green leaves, or other materials inside. 

A boonie cover functions as a basket with the chin strap as a handle – useful while foraging wild edibles. But it’s also helpful for other things, like picking up shells when shooting.

The hat can also hold mosquito netting, protecting the ears and the back of the neck.

Overall, adaptability and utility make the boonie cover an essential tool for survival scenarios.

Boonie Cover Customization

Boonies are easy to modify to suit your needs. The most popular hack is to stiffen the brim. To stabilize and mold the boonie hat’s brim, one can run a wire, a coat hanger, or a paper clip along the brim inside the fabric. Using coated metal will prevent rust stains. Metal can also throw off compass readings, so nylon lawn trimmer cord can be used instead to avoid this. A lighter or match can burn the hole closed. 

Another popular modification is sewing pockets inside the hat. This allows for holding items like documents, cash, or even condoms.

Adding a morale patch is also common for boonie covers. Including one with your blood type is practical in case of injury in the field. These hacks enhance the boonie hat’s functionality and adaptability in survival situations. 

woodland jungle boonie cover

The End of the Boonie Hat

For over a half-century, the boonie cover has been a staple of the Marine Corps and the rest of the US armed forces. Because of its effectiveness in hot climates and versatility, its earned acceptance among hunters, fishermen, hikers, and survivalists. It seems the boonie cover is here to stay. 

Check out our large collection of military-issue boonie covers. These hats will keep you cool, last a lifetime, yet won’t break the bank. 

What is Rucking? Military Physical Fitness

If you’re wondering what is rucking, and why it has become popular among fitness pros, you’re in the right place.

What is Rucking?

Rucking is an exercise involving walking or hiking with a weighted backpack, also known as a rucksack. The extra weight takes your normal walk and turns up the intensity. Rucking is common in the Marine Corps and other branches of the US military. But it has been utilized for centuries to build the endurance and strength of soldiers.

When rucking, you’ll experience less pounding on the knees than when running, making rucking a good choice for low-impact exercise. It has numerous benefits such as building muscle strength, improving your cardio, and more.

Other terms for rucking used in the Marines includes stomping, hump, and loaded march.

Military Roots of Rucking

Rucking evolved out of military training and dates back to the first iron-clad army, in the seventh century B.C. The ability to march a certain distance carrying a load of equipment is central to almost all military units and is still a part of military training today. It’s common for soldiers to carry heavy loads on their backs as a way to build strength and endurance.

Rucking has also been used as a way to test the physical fitness of Marines, with long-distance marches with heavy loads serving as a key component of military fitness tests. 

Besides the USMC, rucking is a key element of military training for many other branches of the US military, including the Army, Rangers, special forces, and SEALs.

Rucking for Fitness

Rucking offers a multitude of fitness benefits. By simply adding weight to your backpack and hitting the road, you can improve cardiovascular endurance, increase strength and muscular endurance, enhance functional fitness, burn calories, and aid in weight loss.

Rucking provides a low-impact exercise suitable for various fitness levels, allowing individuals to customize the intensity and distance according to their capabilities. It can be incorporated into a fitness routine by selecting the right backpack, choosing the appropriate weight, ensuring proper fit and weight distribution, and gradually increasing intensity and distance.

With its versatility and accessibility, rucking proves to be an effective and enjoyable fitness activity for all– not just boots in the Marine Corps. 

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete, rucking allows you to tailor the workout to your needs and goals. To learn how to ruck like a Marine, check out this guide. Follow the advice and you’ll get the health benefits without the risk of injury.

Rucking: How to Do Weighted Backpack Training Like a Marine

You don’t have to be a US Marine to train like one. Rucking is gaining popularity as a low-impact, high-intensity workout. The added weight improves cardiovascular endurance, builds strength and muscular endurance, and enhances functional fitness. 

This article will get you started with Marine Corps-style weighted backpack training. Learn about the benefits, essential gear, and techniques for safe and effective rucking

Benefits of Weighted Backpack Training

There are reasons why Marines train for loaded marches. Gains in functional stength and cardiovascular endurance are at the top of the list.

Rucking with a weighted backpack is an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve their heart health and stamina. It can also increase muscular strength by engaging numerous muscle groups throughout the body. Additionally, rucking helps enhance functional fitness and carrying capacity, as it simulates real-life situations that require lifting and carrying objects.

Another advantage of weighted backpack training is weight loss. The added resistance intensifies the workout, leading to a higher calorie expenditure. Furthermore, rucking is a low-impact exercise suitable for individuals of various fitness levels. Unlike high-impact exercises like running or jumping, rucking minimizes joint stress. So it’s accessible to people with joint issues or those who prefer low-impact workouts. 

Overall, incorporating weighted backpack training into a fitness routine can lead to significant improvements in cardiovascular and muscular endurance, functional fitness, and weight management.

US Marines filling water canteens for pt

Getting Started With Rucking

Rucking might seem daunting, but a simple approach is all that’s needed to win. 

Start by selecting the appropriate backpack or rucksack that suits your needs. Comfort and durability are the top two characteristics of a good sack. It should support the desired weights without causing discomfort or injury. Rucksacks come in different sizes depending on your needs. USMC bags are the best, but most backpacks will due in a pinch. 

Make your march comfortable by selecting flat ruckweights or weightplates. Avoid objects with edges that might cause discomfort. Take the time to ensure a proper fit and weight distribution too. Padding is also recommended. Finally, adjust your rucksack straps to fit your body securely. Use compression straps to secure the weight and avoid shifting.

Hydration is crucial too. Choose a system that is compatible with your backpack and easy to access while rucking. If that’s not possible, flasks and canteens work too. It also pays to prepare for rain, sun, or cold temperatures by including appropriate clothing, sunscreen, or extra layers in your pack. And if you’re putting in high mileage or are in wilderness, consider packing first aid. 

Gear in hand, you’re ready to yomp. Start light and gradually increase the intensity over time. This approach helps build endurance and strength while minimizing injury risk. It’s not always easy, but avoid pushing too hard, too quickly. Gradually add weight and increase the distance of your marches. 

Proper Rucking Technique and Form

There is some technique involved to get the most gains without injury. 

First, maintain an upright posture and engage your core muscles. This helps distribute the weight evenly and reduces strain on your back.

Next, walk with a natural stride and maintain a consistent pace. Avoid overstriding or taking excessively long steps, as this can lead to discomfort or imbalance. Find a pace that feels comfortable and allows you to maintain good form.

It’s important to avoid excessive swinging of the backpack. Keep it close to your body and minimize unnecessary movements that can throw off your balance. Compression straps helps with this. 

When walking on rough terrain, pay attention to your foot strike. Take shorter steps to maintain stability and prevent tripping or stumbling. Adjust your stride and foot placement to accommodate the uneven surface.

Marines rucking (weighted backpack training) at bootcamp

Incorporating Weighted Backpack Training into a Fitness Routine

Incorporating rucksack training into your fitness routine can bring significant benefits. Here’s how to do it effectively.

