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Officer MOS

Reasons to Love Your Corps

(Originally written in the early 90's, revised 1999, carried over in 2012)

  1. Best haircut. Hands down. You can't have a bad hair day with a high and tight. And you spend less on shampoo.
  2. Dress blues. They're the coolest uniforms in any military worldwide.
  3. Bloused trousers. Another distinctive Marine look that sets the proudest service members apart.
  4. The rest of the Marine sea bag. From the Alphas to the camouflage utilities, uniforms just look better on a Marine than any other service member.
  5. Marines don't wear dungarees.
  6. Most respect I. When the Marines pulled out of Haiti and Somalia, the media reported the U.S. military was pulling out -- as if tens of thousands of Army troopers weren't still in the country. Now that's respect.
  7. Most respect II. When the Corps came back to Haiti after 60 years, an old man on the Cap-Haitien beach said ``Welcome back!''
  8. Toughest mascot. The Marine Corps' is a bull dog. The Navy's: a goat.
  9. Esprit de Corps. Even if you can't spell it or pronounce it, the Marine Corps has it in spades. One example: When sailors get tattoos, they do it to express their individuality, and their choices range from Betty Boop and Mickey Mouse to raging sea serpents. When Marines get tattoos, they do it to express their solidarity, and choose bull dogs, ``death before dishonor,'' and ``USMC.''
  10. Best war monument: Iwo Jima
  11. The Marines invade, then go home. The Army has to do the occupying.
  12. The silent drill platoon. Just watching them ply their trade makes you want to wear dress blues.
  13. Status. Sailors live and work on ships. Marines go for cruises -- then hit the shore.
  14. Best fast attack vehicles: Light Armored Vehicles.
  15. Best fighting knife: Ka-Bar.
  16. Best duty assignments: Okinawa, Kaneohe Bay, Camp Pendleton, Diego Garcia, Moscow, North Carolina. Plus any ship at sea.
  17. Worst duty assignments: Okinawa, Kaneohe Bay, Camp Pendleton, Diego Garcia, Moscow, North Carolina. Plus any ship at sea.
  18. Most exotic duty assignments: Kuala Lumpur, The White House.
  19. Best phone number. Call 1-800-MARINES and you've got the Corps. And if you're a civilian with the mettle to be a Marine, a recruiter there will be happy to sign you up.
  20. Toughest Drill Instructors. They're so tough that when the Navy wants to train its officers, who do they call? 1-800-MARINES.
  21. Toughest boot camp. When San Diego was still training Navy recruits, legend has it that recruits occasionally would jump the fence and accidentally land in Marine boot camp. The Marines would keep them a couple of days, and when the recruits were sent back, they were ready to be sailors!  I even heard the navy company commanders call cadence riding from the back of a truck in front of the formation with a bull horn.
  22. Best motivational cry: Ooh-rah!
  23. Best emblem: Eagle, globe and anchor.
  24. Best campaign covers: The Smokey Bear hat.
  25. Separate heads for enlisted and officers. Everywhere else, officers and enlisted use the same pot.
  26. The only official, congressionally sanctioned hymn for any of the services: ``The Marines' Hymn.''
  27. Best slogan I: ``Once a Marine, always a Marine''
  28. Best slogan II: ``Tell that to the Marines''
  29. Best slogan III: ``Send in the Marines.''
  30. Best nicknames I: Jarhead
  31. Best nicknames II: Leatherneck
  32. Best nicknames III: Devil Dog. Trivia question: Where did this term come from? Answer: The German Army in World War I, whose soldiers' greatest fear was running up against the toughest American fighting men, the Marines. They called them ``teufelhunden,'' or Devil Dog.
  33. Most remarkable airplane: The Harrier. No other service's jets can take off and land on a dime.
  34. Most dangerous airplane: The Harrier. Not a simple science, but luckily more of a danger to the enemy than to Marine fliers.
  35. You're a Marine. Not a soldier or a troop.
  36. That's Marines, with a capital M.
  37. Tradition! The Corps is older than the republic itself!
  38. Marines symbolize: Discipline, courage, honor, commitment, valor, patriotism, military virtue.
  39. Best recruiting gimmick I: Those darn Knights-in-Shining-Armor commercials.
  40. Best recruiting gimmick II: ``We're looking for a few good men.'' OK, they left out women. The Corps is looking for a few good women, too.
  41. Best recruiting gimmick III: ``If you have the mettle to be a Marine.''
  42. Best recruiting gimmick IV: "Maybe you could be one of us, the few, the proud, the Marines."
  43. The Commandant's House. It's the oldest occupied residence in Washington, D.C.  During the war of 1812, the British did not burn the house out of respect for the Corps.
  44. Chesty Puller. You gotta love a service that has heroes with names like that.
  45. Former Commandant and Mud Marine Al Gray (Anecdote I): His official portrait, in cammies.
  46. Former Commandant and Mud Marine Al Gray (Anecdote II): He drank from a four-star canteen cup.
  47. Former Commandant and Mud Marine Al Gray (Anecdote III): Business leaders are so impressed with his ethic and style, they're using his Fleet Marine Force Manual 1, ``Warfighting,'' to hone their skills for boardroom battles.
  48. Unity. Every Marine is a rifleman.
  49. The Marine Air-Ground Task Force. Marines attack by land, by air and from sea -- simultaneously.
  50. The ``docs,'' -- Marines' corpsmen-in-arms. They're sailors, but they're as tough as Marines.
  51. Mud. You wanna see pure joy? Look at a group of Marines after a mud fight.
  52. Starch. Clean 'em up, put 'em in starched cammies, and they look sharp.
  53. Poetry in motion. They're weapons, not g-u-n-s. And if you don't know the pithy verse that explains that, watch "Full Metal Jacket".
  54. Tip of the spear, out in front, kicking down the door. What the Marines do best.
  55. Marine spouses. God love 'em. They have it then worst of any of the service spouses. They endure six-month deployments and one- and two-year unaccompanied tours. The ones who survive a career are as tough as the Marines they married.
  56. Marine kids. God loves them more. They know the meaning of duty, honor and country at too young an age.
  57. The Air Force. Aren't you glad you're not an airman? They're pampered, yet they still find time to whine.
  58. The Army. They get all the best equipment first and Marines still do it better.
