Marine Corps ranked worst service branch to join, and I love it

This article on Yahoo written by Ron Johnson completely made my day. The writer was asked to rank best military branch to serve in.

He ranks them as:

  1. Army
  2. Air Force
  3. Navy
  4. Coast Guard
  5. Marine Corps (Worst Military Branch)

And here’s what he had to say about the Marine Corps:

“Of all the military branches, the Marine Corps ranks as the least attractive choice for this author. Technically part of the Navy, the Marine Corps are the elite war fighters of the United States military. The leathernecks of the USMC are truly fearsome fighters, tough as nails and ready and willing to fight all comers. The Marines turn recruits into stone-cold killers and they make no secrets about that fact. Marines live tough lives, sleeping on board Navy ships, charging through the surf and crawling in the sand with one goal in mind: engage the enemy. Unfortunately, when Marines fulfill their obligation and exit the service, they seem to find difficulty in turning this Marine Corps attitude ‘off’. Whereas an Army or Navy veteran will likely adjust to civilian life over time and become softer, Marines stay Marines. Visit any neighborhood in the United States and you will find a USMC flag flying high over someone’s house. You will rarely, if ever, see a person flying an Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard flag. While veterans of other military branches tend to relax a little bit as they transition into civilian life, any Marine will be quick to remind you of their unofficial motto, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” I don’t know what those Marine Corps drill sergeants are doing to their recruits, but whatever it is, it works.

“Is that a bad thing? Well, that depends on your reasons for considering a military enlistment. If you have a strong desire to kill the enemy, the Marine Corps is for you because that is what the Marines do. Either you want that or you don’t, plain and simple. If you simply want a challenge, any other branch of the military will provide you with plenty of opportunities to test yourself. Army Rangers and Green Berets, Air Force Pararescue Jumpers, and the Navy Seals all offer extreme physical and mental challenges outside of the Marine Corps. So if you are considering joining the Marine Corps, think long and hard about what that means before going to a recruiter and signing up.”

Here’s the full article and in my opinion the guy is mostly dead on about everything he wrote: The Best Military Branch to Enlist In;  A Veteran Ranks the Military Branches.

And why is it I’m mostly proud of what he said about the Marine Corps? Are we that messed up in the head? : )

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m an action fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing to my blog – I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.


Filed under Marine Corps, Stories about my life

497 responses to “Marine Corps ranked worst service branch to join, and I love it

  1. I never worked with the Marines while I did my thing in the military (was Army). Worked with a Reserve Captain in civilian life, though, and he really had his shit together.

    You, Stan, will always have my deepest respect for the guy you are, and my gratitude for the job you did.

    • Please, Tim. You know my feelings toward your service. My time in the Corps doesn’t hold a candle to your time in Vietnam, but having said that… It is a little sick how proud I am that you respect me.

      They don’t make many men like you.

      • Phil Anninos

        I served two tours in Nam with the 1st Marine Division. The Marine Corps Defined my life. I still must always be on time, keep my word, never leave another Marne behind, and love my Country and Corps.

      • I haven’t been on active duty since 1991, but I still walk the walk and talk the talk. Yes, I fly a USMC flag along with Old Glory. Plt 1005, graduated 2/11/74 MCRD PISC MOS 3002 and 0311.

        • Wow, dazedinduluth,

          So I figure you had to have made a career of it? Do you mind sharing your enlisted rank and how high you got up as an officer?



          • Lessee…. I made PFC in May, 1974. I was on sea duty on the USS Simon Lake, 1974-76. Carlos Hathcock was the detachment gunnery sergeant. I don’t recall my DOR for Lance Coolie. DOR for corporal was 11/1/75, DOR for sergeant was 1/1/77. I see I fat fingered my one MOS. I was an 0311 and 0302. My highest rank was O-3. HQMC shows me as captain, USMCR retired. Walt

            • Oh my word!!! You served with Hathcock?! That’s amazing!

              And I don’t remember my promotion dates… : ( And there I thought I was squared away…

              Thanks for sharing that, Captain! S/F from Oak Ridge!

              • Gunnery Sergeant Donnie Mitchell followed Gunny Hathcock (who was at that time a staff sergeant) as detachment gunnery sergeant. He was awesome too. I learned a lot from Gunny Mitchell.

                • Maybe it’s a “Mitchell” thing? J/K. : )

                  Love to hear some ole’ war stories if you want to share them and can protect the names. Feel free to share them here or shoot me a private email from my “About Me” page. S/F

      • Tim

        Hey Stan, I know this isn’t probably isn’t the best place to post what I have questions on but I’ve read through like half of the comments. It seemed like you new your stuff very well so yea. Starting Ill tell you a little about me, I am 15 and am looking forward to being a Marine soon. I’m around 5’10 150 and super athletic. I also know its not all about size. I’m a sophomore and my GPA is around 2.5. I know I’m not the smartest out there lol but, being a Marine is something I really want to do for the brotherhood and for my country. I love serving those around me no matter how small or big. My dad I think wants more from me but, again is kind of a dream and my mom is fine with it:) . My older sister went into the Army and did construction. She was kind of lost back then but I still admire it a lot. So one of my questions is what is boot camp like? Also what are some sacrifice’s you’ve had to make that I might have to? I’m not saying I don’t love my family, I do a lot! but being home sick or whatever wouldn’t really bother me at all. And if you could give me a little incite on what the ASVAB test is like that would be very helpful too. I hope you can get back to me soon. If anyone else would like to reply you are more then welcome too! Looking forward to saying Semper Fi one day!

    • Steven

      Thanks for the article. It definitely made my night. I’m sitting in my barracks room right now at The Basic School in Quantico. It’s sad to me that the other branches don’t love their own branch as much as we love ours. I understand why they don’t, but I pity them for not being able to hold the level of pride that we do. Thanks again. Rah!

      • Thanks, Steven, and good luck with your career. I spent a few weeks at Quantico doing some MOUT training before the Corps completely understood how best to fight in an urban environment. We were testing everything from various ladders to shields to even tactics, trying to figure out what worked best. I’d like to think all that testing and observation from officers and command staff back in ’97 and ’98 helped save a few lives after 9/11 (and especially in Iraq).

        • Bob Diehl

          Patti, I’d like to thank you personally for your service to our country. Without you, our missions around the world might not have been completed successfully. I salute you. Sgt. Bob Diehl

      • Really, Steven? Did you survey the rest of us? How the hell do you know how much pride and respect we have for our branch of service and our fellow service members? When you’ve completed 30 yrs of service, come visit me and we’ll compare notes. I retired 3 yrs ago; now I teach middle school. I don’t see any reason to dwell on the 30 yrs I spent in the AIr Force, however I do respect the time and the service.

        • Ian Pickett

          aaaaaand the butthurt in Pattis post is real. But…she proves the point made in the article by this statement alone “I don’t see any reason to dwell on the 30 years I spent in the Air Force”.
          Well, that kind of bolsters the authors point now doesn’t it Patti?

          But anyway, besides Para…the Air Force are civilians in uniform, not an insult, just a reality, deal with it. With all due respect to your 30 years, a salty Lance Cpl with 3 years has seen more and done more than the average Air Force person will do in 60. Sorry to burst your bubble but not everyone is created equal, despite what they tell you.

          SEMPER FI!

        • Anonymous

          Not you individually. But as a whole. It’s just fact. No other branch is as proud.

        • Clyde Hamilton

          I have many military friends and to a person they say they respect the Marines most. I have a friend that retired as a Colonel in the Air Force after starting out as a Marine. He still considers himself a Marine and calls me, a Marine Sgt., sir.

        • Anonymous

          You don’t need 30 years to prove anything. I served 5 with 1/3 0311. A Marine is a Marine period. Infantry Marines are a special breed. Thank you for serving but be easy on the young Marine.

      • Anonymous

        A salty chairforce retiree, never seen that before

        • Anonymous,

          Honestly, I used to feel the same way, but once I got out, my views changed. In college — and afterward — I came to realize how few Americans actually serve. What is it? Is it 5 percent? Three percent? One percent?

          Hell, I don’t know, but I respect anyone who served and helped protect our country, and when I drop my very strong Marine Corps pride, I have to admit that the Air Force does a hell of a lot to protect our country, and they’ve kept us with complete air superiority so we grunts can do our thing since WWII (or Korea, depending on how you keep score).

          But I get your comments. And your pride is both admirable and necessary. The Corps MUST be made up of a bunch of hardasses, and I assure you when I was in and full of piss and vinegar, I was as hard as they came.

          Semper Fi, bro. I wish you luck in your future and as I said to someone else who made a similar comment, I’ll bet you in ten years you’ll feel more like I do now.

          • In response to your question, 1/10 of 1% of the population raises that right hand, this excludes TSA, FBI, CIA, Police, Fire, EMT, Paramedics, Border Patrol, Homeland Security, ATF, ICE, and numerous other agencies,…but you are truly the 1 per enters. Be proud no matter what service you sign up for.

          • Based on the veteran’s administration metrics there were 26 million ‘veterans’ in the general population which includes anyone that ever served. I ran the numbers and came up with an interesting number. Only 1 in 142 people in the US were Marines at one point in time or another.

      • Medina

        Couldn’t say it any better. Its something what others won’t understand, eeerah!

      • Jonathan B.

        Bro, your in TBS. Your a lance-tenant. Wait until you get to the fleet and you have Lt. Col’s pressuring you to sweep investigations under the rug and the Good Old Boy network advance the careers of incompetent officers for the sole reason that their yes-men. I love the Marines for everything they stand for: honor, integrity, and selflessness for the welfare of the Marines under our charge, but I see less and less of that in our superiors as time passes.

    • Devil-Doc

      Drill Sergeants don’t do anything to produce Marines. Drill Instructors are the super-motivated-ultra-disciplined-squared-away-stress-monsters that turn recruits into Devil-Dogs!

      • Sigh.

        Airborne, as you will see throughout these comments, I have tamped down the inter-service rivalry of various commenters — and I have done so to only get attacked by several Marines for doing so. I didn’t have to defend the other branches, I chose to. It would have been easier to just throw fuel on the flames…

        Sigh. Deep breath. Stay calm, Stan.

        Okay, I DID, however, read the entire article and while I could counter and provide rebuttal, that wasn’t the point of me linking to the article from Yahoo in the first place. I’m not trying to create some big debate.

        I merely said I was proud somehow despite the fact he ranked the Marine Corps last. And as you will see further down, I give props to a good friend from the 82nd Airborne, I defend the Navy, I defend the Air Force, and I defend the Coast Guard. We are all service members and we should hang together and be proud that we all have paid a price and we all have been taken for granted (mostly).

        Bottom line, there’s enough vitriol and anger in our country and politics already, so going and stoking up this fight that has been fought dozens of times already doesn’t seem productive.

        Damn, bro. Seriously, my man. Be proud of your service. Hell, you were Airborne. An elite part of the Army. Why you got to come in here and attack our heritage and say the Marine Corps isn’t necessary?

        But I tell you what, I’ll forgive you because more than likely some of my fellow brethren have spewed enough anger your way to make you hate us for life. I get that. But let’s not re-fight these battles here. Or today.

        Thank you for your service. I salute what you did for our country, and I respect the obvious pride you have in the Army.

        Semper Fidelis,
        Sgt. Stan R. Mitchell
        Alpha Co., 1st Bn, 8th Marines (1995-99)

        • Stan I would like to thank u for the article, I understand why the marines were ranked last and am proud to be a part of the bottom of the barrel, 1/8 comm June 81 Feb 85 Semper Fi till I Die!

          • Wow, Kevin! Small world! I was in Alpha 1/8, 95-99. We probably slept in some of the same mud, and I curse you for not killing some of the old mosquito bastards that reared and trained some of the meanest SOB great grandchildren ever! Semper Fi, bro!

            • William Blais

              Small world……..Charlie 1/8 97-99. Urban Warrior was like a bad hangover!

              • Oh, my, William!!!! Yes, indeed! It IS a small world. I’m glad you stumbled by the site and dropped a couple of lines. (And I had forgotten those two terrible words!!! Not so glad you reminded me of them! : ) But I’m glad to find another person that I served with in the 90s. Always nice to cross paths with someone who went through the same crap I went through!)

                • Anonymous

                  1/8 H&S Comm 95-98. Albania, Zaire, that crazy (and subsequently fired) SgtMaj…good times in the land of the hurricane party!

                  • Anonymous,

                    Thanks for the comment! We certainly shared the same seas and probably the same ship! (Can’t remember which companies were on which ships!)

                    Were you on the U.S.S. Nassau?

                    And thanks for dropping the comment! Always nice to cross paths with someone from your former life in this small world we all share!


              • Mario A. Valenzuela

                Semper Fi! Devil Dogs!!!

                I proudly served from January 1994 to January 1998. I was stationed in Camp Pendleton Camp Horno 53 Area with 1/9 and with 2/1. Those were the best years of my life!!!!! I fly my Marine Corps Flag every day of the year. This is an awesome article because it’s supposed to insult all the Marince Corps, but it actually defines the way a Marine thinks even after we separate from the service.

                • Hey Mario!

                  Thanks so much for the comment! I never made it to Camp Pendleton, but 1/9 has a legendary status!!! (At least on the East Coast…)

                  I did do a couple of CAX’s at Twenty-nine Palms, but never tasted the hell of the hills of Pendleton…


        • Walt

          I’m the Marine in the neighborhood with Old Glory and the USMC flag flying from flag staffs on either side of the front door. Plt. 1005 MCRD PISC graduated 2/11/74. Graduated from Brown Field OCS on 8/14/81. MOS: 0302 and 0311.

          • Wow, Walt. Assuming you stayed in between boot camp and leaving for OCS, I figure you made a career of it? I’m assuming you don’t want to share your full name, but do you mind saying what enlisted rank you got to and what officer rank you retired as?


    • Robert P Corsa

      I don’t know either of you Marines but our respect comes from places like PI and MCRD. I often say I did not have the honor of serving with my brothers of Kilo 3 26 at Khe Shan. Seems they blew me up
      and sent me home. Respect for Marines comes from being a member of the club. You see we would have did our job no matter what . Some of us just had the honor to add to the tradtions of the USMC .
      Once a Marine there is no where to go but the gates that we sing
      about . Hey Marines its 2014 I cannot believe I made it

      • Mr. Corsa,

        I’m honored you stopped by and left a comment. (Sure have been a lot of Vietnam-era vets saying a few words — see comments strewn throughout further down…)

        Thank you for your service, Mr. Corsa. I can’t imagine what a bitch it must have been defending Khe Sanh.

        You have my deepest respect and my sincerest gratitude,
        SF, my brother,
        Alpha, 1/8

    • Jacob Fischer

      I know your pastor & he says you are a true warrior if there ever was one!

      • Well, my pastor is one of the best men I know, so if he says that, then I’m honored and I credit the Marine Corps and some of the finest leaders to ever breathe for making me that way. (Though some days I wish I wasn’t wired so tight and could relax and do less without all the guilt! Most days, though, I wouldn’t change a thing!)

    • anonymous

      I have alot of respect for all services of the military. I am a Veit Nam Marine vet. To enlighten people about the Marine Corp, they do perform well in battles but follow their history, the Marines Doctrine is to aide and defend natives of a country or village first, then do battle second. One of the failures I Veit Nam the Doctine wasn’t allowed to be used. This may have not affected the outcome, but could have helped to change it.

      • Anonymous,

        Thanks so much for your comment and your service! I’m assuming you’re referring (in part) to CAP Platoons — where, Marines teamed up with local villagers to form combined units.

        I think it’s a shame this program didn’t start sooner and wasn’t expanded more. I think it was one of the more successful efforts of the war.


  2. Family and friends joined the Marines, and I don’t see anything different in them than I did my Army buddies. I think the reason I joined the Army was because of the Army Posters at that time: “Join The Army And See The World!” I really wanted to see the world. Of course, I didn’t know anything about Korea or Vietnam back then (LOL). I sure found out pretty quick. Not to mention Posts like Fort Bliss and Fort Bragg. Hey, there were some good assignments also, three years in France, an assignment to Fort Sam Houston, Fort Hood, Fort Wolters. On second thought, I wouldn’t have been very good on a ship. You can have your Marines and Navy (just kidding fellas).

    • Mr. Johnson,

      Really appreciate the comment, and your service to our country. This blog post created some comments on my facebook page, and since you’re an Army man, I thought I’d share what I posted there.

      Asked about why Marines are so proud, I wrote this (in part): “As a civilian, I’ve tried to drop this over-the-top pride, because frankly, no one likes a loud asshole. And I’ve also come to realize that anyone who served in any of the branches has done more than those who haven’t.

      “But even with all this said, I think most infantry Marines will tell you that we feel closer to other infantrymen (whether Army or whoever) than we do other Marines who weren’t infantry. Serving in the infantry creates probably the tightest brotherhood in the world. I have a good friend from the 82nd Airborne. He thinks most Army soldiers are a joke. I know many Marines who weren’t infantry — and a small number who were — who are a joke. To me, being in the infantry as a grunt supersedes all else. But, not all Marines believe this.”

      So, Mr. Johnson, I respect your service in the Army more than I can explain. (Twenty years? Are you kidding me?!)

      But if you spent much time in muddy foxholes or carrying a pack until you were past the point of wanting to cry, then sir I’d come bleed with you any day of the week.

      Sincerely yours,

      • Larry G

        Hey 0311, your inference is that infantry is the tightest, I presume because you think you see the most danger? Well tell that to the Motor-T guys in Nam as an example…highest percentage of kia of any MOS. You can take your “infantry” attitude and shove it…YATYAS.