Begin by determining the frequency and duration of your ruck workouts. Start with one to three sessions per week and gradually increase as you build endurance. And aim for 30 to 60 minutes per session, depending on your fitness level and goals.

Design a progressive training plan that gradually increases the weight and distance of your rucking. 

To enhance your overall fitness, combine rucking with other forms of exercise, such as strength training or cardio. For an added challenge, incorporate interval training or inclines during your rucking sessions. This can be periods of faster-paced walking or jogging and slower recovery periods. Additionally, find hilly terrains or inclines to increase the intensity and engage more muscle groups.

Lastly, track your progress and set specific goals. Monitor your distances, weights, and times to see improvements over time. Set realistic and achievable goals to keep yourself motivated and continue progressing in your rucking journey.

Safety Considerations and Injury Prevention

Safety is of utmost importance when engaging in weighted backpack training. 

First and foremost, listen attentively to your body, be mindful of any signs of injury and adjust your workout accordingly. Prioritize a thorough warm-up routine, including dynamic stretching exercises, to adequately prepare your muscles for the demands of rucking.

Equally essential is selecting appropriate footwear. You want comfort and support to minimize the risk of foot and ankle injuries. Moreover, pay close attention to your body mechanics and form. Maintain a straight back, engage your core, and avoiding excessive leaning or twisting. 

Again, ensure a gradual progression in the amount of weight you carry, avoiding sudden increases that could overwhelm your body. By adhering to these safety considerations, you can confidently partake in rucking while mitigating the risks associated with this rigorous military exercise.

Marine Corps boots yomping in the cold rain

Tips for Rucking in Various Environments

When it comes to rucking, adapting to different environments is key. Here are some tips for rucking in various settings to enhance your experience.

When rucking on pavement and in urban settings, be mindful of the impact on your joints. Consider using shock-absorbing insoles or choosing routes with softer surfaces like grass or dirt paths. Additionally, stay alert and aware of traffic and pedestrians for your safety.

Rucking on trails and uneven terrain requires extra attention to your footing. Take shorter steps and maintain a slower pace to navigate obstacles effectively. Use trekking poles for added stability and to distribute the weight more evenly.

Weather conditions can significantly impact your rucking experience. When rucking in hot weather, hydrate adequately and wear breathable clothing. In cold weather, layer appropriately to stay warm and protect yourself from frostbite. Don’t forget sunscreen in sunny conditions and be prepared for rain by using waterproof gear.

Lastly, consider the time of day when rucking. Early mornings and late afternoons are generally cooler and less crowded. However, ensure you have proper visibility if rucking during low light conditions, such as dawn or dusk. Use reflective gear or carry a flashlight to make yourself visible to others.

By following these tips, you can adapt to different environments and make the most of your rucking experience, regardless of the setting, weather, or time of day.

USMC grunts stretching after workout

Recovery and Injury Management

Proper recovery will keep you on the battlefield. Follow these general guidelines to optimize your recovery and effectively manage any potential injuries.

After rucking, dedicate time to cool down and stretch your muscles. This reduces soreness and promotes flexibility. Focus on stretching your calves, hamstrings, and hips.

A foam rolling or self-massage techniques also aid in recovery, alleviating muscle tension, improving blood flow, and aiding muscle recovery. Target areas of tightness or discomfort with the roller or use a lacrosse ball for more targeted pressure points.

Take preventitive measures to manage blisters or chafing. Wear moisture-wicking socks and well-fitted footwear to minimize friction. Apply lubricants or bandages to areas prone to blisters or chafing. If blisters do occur, keep them clean and protected to prevent infection.

If you experience persistent pain or have concerns about an injury, seek professional help. Consult a healthcare professional, such as a sports medicine specialist or physical therapist, who can provide a proper diagnosis and guide you through appropriate treatment and rehabilitation.

Rucking Like a Marine

Armed with knowledge of how to ruck like a Marine, it’s time to take action. Strap on your weighted pack, hit the road, and experience the transformative effects of this versatile exercise. 

If you’re in need of gear, don’t forget to check out our selection of top-quality ruck bags, PT gear, and other useful rucking supplies to enhance your experience. 

We encourage you to share your rucking stories in the comments below, as your experiences can serve as motivation and inspiration for fellow ruckers. Together, let’s forge ahead on our fitness journeys and unlock our full potential through the power of rucking.

USMC Slang: 164 Marine Corps Terms

After nearly 250 years of history, the US Marine Corps has developed a language of its own. This article covers the top Marine slang, terms, and acronyms. If we’re missing something, please let us know in the comments.

The Big Four

If you’re going to know any US Marine Corps terms, this group of four is the place to start. 

Devil Dog

Devil Dog is a classic nickname for U.S. Marines. The term originated during World War I at the Battle of Belleau Wood, where German soldiers referred to Marines as “Teufel Hunden” (Devil Dogs) due to their fierce fighting spirit. 

The U.S. Marine Corps has since embraced the nickname as a symbol of tenacity, courage, and relentless determination in battle.

Semper Fi

The motto of the United States Marine Corps is “Semper Fidelis,” often shortened to “Semper Fi.” This Latin phrase, meaning “always faithful” or “always loyal,” has been in use since Roman times.

In 1883, Colonel Charles Grymes McCawley selected “Semper Fidelis” as the official Marine Corps motto.

Semper Fidelis represents the allegiance Marines have for ‘Corps and Country’ even after service.

Leatherneck 

Leatherneck is a slang term used to refer to a U.S. Marine, and it carries a significant historical background.

The initial official order for the United States Marine Corps uniform was issued in March 1804. As part of the uniform, Marine officers were instructed to wear black leather collars while on duty. Since 1775, Marines had been wearing leather stocks around their necks to protect against blade slashes, and they continued to do so until 1881.

The term Leatherneck became ingrained in the Marine Corps’ history and remains a lasting symbol associated with U.S. Marines.

Oorah

“Oorah” is a motivational battle cry and expression of enthusiasm frequently used by Marines. It is commonly shouted, chanted, or exchanged as a greeting to demonstrate solidarity.

This renowned term within the Marine Corps was first introduced by the 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Company in 1953. It originated from the sound of a diving horn, “Ahuga,” and eventually transformed into “oorah.” The versatile slang gained popularity among Marine drill sergeants and quickly spread throughout the Marine Corps.

Terms for the Marine Corps

Green Machine

The US Marine Corps is occasionally referred to as the “Green Machine.”

Terms for Marines

From “Jarhead” to “Brown Bagger,” the Marine Corps has a rich collection of terms that define and characterize its members in various ways.

Jarhead 

“Jarhead” is a colloquial term used to refer to a U.S. Marine, sometimes employed in a lighthearted or self-deprecating manner.

Boot 

A “boot” is a term used in the Marine Corps to describe a newly enlisted Marine or someone who is inexperienced or naive.

Grunt 

“Grunt” is a term employed in the Marine Corps to specifically designate infantry Marines, who typically serve on the front lines and engage in direct combat. While “grunt” was once considered derogatory, it is now regarded as a neutral term within the Marine Corps.