  59. The Navy. Give them credit. They have it almost as tough as Marines. But who wants to be a limo service or a squid?
  60. The Coast Guard. Tell the truth: If you couldn't be a Marine, would you be a Coastie? In those powder blue uniforms? Not on your life!
  61. CH-46. Say a Hail Mary and climb aboard. Nobody makes 'em anymore, but Marine ingenuity keeps 'em flying. And with a safety record that's nothing short of a miracle.
  62. The Close Combat Manual.
  63. Leadership I. In the Corps, Lance Corporals (E-3) and Corporals (E-4) get to do more than most E-6s in other branches.
  64. Leadership II. Every Marine above the rank of Corporal can tell you what it takes to be a leader. It's spelled out clearly and drilled in relentlessly. And it pays off under fire.
  65. Leadership III. Corporate America could -- and does -- learn from the Corps' leadership curriculum. All Marines who enter the private sector take those lessons with them.
  66. Combat correspondents. They're journalists in the Navy, but in the Corps, the job is combat correspondent, thank you very much.
  67. Marines do more with less, and they like it that way.
  68. Amphibians one and all. Like the Army, Marines have tanks and armored vehicles. But theirs not only fight . . . they swim.
  69. Air power. When the grunts look to the sky for support, they see Marine pilots, not zoomies.
  70. Style. Nothing beats the canopy of sabres during a full dress Marine wedding.
  71. Wetting-down parties. No one celebrates promotions with more flair and admiration.
  72. Mess etiquette. Enter covered and drinks are on you.
  73. Mess night I. Those who make the most pay the most.
  74. Mess night II. ``1775 Rum Punch'' -- four parts dark rum, two parts lime juice, one part pure maple syrup. Grenadine to taste.
  75. N.C.O.'s rate their own ceremonial sword!
  76. Fighting style I. When the U.S. went into Haiti, Army soldiers sought cover behind their rucksacks. Marines DUG IN!
  77. Fighting style II. When the Air Farce deploys, they carry their Samsonite bags on luggage carriers and stay in hotels. When Marines deploy, it's one seabag, your weapon and a tent in the bush.
  78. Fighting style III.  When the Air Farce deploys to Kuwait, they whine if they have no air conditioning and big screen T.V.'s  The army sounds revielle at 0900 at Camp Doha, Marines live in the 130 degree heat under a cammie net at 18 miles from the Iraq border at the furthest. (Udari Range)
  79. Fighting style III. Marines know how to use their bayonets. Army bayonets may as well be paper weights.
  80. No smiling in official portraits. All business.
  81. Terminology. In the Corps it's a ``fighting'' hole not a ``fox'' hole. Fox holes are for people who want to hide. Fighting holes are for people who want to fight.
  82. The ``people's own'' Marine Corps Marathon.
  83. When asked by the press, an overseas Marine doesn't say ``I don't know what my mission is,'' ``I don't know why I'm here'' and ``I don't like it here.'' He asks for more ammo.
  84. The ``Stumps.'' The combat center at Twentynine Palms, Calif., is a huge sandbox in California's desert. It's where Marines go to play warrior any time of the year.
  85. Best environmental motto: ``We're looking out for a few good species.'' They may be charging the beach, but Marines are taking care not to step on endangered critters.
  86. Image. Marines get real network coverage, not the kind you need a gridiron and an academy to get.
  87. AH-1W SuperCobra gunships. They are lean, mean fighting machines.
  88. The ONLY combined arms force. You want jointness? The Marine Corps has been joint for decades, with its own air force, groundpounders and Navy in one.
  89. When the President cares enough to order in the very best, who's he gonna call? Not ghostbusters -- but 1-800-Marines.
  90. First in, first out. Marines bust in first so the Army can do its job.
  91. When it absolutely, positively has to be destroyed overnight, the number may as well be 9-1-1. Send in the Marines! (1-800-MARINES)
  92. Physical fitness. You've seen portly chiefs, but there are no fat Marines.
  93. Everyone's a Marine -- officer and enlisted.
  94. Actor who should have been a Marine: John Wayne.
  95. Former Marine who shouldn't be an actor: John Wayne Bobbitt.
  96. .50 caliber sniper rifles! OOOHRAH.
  97. Most stickers spotted on America's highways on car bumpers and windows.
  98. The summer evening parade.
  99. ``The President's Own,'' the Marine Corps Band. John Philip Sousa, the world famous band master, was the first leader of the band.
  100. Value for your tax dollar. The Corps does it all for less -- just 6 cents of every dollar spent on defense goes to the Marines.
  101. Best motto, Semper Fidelis, always faithful. That's Latin, by the way.
  102. Best twist on the best motto. Semper Gumby, always flexible. Yeah, he was green, too.
  103. Best slogan I. ``Nobody ever drowned in sweat.''
  104. Best slogan II. ``Marines go where others fear to tread.''
  105. Best self description. Gungy
  106. First in orbit. No, that's not another gunny losing his temper. John Glenn, that clean Marine, was the first human to orbit Earth and the oldest human to go to space.
  107. Marines are first on foot and right of the line. Marines form at the place of honor in any naval formation. Secretary of the Navy bestowed that honor in 1876.
  108. When the President climbs into a helicopter, he flies Marine One.
  109. Most prestigious helo squadron. HMX-1, the president's fleet.
  110. When the Navy needed someone to guard its ships, sailors and nuclear devices, they called 1-800-Marines.
  111. Best personalized license plate I: ``1775.'' It's on the commandant's car.
  112. Best personalized license plate II: ``SM OF MC,'' Former Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Harold Overstreet's four-wheel drive Chevy Blazer truck.
  113. The Chief of Naval Operations rides in a Lincoln Town Car. Former Commandant Gen. Carl E. Mundy Jr. rides in a sporty Chrysler LHS sedan.
  114. When the nation goes to war, the press covers the Marine Corps. During the Gulf War, there were more than 90,000 Marines in the region of a total force of 650,000. But the Corps outpaced the Army, 293 to 271, on articles about the ground war in four major newspapers. As journalist and author John Fialka put it: ``If the PR rivalry between the two services . . . had been a basketball game, the score would have been Marines 149, Army 10.''