        • Ummm, nope, Larry.

          I imagine pilots and air crews on helos and other MOS’s face as much or more danger. I say we’re tight because our jobs suck, as in a capital S-U-C-K. And sometimes our jobs don’t even matter. Othertimes, we’re pawns. And still other times, we’re not even used. (Ever seen the movie Jarhead?)

          Seriously, bro, no offense was intended. Take a couple of breaths and try to not be so defensive. You know, maybe calm down a bit. Appreciate your service and even your comment. We all faced a lot of shit, we all need to hang together. No one who didn’t serve can imagine what we’ve done or what we’ve been through.

          My comment to Mr. Johnson was not made to offend, but to describe the larger fraternity we all are members of.

          I’ll sign off by saying Semper Fi, since I presume by your charming attitude that you’re a Marine.

        • Larry, I spent 4 tours in VN, as a Marine infantry platoon Sgt. I don’t know where you got that information, but it is wrong In war any war the infantry always has the highest casualties. Nature of the game.

          • Jim Stelling

            Motor-T??? The chopper guys had a far and away larger percentage of KIA’s than Motor-T. When someone mentions a tight unit it is not because of KIA’s, it’s because of the unit pride and integrity and brotherhood within that unit. Very, very few units get into serious gun fights except the infantry. My 20 years of experience has shown nothing else.

          • I do not want to go on record as to what MOS had the highest casualty rate, but, from what I read, the infantry obviously had the highest number of casualties. However, percentage wise, it seems that Armored crewmen had the highest percentage of casualties in relative to man power in that MOS. According to my research it was around 27%. I don’t know how accurate that is since infantry often provided support and were transported by Armored Personnel Carriers. I never served in Vietnam so perhaps I should not even comment;


      • Anonymous

        Bro your infantry idea and being closer to other service infantrymen comment is bullshit.

      • Carl Davis

        there are elite Infantry units within the Army such as the one I served in as an 18 year old grunt (11B2p), The 173rd Airborne Brigade (B/4/503rd Inf.) Our tactics were virtually the same as Marine 0311′s. In my opinion now @ 65…stupid! We attacked hills such as 875 @ Dakto, lost beaucoup men including over 30 from “friendly fire” from a Marine Jet who dropped 2, 500 pound bombs on the CP position that held the wounded. A good buddy of mine, Bob Mace served with the Walking Dead” (1/9) and had similar stories to tell. We then abandoned the hills and continued humping the bush looking for more lunacy. The Rangers operated in small units and often ambushed the NVA instead of getting ambushed (Hey, we found ‘em!) like we often did.

        • Great point, Carl! The 173rd has an amazing reputation — I knew it well even when I was back in HS and getting more serious about joining.

          And thank you so much for all your years of service!!! (I do hope at least part of that 18 years was in some mechanized unit! lol)

  3. I remember going to see “Full Metal Jacket” while I was living in Goldsboro NC, home to Seymour Johnson Air Force base. During one of the particularly intense boot camp scenes, I overheard one of the two air-men that was sitting behind me tell his buddy, “Man I’m glad I joined the Air Force”. I turned around and said, “I’m glad you did too”. Crickets. SF.

    • That’s hilarious, Mike! And even funnier that they didn’t say anything back!

      I used to think I was invincible back in the day, as well, and if I told you some of the stupid things I used to do, you probably wouldn’t even believe them.

      • SSgt., JJF

        I recall a great day in my life. Upon completing USMC Boot Camp and ITR (Infantry training) I went home on leave. When I was a kid my brother always kicked my ass. When I got home from boot I gave him a hug and then beat the shit out of him.
        Shoulda seen the funny look on his bloody face.
        OOORAH !!!

        • Nice, SSGT.

          I only have a younger sister, so I can’t totally relate, but that must have felt great.

          I know when I returned this one bigger friend of mine who used to crush me was totally intimidated by me. He was a big dude, like 6’4″ and a huge athlete, so I’m still not sure I could have taken him, but the respect was sure nice!


  4. Stan is probably correct. I served as a Disbursing clerk in the Marine Corps from 1981 – 1985 (including boot camp and training) during peace time. Although I am proud of having served, it is evident from the USMC FB sites I belong to, that I don’t have nearly the same enthusiasm as war-time grunts. Good natured rivalry aside, I respect all who serve in any of the branches.

    • Hey Mark,

      Thanks so much for your service, and for stopping by the site and dropping a comment. And all joking aside, despite the sick pride displayed by most grunts, the fact is probably not a single one of us would have turned down a transfer to do something else if we had been given the opportunity.

      It’s only because it sucked so bad, and broke down our bodies and minds as badly as it did, that we’re somehow super proud and too tight to explain.

      I’ll never forget going to Myrtle Beach once with some of my grunt friends. We were super-white w/o a tan, our legs were covered with chiggers and poison ivy, and we were bony thin, since we rarely were able to lift and were super thin from all the time we had to spend in the field.

      And while we’re sitting on the beach, dreading the next week in the field, some big Marines came by. They were tanned, they were buff, and they were Air Wingers sporting all kinds of Marine gear, and proud of it. (We basically hated the Corps…) And they had hot chicks with them while we could barely pick up a girl, and it was events such as this that made us almost despise anyone who wasn’t infantry.

      It just felt so unfair, even though many of us volunteered for the infantry. But truly, none of us knew how bad it would suck or maybe we’d have changed our minds. Honestly, maybe it was just envy. I wanted to be that big dude with the chicks, not the weak and angry guy whose feet were covered in blisters.

      At any rate, bro, thanks again for the comment and just remember, Marines will always back other Marines. And for that matter, service members of any branch will back service members of any other branch. We’ve all paid a price.

      Semper Fi, brother. Keep in touch and comment more often.

      Sincerely yours,

  5. The Marines are the best, the ELITE of all branches besides the special forces aspect of each branch of service. I find it sickening that people like you think its ok to be a sloth in the military be one getting out. I may not fit the bill now as I “relaxed” when I got out. Yes, I relaxed and found normalcy because I choose that. I served 11 years in the Marines in various duties outside my PMOS. People allow themselves to be robots.,.not someone from boot camp. Those people choose that life style. Shockingly you did not mention how we all get tatted up, alcoholics, man/woman whores, trouble makers, or Uncle Sams misguided Children (USMC).

    • Hey Phillip,

      I wanted to say first of all that I didn’t write that article. I quoted another writer and then linked to his article.

      And you make some great points about how the lifestyle is for most of those while they’re in. I’m proof that you can avoid that lifestyle, but I’m certainly pretty rare. (I’m still one of the only Marines I know w/o a tat, and still to this day I don’t drink… So, it can be done. Not easy, but it can.)

      Regarding relaxing, I’m really glad you were able to. Every Marine I know wishes they could achieve that same peace. I’ve even spent years heavily studying Buddhism (on top of Christianity) to try to find some peace. To try to be normal (or relaxed) again. Sometimes, I wonder if it’ll ever happen. Or maybe deep down I don’t want it to happen.

      Who knows. Life is complicated. I’m still trying to figure it out.

      Semper Fi, bro. Keep in touch and comment more often.

      Sincerely yours,

  6. Anonymous

    I think other services are not taught thier history, we are taught everything that are service has done . There are no patches on are arms we are just Marines . We know are birthday ,we know the battles we were invovled in and we are called former marines not ex . You are right it is hard to turn off the switch that has made us Marines. I agree Stan you kinda forget who that 18 boy was and where he went, i quess that is the price of are service to the best country the world has ever known!

  7. Topfig1

    It’s funny to read that a fellow Marine feels closer to an infantryman of another service than a Marine of a different MOS in the Corps. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Marine Infantryman happier than when we are extracting him from a hot LZ and his ass is full of shrapnel or bullets. Maybe next time you can run your ass outa there while chanting songs to Ole Chesty. In 31 years I’ve extracted, Medivaced, casavac’d People from different services and never had one complaint. To the Jarhead that wrote that reply, you obviously spent a shitload of time on guard duty, in the rear with the gear. Trust me, I can tell a four year PVT-LCpl when I read your crap.

  8. Topfig1

    Oh, I can’t believe I forgot, Semper FI ungrateful one.

  9. Topfig1

    Oh wow,, now his comment’s gone lol.

    • Topfig1,

      I apologize. I meant no disrespect by my comments, but I’m not going to bitch out and delete or change them. Truly, that’s how I felt that day, and I’m going to leave those remarks up because that’s how I felt sitting on that beach that day.

      Semper Fi,

      • Sam

        Okay – been reading and (mostly) enjoying the exchanges. But, listen – don’t apologize to Topfig1. He sounds like a petulant, immature wannabe. Thirty-one years as a helicopter crewman? Naw. Don’t think so.

  10. It is true that the Marine Corps leaves a lasting impression on its members. It made me a tough and resilient person. I have the ability now to set goals and understand that setbacks aren’t failures, I just need to adapt, improvise, and overcome to achieve what I want. I left active duty and got my bachelors of science in biology and I am now a year and a half away from graduating veterinary school. My classmates wonder how I can get through the stress of four years of medical school while maintaining a happy home life with my husband and child and I tell them that the Marine Corps has already taught me how to handle stress and time away from my family.

    Excellent leadership training has taught me how to reach out to people around me at their level and make connections without being a robot. They do know that I expect professionalism and honesty from them and I give the same. I have had people call me the Sergeant when I have had to deal with situations with others who were less than professional or honest but I don’t think that it is a negative trait to stand up for what is right.

    I also love what I am learning now and I have that in common with most people that I come into contact with. Any service member leaving any branch of the military should have a plan and go into a field that they can see themselves enjoying and growing in and they need to understand that the transition isn’t overnight. Another sergeant I served with will graduate pharmacy school at the same time I graduate veterinary school. It will take eight years for both of us, but in the long run that time is a drop in the bucket and it was our backgrounds as Marines that gave us the determination and commitment to see it through. If that makes the Marine Corps the worst branch then I’ll take it and wear it with pride. Semper Fidelis!

    • Congratulations, Cortney!!!

      So glad you’ve adapted well, and your experience is remarkably similar to mine. I might have been a little messed up in the head, but I was super driven and went to college year round and with tons of drive, earning my degree superfast while launching a business on the side and working parttime between 20 to 30 hours a week.

      So, I guess I’m saying I’ll take it, too!

      Semper Fi!


    • I’ve witnessed many Marines move into great careers…be proud you made a difference and continue to make a difference. Sgt LoGiudice BS, MS, DC

      • Thanks, Sgt LoGiudice! And I agree with your comment. For every horror story about Marines not adjusting after EASing, there are just as many — or more — about Marines who have, and who have worked their butts off and gone far in various career fields.

        At one newspaper I worked at, they used to mock me and call me “Gung Ho.” I always volunteered for extra assignments, didn’t mind working weekends, etc. And it was funny… I think they thought that kind of peer pressure would force me to fit in and not make them look so bad.

        Um, nope. Don’t think so. We Marines have all dealt with 10x what people could possibly think we have. We do our jobs, we do them well, and we’re not afraid to outwork those around us. And if they have a problem with that? That’s just too bad….

    • Skyler

      Great post, Marine! I was successful for a time in the civilian world, but I was so proud of being a knuckle-dragging, life-taking Marine that I had to come back!

      Given the nature of today’s fight, it matters little what uniform you wear. In the end, we all fight the same enemy and we all come together to get ‘er done! And when it’s time to take off the uniform, those who have served will (mostly) rise to the surface and take their rightful place in society as ones to emulate and follow when they show up with a plan to succeed.

      I am PROUD of those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines with whom I have served with and led into battle, and of countless others I don’t even know, because this ‘long war’ has given me a profound respect for you.

      Yep, I will almost choke a soldier or sailor out for bad-mouthing my Corps, but I will smoke anyone who maligns one who has served. Semper Fidelis, and just remember that beyond all the smack talk and bravado, we are the 1%!

  11. To take the time to explain what the Corps injects into it’s rank and file would be a most time consuming endeavor. As a former Drill Instructor and USMC (Ret.), I do know that the Corps will never leave a Marine even if he/she desires it so. I am certain I wouldn’t want it any other way……Semper Fidelis,.H. L. Davis.

    • Mr. Davis,

      That’s exactly right. My buddies and I have talked about this, and even if you get out on a bad note, as time passes, your love for the Corps is rekindled and you grow prouder and prouder as you grow older.

      Appreciate the comment and please drop by to visit more often!

      Semper Fidelis,

  12. Anonymous

    What is this battle of the branches? Its true, the USMC knows their history and is proud of it. Maybe the other branches should learn theirs. Call me a flower child but we are all MILITARY. We should be backing each other up. Not hatin and on each other. Im Navy my husband is Marine Corp. All i have to say is that the military hads taught us self respect, disapline, and pride. Not everyone are taught good morals growing up. We all come from different places and need some type if guidance. Military has given us that and the MARINE CORPS has given my family more than anyone can ask. (travel,stability, love..)So stop the haten n start the lovin.. We need to look at the good stuff it has done for us not the bad. N yeah weve had the bad…


    • I agree, Rae. When our ship stopped in Italy, there were nearly some fights with the locals, and when we were in bars and situations like that arose, it didn’t matter if you were Navy or Marine or Air Force, it was ‘Merica first! : )

  13. Robert Espeleta

    Being active duty the Marines was great for me. My MOS was like a 9 to 5′er. Never been in ships, just Airforce planes or Delta airlines to PCS duty stations. I was stationed in wonderful duty stations too like sunny SoCal or fun Okinawa. Tech schools like in Memphis for aviation or San Antonio for MP school was a blast too. Generalizations like this are weak. I wouldn’t trade anything to be one of the Few and the Proud!

    • Mr. Espeleta,

      Thanks for the comment! And how long were you in for? You mention at least two MOS’s, so I figure you at least did eight years… Is that right?

      Semper Fi,

      • Robert Espeleta

        Yes Mr. Mitchell, I got out for a year then reenlisted as an aviation ordnanceman just in time for Desert Storm which was an aviation war for the most part.

        • Please, just call me Stan. And isn’t it funny how the Corps somehow calls you back?

          I did my four and by the end, I was spent and pretty much hating it after a crappy deployment to Okinawa.

          But less than two years later, I was missing it — or at least thought I was — and joined a Reserve infantry unit about an hour and a half away. Literally the first night back in the field had me kicking myself though, thinking what an idiot I was for going back in… : )

          Anyway, same thing happened to one of my friends. He got busted down for a DUI from Cpl to LCpl,and cursed the Corps to no end because he felt his officer and command didn’t stand up enough for him. But then just a few years later, he re-signed up and became an officer. Got out after six a Captain.

          Heh. Go figure. It’s a love/hate thing. Like that crazy girlfriend we’ve all had or something…

  14. James Mousseau

    Loved this article the first time I read it, too. I’m proud to have been a USMC 0311. Locate, close with, and destroy the enemy through fire and maneuver. Repel the enemy’s assault through fire and close combat. Ooh-f’ing-Rah!! What that article doesn’t account for is the value of being one of the elite, and joining a brotherhood for life. I wouldn’t change it if I could. Semper Fidelis to all my brothers and sisters.

  15. oldbill

    When I was in high school, I was going to join the “Army” and stay in for 20 years as a career. I was asked to join the Marine Corps after scoring well on military aptitude tests. This was in 1965 when I took the tests and six months later, I was called by the Marine Recruiter. The month I went active, June, 1966, the Marine Corps had its largest draft in its history. I enjoyed nearly two years of state-of-the-art aviation electronics and crypto training, and then I spent nearly two years in Vietnam. I got out after serving for four years. I will be forever grateful that I was given the honor to be a Marine. Knowing what I do today, I would do the same thing again.

    Always Faithful,

  16. Wow, way to turn a review into a praise, thanks for the compliment. A better way of describing Marines is getter-done-guys. Stone cold killers, I met many Marines that wouldn’t hurt a fly. We have admins, mechanics, engineers, supply, communication, cryptology, and even cooks. While the primary mission of any Marine is to accomplish the mission, leave nobody behind, with minimal loss of life. Or…we accomplish more with less. Go farther on an empty stomach, push past the objective, adapt and overcome. Warrior ethos is the inbred characteristic of any Marine…this has a purpose. If a Marine falls in combat, the cook, the mechanic or the admin clerk can quickly fill the position with little to no training. A basic rifleman…all Marines can brag of this ability. Remind me how that is a bad thing. Lets apply this to real life….your boss says you need to work the weekend if the job isn’t completed. You decide to try to damnest to finish it and work late into the night on Friday and say your employer from paying you double time. Or you have an irate customer that is about to punch out your secretary (who is three weeks pregnant) and you go out and try and rationalize with him until there is no more options to subdue him. Or you witness some punk beating up his girlfriend, while everyone walks on by, that Marine intervened. He is the one that holds open the door, says, “Yes Ma’am”, stops to change a flat tire, gives willingly to the homeless veteran standing at the freeway exit, he is most likely an example, a mentor to those that are needing one and are willing to learn. He is the natural leader when no one knows what the hell is going on, when a crisis presents itself, he is usually the one to find a workable solution. He may have problems turning that off…but I would rather have a problem solver than a problem creator in my place of business. Before you say worst, you need to add ‘most effective before that. You placed the Army before the Air Force and Navy….therefore you are totally discredited. If this story was written by me, I’d add a preface of my military history. Mine is 7 yrs active duty Marines, and 10 yrs as a National Guardsman…my order from best to worst would of been this: ASAF, USN, USA, and USMC. We are few and we are proud, the US can count on us, years after our obligation is expired. The title of Marine is earned through blood, sweat, tears, and deployments. Long deployments and many of them. I have not met a more loyal group, more legal, and more honest than the US Marine. You can bank on that and yes, being a Marine isn’t for everyone. It is 3% of the total military…truly the few and the proud. We stand shield to Sheila my brother and I, either get behind us or get in front of us…Let me guess which you’ll decide. I’ll finish this with my favorite saying: Get busy living….or get busy dying.