Ground pounder 

“Ground pounder” is an alternate term for “grunt,” used to describe an infantryman or an individual serving in a combat arms role, emphasizing their ground-based responsibilities.

Cannon Cocker

“Cannon Cocker” is a U.S. Marine Corps term specifically referring to artillerymen, highlighting their role in operating cannons and artillery.

Brass 

“Brass” is slang used to denote officers within the Marine Corps. The term derives from the fact that officers’ rank insignia and buttons are typically made of brass.

Hollywood Marine

“Hollywood Marine” is a derogatory term used by fellow Marines to refer to graduates of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, implying that they prioritize appearance and superficiality.

CG

“CG” is an acronym used in the Marine Corps to represent “Commanding General,” referring to the senior officer in command of a specific unit or command.

POG 

“POG” is an acronym standing for “Personnel Other than Grunts,” used to categorize Marines in non-combat roles, distinguishing them from infantry personnel.

Gunny 

“Gunny” is a shortened form of “Gunnery Sergeant,” a rank within the Marine Corps. It is often used to refer to a senior enlisted Marine.

Butter Bar 

“Butter Bar” is derogatory Marine Corps slang targeting a second lieutenant, referencing the gold-colored rank insignia worn on their collar, which resembles a stick of butter.

Blue Falcon 

“Blue Falcon” is slang used to describe someone within the Marine Corps who betrays or undermines their fellow Marines. The term is derived from the initials “BF,” representing “Buddy F***er.”

FNG 

“FNG” is a codeword that stands for “F***ing New Guy.” It is used to describe a newly arrived Marine.

Silently judging 

“Silently judging” refers to the discreet act of assessing and evaluating someone’s actions or performance, often carried out by more experienced Marines towards their less experienced counterparts.

Poolee 

“Poolee” is a term used to refer to an individual who has enlisted in the Marine Corps but has not yet departed for boot camp.

Gung ho 

“Gung ho” is a term originating from a Chinese phrase meaning “to work in harmony.” It was popularized by U.S. Marine Corps Major Evans Carlson, who commanded the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion during World War II. The phrase subsequently spread throughout the Marine Corps and the general public.

Hard Charger, Hard

“Hard charger” is a term used to describe a Marine who excels in completing difficult tasks or demonstrates exceptional toughness.

Moto 

“Moto” is a shortened form of “motivated” or “motivation.” It is used to describe Marines who exhibit high levels of enthusiasm and motivation toward their service.

Short-timer 

“Short-timer” refers to a Marine who is approaching the end of their active duty service or deployment.

House Mouse

A “house mouse” is a term used to describe a Marine recruit assigned the responsibility of cleaning drill instructor-only areas, such as DI huts.

Green side 

“Green side” refers to Marine Corps personnel who are assigned to the United States Navy or Navy medical units, distinguished by their green uniforms instead of the traditional Marine Corps camouflage (cammies).

Geardo 

“Geardo” is slang used to describe a Marine who excessively seeks or collects military gear and equipment, often with little practical use.

Devil Pups 

“Devil Pups” refers to young boys and girls who participate in the Devil Pups Youth Program, which introduces them to Marine Corps values and discipline.

Brain housing group 

“Brain housing group” is a lighthearted term used to refer to a Marine’s head or mind.

NOF

“NOF” is a Marine codeword for “Non-Operating Fuck,” used to describe someone who is ineffective or incompetent at operating equipment or vehicles.

Combat, Action

The USMC has a diverse vocabulary that captures the intensity, challenges, and unique experiences of combat operations. 

Deployment 

“Deployment” is a military term used to describe the process of moving personnel from a permanent station to a ship or an overseas location.

Float Phase

“Float Phase” is a Marine Corps expression that pertains to the ocean deployment of Marines.

Fleet, FMF

“FMF” is an acronym that stands for “Fleet Marine Force,” representing the operational force of the U.S. Marine Corps, as distinguished from support or reserve units.

AO

“AO” is a USMC acronym that stands for “Area of Operations,” referring to a specific designated area where military operations are conducted.

CP

“CP” is a military acronym for “command post,” which serves as a central location for command and control operations.

Advance Party

“Advance Party” is a term used to describe a small unit of US Marines deployed in advance of a larger majority of the battalion or unit.

Soup sandwich 

“Soup sandwich” is a phrase used to describe something or someone that is in disarray or a complete mess.

In the shit 

“In the shit” is an expression that refers to being in a dangerous or intense combat situation.

Fire in the Hole

“Fire in the Hole” is an old-school phrase used as a warning before the detonation of explosives.

Incoming!

“Incoming!” is a phrase used as a warning of hostile fire.

Pop smoke 

“Pop smoke” refers to the act of throwing a smoke grenade to mark a location, often used for signaling or to request extraction.

KIA

“KIA” is a military acronym standing for “killed in action.”

SITREP 

“SITREP” is Marine Corps jargon for “Situation Report,” which provides a concise update on the current situation or status of operations.

By-the-Numbers

“By-the-Numbers” is a Marine Corps phrase indicating the action of doing things in sequence or following a specific order.

Bivouac

“Bivouac” is a term describing a temporary outdoor camp or shelter, sometimes referred to as a “bivvy.”

Hooch

“Hooch” is a term used to denote any type of shelter or residence.

FAC

“FAC” is an acronym for “Forward Air Controller,” typically a pilot who assists in coordinating ground and aviation units.

Fast movers 

“Fast movers” refers to aircraft, particularly fast jets that provide close air support or conduct airstrikes.

Bird

“Bird” is a term used to refer to an aircraft.

LZ

“LZ” is an abbreviation for “Landing Zone,” which designates a clearing used for helicopter landings.

BDA

“BDA” is an acronym for “Bomb Damage Assessment,” which is conducted by pilots after ground support missions.

BLT

“BLT” stands for “Battalion Landing Team,” an infantry battalion that conducts amphibious or helicopter landings from a ship.

Bow

“Bow” refers to the front of a ship.

Head

“Head” is a term used for a bathroom, derived from maritime terminology when bathrooms were located at the head or bow of sailing ships.

Deck

“Deck” is a Marine Corps term used to denote a floor.

Hatch

“Hatch” is a maritime term meaning a door and is commonly used in the Marine Corps.

AMTRACK

“AMTRACK” is a Marine Corps acronym for “amphibious tractor,” also known as a landing craft.

Bulkhead

“Bulkhead” is a term for a wall derived from US Marine Corps operations on naval vessels, referring to walls on amphibious assault ships, aircraft carriers, and other naval vessels.

Blue-on-blue 

“Blue-on-blue” refers to friendly fire incidents when Marines accidentally engage or fire upon their own forces.

Blue on green 

“Blue on green” refers to insider attacks, incidents where an Afghan or foreign military member turns their weapon against coalition forces.

Nut to butt 

“Nut to butt” refers to a formation in which Marines stand closely together in a tight line or formation, leaving no space between individuals.