  115. Best Heroes I: Smedley D. Butler. With a name like Smedley, he had to be tough, in self-defense. The Army rejected him, but by lying about his age, he got a commission from the Marine Corps in 1898, at age 16. From the Philippines to Haiti, he was an expert in suppressing revolution. His blunt style was pure Marine, and probably cost him a job as Philadelphia's public safety director after his first retirement and a bid for the Senate after his second.
  116. Best Heroes II: Chesty Puller. It's more than the name. He started in the Corps with a reserve commission and was released in the draw down after World War I. He then enlisted as a corporal, served in Haiti and received his second commission in 1924. He retired in 1955 a lieutenant general, the most decorated Marine in history, and probably the most colorful as well.
  117. Best Heroes III: Lewis Puller Jr., Chesty's son. He joined to follow in his father's footsteps, lost both legs in battle, and went on to become a Pulitzer Prizewinning author. He ended his own life in the early 1990's, and he's sorely missed.
  118. Best Heroes IV: ``Manila John'' Basilone. A true gunfighter from the word go. The first enlisted Marine in World War II to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Won it for his heroic efforts on Guadalcanal. Later killed on Iwo Jima, and posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
  119. All the Marines who won the Congressional Medals of Honor. There are 293 in all.
  120. Best greeting. Semper Fi!
  121. Best show of pride. After the 1983 Beirut Bombing, Marine Corps Commandant P.X. Kelly visited a wounded Marine in the hospital to present his Purple Heart. Covered by tubes and unable to speak, the Marine simply asked for pad and pen. On it he wrote: ``Semper Fi.''
  122. Best recruiting station: Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, 1775. It's a bar, no less.
  123. Only armed force with a beer named in its honor: Tun Tavern Beer.
  124. Best description: Soldiers of the Sea.
  125. Best slang for a Navy ship: LHA -- Luxury Hotel Afloat.
  126. Best Marine quote from the Gulf War: ``I sure hope the Iraqis are good lovers, because they sure can't fight.''
  127. Best acronyms I: The MEU (SOC). Say it out loud and it says what it means. You Suck.  (As directed against our enemy's)
  128. Best acronyms II: SPIE rigging. It stands for Special Insertion, Extraction. It's what they do when they're saving the day.
  129. Hollywood loves Marines. A few examples:
  130. "Sands of Iwo Jima."
  131. "The Wind and the Lion."
  132. "Heartbreak Ridge."
  133. "The Flying Leathernecks."
  134. "The D.I."
  135. "Full Metal Jacket"
  136. "The Great Santini"
  137. "Death Before Dishonor"
  138. And television loves Marines:
  139. "Baa Baa Black Sheep"
  140. "Gomer Pyle, USMC"
  141. "Major Dad"
  142. "Starship Troopers"  (Based on Marines)
  143. Heroes. The 40,000 Marines who gave their lives on the fields of battle since the Revolutionary War.
  144. Scarlet stripe on NCO and officer trousers. They're not just sharp, they serve a point: The stripes represent blood shed in battle.
  145. The Book of Remembrance. Stored at the post chapel at Quantico, VA.  It lists the name, rank and date of death of all Marine s and sailors who served with Marines and who gave their life in Vietnam.
  146. Famous proverb. A young recruit asked the Drill Instructor, ``Sir, who carries the flag in battle ?'' The reply: ``Recruit, every Marine carries the flag in battle.''
  147. Notable quotable I. ``A ship without Marines is like a coat without buttons.'' -- Adm. David G. Farragut.
  148. Notable quotable II. When the Marines found themselves surrounded by Chinese troops near the ``Frozen Chosin'' during the Korean War, a Marine Chesty Puller summed it up for his men. ``Good. Now we can shoot in all directions.''
  149. Notable quotable III. ``Uncommon valor was a common virtue.'' -- Adm. Chester Nimitz, leader of Pacific forces in World War II.
  150. Notable quotable IV. ``Retreat . . . Hell! We just got here.'' -- Col. Wendell ``Whispering Buck'' Neville, fighting in France during World War I.
  151. Notable quotable V. ``Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?'' -- Sgt. Dan Daly, World War I.
  152. Notable quotable VI. ``The raising of the flag on Mount Surabachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.'' -- James Forrestal, who was then secretary of the Navy.
  153. Fleet submission I. ``My 10-year-old is proud when he's teased about his mother wearing combat boots'' -- anonymous Marine mother.
  154. Fleet submission II. ``Marine Corps spirit and purpose define American resolve and intent.'' -- Carrol Childers, a civilian employee at Quantico's Amphibious Warfare School.
  155. Leadership. The Corps trains its leaders young and expects a lot out of them. And, gosh darn it, they get what they ask for.
  156. Fleet submission III. ``Those hard charging NCOs that have done so much with so little for so long.'' -- Capt. James Lopez, Quantico, Va.
  157. Fleet submission IV. ``The smell of gunpowder in the morning on the rifle range.'' -- Cpl. Bradley Cameron, Quantico.
  158. Fleet submission V. ``It's my life.'' -- GS-8 Diane Pierce.
  159. Fleet submission VI. ``The feeling of belonging. Whenever you go, there will always be someone you know, someone with something in common and someone willing to lend a hand'' -- anonymous Marine.
  160. Fleet submission VII. ``The Corps is the world's biggest fraternity. All our present and past members are, and always be, members of the Semper Fi fraternity. And unlike other fraternities, ours is open to women.'' -- CWO Mark Roulette.
  161. Fleet submission VIII. ``Knowing when you're in need, a Marine will be there.'' -- SSgt. Cheryl Oban, Quantico.
  162. Fleet submission VIII.  "Once a Marine, Always a Marine."
  163. Hollywood loves Marines. (Part II: Marines who went to Hollywood).
  164. Don Adams.
  165. R. Lee Emery.
  166. Drew Carey.
  167. Charlton Heston.
  168. Bob Keeshan (Capt. Kangaroo).
  169. Lee Marvin.
  170. Steve McQueen.
  171. Burt Reynolds.
  172. George C. Scott.
  173. Gene Hackman.
  174. Bea Arthur.
  175. Oliver North of talk show and Iran Contra fame.
  176. Tax advantages I. BAS and COLA -- your housing allowances are tax-free.
  177. Tax advantages II. You don't pay tax at the exchange either.
  178. Marine wives. They put up with a lot but they have their limits. See No. 94.
  179. Fleet submission X. ``It teaches us to be strong people both mentally and physically.'' -- Cpl. Maria Retan, Quantico, Va.