    • Hah! Wow, Sgt! Someone should have been a recruiter! : )

      Semper Fi, brother.


      • Stan, Im new to your ‘stuff’ heads up, when you have writers block call a formation, Im sure one of us can get you through it….lots of great stories here…tap into them. You puts words down and tell our stories….be our eyes.

        • I really appreciate that. I’ve been blessed to meet tons fo great Marines since I got out and started down this author track, and they’ve all worked diligently to help me advance and succeed.

          I can’t remember if you subscribed to the blog or not — I’ve had quite a few the past few days and don’t have time to look it up — but if you didn’t, make sure you subscribe for alerts up in the upper right corner.


  17. I was never train to kill but I was train to defend. Your parents told you always defend yourself if someone hit you , so that’s what the Marine Corps taught me. I never in my 30 year career have heard someone say we are train to defend around the world and at home. When I see people sorry comments like this one , but they didn’t know the Marine Corps or they don’t know any better. Yes we have the highest pride of any branch of service because of what it takes to be a Marine. It takes a special person to be a Marine oooorah. I transition very from a Marine MGySgt to GS Branch Chief for the Army with my Marine Corps Leader skills. I’ve seen some of the other branch of services leaders that retire and it seem like they forgot about how to lead when they became civilian employees. I’m only talking about what I see where I work around or seen at other place. Remember this is your opinion about the Marine Corps not the world because I wasn’t surveyed.

    • Thanks for the comment, Master Guns. Huge, HUGE, respect for you earning that rank. That’s some serious love and determination for the Corps, and I know things can get super political as you rise in rank, so congrats on your stunning achievement.

      And I appreciate your words of wisdom, and you taking the time so say all that. Even I often find myself a little too ooh-rah and “Yut, Yut, Kill,” sometimes, but I’m going to keep your wise words in mind and try to tone that down in the future.

      Semper Fi from a humble Sergeant who’s honored you stopped by and made such a long comment.

  18. Anonymous

    Love the article and I love the fact that you reply to everyone. I just hate the fact that you feel closer to grunts of other services than you do to fellow Marines. I served 4 yrs as a 0621 field radio operator and I remember all the grunts I worked being happy I was around but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But I do remember sleeping in the mud and all the field exercises and I do remember the grunts leaving the field early because the weather got bad. Not bad mouthing them because it was smart, it just sucked because our CO always felt the need to more than the grunts. So believe it or not some other mos’s get it just as bad the grunts and I wouldn’t change a thing. Semper Fi!

    • Anonymous,

      Appreciate the comment, but I did want to respond to it. First of all, if you were a field radio operator and spent that much time in the field, then I think it’s fair to say I have much love and respect for you.

      Secondly, I came to learn as a civilian that you can carry TOO much over-the-top Marine Corps pride, and I don’t think that’s healthy for your career or relationships/friendships with other servicemen and women. I mean, there’s no nice way to say this, but I’ve learned that frankly, no one likes a loud asshole. (Not saying you are, but I used to be. No more for me though.)

      I’ve come to realize that anyone who serves in any of the branches has done more than those who haven’t. And anyone who’s served in the infantry (or combat arms units) in other branches has earned additional respect from me.

      But I do want to be clear that I respect all Marines, period. And I appreciate the instant camaraderie we all have with each other. There’s just no way I couldn’t respect someone who’s stood on those yellow footprints and gone through all the crap we all went through in boot camp.

      Bro, I try to love everybody, and given the reputation we Marines generally carry, we could probably stand to have a few more Marines show a bit more respect for our sister services.

      Much love to you and all. SF!

  19. Almost 22 years in the Corps, mostly with 1st MarDiv. Now I am a middle school English/Literature teacher and I use the management skills I learned in the Corps everyday. Kids love me, parents love me, and the other staff love me. Not a bad way to live…

    • Mr. Dill,

      Thanks for that comment and especially all those years in the Corps. You didn’t mention whether you were an officer or senior enlisted, but with that much time, I imagine you got VERY high up (or they’d have pushed you out). So, much respect for all your years in our Corps.

      And, I’d say herding kids and trying to deal with the energetic, little rug rats probably tests every bit of your discipline! I can’t imagine how much they look up to you. I never had a Marine teacher, but I once had a Middle School Army teacher, and he was so tough, so stern, so serious. Just an amazing example that I always looked up to, and I instantly wanted to have what he had.

      Keep setting the example for those kids and those around you. Our country — and our communities — need it.


  20. Richard J. Bordonaro USMC (Retired)

    I retired after 22 years of service on November 1st. Why do I fly the Marine Flag outside my house…Not because I am having a hard time transitioning to civilian life as the author of the original article writes, but because I am very proud of my service, not only to our country, but to our Corps. I am also proud that for the rest of my life when someone says “Hey Marine!” I will answer. The question that should be asked is why don’t more Veterans of the other branch of service fly their service flags outside their homes. They will fly the flag of their favorite college or professional sports team, but not the flag of their service…I find that to be most unusual. Semper Fi!

    • Mr. Bordonaro, I have a flag pinned up in my cubicle, and some of my awards framed on the wall. I can’t imagine not having it there, so we’re in the same boat. I can’t speak for why other service members don’t, but I do see some Navy flags out there. (I’m trying to remember seeing an Army one, and I honestly just can’t. But it seems Army service members are usually more proud of their unit, versus the whole Army. For instance, my friend who did his time in the 82nd Airborne is super proud of his unit, and trashes most of the rest of the Army.)

      And as I said to an early commenter, HUGE respect for your 22 years of service. Even as much as I loved the Corps, I just don’t think I could have pulled off that much time. I didn’t deal with some of the stupidity very well — and I have a Page 11 to prove it — but I also pushed too hard and pulled off getting Sergeant in four, so I’m not some dirtbag. I’m super proud of my record and incredibly proud of my Page 11. I was right about that and just about everyone knew it, but I HAD been disrespectful and undermined my squad leader (for good reason).

      I just don’t know how someone navigates the politics and BS for 20 years. It truly takes a better person than me to do that.


  21. Jerry, Major Retired

    I read your article with great delight, and of course pride. As a 30 year retired Marine, I can relate to nearly every comment here. Starting out enlisted for 12 years up to GySgt, then Warrant to CWO-3 and LDO to Major, I thought every rank I ever held was the best rank, and each gave me new insight into the workings of the Corps. But the one thing I learned that is missed by a lot of young Marines is “The Grunt” is the most important job in the Corps. Every other job in the Corps is to support the Grunt, because as has been proven in the last three wars, the job isn’t done until there are boots on the objective!
    And one last observation: The Air Force has Airmen, the Army has Soldiers, and the Navy has Sailors. And I don’t believe their pride in their service branch is really any less that ours, but we ARE Marines.

    • Major,

      What a journey! Wow! Gunny to Warrant Officer to Major!!! There has to be a book in there…

      And you probably missed what I said above, since your comment posted while I was typing mine, but even as much as I loved the Corps, I just don’t think I could have pulled off even 20 years.

      I didn’t deal with some of the stupidity very well — see my comment directly above about my Page 11 — and I just don’t know how someone navigates the politics and BS for 20-plus years. It truly takes a better person than me to do that.


  22. Steven H

    This is the funniest thing I have read in a long time, it put a smile on my face!! Lol, this is what makes us the few and the proud because we worked for what we have. I wear my sweat shirt and fly my flag with pride. Know me, fear me, love me I’m your final hope when all goes wrong I am a U.S. Marine

    • Thanks, Steven H!

      It reminds me of the old recruiter story where all of the recruiters get up in front of a High School and give their pitches and make all kinds of promises, and then the Marine goes last and says he won’t promise anything, that it will suck, etc., etc.

      I love that story…

  23. Stumbled, tripped, and fell on to your blog; still trying to how that happened, but glad I did. As you, I am a Marine, 36 years, 10 enlisted, 26 as an officer, all but the first few infantry, took me nineteen years to write about it: “We’ll All Die As Marines,” website same as title w/o the apostrophe. Loved your books, read mine, I guarantee it will shake loose many memories of days gone by. Read all the recent posts, reminded me of many stories, but one if I may. We travel in an RV a lot, pulled into the Naval Base, Key West, parked the rig, and as I was setting it up, I noticed a bunch of folks on lawn chairs in a circle by another RV. The car had FL plates with a Marine emblem embossed on it, and there was a USMC flag flying from the RV. Once set up, I grabbed a beer and a cigar, walked over to join them. After all the introductions, I asked who’s ca?. A man stood up offered a hand shake. Of course, I responded with Semper Fi, and asked when he retired. He told me that he spent four years in the Corps as an infantryman, and decided that wasn’t for him. Got out, joined the Air Force and retired after 22 years. I asked why he flies a USMC flag and has a USMC license plate? Ready for this? He said: he is more proud of his four years in the Corps than he is of his 22 years in the USAF. He continued, being in the Corps was being in the military, being in the USAF was just like having a civilian job. As a former DI, I could go on for pages of how we create that attitude, but it’s all in the book. God bless the United States of America and Her Marines! Semper Fi Stan!

    • Wow, Sir?! Private to Colonel? I didn’t even know that was possible.

      And what an amazing story about the Marine and his Air Force time.

      And I saw your military decorations and the fact you served as a DI, and I’m torn between the feeling of not being worthy to shake your hand, but seriously wanting to, and the terror of you finding my home below inspection ready level. : )

      Semper Fi!

      • Thank you for the kind words Stan, they are greatly appreciated, especially today as it is my birthday and I am pleased as punch to still be on the green side of the grass. Semper Fi, Brother

        • Well, happy birthday, Sir. And I saw on your website that your email is listed as “sgt” and it occurred to me that you must really be torn about your time in — as to what ranks you enjoyed most — and I hope the command staff sucked as much knowledge and perspective from you as they could… SF!

      • Good to see other “Mustangs’ reading the page! Pvt (all 9 enlisted ranks) to Capt was my forte within a 23.5 years of glorious service! Admire ALL who have matter what service! Believe in ‘conscription’ for all youth out of HS for two any capacity that will honor our Great Country! Believe that street crime would be at a minimum if so instituted! Really enjoying these comments and will be ‘Nooking” your books! OOOOORAH!

        Sem[er Fi

        Semper Fi

        • Capt Fitzgerald,

          I do agree with you about conscription. I think every HS graduate should have to give two years, and those who object to the military, could do Americorps or the Peace Corps or some kind of social work like that. That would help almost all kids figure out what they really wanted to do in life, and thus they would go to college or their skill school far more mature, hungry, and focused.

          Really appreciate your comment and service, and I will need to email you about my books. (They’re not currently available on Barnes and Noble because of an exclusive deal I’m in, but I will email them to you at no cost.)

          SF and OOOOORAH as well!!!

    • Hmmmn, your comment reminds me of a recent blog I read about a gentleman that was around 80 and recently joined the ranks of the VFW and was going to his first meeting (in FL) and noticed almost every car had USMC plates. FL is a state with many options, one for each service and so on…so he did some research (he had a PhD) and interesting stuff came up. The Marines are 3% of the total service, in his findings, he found like 18,000 Army and 20,000 Navy and like 41,000 Marine plates were issued, he was quite surprised but this is our honor and our heritage…We make Marines. And Yes we do have trouble shutting it off. If you find the article, you’ll see that my numbers are off a bit, but they are close. One last little story of how I became a Marine. I enlisted out of Salem Oregon in 1989, going nowhere fast I made a decision to see what my options were and everyone was saying go AF…so I made my 11:00 appointment with the AF recruiter and I shaved and wore cologne and showed up early. By 11:45, I was pacing the hallway because no one showed up….a Marine recruiter down the hall said, “Come here son, lets see how many pull-ups you can do”. That began my 7yrs 1 mon, 23 days in the Corps…and I’ll end this story with one last observation. When I got out…I found I wasn’t ready to get out and called the AF recruiter again, surely with my impeccable record they would want me now…he sat down with me and looked over all my schools and contemplated it for a bit and told me, “…we can’t use you because you are to combat-oriented”. My jaw nearly hit the floor… again went next door and joined the Army National Guard and haven’t regretted it. I have 17 yrs and 3 months of service on the books, and still not ready to retire in 3 yrs. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

      • Wow. That’s an amazing story, all the way around. I did have some Marine friends go into the Army after their four because they couldn’t get anything but stupid infantry re-enlistment packages, and they still seem to wear their Marine Corps pride just as strong, or stronger. But who knows, maybe that’s just with me.

    • Proud Marine

      You have to earn your title to be called a Marine. Anyway I will try to make a point. I was an infantryman for almost 15 yrs, for circumstances out of my hand I had to get out of the Corps. 3 yrs later I started another career in Civil Service and yr later I joined the Army National Guard and ended up retiring with 25 yrs of total service, a tour to Desert Shield/Desert Storm
      And a tour with the Army at Iraqi Freedom 2004.
      Throughout my yrs of service the one thing I learned that every service has its mission and every job and every MOS is necessary for the accomplishment of the missions. I remember seeing those Air wingers and the LVT platoon getting those birds ready and amtracks ready for us for the landing. I appreciate the long hours these Marines put in along with the Navy Combat Cargo Crew. I tell you without the support the grunts get from other Marines they can not carry out the mission.
      I learned to have respect for others that wore a different uniform and understand their missions.
      I Am always identified as a Marine and it never is going to change regardless that serve in a different uniform at the end
      Semper Fi

      • Proud Marine,

        Thanks so much for pulling off 15 in the infantry and all your service the Army National Guard. You are far more hombre than me. My body barely survived four, and that was even after the Navy rebuilt my shoulder.

        And I appreciate your comments praising other MOS’s, as well as always remembering your were a Marine first.


  24. Robert Espeleta

    Stan, I sometimes wonder what it’s like to be an 0311. I have met and observed a lot of them being an MP and some of my school friends ended up as Division MP’s. I see that they are more closely knit than any of the units that I’ve been assigned to. But it seems like their day to day life is unpredictable and sometimes they have super a–hole commands. My unit had some 0311s fapped out to us. I really like most of them. They were much more relaxed and less of a prick than most of the MPs.

    • MPs are pricks, but I guess they’re supposed to be! : )

      And I think some of that close knit-ness (if that’s a word) comes from the fact that we’re together all the time. Like, literally 24-7 for most of the week out in the field. (Or they used to be; don’t know how it is these days with the wartime op tempo.)

      And sometimes it would be clear that there was no reason for us to even be in the field, just killing time, and they’d make us stay tactical so you couldn’t even talk. It was infuriating and maddening and I nearly went completely crazy. I still remember the day I spent almost eight hours behind my pack, my rifle aimed in the woods where visibility was maybe twenty feet. I watched ants, I went into a trance, I’m convinced I went nearly crazy that day, and if I would have had a pistol, I would have shot myself right then and there. (Or maybe the folks in charge…)

      In all honesty, I will probably never forgive command for that day. Marines aren’t stupid. We should practice being tactical some, but being tactical all the time destroys morale, convinces men not to re-enlist, and is utterly a complete waste of time, IMO.

      Compare that field op to one in which our platoon leader said to hell with it, let’s post a guard and do a boots and ute’s run.

      I never understood why we didn’t use some of that time for hand-to-hand, PT, lessons (such as the LT teaching PFCs to call in air support), or a million other things.

      But unfortunately, we never did, but that one time.Instead, we froze, we lay in mud, we sweat our asses off. And if you wanted to re-enlist, you could only go infantry again or a B Billet like DI, range instructor, or recruiter. And then after that, you got to be… Wait for it… Infantry…

      How they expected anyone to re-enlist is beyond me… I sound sour about it, and I guess in truth sometimes I still am. I joined with plans to do 20 years — 30 if they’d let me. I scored high enough to be in intelligence and I demanded to be infantry and even made them put it in writing. (And I had to talk with an Army recruiter about the Rangers in order for the Marine recruiter to take my threats serious about demanding to be infantry, whatever branch it ended up being…)

      But, had I known how it really was? Maybe I’d have changed my mind…

      • Joe

        The BS you complain about (tactical tree watching) diminished rapidly after 2003. 03s are different because they can’t do their jobs alone or in groups of under three. You can work on a jet, drive a truck, push paper for the SJA, manage the supply warehouse, etc as an individual or maybe a small group. You can’t do infantry as a small group – it takes the unit to function (squad at a minimum). Infantry isn’t just closing with and destroying the enemy – although that’s its purpose. It’s the bullshttng, pranks, being there as support when something is wrong back home, the intense adrennaline rush, AND sharing the suck. Your unit is your life and every individual is a critical cog that determines the success or failure of that unit. That’s why infantry is tight.

        • Hey, Joe, thanks for the comment!

          I’m glad the BS tactical tree watching — I like your description of it — ended.

          And you are so right about the “bullshitting, pranks, being there as support when something is wrong back home, the intense adrennaline rush, AND sharing the suck.” That is absolutely part of what makes you so tight.

          And I know I probably sound like a complete bitch with my description of that day, but I was a new PFC, just in the Fleet. I should have said to hell with it and lay on my side and taken a nap, but I was Mr. Moto and all gung ho and stupid. So, I just lay there, looking for the “enemy.”