Belay

To “belay” means to secure a line.

Bravo Zulu 

“Bravo Zulu” is a phonetic alphabet abbreviation used to commend someone for a job well done.

Broke Dick

“Broke Dick” is a term used to describe a low-performing Marine or an underwhelming or faulty piece of equipment.

Hooah 

“Hooah” is a Marine Corps expression borrowed from the Army, sometimes used by Marines as a general expression of agreement or understanding.

Actual

“Actual” is radio lingo used to refer to the unit commander.

Jibs

“Jibs” is a term for front teeth.

Camel spider 

“Camel spider” is a nickname for solifugae, a large arachnid species found in arid regions. It is often used to tease Marines about encountering scary creatures during deployments.

Commands

Below are some of the most widely used commands encountered in the Marine Corps. 

Lock and Load

“Lock and load” means to arm weapons and prepare to engage, typically used as a command.

As You Were, Carry On

“As you were” and “carry on” are phrases that mean to resume former activities, often used to cancel or disregard a previous order or command.

Aye-Aye

“Aye-aye” is a phrase used by Marines to acknowledge and agree to orders.

Stand by

“Stand by” is a command to be prepared but wait. 

Gang Way, Gangway

“Gang way” is a command used to instruct individuals to move aside, particularly issued by seniors to juniors in passageways or on ladders. It is also a maritime term used by Marines to refer to a ship’s passageway or access point.

Make a Hole

“Make a hole” is a command to stand back, similar to “gang way.”

Belay That

“Belay that” means to disregard a previous order or command.

Time / Distance

The US Marine Corps employs distinct military expressions for time and distance. Check out a few of the most widely used below. 

O-dark thirty, Zero dark thirty, Zero dark thirty 

“O-dark thirty,” “Zero dark thirty,” and “Zero dark thirty” are terms used to refer to the early morning hours before dawn, often indicating an early start time for a mission or training.

Balls

In military time, midnight is referred to as “zero hundred” or “2400 hours.” The term “Balls” is sometimes colloquially used to describe this time, stemming from the visual resemblance of four zeroes to two pairs of testicles.

Hurry Up and Wait

“Hurry up and wait” characterizes the military’s paradoxical cycle of rushing units into action prematurely, only to leave them idle and waiting for further instructions, exemplifying inefficient time management and planning.

Klick

“Klick” is military slang for a kilometer.

US Marines carrying heavy equipment

Gear, Equipment

The Marine Corps has its own terminology for the equipment it uses. 

Gizmo

“Gizmo” is a term used to describe a gadget or piece of equipment whose specific name or designation may not be known or important.

Gear

“Gear” is a common Marine slang term for an individual’s equipment or property, especially combat gear.

Gear Adrift 

“Gear adrift” is a military phrase used to describe gear that has been left unguarded. The saying “gear adrift, must be a gift!” suggests that if someone fails to properly secure or take care of their personal items, they may unintentionally give up ownership, allowing others to claim the item.

High Speed, Low Drag

“High speed, low drag,” or simply “high speed,” is a sarcastic phrase used to describe something new, cool, and sleek, but with dubious performance.

Ka-Bar

“Ka-Bar” is the contemporary popular name for the combat knife first adopted by the United States Marine Corps in November 1942.

Field Strip

“Field strip” is a military term used to describe the process of disassembling or taking apart a firearm, often for maintenance or cleaning purposes.

Diddy Bag

“Diddy bag” is a naval term for a bag with a drawstring used to hold personal or small items. The term has also been adopted by Marines.

Combat Training

The Marine Corps uses a number of terms for military training. Below are a few of the most commonly used. 

Boot Camp

“Boot camp” is the training hub for new Marines. There are two locations: Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California.  

Dry Fire

In combat training, “dry fire” refers to the practice of simulating the firing of a weapon without live ammunition.

Dry Run

“Dry run” refers to a practice run or rehearsal, often used to prepare for an operation or event.

MCT

“MCT” stands for Marine Combat Training, where infantry skills are taught to non-infantry Marines. 

Physical Training

The Marine Corps is rich in terminology regarding physical training. Below are some of the most common terms. 

PT 

“PT” is an acronym for physical training, referring to exercise and fitness activities conducted by Marines.

Smoke session 

“Smoke session” refers to an intense physical training session or disciplinary action that involves challenging exercises or tasks.

Front Leaning Rest Position

“Front Leaning Rest Position,” also known as “the position,” is a tongue-in-cheek phrase used to refer to the pushup position.

Hydrate or die 

“Hydrate or die” is a reminder to Marines to drink enough water and stay properly hydrated, especially in hot and demanding environments.

Moto run 

“Moto run” is a term for a motivational run or physical training session that emphasizes teamwork and esprit de corps.

Go Fasters

In the USMC, “go fasters” is slang for running shoes or sneakers, which help you run faster than boots.

Double Time 

“Double Time” is a command to move quickly, often used during marches or runs.

Hump

“Hump” is Marine Corps lingo for carrying a load of equipment or participating in a fully-loaded forced march.

On Base

Here’s a list of terms a Marine might use while not on deployment or on-base. 

Eighth & I

“Eighth & I” refers to the location of the historic Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., located at the intersection of 8th Street and I Street SE in Washington, D.C.

Marine Barracks Washington, often referred to as “Eighth & I,” is the oldest active post in the Marine Corps and serves as the ceremonial and administrative headquarters. It’s home to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and hosts the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, the Marine Band (“The President’s Own”), and the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.

All Hands

“All Hands” refers to all Marines of a command or everyone in a group.

Aboard

“Aboard” is a term used to indicate being on base or when all personnel are accounted for in a room, building, classroom, etc.

Ashore

“Ashore” means being away from a Marine Corps installation or naval base.

CONUS

“CONUS” is a military term that stands for the Continental United States, in contrast to OCONUS (Outside the Continental United States).

Billet

A “billet” refers to a military job, assignment, or place of residence.

Rack 

“Rack” is a term used to refer to a Marine’s bed or sleeping area, typically a bunk or cot.

Fart sack 

“Fart sack” is slang for a sleeping bag or the act of sleeping.

Squared away 

“Squared away” refers to being well-organized, disciplined, and in proper order.

Irish Pennant

An “Irish pennant” is string dangling from clothing, ie: a sloppy appearance. 

Field day 

“Field day” refers to a thorough cleaning and inspection of living and working areas, typically done in garrison or during training exercises.

Junk on the Bunk, Things on the Springs

“Junk on the Bunk” and “Things on the Springs” are phrases that refer to equipment and clothing inspections on a Marine’s rack.

Bag drag 

“Bag drag” refers to the process of packing and preparing personal gear and equipment for deployment or movement.

High and tight 

“High and tight” refers to a military-style haircut that is very short on the sides and back of the head, with a clean-cut appearance on top.

Breakout

“To breakout” means to prepare something for use.

Jing

“Jing” is a term used to refer to money or change.

ComRats

“ComRats” is an acronym for commuted rations, also known as BAS (basic allowance for subsistence). It refers to the amount of money paid to Marines for food while they are not on base.