  180. Fleet submission XI. ``I love the Marine Corps for those intangible possessions that cannot be issued: Pride, honor, integrity and being able to carry on the traditions for generations of warriors past. After I have done what I can for the Corps, I can say that I was a Marine'' -- Cpl. Jeff Sornij.
  181. Fleet submission XII. ``The pride of going home on leave, putting on the dress blues and everyone knowing you're a member of the world's finest fighting force.'' -- Sgt. Chase Gilbert, Laurel Bay, S.C.
  182. Up-to-date fashions at overseas Exchanges.
  183. Congress loves the Corps. The congressional ``mafia'' of former Marines now in positions of power or influence over the defense budget includes:
  184. Rep. Ronald Dellums (D-Calif.). The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is sometimes lampooned as a dovish cutter of defense budgets. But he's a former Marine, too. And once a Marine, always a Marine, as the saying goes.
  185. Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), chairman of the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on military readiness and defense infrastructure.
  186. Sen. Chuck Robb (D-Va.)
  187. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee.
  188. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee and armed service committee member who is a former Navy secretary. He served in the Navy in 1944-46, became a civilian, and then went back to do it right: He joined the Marine Corps and served from 1950-52.
  189. Other former Marines in Congress include: Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill.; Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Montana; Rep. Gerald Soloman, R-N.Y.; Rep. Paul McHale, D-Pa.; Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., a former Navy secretary; Rep. Arthur Ravenel, RS.C., a House Armed Services Committee member who is retiring; Sen. Jim Sasser, DTenn.; Rep. Frank Tejeda, D-Texas; Sen. Howell Heflin, D-Ala.; Sen. Dale Bumpers, D-Ark.; Rep. Matthew Martinez, D-Calif.; Rep. Al McCandless, R-Calif.; Rep. David Skaggs, DColo.; Rep. Dan Schaefer, R-Colo.; Rep. Andy Jacobs, D-Ind.; Rep. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md.; Rep. Thomas J. Manton, D-N.Y.; Rep. Amo Houghton, R-N.Y.; Rep. Austin J. Murphy, D-Pa. (who is retiring); and Rep. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., a House Government Operations Committee member.
  190. And finally, pulling strings for Marines behind the scenes on Capitol Hill are two Marine-friendly power brokers: Marine Corps Reserve Brig. Gen. Arnold Punaro, staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, and retired Lt. Col. P.T. Henry, the staff director for the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on force requirements and personnel.
  191. Global presence, global reach. As the Hymn notes, so spread out are Marines around the globe that some can watch the sun set while others are watching it rise.
  192. Despite their service to U.S. presidents, no Marine has ever been a president. Now that's smart!
  193. Respect. The State Department chose Marines, not soldiers, sailors or airmen, to protect our embassies.
  194. Good taste in gifts. Wanna know how much a Marine missed his family during a deployment? Check out the china and toys in his seabag on the return trip, and then look at his credit card bill.
  195. The 1st and 15th of each month. Gotta pay for those good gifts.
  196. Marines are winners. Consider, for example:
  197. Tarawa.
  198. Saipan.
  199. Guadalcanal.
  200. Tripoli.
  201. Belleau Wood.
  202. Chosin.
  203. Hue City.
  204. Peleliu.
  205. Leyte Gulf.
  206. Guam.
  207. Tinian.
  208. Iwo Jima.
  209. Okinawa.
  210. Kuwait City.
  211. The Officer's Sam Browne Belt.
  212. Top Guns I: The Marine Corps Rifle Team. After a record-setting performance at the interservice rifle championships in July, the Marine team blew away the 1,200 civilian and military rivals at the U.S. Nationals in August. No doubt about it, Marines are the best riflemen in the country.
  213. Top Guns II: MSgt. Donnie L. Heuman. After 17 years of competitive rifle shooting, he took top individual honors at this year's Interservice Rifle Championships, shooting a record-breaking 995 out of a possible 1,000 points with 50 bull's-eyes. His nearest competitor was nine points and 10 bull's-eyes behind.
  214. Top Guns III: The Marine Corps Pistol Team. They won the U.S. National trophy six years running, establishing themselves as the champion to be beat. They were second this year, but don't expect the trophy to stay in anyone else's hands for long.
  215. GySgt. Carlos Hathcock, god rest his soul, Marine sniper with 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam.  One Shot One Kill!  He also founded the Marine Corps Sniper School at Quantico, VA where the F.B.I. learns how to snipe.
  216. Top Guns V: Marine Corps wrestlers and boxers. They don't use weapons, and they don't need them, they are regular medallists at the Olympic Games.
  217. Navy chaplains. You gotta love a man of the cloth when the cloth is camouflaged. One example: Lt. Cmdr. Dennis Rocheford, wounded twice in Vietnam as a Marine infantryman, was a Navy chaplain aboard the USS Wasp in 1994.
  218. MREs. You hate to love 'em, but when you're hot and sweaty and in the field, nothing satisfies like the five fingers of death.
  219. The Marines take care of their own. On the battlefield, nobody's left behind -- dead or alive -- and the home front is always secure.
  220. Commitment and devotion. ``You gotta love it,'' says Col. Richard D. Stearns, commanding officer, Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, S.C. "Just liking it won't get you through the day."
  221. Image. ``I'm inspired by the integrity of Marines: uplifted by the pride, focus, discipline, flexibility and motivation to do the right thing in the best way. I'm honored that, by service to the country, they are serving citizens like me. All this, and they are fun colleagues and co-workers.'' -- Jean Forrest, civilian instructional systems specialist, Marine Corps Institute.
  222. The Birthday Ball I: The cake.
  223. The Birthday Ball II: Remembering all those Marines who gave their life for their service and their country.
  224. The Birthday Ball III: Seeing who's the oldest and youngest Marine in your unit.
  225. The Crucible, no one else has it.
  226. Ooh-rah!
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History of the Marines Hymn