          I sometimes tell friends about that day and I say, “If you don’t think you’d go crazy, just try it. Put on full combat gear, including the helmet obviously, and go lay on your stomach with your back at a 30-degree angle, your rifle aimed toward the woods. (With a very short view — read, almost none; this shit isn’t like hunting where you see other game to make the time pass…)

          And lay like that, moving as little as possible, for eight hours. Don’t talk to anyone, don’t stand to relieve the pressure on your back, just lay there. And imagine as you’re laying there — trying not to look at your watch, since that only makes it worse — that you think the next three and a half years will be exactly like that.

          And if you can do that (and still even stand afterward and move your neck) and not want to kill someone or be completely half out of your mind, then you’re a better man than me.

          Damn, I still get pissed off about that day…

      • Skyler

        Hey Stan, as one of those prick Platoon Commanders in 97-99 in 8th Marines, I can honestly say it was for a reason. Now, I tried to be creative, but sometimes you gotta practice being bored too! Combat is 96% boredom and 4% about to lose your life, but you gotta be ready all the time. Not sticking up for the guy, I’m just saying! Think 2/8 – 97 to 99.

        Stay motivated!

  25. Scott

    Stan, I would agree with parts of the article, I know many men and women in all the services and almost all are proud they served. As for why Marines are the way they are, once you have worn that uniform you have become one with your brothers and sisters, past, present and future. This doesn’t go away just because you eventually found a new job, Once a Marine, always a Marine. Proudly displaying both the American and the Marine Corps flags.

  26. Maurice Garcia

    I spent 8 years in in the Marine Corps. Yes it didn’t have four rating equipment or top notch gear, but it teaches you to live with what you have. Tell you a short story long, before I joined the Marine Corps I was homeless. I had a child at a young age and since I had two younger brothers my folks said I wasn’t living the Christian life that I needed to up hold for my brothers sake.i was 17 living out on the streets. To be exact under the 15 fwy. I did this for several month. It hurt as a father knowing I had nothing to offer my child. Well I got myself together went to the recruiting office and told them I want to be the best of the best. I signed my contract early 2005 and it was the best thing fir me as a person but more so as a father to my daughter. Those drill instructors instilled in me the key elements of survival, more so all those who where with me. Knowing this I have already had nothing but given a rack to sleep meals to eat and a rifle. What more can anyone ask for. I was protecting my country and more so providing for my daughter. Later I had two more wonderful children. Yes a single father, but remembering those who I have served with most of all. I fought with the leanest meanest SOB out there. So no matter what critics have to say, it takes special people to want special things. I thank you for all those who I served with for having my back just as I had yours and returning me to my little love ones who await to be in my arms.

    Semper Fi
    Combat Vet

    p.s. please note before you write about a branch know your facts we are not soldiers or navy men we are the finest branch of the military. If you choose a branch and so happen to be the Marines, remember nothing is given nor it will never be, because you work for what you want and it will be earned.

    • Mr. Garcia,

      What a motivating story! I will say that one thing I loved about boot camp is you have all these guys — some rich, some poor, some black, some white, some Latino, and on and on — and everyone is dressed the same, no one has any more than anyone else, and you have to earn respect. It’s not given by your parents through wealth or connections, it’s not given by skin color or ethnicity or how you talk. You earn that shit, day in and day out.

      And best of all, I had come from an innercity school with some racial problems and lots of division and animosity. It was so nice to be in a place where the only color is green, and the only “gang” is your platoon.

      Semper Fi, brother. I hope the Corps helps you get on your feet when you get out and you never have such money problems again. And good luck raising those kids. Inspire them to be great, every single day.

      That’s the other thing I love about the Corps. It teaches you to inspire others and set the example. And as I once read about kids, “More is ‘caught’ than ‘taught.’ ”

      They don’t care what you say near as much as what you do and how you live.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Hope you’ll follow the blog and stay in contact.


  27. Reblogged this on Political Baseballs and commented:
    Lovely – more of the “Marines only know how to kill people nonsense.” The real reason Marines are the world’s most fearsome fighting force is because what those Marine Corps Drill Instructors instill in every Marine are three qualities that are far more important in any occupation – civilian or military – than any MOS training. These are qualities that every employer is looking for in employees: self-discipline, motivation and determination.
    This isn’t to knock the other branches or the people who serve in them. But the author notes that Marines carry a pride of service well into civilian life that they do not, and the reason can be directly traced back to those three qualities. Marines know there is no obstacle that can’t be overcome, challenge that can’t be met or situation too difficult. The attitude the author wishes we would turn off upon exiting active duty? It isn’t a desire to kill. It’s the self-assurance that results from having overcome the most extreme challenges any mortal man could possibly face. Although, truth be told, there is always that little inkling in the back of our minds that if you ask for it, we could send you to meet your maker in less time than it takes a rabbit to shit lettuce.

    • Well said, Ray. You pretty much said what I couldn’t say, but tried to imply with the comment of “being mostly proud of the article.” SF, bro, and thanks for re-blogging this!

  28. Shane

    After reading the entirety of the article, I completely agree with what he wrote about Marines, albeit I can’t fathom how so much pride in service is in anyways regarded as detrimental, and the Marine Corps does give you options to chose your MOS, and as long as it isn’t a hot one at the time, you’ve got a good chance, not only that you get two other choices if that first one doesn’t need you yet. Also his referring to combat MOS’s as “menial” is a kick in the nuts, if it weren’t for them people like him would be out on the front lines.

    Also, I did four years active duty, I then got out and went into the reserves, I have been doing that for a year. Now I have never been in the army, or any other branch, nor was I remotely interested when I first enlisted, so I don’t know how their recruiters work, what I do know is that pay, entitlements, and benefits work the same across the board. They are all regulated by publications that come straight from the DoD, and NOT the individual branch of service. The only case in which this is not true is BAH, and that is issued by the base commanders policy, for example, some bases authorize Sgt’s and above BAH, while others require you to be a SSgt or higher, and some that don’t have any barracks give it to everyone (I&I staff usually get this). That being said, my Marines now in the reserve unit weren’t informed upon joining how some of these VA benefits work, and often times I get “Well I would have joined active duty if I knew….”. These two year contracts he is so quick to glorify also bar veterans from some of those quintessential benefits that makes the notion of servicing in the first place even remotely desirable.

    • Excellent analysis, and great points that you made, Shane. One thing I’m not up on is the benefits and latest enlistment options since I’ve been out so long, so thanks for making some of those remarks. SF!

  29. Travis Britton

    Drill instructors* in the USMC

    • Correct, Travis. I didn’t write the article, however. It was written for Yahoo by a guy named Ron Johnson and I didn’t feel right making changes to his article. SF, Stan

      • Stan, perhaps a re-write is in order…I presume you can do a much better job, without putting down the other services. My son wants to go infantry…and part of me is really proud — while the other half wants to say “RUN”.

        • Thanks for the compliment, Michael. Maybe I will have to rewrite something along those lines, and take some of the comments from here and use them somehow.

          And I’d have super torn feelings, just like you, if my son wanted to join. In the end, I think you can share a bit about it, but if you try to dissuade him too much, he’ll want to go all the more.

          In the end, he sees something different in you and he wants to follow in your footsteps. That’s high praise and I think you just have to let him become a man and be super proud of what he’s becoming (and will become). SF, Stan

  30. Devildogduck

    I think this is a hard sell to people in other branches they feel the comradery from there time, But I feel the brotherhood good point made is the fact that there are Marine corps flags everywhere don’t think I have ever seen a army or navy or others flying any flags at their homes,, as a Marine I have great respect for them every branch and soldier or sailors but make no mistake I am not dwelling in my past I am relishing all the corps gave me,, the good the ugly and the loss and pain. I don’t think any Marine thinks he is better than any others or that none of them have pride in their branch it’s the fact that every marine born from the fleet has pride in the Marine corps and yes there are exceptions to that statement too but speaking in percentage Marines are in fact always gonna be Marines I don’t boast about my adventures but I keep those good and bad memories very close to my heart and I am proud of every man or woman that served and not just marines

  31. Some of us have a pride that is too big to fit in the door, even still. My wife says I’m still in love with the Corps and she says I love the military and my job more than her…food for thought, and therapy.

    • Devildogduck

      ya well the Marine Corps does have the highest percentage of PTSD and the other side of that coin is a bunch of crazy fuckers,(sorry for the language there is no better way to say it) some of us can hide the crazy till tested some are crazy out of the gate,, Judging from the few words you said you must be crazy out the gate,, oorah

      • Yeah, no denying we’re some crazy dudes…

        I was telling a buddy about how even our tactics are different. Most NATO troops retreat when ambushed, and call in supporting fires and reinforcements. It’s the smart thing to do.

        Not the Marine Corps. We’re trained to advance into an ambush. It’s stupid. It’s crazy. You’re fighting on their ground, against mines and who knows what else. But Marine doctrine argues that doing so will prevent the enemy from getting away from supporting fire that may take too long and will only lead to them ambushing more folks tomorrow.

        So, I do think it’s true that even the enemy learns there’s a difference between the Marine Corps and other units. We’re cockier, stupider, and more dangerous. Like a mad dog on rabies just looking to tear someone up.

        Bottom line, we’re probably just more brain washed, but even if that’s true, if you’re the enemy you’d rather fight against a platoon of guys who aren’t brainwashed than against a bunch of crazy SOBs who are.

        Marines are nuts and you don’t have to look far for evidence. I certainly am, since I’m dumb enough to think a 27-year-old can start a newspaper with just $20,000…

        No questions, I think it’s fair to say I’m certifiably delusional and insane… : )

  32. Msgt Rod Consalvo USMC retired

    I was a Marine grunt in 1966 Leatherneck square, came back to USA and ended up as a Drill Instructor and Made Basic Marine’s, boot camp is nothing compared to combat we make it hard and demanding so they don’t crack. I got out in 1969 and went back in USMCR in 1983 at the age of 36, I missed it and ended up with 30yrs of sevice, did my last PFT at age 54. Yes I can say “Once a Marine Always a Marine” I still miss it.

    • Holy smokes, MSGT!!! That has to be about one of the oldest re-enlistment dates that I’ve ever heard of, and certainly PFT ages. Am I wrong about how rare that is? Could it even be a record given you went back in at 36 and put in another 26 years, which most don’t even get an opportunity to do?

      And big Semper Fi and HUGE respect from here in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

  33. Fantastic article, now Marine enlistments will soar. Who wants a bunch of wimps in the Corps. We only need a “few good men”. I never see any decals on any cars unless Marines. I can spot them a mile away and I wear my sweatshirt or something Marine Corps everyday. Of course, only Marines spot me, the rest are fearful. I am headhunter in the electronics industry. All you Marines send me your resume. Maybe I can help you.

    My joining the Corps in 1960 was the best thing that ever happened in my life. Everyday, every second, I utlilize my Marine attitude. But I will admit, “Not as mean, Not as lean,but still a Marine”. I have lost 50 pounds and can now fit into my Marine Blues.

    • Thanks for the comment, Dick. And I probably use my Marine attitude more than I even consider. Oh, and huge congrats on the weight loss and being able to fit in your Blues — that’s a huge accomplishment! (Mine are too tight to look good, though thankfully part of the problem is I’ve bulked up now that I’m not living on MRE’s and no longer humping 12 and 18 miles at a time with a ruck…) SF, Stan

  34. Rivens


    • Correct, Rivens. FYI, I did NOT write that part that is quoted. I know the difference between Drill Sergeants and Drill Instructors. Believe me. The person who wrote the article is named Ron Johnson and he wrote the article for Yahoo. (I think Ron served in the Army, and thus the mistake…)

  35. Ronald Homan

    After my 24years in the corps I often wondered what it was that molded me into the person that volunteered everytime for some duty that would be merely uncomfortable at best. I have the means to live in a community that is made up of high ranking officers from all branches, and I know I am a cut above them, ironically they know it too. I am cocky and wear my USMC paraphernalia with exuberance and merely smile at my less fortunate acquaintances.

  36. John

    You’re probably getting tired responding to either pissed off or proud Marines. As a retired Marine with an entire family of Marines and all other services mixed in, I see the pride and uniqueness in all of our services. There are great people in all branches just as their are also less than honorable in all services. No matter which uniform you are wearing, if you don’t think you’re in the best service there is, then why are you wearing that uniform? When I was in high school I didn’t say ” I think I’ll join the second or third best service”. I wanted to join the service that was best for me.
    As far as blending in with society after your time in the service, I think taking discipline, patriotism, leadership, and courtesy into a civilian world that is severely lacking is a good thing.
    I do agree on a few of the authors points. One being if you’re thinking about joining the Marine Corps, think long and hard. They’ll be fewer people to weed out in boot camp that should of joined the other services.
    Much respect to you for answering so many comments………John

    • Excellent points, John. And honestly, I still think the author was mostly dead on. Everyone shouldn’t try to join the Corps, and I do wish I’d had a family of Marines around me. I might have handled some of my situations with more maturity and perspective.

      SF, Stan

      • Oh, and I should have added that I’ve had a great time answering all these comments. Hell, I’m about ready to go sign up again!!!

      • Military service runs deep in my family all the way from the top, my grand-father to my daughter…I was still the only one to join the Marines. I needed it, I wanted it, it wasn’t forced on me and when asked about the Corps, my simple reply was two days out of the week were a blast, insinuating the other 5 sucked….which in most cases did. So in 7 yrs of service I had roughly 714 that didn’t suck — not bad in my book. We rarely remember the bad times though, must be a safety mechanism. I do remember lots of good times. I have a small collection of certificates, of which I wanted to hang all my certs on the wall, much to my wife’s dismay. Are there women that love the Corps as much as we do?

        • That’s a great way of looking at it — the two days a week being a blast…

          And it’s insane how proud I am of those certificates I have hanging, as well.

          And I’m not sure about your last question. I think I’m reading it wrong because I think there are a lot of female Marines who love the Corps. Or did you mean like wives who didn’t serve but have to tolerate their husbands being all crazy about the Corps. (Either way, I’m not touching it! I’ve learned to not piss the women off, and I’d rather fire and move against a well-armed enemy than tangle in a contentious verbal debate with a female. They usually win, ya know!)

  37. Anonymous

    I like the first few comments where the lil chairforce guy gets but hurt. Ive been on two of your bases gotta say..bunch of whiners. My time on one in the middle east that base was a vacation. They couldn’t really tell me about anything history, how there uniform came to be…I mean it was just sad. No pride in their uniform either. Haters gonna hate I guess.

    • Someone,

      Honestly, I used to feel the same way, but once I got out, my views changed. In college — and afterward — I came to realize how few Americans actually serve. Is it 5 percent? Three percent? One percent?

      Hell, I don’t know, but I respect anyone who served and helped protect our country, and when I drop my pride, I have to admit that the Air Force does a hell of a lot to protect our country, and they’ve kept us with complete air superiority so we grunts can do our thing since WWII (or Korea, depending on how you keep score).

      But I get your comments. And your pride is both admirable and necessary. The Corps out of necessity must be made up of a bunch of hardasses, and I assure you when I was in and full of piss and vinegar, I was as hard as they come.

      Semper Fi, bro. I wish you luck in your future, and I’ll bet you a hundred dollars that in ten years you’ll feel more like I do now than what you wrote above. The comment won’t ever go away, so come back and read it. Then mail me a hundred dollars. (Though in ten years, a hundred dollars probably won’t be worth a whole lot!)

  38. Anonymous

    Wow!!! This has been an interesting read. From the article to the comments posted by so many. I think that you and I are quite similar Stan, in our regards for the Corps. I was an 0341, 81mm mortar. Same as an ’11 except add 3 pieces of heavy gear to carry the 20-50 clicks through sand, water, jungle, whatever.
    I just did my 1 enlistment, and before you ask when I will tell you what I tell other people who ask: I went in during Reagan”s first term and came out in his second. ( I still feel today that he is my President, and will be my only President. I am not so proud that I can say I cried when he passed away.) I too did very well on the Intel exam, as well as the foreign lang bat, and morse code test. I got called into the CO’s office during boot camp and he wanted me to scrap my contract, guaranteed infantry, so that they could send me to Quantico. I declined. ( I still wonder what would have happened if I had chose to scrap my contract.)
    You are correct Stan, there is something special about Marines, especially amongst the 03′s. Whenever I meet a fellow Marine these days, the first question out of my mouth is ‘what was your mos?’ If the person wasn’t an 03 then the conversation will be 5-10 min long. If they were an 03 then the convo takes a couple of hours. Yes, I am prejudiced. At least I admit it. However, until people have spent 24/7 time together they just don’t understand. It’s not their fault. It’s just the way it is.
    You did give me a laugh with the Myrtle Beach story. I have a MB story myself that is 99.8% of what you experienced. I agree, white legs and bug bites and all, at that time I hated the Corps. I wanted out, as did all of my friends. We made it through and came out the other side. I hated the Corps for a long time. I didn’t want to be one of Uncle Sam’s Maintenance Crew. I got a little tired of buffing the same floor 7 times a day, 7 days a week. There was no way I was going to re-up. I skipped that part when it was time to do final check out. I filled in the guys initials myself. hahaha.
    As I read about these men that have done the career thing, I know that I do not deserve to stand in their shadows. They are a very special breed. When I signed up I planned to stay until I died. After reality showed it’s ugly face, I knew 1 and done was for me. To all of the people who completed a career in the service, I salute you.

    Semper Fi


    • Wow, Bill. We do nearly share the same story. I sure appreciate you typing all that up and sharing it.

      Make sure you follow my blog and shoot me an email sometime. I’d love to talk at least a couple of hours.