Liberty

“Liberty” is an authorized absence for less than 24 hours.

Leave

“Leave” is an authorized absence for a period greater than 24 hours.

Chit

A “chit” is a receipt of authorization, voucher, or note. Chits can grant Marines special treatment, such as exemptions from shaving or medical restrictions from duty.

Scuttlebutt 

“Scuttlebutt” refers to rumors or gossip circulating among Marines, often exchanged during informal gatherings near a water cooler (historically, a butt or barrel of water).

Ghosting 

“Ghosting” refers to the act of disappearing or going silent without notice or communication, often used humorously or to describe evasive tactics during training.

Bad Behavior

Sometimes even good Marines make mistakes. Here are some of the most common terms for bad behavior used in the Marine Corps. 

Acquired, Tactically Acquired

“Acquired” and “tactically acquired” are euphemisms for stolen or creatively obtained goods.

BCD

“BCD” is an acronym for Bad Conduct Discharge, a form of punitive discharge from the military.

Brig

A “brig” is a military prison or jail.

CC

“CC” is a Marine Corps acronym for corrective custody, which refers to the brig.

Brig Chaser

A “brig chaser” is a Marine assigned to escort prisoners.

Brig Rat

“Brig Rat” is a term used to describe a Marine who has spent a significant amount of time in the brig, or it can refer to correction specialist 5831 Marines.

Marines prepare chow

Fuel

The US Marine Corps has a variety of slang for mealtime. Below are some of the most common. 

Chow

“Chow” is another term for food.

Field chow 

“Field chow” refers to meals or rations consumed while in the field during training exercises or deployments.

Chowhall

A “chowhall” is a military term for a mess hall or dining facility.

Galley

A “galley” is a naval term for a kitchen, often used by the Marine Corps.

Geedunk 

“Geedunk” is slang for a snack bar or canteen where Marines can purchase food, drinks, and other items.

Bulk fuel 

“Bulk fuel” is slang for Marine Corps food, often used humorously or disparagingly.

a US Marine orders a medivac

Medical

Here are some of the most important medical terms and slang related to the USMC.

Medevac 

“Medevac” combines the words “medical” and “evacuation” and is a term used for missions where helicopters rescue wounded Marines.

Devil Doc, Corpsman

“Devil Doc” and “Corpsman” are Marine Corps terms that refer to Navy medics who provide medical support to Marines in combat.

Motrin Battalion 

“Motrin Battalion” is a sarcastic term used to refer to a unit or group that relies heavily on medical attention or takes frequent sick call visits.

Crotch rot 

“Crotch rot” is slang for a fungal or bacterial infection that occurs in warm, humid environments, often affecting the groin area.

Sick Bay

A “sick bay” is a maritime term for a hospital or clinic.

USMC graduation ceremony march

Ceremony

Explore the significance and terminology behind USMC ceremonies, flags, parades, and more.

Colors

“Colors” is military jargon for the US flag. In the Marine Corps, “colors” can also refer to the Marine Corps’ flag. The USMC observes various ceremonies, such as morning and evening colors, where the Marine Corps Colors are raised and lowered to mark the beginning and end of the day.

Guidon

A “guidon” is a pennant or flag for Marine Corps units. It holds significant ceremonial importance and represents the spirit and history of the unit it belongs to.

Dog and Pony Show

A “dog and pony show” can describe ceremonial or public relations activities in the military, including the Marine Corps, that may be perceived as superficial or primarily focused on public image rather than operational readiness or effectiveness.

Grinder

A “grinder” is a parade ground or ship deck primarily used for formations or drills.

Marine Dress

The US Marine Corps is ripe with slang relating to their uniforms. Check out some of the most important below. 

Battle rattle 

“Battle rattle” refers to the full combat gear worn by Marines, including a helmet, body armor, and weapons.

Alphas 

“Alphas” refers to the Marine Corps dress blue uniform worn by enlisted Marines.

Pickle suit

A “pickle suit” is slang for the Marine Corps dress blue uniform, named for its dark blue color.

Chest Candy 

“Chest Candy” refers to the ribbons and medals worn on a Marine’s dress uniform.

Dress Blues, Blue Dress

“The Dress Blues” or “Blue Dress” is the formal uniform for the USMC, often referred to as Dress Blues.

Blood stripes 

“Blood stripes” refer to the red stripe worn on the dress blue trousers of non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and officers, symbolizing the blood shed by Marines in the Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War.

Blood wings 

“Blood wings” refer to the wings pin awarded to Marines after completing jump school or earning their designation as a paratrooper.

Cammies 

“Cammies” is a shortened term for the camouflage utility uniform worn by Marines during field exercises or combat operations.

War paint 

“War paint” refers to camouflage face paint applied by Marines for concealment during combat or training exercises.

Brown Side-Out

Wearing the “brown side-out” describes wearing a desert camouflage pattern or wearing the brown side of the fabric on the outside.

Green Side-Out

Wearing the “green side-out” refers to woodland pattern camouflage.

Cover

A “cover” is a Marine term for a hat.

Barracks Cover

A “barracks cover” is a garrison cap.

Boot Bands

“Boot bands” are made of elastic and secure the cuffs of combat pants.

Field Scarf

A “field scarf” is a type of scarf or neck gaiter commonly worn by military personnel during field operations or in cold weather conditions.

Marines dancing at the Hotel Continental

Relationships

Below are some of the more common Marine Corps terms about relationships. 

Brown Bagger

A married Marine may sometimes be referred to as a “Brown Bagger.”

Snag 

A “snag” is slang for a civilian spouse or partner of a Marine, derived from the acronym “Slightly Non-Army Girl.”

Depend-a-potamus

“Depend-a-potamus” refers to a Marine’s overweight dependent.

Jody

A “jody” is a military term for the affair partner of a service member’s significant other.

10 US Marine Corps Battles That Shaped History

It’s fair to say that the United States wouldn’t be as great without the heroism and sacrifice of the US Marine Corps. Since 1775, the Marines’ “ready to fight, ready to win” determination helped forge this country into excellence. 

During its nearly 250-year history, the USMC has been at the forefront of some iconic battles. This article explores ten of the most famous.

a painting of the Battle of Belleau Wood

Battle of Belleau Wood – World War I

The Battle of Belleau Wood, fought from June 1 to June 26, 1918, holds a hallowed place in the annals of Marine Corps lore. As the flames of World War I engulfed Europe, Marines found themselves embroiled in a fierce struggle in the woodlands of Belleau in France. 

While French and British forces had supporting roles, it was the Marines that bore the brunt of the fighting. Belleau Wood’s dense vegetation created a treacherous battleground, forcing both sides into brutal close-range combat. The Marines faced routine German assaults but held their ground. 

The Germans were impressed and coined the enduring USMC moniker “Teufel Hunden” – Devil Dogs. 

“Come on, you sons of bitches-do you want to live forever?”

Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Daly, USMC

After the battle, the French renamed Belleau Wood “Bois de la Brigade de Marine” (Wood of the Marine Brigade) in their honor.

This battle marked a turning point in the war, halting the German advance toward Paris and shifting the momentum in favor of the Allies. The Marines’ bravery and resilience at Belleau Wood helped establish their reputation as fierce fighters. 

Marines patrol crosses the Matanikau River on Guadalcanal in September 1942

Battle of Guadalcanal – World War II 

Few Marine Corps battles hold more historical significance than Guadalcanal. The battle raged from August 1942 to February 1943. 

The campaign, codenamed Operation Watchtower, aimed to establish bases on Guadalcanal and Tulagi. It would set the stage for the capture or neutralization of the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul. 

US Marines formed the majority of boots on the ground and faced a ferocious Japanese opponent. The construction of Henderson Field, a vital airfield on Guadalcanal, became a focal point in the struggle for control. Marines were tasked with defending it from Japanese attacks. 

“Goddamn it, you’ll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!”

Captain Henry P. “Jim” Crowe, USMC, 13 January 1943

Battles on Edson’s Ridge, along the Matanikau River, at the airfield, Koi Point, and elsewhere saw the Marines emerge victorious. The campaign culminated in the decisive Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942.

Despite heavy casualties, the Allies emerged triumphant. The victory shifted the strategic initiative in the Pacific theater, leading to subsequent Allied offensives and the surrender of Japan in August 1945.

The Battle of Guadalcanal stands as a testament to the unwavering determination of the US Marine Corps and its instrumental role in securing victory and shaping the course of World War II in the Pacific.

U.S. Marines of the Second Battalion, Twenty-Seventh Regiment, wait to move inland on Iwo Jima, soon after going ashore on 19 February 1945

Battle of Iwo Jima – World War II 

The Battle of Iwo Jima stands as a defining moment in the legacy of the United States Marine Corps. This Pacific battle was fought during February and March 1945 on Iwo Jima, a small volcanic island only 660 miles south of Tokyo. The proximity to the capitol gave it immense strategic significance for the Allied forces. 

The Marines encountered a fierce adversary in the heavily fortified Japanese defenders, who employed a complex network of tunnels and well-fortified positions. In the face of relentless resistance, the Marines pressed forward, engaging in ferocious close-quarters combat to secure victory.

“Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, 16 March 1945

However, the battle exacted a heavy toll. Thousands of Marines were killed and many more wounded. Despite the high cost, the Marine Corps triumph at Iwo Jima played a crucial role in the Allies’ march to V-J Day.

The iconic image of the American flag raised atop Mount Suribachi symbolizes the Marine Corps’ enduring legacy of honor, sacrifice, and valor. The Battle of Iwo Jima remains etched in the annals of Marine Corps history, forever embodying their steadfast commitment to defending freedom and upholding the values of the United States.

Battle of Chosin Reservoir – Korean War

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir holds immense significance for the US Marine Corps. Fought during the bitter winter of 1950 in the Korean War, this pivotal engagement showcased the Marines’ resilience despite overwhelming adversity.

Surrounded by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA), the Marines fought their way from Yudam-ni to Hagaru-ri, enduring heavy losses but securing their retreat. 

“Retreat Hell! We’re just attacking in another direction.”

Major General Oliver P. Smith, USMC, Korea, December 1950

Notably, Colonel Lewis “Chesty” Puller, a legendary figure in the US Marine Corps, played a pivotal role during the campaign. He won his fifth Navy Cross for heroism during the battle. Surrounded by the enemy, Puller famously said, “We’ve been looking for the enemy for several days now, we’ve finally found them. We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem of getting to these people and killing them.” 

The Chosin Reservoir campaign marked a crucial turning point in the Korean War. And it remains a testament to the courage and sacrifice of the US Marine Corps.

Marines_Clear_Buildings,_2_February_1968_WO W. A. Parks - CC BY 2.0

Battle of Hue City – Vietnam War

The Battle of Hue City, aka the siege of Hue, is a defining moment in US Marine Corps history. It was waged from January 31st to March 2nd, 1968, during the Vietnam War Tet Offensive.

Marines engaged in urban warfare against North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces. Amidst fortified positions, fierce resistance, and booby traps, US Marines fought block by block, supported by Army and South Vietnamese units. 

“Being ready is not what matters. What matters is winning after you get there.”

Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak, USMC, April 1965.

The Marines showcased their adaptability as they transitioned from conventional to urban combat. They faced a determined enemy and fought house to house. The USMC successfully cleared and recaptured Hue City, though with heavy losses. 

The bravery and military prowess of US Marines was on full display in Hue City. The battle remains a vivid reminder of their enduring legacy and the sacrifices made by Marines and their comrades during the Vietnam War.

Operation Desert Storm – Gulf War 

Operation Desert Storm marked a defining moment for the US Marine Corps during the Gulf War. Leathernecks played a crucial role in the liberation of Kuwait and the overall success of the coalition forces. 

One notable engagement was the Battle of Khafji, where the Marines displayed their combat prowess in repelling a surprise attack by Iraqi forces. 

“I can’t say enough about the two Marine divisions. If I use words like brilliant, it would really be an under-description of the absolutely superb job they did in breaching the so-called impenetrable barrier. . .Absolutely superb operation, a textbook, and I think it’ll be studied for many, many years to come as the way to do it.”

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, USA, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 27 February 1991

Another significant contribution came from the 1st Marine Division’s assault on the heavily fortified positions of the Iraqi Army in the Battle of Kuwait International Airport. 

The Marines’ amphibious capabilities and combined arms tactics proved instrumental in achieving victory and again demonstrated their ability to wage modern warfare. Improvise, adapt and overcome.

USMC Marines firing howitzer

Second Battle of Fallujah – Iraq War

The Iraq War was a brutal sandbox dogfight, and the two-part battle of Fallujah was a defining moment. Once again, the Marines showed off their dogged resolve and combat proficiency. 

In November 2004, the USMC launched the Second Battle of Fallujah, dubbed Operation Phantom Fury. Engaging in intense urban warfare, Marines fought alongside Army units and Iraqi security forces, displaying exceptional skill in clearing enemy-held buildings and fortified positions.

“We had people shooting at us from up [on] the rooftops, from the houses, from the sewers or wherever they could take a shot at us from”

Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Torain Kelley

Notable fights occurred in Shuhada and the infamous Jolan district. Marines faced relentless ambushes, booby traps, and improvised explosive devices. It was truly “kill or be killed.” Their combined arms tactics, close air support, and precision firepower shattered enemy defenses.

Regaining control of Fallujah reverberated throughout the Iraq War. The Marines dealt a significant blow to the insurgency, weakening their influence and disrupting operations. Their success demonstrated the effectiveness of coalition operations with Iraqi forces, highlighting the importance of partnership in counterinsurgency campaigns. 

The Marines’ contributions in Fallujah set the stage for improved security in Iraq and back home.