Following the war with the Barbary Pirates in 1805, when Lieutenant P.N. O'Bannon and his small force of Marines participated in the capture of Derne and hoisted the American flag for the first time over a fortress of the Old World, the Colors of the Corps was inscribed with the words: "To the Shores of Tripoli." After the Marines had participated in the capture and occupation of Mexico City and the Castle of Chapultepec, otherwise known as the "Halls of Montezuma," the words on the Colors were changed to read: "From the Shores of Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma." Following the close of the Mexican War came the first verse of the Marines' Hymn, written, according to tradition, by a Marine on duty in Mexico. For the sake of euphony, the unknown author transposed the phrases in the motto on the Colors so that the first two lines of the Hymn would read: "From the Halls of Montezuma, To the Shores of Tripoli."

A serious attempt to trace the tune of the Marines' Hymn to its source is revealed in correspondence between Colonel A.S. McLemore, USMC, and Walter F. Smith, second leader of the Marine Band. Colonel McLemore wrote: "Major Richard Wallach, USMC, says that in 1878, when he was in Paris, France, the aria to which the Marines' Hymn is now sung was a very popular one." The name of the opera and a part of the chorus was secured from Major Wallach and forwarded to Mr. Smith, who replied: "Major Wallach is to be congratulated upon a wonderfully accurate musical memory, for the aria of the Marine Hymn is certainly to be found in the opera, 'Genevieve de Brabant'...The melody is not in the exact form of the Marine Hymn, but is undoubtedly the aria from which it was taken. I am informed, however, by one of the members of the band, who has a Spanish wife, that the aria was one familiar to her childhood and it may, therefore, be a Spanish folk song."