      SF, friend,

  39. Anonymous

    As an 8404 Navy Corpsman I had the “pleasure” of working hand in hand with all branches of the military in both war time and peace time environments. From what I saw and experienced the Air Force definitely had it the best in the Middle East, even as a transient escorting a patient back to Germany I was put up in an air conditioned tent that had a real bed in it and their base in Ramstein blew my mind. The Army’s living conditions in the FOB weren’t anywhere as nice as what the Air Force had, and they didn’t have a Pizza Hut on site. The Navy was a completely different kind experience that only Marines may understand after being packed into metal compartments and stacked three high. One good thing about the Navy is you actually do get to see the world, one port at a time. Working with the Marines can be utter misery, but in a good what ever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger kind of way. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit sometimes. More often than not the most I ever had over my head was a poncho stretched over my bivy sack out in the field, no big ass tent with a cot and forget about air conditioning or real beds. There were exceptions to this when we were able to set up a BAS (had AC sometimes) or forward deployed triage station (lucky if we had 4 walls and a roof) but a lot of the time I ended up dug into a fighting position taking turns not sleeping. Shore duty I’d imagine every branch was pretty similar as to the amount of BS involved, the difference being that the Army and Marines definitely have a more rigorous physical conditioning regimens. The only thing I can really say about the Coasties is what I saw of them on their 100′ patrol boats in the Gulf, they were pretty damn squared away. If I were to have been planning a fast boat attack I’d have steared clear of the Coast Guard boats, they were really jumpy and didn’t hesitate a millisecond when it came to putting warning shots across another boats bow.

    • Wow. You got a great perspective of the various services! Thanks for providing that insight and sharing it.

      SF, Stan

    • Thanks for recognizing the importance of all branches of the military. I especially appreciate your comments about the Coast Guard. Since transfer to the Department of Homeland security, WEE are finally getting some recognition. The first half of my career was under the Treasury Department which wasn’t too bad. Then we were transferred to the Dept. Of Transportation; not good. Our budget was what was left after AMTRAK got theirs. We got little recognition, I was actually asked more than once, If I had to go into the military after I was discharged from the Coast Guard. In fact the media to this day,usually only mentions the four branches under the Department of Defense. I am pleased to see that our sister services appreciate what we do. Thanks…

      CWO3, USCG (Ret)

  40. Semper Fi Sabrina

    Reblogged this on Dispatches from Camp Semper Fi Sabrina and commented:
    This guy’s got something here…and that “something” is MARINE CORPS SPIRIT…OOH-RAH! :)

  41. The author of the original article ‘Ron Johnson’ obviously has an infatuation of the Marine Corp. Either he was a drop out after the 2nd phase or didn’t qualify at all to even enlist in the Marine Corp. If you read all of his articles on each branch of service, you will notice he mentions to stay away from ‘Grunt’ M.O.S’s, or “bullet catchers”. My bet is that he was originally an over weight high school kid who became a pencil pusher in the Air Force, just because how he protects them in his article with the name calling. The Marines is not just an Honor…it’s a brotherhood. I respect all Marines before or after me. And as far as I am concerned we gave this ignorant writer the freedom to write such sewage.

    Semper Fi.

    • You know, Kevin. I hadn’t given it near as much thought as you, or considered the psychology behind the article and comments he made, but after you wrote this, and I went back and re-read it and I have to say: You may be onto something.

      Or, maybe if he didn’t serve, maybe he had a friend who had a terrible enlistment, like a dishonorable or other than honorable discharge? I mean, we can all tell stories of guys we know who didn’t fit in and felt overly bullied and not accepted. Many of us can discuss folks who committed suicide. And even me, a guy who won Marine of the Quarter for the entire 2nd Marine Division for the 4th Qtr in 1997, yes, even I considered suicide at one point while I was in.

      On paper, I was the model Marine. But four years (in the infantry, at least, and that’s all I can speak for) is no joke. Sometimes, that four years felt like 40 years… And yet you feel totally trapped. You’ve had family and friends from back home wonder if you can make it, so you can’t go UA and go home. If you did go home, you’d prove them right. And yet you wonder if you can hack another couple of years of the pure hell and bullshit. (Least it used to be that way from 95-99, when it was mostly peacetime and full-time “game” time, in like the most stupid of ways…)

      You wonder if your back and knees will hold up, if your arches on your feet won’t fall, from all those long humps, where you want to literally cry and just give up… And quit everyone would do, except you’ve got everyone watching and you can’t let down your friends — or your men, once you’re in charge.

      Most of the men I served with had to jump in the bottle, just to escape the hell of it all. On weekends, they’d get plastered, and I’d be the Designated Driver, getting them back safe or keeping us all out of jail. But I never got that mental break. I was always worried about the next field op that would begin on Monday, and the upcoming humps that I always worried I might fall out of — I was one of the smaller Marines, and they were tough as hell for me. And since I was also the guy most saw as nuts (I’d do pack runs on my own at night, and lift when I could when we weren’t in the field), I couldn’t possibly fall out, so that added WAY more pressure on me.

      (Although in fairness, I’m describing the latter part of my time in. Prior to that, I didn’t drink because I was so motivated and focused. I spent weekends studying and training. I wanted to go Force Recon, then join the CIA, so I refused to get tattoos that might prevent me working undercover overseas. And I didn’t drink partly because of that focus, and partly because I had seen some dudes seriously get messed up in fights. Not me. I’d rather stay sober and fully ready to defend myself, which I was quite adept at thanks to 10+ years of martial arts training.)

      Anyway, damn, I’m rambling… It’s just so nice to talk to Marines who understand this stuff. Really, really appreciate the great comment. It gave me another angle to consider the article from, and let me think back on some of my own demons. SF, Stan

  42. TomMiller

    I was raised as an Army Brat, I was career Navy and my Uncle Windy was a career Marine pilot and an ace during Korea. I saw many an operation of landing Marines on the beaches and went ashore on liberty with them. They are great people down to their bones. I have nothing but respect for their unity as a Marine fighting man. They are very patriotic and loyal to each other and this country. To say the Marines are the worse of the services is just not valid.

    • Mr. Miller,

      Thanks so much for the comment. It’s funny, until I spent six months on ship, I had almost no respect for the Navy — except for Corpsman.

      But after six months on ship, including about a sixty-day stint off the coast of Bosnia with no liberty, I learned real fast that I’m not sure I could have survived four years in the Navy.

      The Navy creates its own hell, with the inspections, chipping paint, and games they create to (probably) keep the men sane. And I also had the most unfortunate pleasure of havign to work 30 days for a Navy Chief on our 2,000 person LHA washing pots and pans for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. I remember how water-sogged and bleeding my hands got, how bad I sweat and stunk and didn’t even feel like showering before hitting the rack, and how that damned Chief treated the Marines a hundred times worse than the sailors — and I don’t blame him; if a bunch of cocky ass Marines came to work for me, I’d make it my mission to break them down, as well.

      Well, he did. And by the end, I even respected his ass. Completely. He was thin, lived on coffee, and his uniform was immaculate. And he’d say stuff like, “You think carrying a rifle is tough, let’s see how you are washing dishes.”

      Probably that single month did more to crush my morale than any other. Prior to that, I wanted to be Recon and eventually CIA. After that, I realized I was just a social security number. Nothing special. Just a name and a number, a weak little bitch who couldn’t hack washing a bunch of pots and pans for 30 days.

      Unless I’m mistaken — and I don’t think I am — I have literally NEVER said another ill word about anyone in the Navy since the end of those 30 days. Anyone who can hack four years in the Navy has my deepest respect.

      SF from a Shellback,

  43. The Marine Corps is a “good old boy” network, run by Masons. Once you go through and become a Marine, you have been changed for life. The Marine system is brutal and hard on it’s members. Punishment is swift, except for Officers who are treated much different than enlisted members. The Officer Corps is a “Cover their own ass “system even US Bankers could learn form in life. The Marine Corps is run by it’s Non Commissioned Officers, “NCO’s.” There is no doubt that Marines, despite any differences or personal opinions and views, get the job done and complete the mission.
    All Marines are taught too Kill and desensitized towards killing. Killing great numbers of enemy is held in the highest regard. Marine’s who can shoot expert or better are held in higher esteem than sports celebrities or movie stars. It is a total environment of 24-7 competition, discipline and petty aggravation of each other.
    Getting out of the Marine Corps and becoming a civilian is pure frustration. Living in the USA and seeing all the corruption and laziness drives a Marine crazy. The Marine Corps itself is a mini example of a mess. The difference is it is constantly being worked on, laziness is cut out and individuals who can’t hack it are driven crazy or drummed out.
    Being a Marine is also held against you any time you go to Court, a fight, guns, knives, any situation, the spineless Judges, State and Federal view you as a monster.
    Don’t become a Marine if you want a peaceful life afterwards. The “change is forever,” just like the Marine Corps tells you point blank upfront.
    The Marine Corps does a magnificent job programming you, it does a complete shit job deprogramming you for return to life.

    • Damn, Joe. Maybe you’re the one that should have written the article. You nailed it, especially the deprogramming part.

      It was so hard for me to go from being a squad leader responsible for probably $200,000 worth of gear to having to stock shelves at Office Depot for a “manager” who couldn’t lead a group of kindergarten kids to lunch…

      Getting out is in some ways as hard or harder than staying in.

      SF, brother,

  44. I agree with Joe. Take a look at the Masonic influence and undercurrent, in the USMC. Goes way way back to Tuns Tavern.

    • Actually, Mark. I had forgotten that Joe said that. Honestly, I don’t know anything about any Masonic influence or undercurrent. And I should have said that about his comment.

  45. Melanie

    I love my Corps with every bone in my body. It’s sad that the other branches don’t have the camaraderie like the Marine Corps. I know I have a hard time adjusting back to “civilian life” but I’m not a civilian! Once a Marine Always a Marine OOHRAH fellow Devil Dogs!

    • Hah! I had never considered it that way, Melanie: “I know I have a hard time adjusting back to ‘civilian life’ but I’m not a civilian!”

      Love that attitude. SF! Stan

  46. Lou Pond

    What a gaggle fk! Is this all you pukes have to do? Go clean your rifles, shine your boots, square away your uniforms and save our Country! You’ve got three minutes, I said three fkng minutes! Semper Fi!

    • Shit, Lou. We were just bullshitting waiting for someone to take charge. : )

      Point which way you want us to go. I’ll take point. SF!!!

      • Lou Pond CWO-3 USMC RET

        1. Situation. Eight weeks from now, 1st Squad is going to conduct a cookout.
        2. Mission. At 1500, on 12 Feb 2014, 1st Squad will cookout at Sergeant Jones’s house in order to promote
        camaraderie and build our unit cohesion.
        3. Execution.
        a. Concept of the Operation. The squad will fall out after mustering at 1200. Two fireteams will link up at the
        grocery store. Upon link up at the store, one fireteam will get enough meat for the squad. One fireteam will get
        enough beverages and chips. The remaining fireteam will go directly to Sergeant Jones’s house after the 1200
        muster and set up the grill. This remaining fireteam will cook all the meat after the other two fireteams have arrived.
        At 1500, the squad cookout will commence.

        b. Tasks.
        (1) 1st Fire Team. At 1500, you will cookout at Sergeant Jones’s house in order to promote camaraderie and
        build our unit cohesion. Provide enough meat to feed all members of the squad.

        (2) 2nd Fire Team. At 1500, you will cookout at Sergeant Jones’s house in order to promote camaraderie and
        build our unit cohesion. Provide enough beverages and chips for the squad.

        (3) 3rd Fire Team. At 1500, you will cookout at Sergeant Jones’s house in order to promote camaraderie and
        build our unit cohesion. You will be the working party to cook all the chow for the squad.

        c. Coordinating Instructions.
        (1) 1st and 2nd Fire Teams will travel in column via privately owned vehicles. 3rd Fire Team Leader will
        drive the most direct route to Sergeant Jones’s house. Team Leaders will drive.

        (2) Each member of the squad will wear appropriate civilian attire.

        4.Administration & Logistics.
        a. Each member of the squad will contribute $10.00 to the squad party fund.
        b. The first aid kit will be inside Sergeant Jones’s house on the kitchen counter next to the telephone in case of
        an emergency.

        5.Command & Signal.
        a. Signal. Cell phones will be the primary means of communication while in transit to Sergeant Jones’s house.
        Secondary will be public pay phones(hahaha).
        b. Command. Succession of Command will be to 1st Fire Team Leader, followed by 2nd Fire Team Leader then
        3rd Fire Team Leader.

  47. LB

    I have to agree with Joe. I knew something was up, when we deployed to South America and once in country and in jungle a machine gun started shooting at all of us. No one ducked, we all ran towards it and destroyed the operators/crew. I thought then “WTF” has this organization done to me, whereas, i run towards an automatic weapon of any kind……………….no concern for getting killed, just who is going to get the bad guys first!!
    The really don’t promise you and they tell you the “change is forever.”
    You don’t understand that until your much older. Thinking about the fellow Marines who didn’t make it, never ever leaves your mind.
    The Marine regulations are “written in blood,” derived over years and years of battle lessons. The Marine Corps has a higher kill ratio than any Military Organization in the history of mankind.
    The Marines also do not have the black vs white problem. They “F” with everyone the same. This country as a whole could learn from the system.
    I am glad I served and proud of being a Marine, but in the next life, I will go “Air-Farce.”
    The change “IS” forever.
    Semper Fi

    • LB,

      Appreciate that comment, and you sharing that. We unfortunately lost a guy even in training, doing river crossings in Okinawa. It was a monsoon and on the very edge of being considered too safe to execute, but our CO decided — as I probably would have — that in war we’d have to cross a creek in those conditions, and so we did, but we lost a man. And that was on a Saturday. We lost a man, in training, on a Saturday, when most people aren’t even working…

      Most people have no idea how dangerous it is, even in peacetime. I wrote about LCPL Foster here:

      And wouldn’t you know, he was one of the few men in our unit who was married and the father of two kids. Most of us were 19 or 20 with none of those responsibilities. It saddens me to this day, but I know that’s the price of freedom, and it’s the price of being one of the baddest infantry units in the Corps. I just hope our Captain has forgiven himself for making that decision.

      SF, Stan

  48. Mikael Sloan

    Marine Corps has Drill Instructors. Not Drill Sergeants. Rah.

    • Correct, Mr. Sloan. I didn’t write the part that is quoted. I know the difference between Drill Sergeants and Drill Instructors. Believe me. Been there, done that.

      The person who wrote the article is named Ron Johnson and he wrote the article for Yahoo. I merely linked to it, and quoted that part. (I think Ron served in the Army, and thus the mistake…)

  49. As a Marine for 12 years, I only have one thing to say: Semper Fi!

  50. bcbid

    Semper FI, USMC 1968-1972 The Change is forever.

  51. LCPL Robert Ramey

    Just want to tell you how much I enjoyed your article on the best to worst branches to enlist in..
    When I pulled up your article I was expecting some bashing of my beloved CORPS…And was surprised when nothing but good stuff was wrote about my Family…..We will Kill to protect our Country,Our brothers and sisters and our familys and would not hesitate to die for anyone of them!!!! Thank you Sir!!

    • Thanks, LCPL Robert Ramey! Honestly, I expected the same thing when I first saw the headline for the article. But then I read it and was like, wow. Yeah, I’m mostly proud of all of that. It’s like he paid the Marine Corps a backhanded compliment.

      SF, and keep your head down and your chin up, brother.

  52. Andy Burch

    Thats why we are the few, the proud, the Marines. Stop in any at Marine Corps League meeting. We all did what we were told and went where they sent us. God bless America and God bless the Marine Corps. Good night Chesty, where ever you are.

    • Thanks for the comment, Andy. And that’s the first mention of Chesty that I’ve noticed on this page. We all ought to hit the deck and pump out twenty for that massive oversight.


  53. Tanya Tommasi

    It seems to me that atleast one branch should be the best at killing. Please don’t misunderstand I don’t want war or anyone killing anyone But we all know the world we live in. We maybe don’t want to know BUT WE KNOW that there is a need for our militaries, OUR MARINES. My son graduated Oct 25, 2013 from Parris Island. I made him pick an MOS other that Infaltry, But I am no dummy, I know that his 1st duty as a Marine is a rifleman. I hope and pray and truly believe that what they teach in boot camp is a special kind of ????????? I can’t even name it But I know my son has it! I don’t think you should rank our militaries I mean they all have their purpose and God Bless them all. Speaking from my experience the Marines are truly a family. I have felt something deep in my heart since becoming a marine mom and I see it and hear in my sons voice. I just think that article stinks and no purpose in writing or reading!

    • Hey Tanya,

      (I considered saying Ms. Tommasi, but thought that might make you feel old, and I know a few Mom’s that know how to throw a hip toss, so I’ll push my luck and call you Tanya!)

      Anyway, you make a point that I’m not sure has been made. In truth all the branches have different tasks (broadly speaking) so we really shouldn’t be trained the same or act the same.

      Thanks again for the comment, and for raising a young man who wanted to join the Corps. Be sweet to him and send him plenty of care boxes for him and his buddies to share when they’re deployed. He’ll remember each and every one till the day he dies, most likely.


    • Thanks for recognizing the need for all branches of the military. I was a little surprised at your statement that “at least one branch should be the best at killing” then say you made your son pick an MOS other than infantry. I am equally surprised that your son allowed you to make that decision for him. It’s a good thing that enough marines proudly choose infantry to negate the need for the Corps to make make that decision for them. You are correct that every Marine is a rifleman. However, having never served in the Marine Corps, I will give you my opinion; not a statement of fact. I am a proponent of the proposition that we need every MOS or specialty and acknowledge that when pressed into battle, clerks and cooks etc. did themselves and the Corps proud. It is also my opinion that professional infantrymen are in a constant state of combat training and readiness and therefore, are the best qualified first line of defense. Without infantry, I don’t believe their would be a Marine Corps. I thank your son for his service and I thank you for your obvious pride in him and the Corps. I too, am proud of every Marine, their families and the UNITED STATES MARINES

      Bill RaVell
      CWO3, USCG (Ret.)