Battle of Ramadi – Iraq War

During the spring of 2004, the US Marine Corps engaged in the Battle of Ramadi, at the same time as the first Battle of Fallujah. Their mission: to secure the capital of Al Anbar Governorate in western Iraq. 

The 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines confronted a determined insurgent force, resulting in fierce combat throughout the city. Many brave Marines made the ultimate sacrifice, but their heroism lives on.

Roughly two years later, the USMC had a pivotal role in the second Battle of Ramadi, which lasted from March to November 2006. Marines engaged insurgents in a fierce struggle to gain control of the city. 

“I was on post the morning of the attack. I heard the go off at a cyclic rate and then the detonation along with a flash. It blew me at least three meters from where I was standing onto the ground”

Marine Lance Cpl. Benjamin Tupaj

Their objective was to cut off enemy resupply and reinforcements by securing key entry points and establishing combat outposts. The Marines faced significant challenges, including heavy casualties and the use of chlorine bombs by insurgents. However, their determination and courage led to crucial victories, such as the establishment of the 17th Street Security Station and the elimination of al-Qaeda’s presence in Ramadi. 

The Marines’ commitment to securing the city contributed to the overall success of the Iraq War and provided a sense of security for US citizens.

Battle of Marjah – Afghanistan War

The Battle of Marjah was a significant operation in the War in Afghanistan. It took place from February to December 2010 and was led by the USMC alongside Afghan National forces and NATO allies. The mission was to eradicate the Taliban presence and establish stability in the Helmand Province. 

Marjah, a Taliban stronghold, presented formidable challenges for the Marines. Facing a determined enemy, they engaged in intense urban combat, clearing the area house by house. 

“The plan that we’ve rock-drilled over and over: as soon as you get out of the bird, it’s not worth anything. Every single one of you will have to make a hundred decisions that there are no right answers to. But guess what—you have to act.”

Captain Ryan Sparks Bravo Company, 1st Marine Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment

The Marines demonstrated exceptional bravery and resilience as they bore the brunt of the fighting, sustaining significant casualties. But the sacrifices of fallen brothers and sisters bolstered security for the local population and American civilians. 

Battle of Sangin – Afghanistan War

The Battle of Sangin, a crucial episode in the War in Afghanistan, showcased the United States Marine Corps’ valor. Sangin is also considered the bloodiest battleground of Afghanistan by both the US and British militaries. 

From 2010 to 2011, Marines deployed to the Sangin District in Helmand Province faced a tenacious insurgency by the Taliban. Engagements in areas like the Green Zone, Sangin Bazaar, and The Peninsula witnessed intense combat as Marines battled fanatical jihadist fighters. Clearing operations like the Sangin Sunrise were routine yet ferocious.

“Sangin was different from anywhere else we’d fought. It was hell”

Marine Sgt. Daniel Robert

The enemy utilized IEDs, ambushes, and sniper fire. But the Marines responded with typical determination, conducting counterinsurgency operations, patrolling, and clearing operations.

Marine units secured Sangin, but the battle took a toll, with many Marines paying the ultimate sacrifice. Their bravery ensured the security of both the oppressed Afghan people and Americans back home.

Conclusion

Throughout the history of this great country, the United States Marines have shown the ability to endure and triumph even under the most grim and challenging circumstances. From Belleau Wood to Sangin, the Marines helped secure our freedom. The courage and brotherhood of the USMC should inspire us all.

10 U.S. Marines That Went On To Change The World

10 U.S. Marines That Went On To Change The World

The Marine Corps has a proven history of taking raw civilians breaking them down and rebuilding them into a team of disciplined, focused, hard-charging, Devil Dogs that get the job done regardless of the obstacles that lay in front of them. The mission of the Marine Corps is to make Marines and to win our nations battles. The process that occurs while making Marines and being exposed to the USMC culture has the potential to change individuals into the greatest version of themselves so that they can go on to impact the world and the people around them. Here are 10 U.S. Marines that went on to change the world.

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial dedicated in 1954 and located in Arlington Ridge Park, Virginia.

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial dedicated in 1954 and located in Arlington Ridge Park, Virginia.

There are thousands upon thousands of Leathernecks who have positively changed the world by pushing through times of adversity and accepting nothing less than success. Some are entrepreneurs. Others are politicians, athletes, educators, and entertainers. However, they all have one thing in common. They are “The Few” which have gone through a crucible of suffering, hardship and sacrifice in order to be embodied with the traits of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.

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Montel Williams

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

Montel Williams began his career in the United States Marines Corps and reported for boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina in 1974. However, most of us know him as the award-winning host of the Montel Williams show, which aired for seventeen years. In addition, he is a New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and passionate advocate for veterans.

Fred Smith

Fred Smith was a commissioned officer in the Marine Corps and served as an infantry officer and forward air controller during his two tours in Vietnam. He flew with pilots on over 200 combat missions. During his time in Vietnam, Smith was awarded the silver star, bronze star and two purple hearts. After the Marine Corps he went on to own the Washington Redskins and start FedEx which now has annual revenues of over $65 billion.

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

John Nelson

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

John Nelson is considered to be the founding father of the SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) concept. Nelson served in the Marine Corps and later with the Los Angeles Police Department. Nelson based the SWAT concept off of Marine Recon Units and how they operated. He believed that a squad of highly trained police officers armed with specialized weapons were more effective in certain situations than a massive police response.

Chuck Swindoll

Chuck Swindoll joined the USMC and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan and San Francisco. After his honorable discharge in 1959, he started Insight for Living, which now broadcasts a radio program on more than 2,000 stations around the world in more than 15 languages. In addition he is a pastor, author, and radio preacher.

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

Bob Parsons

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

After nearly dropping out of high school Bob Parsons enlisted in the Marines and served as a rifleman in 1st Battalion, 26th Marines. He deployed to Quang Nam Province of Vietnam. During that time he was wounded in combat operations and received the Vietnam Gallantry Cross, which is awarded for ‘accomplishing deeds of valor or displaying heroic conduct while fighting the enemy.’ In 1997 Parsons started webhosting company GoDaddy.com and sold it for over $2 billion in 2011.

Drew Carey

Drew Carey enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1980 and served six years. His MOS was 2531 Field Radio Operator. While in the Marines, Carey was looking for ways to supplement his income and someone recommended that he use his jokes. This led him to stand up comedy where he got paid $10 per joke. He went on to starting his own successful sitcom, hosted Who’s Line Is It Anyway?, and The Price Is Right. During an interview Carey said, “If there was a fight, I would win it. If there was a problem, I could solve it. I could do it because I was a Marine, and Marines can do anything.”

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

John Glenn

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

John Glen was a United States Marine Corps aviator. During his service he shot down three Mig-15s and was awarded six Distinguished Flying Crosses and 18 Air Medals. After the Marines he joined NASA and was the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. He went on to serve as a United States Senator from 1974 to 1999.

Gene Hackman

Gene Hackman lied about his age and enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of 16. He served 4 years as a Field Radio Operator and was stationed in China, Hawaii and Japan. He then pursued acting and has starred in dozens of films over his 40-year Hollywood career.