In a letter to Major Harold F. Wingman, USMC, dated 18 July [1919], John Philip Sousa wrote: "The melody of the 'Halls of Montezuma' is taken from Offenbach's comic opera, 'Genevieve de Brabant' and is sung by two gendarmes." Most people believe that the aria of the Marines' Hymn was, in fact, taken from "Genevieve de Brabant," an opera-bouffe (a farcical form of opera, generally termed musical comedy) composed by Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), and presented at the Theatre de Bouffes Parisiens, Paris, on November 19, 1859.

Offenbach was born in Cologne, Germany, June 20, 1819 and died October 5, 1880. He studied music from an early age and in 1838 entered the Paris Conservatoire as a student. In 1834 he was admitted as a violoncellist to the Opera Comique and soon attained much popularity with Parisien audiences. He became conductor of the Theatre Francais in 1847 and subsequently leased the Theatre Comte, which he reopened as the Bouffes-Parisiens. Most of his operas are classed as comic (light and fanciful) and include numerous popular productions, many of which still hold a high place in European and American countries.

Genevieve de Brabant was the wife of Count Siegfried of Brabant. Brabant, a district in the central lowlands of Holland and Belgium, formerly constituted an independent duchy. The southern portions were inhabited by Walloons, a class of people now occupying the southeastern part of Belgium, especially the provinces of Liege, Arlon and Namur.

Every campaign the Marines have taken part in gives birth to an unofficial verse. For example, the following from Iceland:


"Again in nineteen forty-one
We sailed a north'ard course
And found beneath the midnight sun,
The Viking and the Norse.
The Iceland girls were slim and fair,
And fair the Iceland scenes,
And the Army found in landing there,
The United States Marines."

Copyright ownership of the Marines' Hymn was vested in the United States Marine Corps per certificate of registration dated August 19, 1991 but is now in the public domain. In 1929, the Commandant of the Marine Corps authorized the following verses of the Marines' Hymn as the official version:


"From the Halls of Montezuma
To the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
On the land as on the sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
of United States Marine.
 
"Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in ev'ry clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job--
The United States Marines.
 
"Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines."

On November 21, 1942, the Commandant of the Marine Corps approved a change in the words of the fourth line, first verse, to read, "In air, on land, and sea."

Ex-Gunnery Sergeant H.L. Tallman, veteran observer in Marine Corps Aviation who participated in many combat missions with Marine Corps Aviation over the Western Front in World War I, first proposed the change at a meeting of the First Marine Aviation Force Veterans Association in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Many interesting stories have been associated with the Marines' Hymn. One of the best was published in the Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper of the AEF, under date of August 16, 1918.

"A wounded officer from among the gallant French lancers had just been carried into a Yankee field hospital to have his dressing changed. He was full of compliments and curiosity about the dashing contingent that fought at his regiment's left.