  54. Kovalenko

    Two things.
    One – the whole article (the Yahoo one – not Stan’s, as some here still don’t grasp the distinction) seems to emphasize getting the most while applying the least effort. If you’re thinking of joining the military and that is the kind of mindset you have, best advice I can give you is don’t. Don’t waste your time or anybody else. Ok, there are some jobs (in all branches) that have more in common with civilian office jobs than what is perceived as military but …that actually brings me to my next point,
    two – comparing infantry and especially Marine Corps infantry to other jobs is idiotic. But not without reason. Would you compare a librarian to a narcotics police officer? No, that would be stupid. Makes apples and oranges taste the same. But we do it in the service. Especially in the Corps. The Army has berets, patches, CIBs etc.. to give special recognition to their infantry and further to the rangers, SF, and pretty much your whole SRB is patched on the uniform. Marines have non of that. Anyway, getting off topic here. Basically, all I wanted to say is all specialties have their role to play. But when I hear some POG saying that his job is just as hard and then some – it’s an insult. You chose your job (at least the job field, unless you went open contract in which case….smh) so live with it and love it. But know your place.

    • Kovalenko,

      Great analogy about comparing a librarian to a narcotics officer.

      And yeah, you’re right… If you’re going into any branch trying to figure out what’s in it for you, or what you’ll get out with, then you probably need to think twice. Your signing your life away. They’re going to shoot you full of vaccines that aren’t even approved for the civilian market. They’re going to put you in harm’s way. And that’s any branch. As we know, from there, it just gets worse. (Or, better, depending on how sick in the head you are.)


  55. Anonymous

    My brother is a marine. I always have a huge respect for service men and women. I will say it is annoying to read people correcting you. You quoted an article. Thus, the mistake was not yours. For the 15th time.

  56. Steven Reese

    I see no reason to not show pride in where you came from. I served for 20 years in the Marine Corps. Served 2 years as a DRILL INSTRUCTOR at Parris Island. I have 2 tie clasps, 1 Masonic and 1 Marine. There is a different mystique about Marines many people will never understand….3 months of a DI telling you about pride honor valor and virtue, and after leave the Corps you should just turn it off? You damn right Once a Marine always a Marine.

    • Mr. Reese,

      Thanks for the comment! And for your service. And I’d imagined after twenty years, with two of them as a high octane DI, you couldn’t turn it off even if you wanted to! : )


  57. Eric Stepp

    I believe the kind and the term of service starts before a potential recruit actually signs anything to begin their service. A prime example would start with the recruiter. It’s relatively easy to get into the service. But, the difficulty begins with the question of how to get ahead once you’re in. I’ve seen recruits that are set up from the start with their service contract. They have usually end going to almost every military school you can think before they even report to their first duty station. I’ve seen the contracts have so many military schools that it could be up to three years before the even report to their first assignment station. I think most recruits fail from the beginning because they are not told ALL the how’s and why’s to gain rank. That’s just my opinion based on personal observation from 1989-1999..

    • Eric,

      That’s a keen observation, and I hadn’t really ever considered it. But you’re right, we can all name guys who thought they were going to get this MOS or that MOS and when they don’t, they feel betrayed and lied to. And many struggle to ever get past this.

      I wonder if headquarters in Washington has ever considered this? And what the true cost might be of problems in this area? Maybe they have, or maybe they haven’t. It might be worth sending a letter to the Commandant’s office about this, just in the off chance they hadn’t considered it. (We all laugh about recruiter’s lying to poor saps, but I never thought about how it truly affects careers.)


  58. morbe

    This is a complete stereo type of the US Marines. What is the authors background? And what makes him an expert on the benefits of the Military? I served in the Marines with 2D light armored recon. I had no issues with adjusting to civilian life. Though I was an infantryman with no transferable jobs skills I still managed to get a college degree and get a good job. As an American I respect your opinion. As a prior service Marine I ask that you write something more productive.

    • morbe,

      Just to be clear, I didn’t write the article. A guy in the Army did, for the website Yahoo.

      And I’m curious on when you got out? While I’m ecstatic you had no problems adjusting, that wasn’t the case for me or my buddies. I’m hoping that maybe the Corps has some better re-adjustment programs than when I was in.


  59. Dustin Ray

    Its not we cant transition its because we work our asses off to earn the title Marine and take pride in it .but not only while were in but in civilian life also.we have a true brother and sister hood years after our enlistment so if you want life long friends and someone who will drive hundreds of miles if you need help.i know because I have some of those friends who will do that .

    • Dustin,

      You’re absolutely right about the lifelong friends. I don’t keep up with my fellow Marines like I should, but we have each others numbers and we know we’re just a phone call away, despite the fact that hundreds of miles separate us.

      SF and thanks for your comment!

  60. I’m probably a little older than most on here, but looking back 50 years ago when I served (1961-67) the Marine Corps is still one of the most important things in my life. In fact, after the USMC, with a 35 year career at IBM, and now working for myself, I can tell you that although I had a good HS Education, I had no focus, no drive and no discipline. What I learned in Boot Camp prepared me to be successful in life. Discipline, Dedication, Teamwork, Commitment all prepared me for a business career that provided a great life for my family. Although I wasn’t 0311, I did serve 3 years in Infantry Battalions, so I get the “Grunt” thing, but what makes us Marines is our dedication to our fellow Marines, in or out of the service and to our Marine Corps. It’s not arrogance, or elitism that makes us Marines, it’s our dedication to an ideal, and to our comrades. Ours has always been a smaller fraternity, one that felt more like family, as you most always knew someone no matter where you were stationed. Other services probably think the same way and everyone who served needs to take pride in what they have done. I got to serve with a lot of WWII & Korea Marines who mentored me and from whom I learned a lot. My late Father-in-Law served in the Solomons, and as a 19 yr old 2ndLT (Battlefield Promotion) led his Machine Gun Platoon in the Battle of Bougainville, and followed that with service in Korea and Vietnam. My best friend in the USMC walked out of the Chosin with the 1st Marine Division, another won a Silver Star on Iwo Jima. Each one impacted my life in a positive way, and although we didn’t really know about PTSD back then, we understood the issues these guys faced which manifested itself sometimes in alcoholism, and other activities that attempted to replace the high adrenaline rush of Combat. I continue to promote hiring of Veterans and especially Marines in my business activities, just because I was one of the 1%, and most businessmen just don’t understand how valuable service experience can be – because they just don’t have first hand experience. Semper Fidelis actually means something.

    • Mr. Holden,

      Thank you so very much for that comment, and for sharing that history. Bottomline, that was VERY well said.

      You’re so right about the Marine Crops skills that are practically (and often literally) beaten into us applying to the business world. Had I not been in the Marine Corps, then there’s no way my start up newspaper would have survived. (It still nearly didn’t.)

      And honestly, had I not been in the Marine Corps, I probably would have never had the guts to take that huge plunge and quit my job and borrow a ton of money.

      It sounds like you have some amazing friends and family. I would cherish every moment I was lucky enough to be around those guys, and I stand in honor of the years you served as well. Those were some rough years.

      SF from a man not even worthy enough to polish your boots,

  61. I never trained with Marines directly but I’ve seen them train and they are CRAZY!!! Anyone who joins them are definitely missing some brain cells. They look like machines. I am a sailor and proud of my service..

    • Hah! Thanks, Peter! You’ve given me — and most of the others on here — the greatest compliment you could give us! I’ll just own “crazy,” cause it’s mostly true.

      Thanks for your service, and “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”


  62. Peter A Poccia, RN

    Rewind to 1967. I was educated to be a Navy Hospital Corpsman. In Viêt-Nam, the Tet offensive broke out in early 1968 and I was “attached” to the 1st Marine Division in Danang and my “post graduate” education began. It was a hard, tough, brutal course of study. I hope I made my fellow Marines proud.
    Semper Fi
    Danang Doc

    • Doc,

      There’s not a Marine I know who wouldn’t go out of their way to help a Doc. And it doesn’t matter what the Navy says, any Doc that served with me is as good as a Marine in my book. Our Docs were tough as hell, held up on our humps, and gutted it out with the best of us. We even had one Doc who liked to fight more than most of us, and frankly, he could whoop about half of us.

      I can’t imagine the trauma you saw, or how any man can ignore the danger and focus on saving a life, versus fighting back. I have that highest amount of respect for all Corpsman.

      SF, brother,

  63. Ray Vaughn

    I don’t think it’s about Marines being killers. We’re the kind of guys and girls who hate to lose and don’t quit. I think it boils down to knowing you can depend on the guy next to you, regardless of his MOS. In boot camp, the Drill Instructor instills the knowledge that you all sink or swim together, that one man not doing his job, can doom the team, squad or mission. When the platoon screwed up, the whole platoon got dropped for pushups. Every nail in the box has to do it’s job or we all suffer. I did 3 tours in Nam, working in CAP (Combined Action Platoons) for 2 of them. My MOS was supply, we had cooks, truck drivers, riggers, payroll people, all volunteers in the CAP, doing infantry jobs. We never felt unsure of any man doing his job, because we had all been through ITR (Infantry Training
    Regiment), were familiar with all the infantry training and weapons, based on an attitude that we were all expected to perform as a grunt if needed. That’s why you can take 12 guys and a Corpsman, hook them up with an equal number of Vietnamese soldiers and their medic, stick them in a compound 20 miles from any major base in Indian country and it works well.
    It builds an unbreakable pride whether 5’7″ and 130 lbs or 6’2″ and 200 lbs., we were all grunts, brothers and willing to do what was asked. We hold the eagle, globe and anchor in highest esteem and still proudly wear it. In civilian life, I respected people from other branches I worked with but I never had a problem expecting competence and completion when I worked with another Marine. I knew the job would get done. Greeting another with Semper Fi isn’t exceptional, it’s normal.

    • Wow, Mr. Vaughn. I’ve always read about those CAP Platoons, but never met anyone who actually had been a part of one. Being in the middle of indian country alone, w/o support and with locals you probably shouldn’t trust? That’s crazy. And three tours? Even crazier.

      Much respect to you, sir. And you make a great point about the various MOS’s in the Corps. We’re all war fighters, and I want to make a slight clarification.

      When I remarked above about infantry units being tight and how I often feel closer to infantry guys from the Army, I should have stated that this comment applied back when I served, which was almost completely a time of peace. Back then, non-infantry Marines such as supply and truck drivers generally worked more normal hours and seemed to enjoy the Corps more. Their vehicles were usually covered with moto-stickers and they pumped iron and picked up the chicks — what damn few there were — with ease.

      Not so in the infantry. There were almost no Marine stickers on any vehicles in our battalion area and nearly every Marine that I knew couldn’t wait to get out; those who stayed in were often not the kind of Marines who even should stay in.

      In the ranks, our company — Alpha Co 1/8 — was called “Alphatraz” instead of Alpha Company, because we had a saying, “Once you get in, you never get out.” (Out of that company, that is, because they almost never approved transfers or allowed guys to try out for Recon or other high-speed stuff. In all honesty, our company often had low morale and had some Marines in it that were misfits and frankly bad apples. We had quite a bit of guys pop on the piss test for drug use — some as a way to purposefully get out of the hell of it all. Anyway, these bad apples spread their poison and really pulled the company down.)

      I have no idea how it is now as far as morale or tightness/brotherhood between MOS’s, but even back in the late 90s, I knew Marines in any MOS could fight with the best of them. It’s always been true, “Every Marine a rifleman” and there’s probably not been a single war where non-infantry MOS Marines haven’t been in harm’s way.

      And I want to reiterate one other thing that I said above. Without question, it’s often safer in an infantry unit. I know I wouldn’t be thrilled to be on a barely protected resupply convoy in Iraq. I’d rather take my chances with a 150 bad-ass grunts who are under supplied and pissed off, looking for a fight.

      One final point. When I got out in ’99, I could barely stand other Marines. There was almost an animosity that I felt. They were all moto and proud of their time in and I practically hated the Marine Corps. I was struggling to adjust and they were all upbeat and optimistic about life. These are HUGE over-generalizations, but my infantry friends felt the same.

      Few of my friends will admit this, but we shared a feeling that they lived (and got laid) on the fierce reputation that mostly infantry Marines helped create. (And of course some were dishonorable and would claim to be infantry or snipers when they weren’t; we could always smell out these frauds fairly quickly — usually by how damn happy they were — and God help them if we caught them doing it.)

      For me, it was probably five years before I would even wear a Marine Corps shirt or bring up that I was a Marine. I instantly almost distrusted anyone who had too much moto gear on. They had lived a VASTLY different life than I had during our time in and I had nothing I wanted to say to them. (They usually had nothing they wanted to say to me, either.)

      Anyway, I’m really glad I’m getting some of this out. I should have been talking about it for a long time.

      And for anyone reading this, everything I’ve just said was hastily written and no ill intent or disrespect was intended. I love you all now, and I’m coming along pretty nicely, I think. (And hell, it only took me about 15 years.)

  64. Jim Stelling

    The facts are facts. Marines are taught to do the best, to become the best, that they are capable of becoming. Some refer to us as nothing but mind controlled robots that can only obey orders. A Marine is taught to know his job and a few ranks higher as evidenced in Vietnam when a Cpl took over his platoon for nearly a week when his plt commander, plt sgt and plt guide were either killed or evacuated. An air wing major (helicopter pilot-shot down) took over a Marine infantry battalion when the original commander was killed and did a fine job of it. I have had our navy corpsmen offer to take point on a patrol and were down right angry when I said no–you are too Valuable to lose when the fist fire fight begins.
    I know the terror of the the first day in boot camp and know the terror of my first gun fight and the terror of boot camp was worse.
    I have had people assigned to my infantry platoon that were cooks and clerks and respect all of them.
    I have served two tours as a Drill Instructor just 3 months shy of 6 years in Golf Co. 2nd RTBn. I know that almost everyone remembers their DI’s names until they die.
    The only EX Marines are those who have lost the Title by being discharged with other than an Honorable Discharge. S— Birds in other words.

    1stSgt of Marines, Retired.

    • 1stSgt,

      My word!!! You are absolutely correct. The first day of Boot Camp IS more terrifying. Way more. I had never even thought of that, but that dark ride in on that bus to Paris Island is enough to make you cry in terror. (Though for me, riding into Albania in helo’s under fire was scarier than being on the ground under fire. I hated not being in control of my life, with your back turned and your ass exposed at that. And I’ve heard indirect fire like mortars or artillery hammering you is the scariest and most helpless feeling of all. I can’t speak to that. We heard mortars firing — not ours — but no impacts came close, thank goodness.)

      Dumb question, 1stSgt, but does a 1stSgt/former DI ever retire?! I think I know that answer. : )


      • One additional point about fear and boot camp. Actually, the “Moment of Truth” might be more harrowing than the ride in. Especially if you’ve understated some prior medical conditions and are scared to death they may have found out. (Not that I would have ever done that, of course, or know what I’m talking about!)

        For any of those career Marines out there, I would love to know (as I’ve always wondered). If a recruit HAD lied about prior medical conditions AND he or she confessed them during the “Moment of Truth,” what happens?

        Is it a felony and a dishonorable discharge? Or just a chance to get your medical records straight?

        • In college when I signed up for the PLC Officer program, I lied on my applications. Supposedly, I had a back problem from a football injury in High School. Had I mentioned it, I would have been dropped. Being silent, I went through the PLC/Boot camp program fine. I was a farm boy use to tossing bales of hay. In my freshman year of college, they wanted to do a spinal fusion and told my Mom that I could step off a curb and be paralyzed, etc. They wanted the money for the fusion. I never once had a back problem and to this day, feel great. Some things are worth lying for. The Marines are one. I never wanted to be considered a cripple.

          I would guess they would get a discharge if a medical condition was discovered. It was a no-brainer for me to take that risk. I could have easily been 4-F, thank the Lord that I wanted to be a Marine lots more.

          The Marine Corps teaches history. I find it interesting that the Japanese today do exactly the same thing as their grandfathers in WWII, but they wear business suits instead of Army uniforms. When the officer was killed, no one rose up and took over. In the American army, privates rise to the occasion and lead. Not many Military units throughout the world do that.

        • Jim Stelling

          Near the end of 1965 the draft was in full swing and I was about to be transferred to Vietnam. I had a recruit that had joined during a small riot in San Francisco. The 3rd day of processing we were getting physicals and waiting in line. Private says: Sir, I can’t pass the physical. “What’s the matter with you Numbnuts?” He explained that he had a glass eye and I told him to pluck it out and show me. He said that he had to have water to do it. The dental building was nearest so I took him to the head to wash his eye and show it to me. He could actually move the eye like it was real. It was slightly rounded and only 1/4 of an inch thick with three prongs that held it in. He was given a ticket home with no discharge papers, like he had never joined. I have had people from the army with a bad conduct discharge that were given another BCD with no court martial when their back ground investigations came through.

          • Thanks for answering my question, 1stSgt. I always assumed that there was no way they’d court martial a person who wanted desperately to join something that they loved. Maybe not let them stay in, but not severely punish… I just couldn’t imagine that.