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

Jarrod Haschert

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

Lance Corporal Jarrod Haschert, a mortar man with 1st battalion 8th Marines, invited MMA fighter Ronda Rousey to the Marine Corps ball in 2015. Despite her being way out of his league, she accepted. The courage and confidence he demonstrated in spite of all odds, reflected credit upon himself and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the USMC.
Perhaps your thinking that this Marine didn’t live up to the others in this article, but in our opinion, he certainly does display some of the same traits that made the others succeed in their chosen fields. We included Haschert’s story to prove that all it takes is an ‘ordinary’ Marine with a dream, to achieve extraordinary things.

So whatever your calling or dream, whether it be theater, politics, entrepreneurship, law enforcement or extreme adventure; never forget the ethos that was instilled during your time in the Corps and never give up when you still have the ability to fight and win. Nothing can stop you from achieving whatever you put your mind too. The men listed above are just a couple examples of the tens of thousands of U.S. Marines that have gone before and proved it.

Check out this short video on the psychological tricks the United States Marine Corps uses to make their people more successful!

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Top 10 Marine Corps Quotes

Top 10 Marine Corps quotes

Over the past 244 years there have been thousands of Marine Corps quotes about the feats and battles of the men and women who have held the title United States Marines. The USMC culture is full of mystique and lore and with good reason. Marines stand apart in terms of discipline, intensity and the relentless desire to accomplish their mission. We compiled our top 10 USMC motivational quotes of all time. Scroll through these timeless quotes and let us know what your favorite one is below.

U.S. Marines stand inspection ready at the position of attention.

10. “You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is that they are.”

~Kevin Keaney

9. “The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps! ”

~Eleanor Roosevelt

8. “It is friendship, and something beyond friendship, that binds the Marine Corps together.”

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7. “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem.”

~Ronald Reagan, President of the United States

6. “In my experience, Marines are gung ho no matter what. They will all fight to the death. Every one of them just wants to get out there and kill. They are bad-ass, hard-charging mothers.”

~Chris Kyle, Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. History

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

U.S. Marines take a break from training for a friendly game of tug-of-war.

5. “We have two companies of Marines running rampant all over the northern half of this island, and three Army regiments pinned down in the southwestern corner, doing nothing. What the hell is going on? ”

~Gen. John Vessey Jr, 1983, during the invasion of Grenada.

In this Oct. 26, 2004 photo, U.S. Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, run to a building after detonating explosives to open a gate and engage the enemy during a mission in Ramadi in Anbar province, Iraq.

In this Oct. 26, 2004 photo, U.S. Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, run to a building after detonating explosives to open a gate and engage the enemy during a mission in Ramadi in Anbar province, Iraq.

4. “Marines are built through the ethos of struggle and sacrifice.”

~Gen James Jones

3. “Thousands of Marine combat veterans earned medals for bravery every day. A few were even awarded.”

U.S. Marines deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom get some much needed rest despite the weather conditions.

2. “Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They’re aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They’ve got really short hair and they always go for the throat.”

~RAdm. “Jay” R. Stark

A U.S. Marine disarms his opponent and places a well aimed punch to the throat during hand-to-hand combat training.

A U.S. Marine disarms his opponent and places a well aimed punch to the throat during hand-to-hand combat training.

1. “Old breed? New breed? There’s not a damn bit of difference so long as it’s the Marine breed.”

~Chesty Puller

For over 240 years there have been thousands of quotes giving credit to those who served in the Marine Corps. These are just a few quotes that made it to the Top 10. Which one is your favorite? Did we miss one that you think should be on this list? Leave us a comment below!

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Marine Combat Training (MCT)

Marine Combat Training (MCT)

Marine Combat Training or MCT is the secondary school after boot camp for non-infantry Marines.  MCT consists of 29 days of battle skills training that enables Marines to operate and thrive in a combat environment. For west coast Marines MCT is conducted at Camp Pendleton, California and Camp Geiger, N.C., for east coast Marines.

MCT is where Marines are trained in basic infantry skills and other common war fighting skills that are essential in combat.

The Marines in this school will learn the basics of combat marksmanship, counter-IED techniques, convoy operations, combat formations, assaults, patrolling, MOUT, use of radios, reporting military intelligence, land navigation, hand grenades, the M203 grenade launcher, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M240 machine gun and more.

The intensive and psychical training includes combat conditioning, running obstacle courses and long marches over rough terrain.

Upon successful completion of Marine Combat Training, each Marine will have gained the knowledge, ability and skills to operate in a combat environment as a basic rifleman and to perform his primary job under fire.

Marines will then receive orders to report to their Military Occupational School (MOS) for additional training.

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My Rifle is My Life – The Creed of a U.S. Marine.USMC Bootcamp

My Rifle is My Life – The Creed of a U.S. Marine.

The mission of the United States Marine Corps is to make Marines and win battles. Marines know that the only thing which stands between them and Death is their rifle.

The rifle is a Marine’s life, their best friend, and without their rifle they are useless. This conviction and faith are instilled deeply in every Marine. One way of instilling this timeless principle is by remembering and reciting the creed of a U.S. Marine – This is My Rifle.

“This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will …

My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit….

My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will….

Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.

So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy, but peace!!”

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USMC Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) Creed

My Rifle is My Life – The Creed of a U.S. Marine.

Individuals and organizations are defined by the words they know, use and profess. A creed is as set of fundamental beliefs. It is a confession of who we are, what we believe and our statement of purpose. Creeds are powerful.

The Marine Corps mid-level enlisted bear tremendous responsibility for accomplishing the mission. Just as important, they are obligated to the care and success of the Marines they lead.

The Non-Commissioned Office or NCO plays a unique role within the Marine Corps. They are the frontline of the profession. They represent USMC values, behaviors, and characters to the most junior ranks everyday.

NCO’s are the voice of the enlisted force, informing senior leaders’ decisions with candor and openness.

They have chosen the uncommon life; a life of service and sacrifice, grounded in our sacred oath to lead Marines and defend the Constitution.

This is their creed:
“I am the backbone of the United States Marine Corps, I am a Marine Non-Commissioned Officer.

I serve as part of the vital link between my commander (and all officers) and enlisted Marines. I will never forget who I am or what I represent.

I will challenge myself to the limit and be ever attentive to duty. I am now, more than ever, committed to excellence in all that I do, so that I can set the proper example for other Marines.

I will demand of myself all the energy, knowledge and skills I possess, so that I can instill confidence in those I teach. I will constantly strive to perfect my own skills and to become a good leader.

Above all I will be truthful in all I say or do. My integrity shall be impeccable as my appearance. I will be honest with myself, with those under my charge and with my superiors.

I pledge to do my best to incorporate all the leadership traits into my character. For such is the heritage I have received from that long, illustrious line of professionals who have worn the Bloodstripe so proudly before me.

I must give the very best I have for my Marines, my Corps and my Country for though today I instruct and supervise in peace, tomorrow, I may lead in war.”

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