"'A lot of them are mounted troops by this time,' he explained, 'for when our men would be shot from their horses, these youngsters would give one running jump and gallop ahead as cavalry. I believe they are soldiers from Montezuma. At least, when they advanced this morning, they were all singing "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli".'"

The Marines' Hymn has been sung and played in all of the four corners of the earth and today is recognized as one of the foremost service songs.

 

Quotes about Marines

"Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it was some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshipping their Commandant almost as if he was a god, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages. They'll fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action, and are the cockiest SOB's I have ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond man's normal limits, but their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and , generally speaking, of the United States Marines I've come in contact with, are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have had the pleasure to meet." -- An Anonymous Canadian Citizen


"When the new recruit is standing in front of his D.I., he knows what he had to do, what his D.I. wants him to do, his Mama, his Daddy, his leader says to do. But what our whole recruit training program is heading towards is that Marine doing what he has been trained for when his leader, or any other "senior" is not there looking over him. Those moments when he is alone in combat, and he has to rely on one person, himself!" -- Chesty Puller's Rules of Success!


"When in doubt, empty the magazine." -- ???


"To ERR is human, to FORGIVE divine. HOWEVER, neither is Marine Corps Policy." -- ???


"Marines never die! They just go to hell and regroup." -- ???


"It seemed from the conversation that this fellow, despite his appearance, had flunked his physical examination and the officer was giving him the bad news. The blonde guy pleaded for an exception that would allow him to become a Marine. The captain listened quietly, staring straight ahead, thought for a moment, then said, "An exception could be made only if you have some special skills or training that the Corps needs. In that case, we might consider a waiver in order to take advantage of those skills." "Tell me, young man, what is your profession?" "Teach history, Sir." The captain stared into the blonde man's eyes, spoke slowly and deliberately. "Son, we don't teach history, we make it!" -- Stories From the Pacific


"Marines about to go into battle. Some were standing watch, some readied equipment, some slept or rested, but all were quiet. No nervous jabbering, no false bravado, no whining, no melodramatics... they were professionals." -- 2nd Lieutenant "Vic" Taylor, on "the Magnificent Bastards"


"Being ready is not what matters. What matters is winning after you get there." -- Lieutenant General V.H. Krulak, USMC: To a Marine unit leaving for Vietnam, April 1965


"Private First Class Melvin E. Newlin was manning a key machine gun post with four other Marines in July 1967 when a savage enemy attack nearly overran their position. Critically wounded, his comrades killed, Private Newlin propped himself against his machine gun and twice repelled the enemy attempts to overrun his position. During a third assault, he was knocked unconscious by a grenade, and the enemy, believing him dead, bypassed him and continued their attack on the main force. When he regained consciousness, he crawled back to his weapon and brought it to bear on the enemy rear, inflicting heavy casualties and causing the enemy to stop their assault on the main positions and again attack his machine gun post. Repelling two more enemy assaults, Private Newlin was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous refusal to surrender his position or to cease fighting because of his wounds." -- Guidebook for Marines


"There to the North of us they're to the South of us, they're to the East and West of us... They can't get away from us now!" -- General Lewis B. "CHESTY" Puller 1950


"The Marines have never shone more brightly than this morning." -- General Douglas MacArthur 1950


"No-one can say that the Marines have ever failed to do their work in handsome fashion." -- Major General Johnson Hagood, U.S. Army

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2nd Lt John Bobo

I was forwarded an e-mail requesting information about Medal of Honor recipient Lt. John P. Bobo. My name is Jack Riley and I had the honor and privilege of serving as a squad leader under John and was with him when he was killed in action on March 30, 1967 during the battle of "Getlin's Corner".

John's hometown was Niagara Falls and I am sure that the vets of New York would like to know more about a hometown True American Hero. John has a Navy ship named for him as well as the Officers Mess at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia where John's Medal of Honor story is used to teach LEADERSHIP to every Marine Officer Candidate. There is also a monument in his honor at the park overlooking Niagara Falls.

John was a Leader that took his responsibility very seriously, as did all leaders in "The Flaming I". He made sure that information was made known to all those that needed to know. He along with our Platoon Sergeant, Guy Hodgkins, made sure that every Marine was cross-trained to fill in for any man who may be wounded or killed in action. His belief was that the more we knew, the better we fought. John's attitude molded 2nd Platoon into a very close-knit deadly fighting unit. When a fight started, everyone knew what their responsibility was and performed accordingly. Taking care of the Marine on your left and on your right was John's approach to kicking the enemy's butt.

John joined India Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division and was assigned the position as 2nd Platoon Commander. I joined his platoon one week later in July 1966. John commanded three rifle squads
with attached weapons specialist, M-60 Machine Guns, 60mm Mortars, and 3.5 inch Rockets. We also had attached 81mm Mortars, Ontos, M-48 Tanks, and 106mm Recoilless Rifles.