      • Jim Stelling

        You do have a point. My deepest respect for the chopper people. I only had to land in a hot LZ twice and those guys did it over and over. The choppers that I rode in were shot down 3 times in Vietnam but fortunately they were close to the ground and only an extra hard bump when we landed with no casualties.
        Did I retire? I thought I did for about 6 months, even grew lamb chops and hair a little over 3 inches. At age 72 I still have a razor cut, Marine Corps stickers on my pick-up and both flags hanging outside of my home.

        • Love it, 1stSgt! Isn’t it funny how when you first get out, you rebel against the Corps a bit? So funny that you even grew lamb chops and three-inch hair. I didn’t even manage that. I started growing my hair out, but couldn’t stand it. (My hair has always been short.)

          But I’ve still yet to meet anyone who fully managed to rebel against it for long. Even my buddy with the DUI, who hated the Corps truly as much as anyone I had ever met, ended up re-enlisting and becoming an officer just a few years later.

          And even more massive amounts of respect for you given your history with helo’s. I never trusted them in peace time, and flying in on them was terrifying. Had I been shot down, it would have been hard to get me back in one. (I know I would have, I guess, because I’ve always been terrified of heights, but even completed our mountain training in S. Korea doing some rope work from some seriously fierce heights. Best of all, my men didn’t know my fear as I led and volunteered. But I was a Sgt then, and rank has a way of motivating you, as you know…) SF!

          • Jim Stelling

            Rank can motivate you to a point. I also am afraid of heights but I have a private pilots license and love to fly. I stayed in a hotel with glass elevators near Disney Land, on the way to the 17th floor, I have to close my eyes and turn my back to the glass. When I got back from my last tour in Okinawa (1978) I was acting SgtMaj of 3/7. We had attacked the beaches of CamPen and had to fly to 29 Palms for 10 more days. My driver backed his jeep into the chopper. The driver is supposed to set his brakes, the crew chief is supposed to tie a belt around the front tires to keep the jeep from rolling, TOO much trust, I wasn’t watching. The chopper took off and immediately the jeep starts rolling towards the back, the chopper goes nose up and the chopper barely recovers while I’m yelling at the driver: The Brakes, The Brakes. I did not ride in a helicopter again until early 1980 before I retired, I took the jeep every where. We were at the mountain training center at Bridgeport, CA when I decided to ride a chopper down to base camp. The whole battalion cheered when I got on the helicopter.
            No, I haven’t been on one since. I have seen too many just turn up-side down and crash with burned bodies inside.

            • Wow! What a story… Well, at least now I know you’re not superman.

              And I’m like you, too. If I get near glass up high in a skyscraper, I nearly puke. And it takes some serious willpower to get on my home’s roof. But I refuse not to do so, as I fear the day I can’t overcome that fear is the day I give up my manhood.

              So, sometimes I put the ladder against the house and climb up there just to make sure I can release the steps with my hands and ascend further. It truly takes some serious willpower, which I know sounds cheesy or weak. But fear is fear, in whatever its forms.

  65. Jim Sparling

    You’re right about the Marine Corps Infantry. In .57, /58 and ’59 I was LCpl, 0331, 2nd Bn. 5thReg. 1st Division…the most decorated unit in the Corps and wore the “Pogie Rope”. In those days, that MOS meant carrying the light .30 cal Browning Machine Gun. Even the 0311 Riflemen respected us…the wing-washers and supply dudes didn’t have a clue what we did, but most were glad they didn’t have to do it. The Marine Corps is the Infantry…everyone else in the Corps is there to support it.

    • Mr. Sparling,

      Honored to have you comment here. And let me be VERY clear. Everyone 0311 that I know has insurmountable respect for 0331s, as well as whatever the mortarman designation is. (And SMAW gunner, too.)

      When I was in, once they got all the 03′s together, they’d pick the biggest dudes in the outfit and send them to Weapons Platoon. Weapons Platoon was probably tighter than even my infantry platoon. They had to carry more gear, had to get detached to various platoons, and they were just flat-out tough and mean. And big. Have I mentioned how big they were? (Like at least three times?)

      When we humped, they usually put Weapons Platoon in the lead and there was nothing more embarrassing than wanting to quit and seeing those dudes up ahead of you carrying M240s, mortar tubes, and base plates.

      And I remember a few times when their platoon wouldn’t be in the lead, and some stragglers would start falling back. They’d yell at them to get out of the way — which every platoon did — but if that Marine didn’t get out of the way, instead of being pulled or pushed to the side with at least some sympathy/dignity like most platoons did, they’d literally knock them off their feet.

      And Weapons Platoon had four squads while some of our infantry platoons only had two, so they’d take on two platoons at a time, and not even blink an eye. Especially with how big they all were.

      They were some bruisers. Some tough mofo’s.

      And oh my… Just remembering hearing those machine guns work together on live fire ranges. There’s nothing like the beauty and orchestration of two M240s on tripods (or bipods) doing “talking guns.”

      Da. Da. Da. Da. Da. (Left gun.)

      Bah. Bah. Bah. Bah. Bah. (Right gun.)

      Da. Da. Da. Da. Da. (Left gun.)

      Bah. Bah. Bah. Bah. Bah. (Right gun.)

      And the whole time, infantry guys like me sprinting and sprawling, huffing and crawling, moving forward, advancing, firing and moving, sprinting through low ground, getting muddy or dusty, wondering if you can make it, and arriving at the objective completely exhausted and out of breath, the smell of cordite and sweat lingering in the air.

      Hot damn I miss those days… Where the hell is a recruiter?! I’m signing back up. (They still take you at 36, right?)

  66. Jim Sparling

    By the way, we never called ourselves the “Infantry” unless talking to a civilian or other service member…we were called a “Line Company”.

  67. Arne Flores

    This is the first time that I have ever posted on any blog. I believe Mr. Ron Johnson’s article was excellent; he may be using reverse psychology which is sometimes the best way to get extra attention. Who knows, he may be a former boot camp “pick up” that didn’t make it or a wanna be marine that didn’t make it past the recruiter. But it get’s everyone all riled up and the potential enlistee’s will join Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children instead of the army, navy, air force or coast guard.
    My MOS was 0331/8511 from 1965 to 1969. After boot camp and ITR I joined G-2-5 in Camp Margarita, did a tour in Vietnam and a tour at MCRD San Diego as an esteemed Drill Instructor. Those two years as a Drill Instructor were the best years of my entire lifetime career (1967-1969 peak of the Vietnam War) and boot camp was accelerated to eight weeks. I successfully completed my tour as a Drill Instructor and received an Honorable Discharge on April 1969. I remember telling myself the day I was separated, that I would never have to polish my shoes/boots again. And to this day, shining my shoes/boots is as much part of my life as breakfast, lunch and dinner. My gratitude goes to my Drill Instructors and to the United States Marine Corps for the training, values and experiences I received. There are hundreds of thousands of marines out in this world that will NEVER forget their Drill Instructors, I am one of them. And because of those three professionals, their experience, guidance and training that they bestowed upon me, I later became one of the elite Drill Instructors whom a lot of marines out there will always remember … good, bad or indifferent.
    Having spent four years of my life in the United States Marine Corps has had an effect on my entire life. I learned pride, honor, integrity, loyalty, self-discipline, being a team player, respect for others, high expectations and performance on anything that I set to accomplish, leadership, physical and mental conditioning, and most important, to put my family above all, except for the Almighty. Semper Fidelis!

    • Mr. Flores,

      I am beyond honored you decided to comment. I am in awe of all the Marines who have come out of the woodwork and commented on this post. I don’t rate to even hold the door for you or the vast majority of those who have commented on this post.

      Thank you for continuing the tradition and making the Marine Corps as brutal as it was when I was in, and I hope I honored you and these other fine warriors by passing along some of that discipline and toughness.

      And I think that like almost every Marine I ever met, I DO wish I had been given the opportunity to be a DI. That would have been worth re-enlisting for, if they could have guaranteed it for me, and if I could have rekindled that insane, over-the-top love I initially had those first few years. (I’m probably being too hard on myself about my attitude toward the end; I did earn Sergeant at a time when that was rather rare. But four years in the infantry had beat me down a bit, and I’d blown my shoulder out fighting — get this — a big dude in Weapons Platoon, who I failed to hip toss and who slammed me to the ground like I was a light pillow. I landed like a stiff log, unfortunately…)

      But as my shoulder aches and slows me down to this day, I will always believe that one of my greatest moments was when Weapons Platoon was talking shit, and my platoon was giving it to them back, and when things seemed clear that they were about to go down, I will never forget running as fast as I could toward their biggest guy. I lead my squad — I was a Cpl and we had just gotten in a bunch of boots — and I remember thinking, “Now this is what leadership is. One of the smallest guys leading from the front and taking on their biggest guy.”

      And for about five seconds, I was Rambo. I was Rocky. I was John Basilone, I was Chesty Puller. And then we collided, I tried to hip toss him, and then my dream died. I failed and he crushed me.

      Turned out he was not only bigger than me by about seventy pounds, he had also been a wrestler in Ohio and made it to state. He destroyed me and messed me up pretty bad.

      But, oh my… For those five seconds, it was grand… And honestly, as sick as it sounds, it was probably worth it. That charge cemented my reputation for good in my company.

  68. Jim Sparling

    I wonder if Top Sgt. Stelling ever attended an old fashioned “drumming out”? At Pendleton in ’58, the CO decided to make an example of a shit-bird. He called the Regiment to the Grinder in Uniform Able in front of a stage. The shit-bird was marched in front of a prisoner-chaser up to the stage, where the CO read the charges then a drummer rolled the drum, the CO ordered the Regiment to about-face and the shit-bird was walked about 5 miles to the front gate and escorted off the base, sans cover or belongings except his sea bag. I actually felt sorry for the shit-bird. The CO was at the time the youngest Bird Colonel in the Corps, Donald M. (“Buck) Schmuck, later Brigadier. He had been in most of the Pacific battles of WWII and the Chosin…one tough bugger, highly respected by the troops. I think we still hold the record at Pendleton for 110 mile march, 5 days, in full gear. The tune-up was 37 miles in the mountains in one day…stragglers were still coming in the next morning. Those were the days!

    • I don’t rate to comment on this, but I had never heard of such a thing and I’m so glad you shared the story. Wish they still did this. And I’m hoping 1st Sgt Stelling sees this to answer it.

  69. Jim Sparling

    Another “by the way”: When I was promoted to Corporal I had 2 stripes. Then in ’58 the ranks changed and I became a Lance Corporal…same E-3, but the loss of the stripe felt like a demotion. Kind of pissed me off.

    • Oh, my. Yeah, that would have pissed me off, too… Just like when I was in, at some point they started A) giving stand out recruits LCPL straigth out of boot camp and B) keeping Marines together from boot camp, to SOI, to the fleet. (I’m not sure if they still do this.)

      It was probably a good idea, but it was harder to break these guys down when they arrived to the fleet. They arrived thinking they had made it and since they were with their friends, there wasn’t that feeling of fear and insecurity like me and my friends went through.

  70. Jim Sparling

    Stan…well said about the Weapons Platoon guys, but I was part of a 4-man machine gun squad in a rifle platoon, first as ammo carrier, then assistant gunner and finally gunner. The asst. carried the 31 lb. gun, the gunner carried the 11 lb (as I recall) tripod, plus a 1911 Colt and about 40 lbs of other gear. But we rarely had a full squad, usually just two of us and one rifleman recruited to carry ammo. I weighed 135 lbs. then, my asst. weighed about 150. Man, we thought we were tough, especially the asst. gunner, one Ruben Flores…it was hard to pry the gun away from him. I confess I was glad to give it up when we rotated who would carry the gun or tripod. Blister City. At our Regiment then, we always had steak at mess after a 2-week field exercise. Almost as good as the SOS of which I was very fond.

    • Oh, I see. Amazing that you were able to carry that at that weight.

      And I can relate to your size, which makes me all the more amazed. I weighed 135 when I was in the fleet. Craziest thing I ever did humping was this one boot was struggling to keep up on a hump and i was sqd ldr.

      So, I try to encourage him, and that doesn’t work. Then I start shaming him, and that helps for a while. But soon, even that’s not working. And then I do what had been done to me and dozens of other Marines. I start telling him to drop his pack. That he can’t hack it and is a piece of shit, etc.

      Well, unfortunately for me, and probably for the first time in Marine Corps history, this piece of crap says, “Yes, Cpl,” and drops his pack. And THEN hands his weapon to a fire team leader that had been yelling at him, as well.

      Well, a hundred men had seen this all occur so I was too startled to know what to do. So, I yell at two squad members to grab his pack and throw it on top of mine. They do and the weight crushes me immediately. I know it’s not going to be possible, but I refuse to lose face. And so I tell them to rush forward and get back with teh formation and I start on with both packs.

      I couldn’t come close to keeping up and I carry both packs maybe a mile and a half. (And it’s all I can do to even do that.The pain was just so much on my back and even my lungs could barely open and close beneath so much weight.)

      I only make it that far because the company had stopped and I figured I’d give him his pack back, and could catch my breath. Well, I trudge in, drop the pack, try to stop hyperventilating, and then the CO orders everyone up. I was destroyed that I wouldn’t get that break. And I take my position in the lead as sqd ldr, but I quickly fall out. It was so embarrassing. The only hump I fell out of in the fleet. (I fell out of one in SOI.)

      And to make matters worse, when we arrived, the CO — a Captain I would have taken a bullet for — watches me trudge in. And he shakes his head, disgusted. And I, in classic Marine tradition, refuse to make any excuses. So, I meet his eyes and just say, “No excuse, sir.”

      About an hour later, he came up to me and said, “Cpl Mitchell, how ’bout next time you don’t try to carry two packs?”

      It completely made my day and I think had he not found out the truth, me letting him down would have bugged me to the end of time.

      One upside to the story is that piece of shit Marine turned out all right, and carrying those two packs helped build up my reputation. But it did mess up my back for a while. I’m still not sure what I did to it, but like most injuries, it healed with time.

      (You know, I’m sure people are tired of reading about my stories, but these stories were huge for me. They defined me. And, I guess it is my blog so I can do what I want. But still, I do need to say that hearing all these stories from these TRUE warriors who did a million times more (who probably laugh at my stories) has absolutely made my week. I am sooo grateful for each and every comment. BEST OF ALL FOR YOU GUYS: I’m about out of stories.)

      • Oh, and I totally forgot to finalize my point, Mr. Sparling. The only reason I blabbed about that second pack and how much I weighed is I figure his pack was probably 55 or 60 pounds. So, my web gear, flack, helmet, plus my pack, plus that 55 or 60 pounds, and I ONLY made it maybe a mile and a half.

        AND, I messed my back up and couldn’t keep up for the rest of the hump. (I think that was 12 miles.) My point was, at 135 pounds, I KNOW that I couldn’t have carried a 31 pound gun very far. You, sir, were a hundred times tougher than me. (And I was the idiot working out at night or doing ruck runs in the dark when we were at the barracks because I lived in perennial fear of falling out of humps — besides being small, I had a short stride and it was hard for me to keep up.)

  71. Jim Sparling

    Stan…love your blog here…it’s a treat to hear the stories and reminiscences of Marines of all ages. If I get too nostalgic, feel free to tell me to shut up, but at 75 I don’t have much opportunity to share with people who understand.

    • No way! We may be the only two still at the bar and listening, but that doesn’t bother me!

      Tell me some more about the Old Corps and how it used to be (and still should be)!

  72. Jim Sparling

    Stan…boy, do I understand the short stride part. When I was at MCRD, the boot camp platoon was organized with the tallest in front, probably still is,’cause it looks good. My best pal was Right Guide. The “poison dart people”, as the DI called us short folk, were the last to get into the mess hall, which taught me to eat really fast, a habit I retain to this day.

    • Oh, yeah, they still put the short guys in the back… It’s keep up or die trying.

      I had a DI take me and three other guys in the beginning of boot camp and say, “I don’t think short guys ought to be in the Corps. You can’t carry wounded men who are larger, you can’t carry as much weight or ammo, you just aren’t big enough to be Marines. So, I’m going to make it my job to break all four of you so you won’t graduate.”

      And let me tell you, he damn sure tried.

      I was often torn. There were times where I thought small guys SHOULDN’T be in the infantry. It’s true that I couldn’t really fireman carry this 220 pound big Marine in our platoon.

      But then the short guys were so dang tough. There was actually a smaller guy than me in my platoon. He was literally one of the toughest guys I knew. And he didn’t like to lift, so he was really small. But he LOVED to fight. And he was literally red headed and covered with freckles and man, that guy had probably been fighting since he was three years old.

      He was the toughest Marine I ever met, and it got to where no one in our company would take that guy on. He was insane. Nothing short of dried leather tough, and he’d smoke and drink and not sleep at all on weekends, and then not sleep in the field.

      I still don’t know how he did it.

      (Oh, and on the small man thing? That’s part of the premise of my Western book. It’s about an undersized deputy marshal, who’s also young. The odds are stacked against him, but he’s just come off three years of war fighting for the South… I get so many people who are small that email me about that book, appreciative of the fact that the main character isn’t a 6’4″ John Wayne type…)

  73. Jim Sparling

    Stan…thanks for indulging an old Marine. I’ll let you off the hook now,
    It’s past my bedtime, but rest assured I’ll be back.