During the summer of 1966, I/3/9 was located in the An Hoa area 35 miles southwest of Da Nang under the operational control of the 1st Marine Division since the rest of our division was operating along the DMZ. 3/9 was responsible for operations throughout the An Hoa region out to areas that included "The Arizona Territory", Antennae Valley, and Go Noi Island. Providing security for the construction of Liberty Road, the only road to Da Nang, was a challenge. The VC routinely mined this road to disrupt traffic and kill as many Americans as they could.

It is impossible for me to tell you everything that this Hero did in this letter so I will just touch on a few battles. The first significant battle for John occurred on the night of July 4th when our platoon engaged a major NVA force attempting to move undetected across 300 yards of open rice patties to a village on the Song Thu Bon River. We were successful in wiping out that unit. Up until this time in the war, the longest sustained artillery fire mission was fired in support of our attack on that NVA unit.

Unfortunately, our platoon like all Grunt outfits never had the luxury of being at full strength (TO). Typically, we had 8 or 9 Marines to each squad which according to TO was supposed to be 14. Three fire teams of four each, a grenadier, and a squad leader to equal 14. At one period during my tour I had 2 fire teams of 3 Marines including me making up my squad.

The daily routine was either the entire company out on an Operation for many days or weeks at a time, or operating out of Platoon Patrol Bases (PPB). This was the norm when not on operations. PPB routine typically operated this way. One squad defending the outpost along with weapons personnel during the daylight hours. The other two squads broke up their squads into Fire Team Hunter- Killer Teams that ran all day patrols throughout the tactical area of responsibility (TAOR). This meant that there were several 3 man patrols running Seek and Destroy patrols several kilometers around the PPB. Upon contact, the other teams would rush to the aid of their brothers. If a particular patrol was thought to make contact then a squad was sent along with machine guns.

It was not unusual for Lt. Bobo to go along on a squad patrol. He didn't have to do this but he did it because he cared about his Marines so much. At night each squad had responsibility for three separate fire team ambushes as well as perimeter security and listening posts. John and I each received our first Purple Hearts during the battles of the Cu Ban villages along the Song Thu Bon. The Flaming I rendered the R-20th VC Battalion ineffective as a fighting force in battles from September 3-5,1966. Col. George Navadel (retired) then Commanding Officer of "The Flaming I", is writing an account of these battles for the Historical Branch of the Marine Corps. Our 2nd Platoon Sergeant, SSgt. Guy Hodgkins was KIA and presented the Navy Cross for his valor in taking out an enemy machine gun that had our first squad pinned down. 2nd Platoon lost three Marines that day and John Bobo took it very hard. We got even two days later when we wiped them out. John was very calm and collected during a battle. His demeanor gave his Marines the Spirit de Corps so important at a time that is without doubt the most frightening thing man can face. The enemy no more than thirty yards away trying his best to kill you so that he can escape the killing zone of our firepower.

The Flaming rejoined the 3rd Marine Division along the DMZ in 1967. 3/9 was given the TAOR from Dong Ha west to the Rock Pile and all in between. We ran operations all along the DMZ. In March 1967, intelligence reported that a regiment of NVA was attempting to surround our outpost at Con Thien and overrun it. We were trucked out of Camp Carroll to Cam Lo and then marched northwest trying to make contact and draw the NVA into a fight.

We made contact on March 30th after our Battalion Commander ordered our CO, Capt. Mike Getlin to split our company into three separate platoon ambush locations. The CO did not want to do this because he knew contact was immanent but being a good Marine he followed his orders. You can read the citation for John's Medal of Honor and see what a magnificent Marine he was but it doesn't tell you why he sacrificed his life. Yes, John was a warrior but he was so much more to the men who fought on that hill that day. There were so few of us to start with and after the enemy mortars started to fall all over us, there were only a couple who were not wounded. Many had already been killed. Those of us still able to fight fought our way back to the crest of the hill to make our last stand. Lt. John Bobo held off an enemy ground assault on the forward slope of the hill that enabled us to regain a perimeter and defend many attempts to over-run what was left of our platoon. There were fifteen Marines still alive, most wounded several times, still fighting off NVA attacks when our 1st platoon rejoined us in our defense. John knew exactly what he was doing when he ordered his men back up the slope. He knew that he was giving us the only chance we had to not just survive but to win this terrible battle. He gave his life fighting for his Marines, Marines that truly loved him. We lost 15 Marines on Hill 70 that was renamed Getlin's Corner in honor of our fallen commander Capt. Mike Getlin (Navy Cross).

The 15 of us who survived would not be here today were it not for the sacrifices of John Bobo and those brave Marines and Leadership they exemplified.

Lt. John P. Bobo is a real American Hero and I want to thank you for helping his family and his Marine brothers in keeping his memory alive.

Semper Fidelis
Jack Riley
2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon
"The Flaming I" India Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines

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