  74. I am thankful that I, like my father and now my nephew who is in bootcamp had the opportunity to serve in the United States Marine Corps. Yes, I still wear clothing with the Marine Corps Emblem or something about Semper Fi, Gung Ho, USMC etc. Because of this I am able to find Marines just about anywhere I go and there is no problem getting into a conversation with them. As stated in other replies, Marines do fly their flag, have bumper stickers etc as they are proud. I lived in a retirement community in Florida for 6 years and hardly ever saw any indication of other military people in the community but finding a Marine took no effort at all. Why do Marines show so much pride. Maybe it’s so we can get into a discussion as which boot camp was the toughest. Maybe it’s so we call each other names like wing-wipers, grunts, cannon cockers, air dales, mud Marines and so on and so on. What ever the reason, we did not become a soldier, a sailor, an airmen or a coastie just by signing our name on a piece of paper. We were nothing for 3 longs months and then one day, the Battalion Commander looked at us while we were on the parade deck and said “Good Morning Marines”. We earned the name Marines, it wasn’t given to us. Semper Fi, Rick Bowling

    • Mr. Bowling,

      Absolutely dead on. Hearing those words and earning that title is one of the proudest moments of my life. And I love that you mention the calling of each other names. People always laugh when they overhear me talking to a Marine — like my wife or some of her family. We pretty much trash each other the entire time. Love my brothers though, and it’s funny when you meet a Marine for the first time and you’re speaking the same language and trashing each other in no time.


  75. Peter Haines

    Combined Action Company Papa HQ at District Headquarters, Cam Lo, 2 Feb 68, TET. In the first moments of the fight, my company clerk Lance Corporal Eades (ostensibly a not particularly squared away Marine) came running up, “Sir, the machine gun is jammed”. I spoke the two most important words of my life, “Clear it.” He did and was instrumental in saving us all– Silver Star followed. Now, in the crunch, who do you want serving next to you; how about a Marine typist?
    Semper Fi, Peter Haines

    • Amazing story, Mr. Haines. And I want to reiterate for any who may have missed some of my replies. ALL Marines are warfighters, and all are trained for combat. So, when I’m in a crunch, I’ll gladly take any Marine, period.

      SF and thanks for your service!

  76. Clyde Hamilton

    Proud E5 Parris Island Marine here of 70 years. My friends and family say I am one of the most caring and giving persons they know. I will give the shirt off of my back to those who really need it and rip it to shreds anyone who badmouths my God, Family, Country or Corps. Semper Fi!!

    • Mr. Hamilton,

      Thanks so much for joining us and stopping by. And I think your comment is probably just about the perfect description for how all Marines are: Givers, and fighters.

      Semper Fi, my friend.

  77. Jim Sparling

    Stan…I wonder if anyone on the blog had the pleasure of going to Cold Weather Indoctrination at Pikel Meadows in the 50′s? After all the casualties at the Chosin from frostbite and inadequate gear and training, the Corps created the camp in the Sierra Nevadas at around 12,000 above sea level. I was there with the 5th Reg.1st Div. in February 1958. It got to 20 below, froze my young ass off, but there were some highlights, like digging and sleeping in snow caves, carring the Browning light .30 wearing snow shoes, etc. Another highlight was that as the old timers will attest, you had to finish your C-rats to draw a new box. So the canned stuff that was inedible (tuna and noodles, John Wayne crackers, etc.) were thrown into the 12-hole outdoor crapper in base camp. Every night, they poured kerosene into it to burn the crap. All night, you could hear cans of C-rats exploding from the heat. Woe betide anyone who had to take a dump in the middle of the night. He was apt to get peppered from below with an assortment of the worst choices of inedibles plus a little extra from someone’s digestive tract.

    • My goodness. I’ll pass on that. I hadn’t heard of Pikel Meadows, but I’m freezing even thinking about it.

      These days, it seems Bridgeport, California, and Hokkaido, Japan, are two of the main training areas for cold weather and mountain training.

      Interestingly enough though, I noticed on this website for Bridgeport a link to a newsletter called the Pickel Post. I wonder if it’s the same place you’re describing, but they’ve renamed it.

      Take a look at it here:

      • Jim Stelling

        Pickle Meadows is the mountain warfare training center a few miles from Bridgeport, CA. Used for cold weather training in the winter and rock climbing in the summer.

        Someone asked about getting a bad discharge. I believe they did away with that in 1962. In 1961 we had a prisoner marched up in front of the battalion. The CO gave the command for an about face so we wouldn’t have to look at the slimy person. He had been dressed in purple trousers and a pink shirt to embarrass him ( that would probably be okay by today’s standards). He was put in a jeep, driven to the front gate at CamPen and told he was on his own.

        • Thanks for the info, 1stSgt.

          So, if not mistaken, it wasn’t much longer after that when the Corps got rid of the M14. What were your thoughts both then and now on that decision? (And anyone else who wants to weigh in…)

  78. Jim Sparling

    No, I think I misspelled it…it should be Pickel Meadows. I think it’s now called a mountain training camp. When I was there it was only Cold Weather Indoctrination. It’s up the mountain from Bishop, California.

  79. Harry T. Imoto Sr. CWO3, USCG, Ret.

    I noticed not much being said about one of the other Military outfit, the United States Coast Guard. The USCG had fought in every war, declared or not, that the United States was involved in. Do the USMC Old Timers remember the name Douglas Albert Munro, Signalman First Class, USCG? He was posthumously awarded the MOH for his actions at the battle of Guadalcanal on 27 September 1942. Yes, the USCG is one of the Armed Forces. I am proud to have served in the USCG from 1952 to 1976. Oh! I did time in Vietnam also and was in enough action to be awarded the Navy/Marine Corp Combat Action Ribbon along with 8 other medals and ribbons for service I Vietnam. I’m not showing off my awards, but just trying to emphasize that we Coasties are also a fighting service.

    • Jim Stelling

      I have always had a high regard for the Coast Guard and the Sea Bees. Some seem to forget the work they do.

      • I agree with the 1stSgt.

        The Coast Guard probably encounters as many tense situations as the other branches. They run drug interdiction and rescue untold number of people caught in storms and other disasters. They’ve got my respect, for sure. Thanks for your service, Mr. Imoto, and for dropping the comment! (And for the reminder of the Coast Guards role in wars! For instance, I knew they had seen serious action in WWII, but I didn’t realize they had in Vietnam. I assumed the Brown Water Navy was just a smaller part of the U.S. Navy.)


    • Harry is a friend of mine. I have a little more to add to CWO Imoto’s words:

      If anyone has the audacity or thinks they are qualified to rank order the branches of our armed forces, he or she should at least know the facts. Mr. Johnson clearly does not.

      Each branch of service has unique areas of expertise, different responsibilities, and employs different tactics and missions to achieve a common goal; preservation of freedom and the American way of life. Any marines I’ve known do not consider themselves ‘stone cold killers’. They rightly considered themselves highly trained combat qualified defenders of America who may have to kill or be killed to accomplish their job. He states that Marines have a hard life because they have to sleep on Navy ships and slog ashore through the surf. Does he really not know that navy, coast guard and merchant marine personnel live and sleep on board ships, submarines and cutters. The soldiers who were transported on troop ships, didn’t go home to sleep. It is mentioned that marines have to slog ashore through the surf. I don’t remember the army being carried ashore; they also got wet and shot at while trying to dig in on a beach under enemy attack. How does the writer think marines got to the surf they had to slog through? I can’t believe that he doesn’t know it was by Navy and Coast Guard manned landing craft, usually during the heat of battle.

      He is wrong about the guaranteed assignment to certain duty stations, schools, and various occupational specialities prior to enlistment. All branches of our modern armed forces can make those guarantees to qualified enlistees based on their length of enlistment and the scores and information derived from the Armed Forces Aptitude Battery test administered by each branch of service prior to enlistment.

      How can Mr. Johnson say that Air Force life is easier and less stressful. Did he serve in the Air Force? Does he not realize that air force personnel are also combat trained and often given land based assignments in combat areas where they are exposed to attacks, bombing and land mines. Does he believe it is easy to fly combat missions, or that it is not stressful to keep aircraft and equipment in a state of readiness with little turn around time or with a shortage of parts and personnel, or both.

      Mr Johnson says the army has a decent pay scale. Is he not aware that all services have the same basic pay scales. He says avoid army grunt jobs like truck driving and petroleum specialists. Our modern army does not have menial tasks (grunts). Every soldier from clerks and cooks to snipers are combat ready technically trained professionals.

      Do only Marines have a hard time adapting to a civilian life style? I think not; any soldier, sailor, airman, marine or coast guardsman who has experienced the horrors of war are equally susceptible to difficulty adapting to civilian life. It is not because they have to learn to not be ‘stone cold killers’. Rather, it is because they have to learn that they are not under attack every time they hear a loud noise and to not automatically go into defensive mode whenever someone makes a questionable or unexpected movement. They have to learn to live with the visions of dead or maimed brothers and sisters in arms. They have to find a way to once again allow family and friends to be close without fear that they will be taken from them as were so many of their buddies. They are heroes who deserve our respect, understanding and help. I guess Mr. Johnson does not read or watch the news or he would know that it is not just marines facing these problems.

      He mentions the elite special forces of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines but not the elite Coast Guard rescue swimmers. The Coast Guard does a lot more than guard our coasts and interdict drugs, Mr. Johnson! The Coast Guard is our nation’s oldest sea going service and has fought in every war. They serve around the world at sea, in the air and on shore. They put their lives on the line every day in peace time as well as wartime. They are often in fire fights while interdicting drugs, they make heroic and daring rescues in mountainous seas and freezing weather and they are responsible for port security. They enforce fishing regulations, ship and boat safety regulations, pollution control and clean up, and escort and protect vessels entering or leaving our ports. They are federal police officers who are authorized to make arrests, they deter illegal immigrants from entering our country and often save their lives in the process. For those who may be interested, the U. S. Coast Guard Greenland Patrol was formed and placed in service prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor and charged with protecting allied and American convoy ships from U. Boats. That rag tag group of obsolete cutters and converted fishing boats, took the first prisoners of WWII when they discovered and attacked a German Manned radio and weather station. They are also the only American or allied service to capture an intact enemy vessel and its crew. The German manned ship was disguised as a Danish fishing vessel, but was actually gathering information on the movement of American and allied shipping. Their sophisticated radio equipment and classified documents were confiscated or destroyed. All branches of service recognize and appreciate what the Coast Guard has done and will continue to do. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to attach a photo to this reply. However, if anyone wants to see what the Marines in Guam during WWII thought about the Coast Guard, type in your browser: “Marines Thank Coast Guard”. Mr.Johnson says the Coast Guard “patrols our shores”.so I don’t know why they were in Guam and every other war on foreign shores.
      In conclusion, we all should love and be proud of our branch of service. I am proud to have served in the U. S. Coast Guard for over 23 years. I am also proud of every other branch of service as we are collectively the best armed forces in the world. Rank ordering the value of each branch, intra service bashing and lack of respect and support for our brothers and sisters in arms has no place in the equation.

      William H. RaVell III
      Chief Warrant Officer, USCG (ret)

      • Harry T. Imoto Sr. CWO3, USCG, Ret.

        BRAVO ZULU brother RaVell and Amen.
        Semper Paratus

      • Wow!!! What a rebuttal, CWO RaVell.

        Remind me never to piss you off! And you wrote a most impressive comment. Well thought out. Accurate. Impossible to disagree with.

        Thanks so much for leaving the comment and setting the record straight.


        • I’m glad you appreciate my comments.I don’t get pissed off very easily,. Anger usually results in rash or inappropriate reaction which serves no useful purpose. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and thankfully, we have fought for the freedom of speech to express it. I try to take the time to digest what is written or orally presented before responding. I also do not respond with information that I cannot document as fact. I think forums such as this are a valuable tool to express one’s opinion and to consider the opinion of others. If we are open minded, it can be a good learning experience for all.
          Thanks for listening,

          • One thing I find interesting is I read his entire article, TWICE. And I missed much of what you stated, and yet I KNEW some of what you posted, i.e. same payscale across branches, Navy/Coast Guard ship life, guaranteed assignments.

            Even funnier — or sadder, really — is this HUGE oversight that I missed, as well…

            I had a full-bird Marine Colonel email me privately with this comment (he didn’t want to comment publicly, but I’ll share part of what he said w/o naming him in an effort to help correct the record):

            “No one proves themselves more of an ignorant jackass than someone that says ‘the Marines are part of the Navy.’ You need to see if you can “get the word” to this Ron Johnson character. (I don’t fool around with social media!)

            “The United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy are separate services within the Department of the Navy, which is a sub-department of the Department of Defense, and SecNav is a civilian. We are sister services for sure.

            “But since a long ago modification of the Defense Act of 1947, the Commandant of the Marine Corps has had full and equal status on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

            So… I’m not sure what me missing all these important points means. Either I can’t read or I’m half-stupid OR I’m in such a rush to make my point/rebuttal that I don’t listen well!

            And upon a couple moments of reflection, I’m thinking it’s the latter!

            • I did know about the Marine Corps being under the Department of the Navy and not part of the Navy but it did did not register as I read the article. I also neglected to mention i that anyone telling a Coast Guard recruiter “I want to join so I can kill the enemy” would be denied enlistment. If he or she made it past the recruiter, in all probability would be found psychologically
              unsuitable for military service during medical evaluation. I don’t know if that is true with the other branches, but I tend to believe it is. People with that mentality do not think rationally and are the type that are often found guilty of killing innocent non-combatants, fellow soldiers, and/or themselves., My good friend and shipmate, CWO Harry Imoto, a highly respected karate Sensei, asked every applicant why they wanted to learn karate. He turned down anyone who said they wanted to kick someone’s ass.

              • That’s a great question to ask. An additional rule my Sensei follows is if someone asks about how long it takes to get a black belt, he shows them the door.

                • That’s what makes our country great – defense takes priority over attack. I’ll back out until I have something worthy of comment. I will remain an avid follower however..

                • I’m back already. I just read an article in the Coast Guard Chief Warrant and Warrant Officers’ bulletin that you may find of interest. Many thanks to a retired Marine who to took the time to honor a Coast Guard Vet of WWII.

                  “This story started a number of months ago. A retired
                  Marine Corps Sergeant, working as a cook at he
                  Grace Care Center of Cypress, recognized a Coast Guard
                  WWII veteran by the name of Percy McWhorter who had
                  no military recognition as a resident of the nursing home.
                  He contacted my unit and a number of folks took the time
                  to visit and provide Coast Guard tokens — tee shirt, unit
                  ballcap, photos, and two posters signed by the men and
                  women of the unit. At the time I was unable to participate;
                  however I took possession of one of the posters and saved
                  it for Memorial Day.
                  Prior to entering the Coast Guard, Percy McWhorter
                  worked for Lubbock Oil, which was later purchased and
                  merged into what we know as Exxon/Mobil today. During WWII,
                  aboard the CGC/USS Eastwind,(Coast Guard Served Under Navy in WWII, thus the hull designation CGC/USS) home ported in Boston,MA Designed as an ice breaker, but outfitted to support the war effort, the
                  Eastwind spend many days patrolling the waters of the North Atlantic resupplying outposts in Greenland.Percy recalled that the majority of time aboard the cutter was simply routine. However, on 4 October 1944, Eastwind captured a German weather station on Little Koldewey Island and 12 German personnel. Then again on 15 October 1944, Eastwind captured the German trawler Externsteine and took 17 prisoners.
                  Percy was one of the participants in this historic capture.”

                  Eastwind was the lead vessel in the Greenland Patrol I mentioned in an earlier comment. I had forgotten the name of the captured trawler that Percey identified. Everyone should follow the example set by the retired Marine and seek out and pay tribute to a veterans of any service. They deserve it an will be very appreciative

                  • Wow. Thanks for sharing that, and I’m so glad they noticed who he was.

                    There’s a Marine who lives in Oak Ridge who fought in the Frozen Chosin (in Korea). He’s the nicest man ever and he refuses to talk about what he did and wants no attention for it.

                    I had to pry it out of him where he served, but he had heard I was a Marine and he came up and thanked me for my service. I noticed just a hint of something in his eyes, and asked if he had served.

                    He said he had served “a little” during Korea. Not content with that, I asked if he had been in the Army or Marines, and he said Marines, and from there I asked if he had gotten caught up in that mess in the Chosin Reservoir.

                    Once he acknowledged that, I practically wanted to roll out a red carpet and carry him on my shoulders like he was a Superbowl champ. I think it made his day to have someone remember (or even know) about our nation’s military history, and what our elders went through.

                    It just goes to show though that those who have done the most, say the least.

          • this guy woulda made a great Marine. but he’s FINE right where he is!

  80. Ken Vos

    Some things never chg. I hope not!!
    semper Fi

  81. Just a heads up
    There is no such thing as a Marine Corps Drill Sergeant
    There are only Drill Instructors in the Corps, we are also the only Service to call them Drill Instructor’s
    Richard Bell
    Sergeant Major
    USMC Retired

    • SgtMajor,

      Thanks for not chewing me out. That would have been my first response had I seen a Marine make such a mistake. However, I assure you I would never make such a mistake. How could anyone after Paris Island?! : )

      Just as an FYI, I did NOT write that part that is quoted. The person who wrote the article is named Ron Johnson and he wrote the article for Yahoo. (I think Ron served in the Army, and thus the mistake…)

      SF, SgtMajor. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  82. Thank Stan. Ron. Take note.

  83. This article is factually correct, but makes one wrong assessment. The United States Marine Corps is not the “worst service to join” – It’s not that simple. What the author fails to realize is that you do not join the Marine Corps. You become one.

    I never knew one of my brother or sister Marines that served with a plan to gain college benefits, support a family, find a job or simply to stand up to a challenge. These men and women were born Marines in their heart and soul and had no other goal in life other than to earn the title “Marine” – the absolute standard of what a patriot is: a selfless servant of our great nation and the guardians of all we hold dear.

    United States Marines are not killers – we are eternal protectors of what we would so earnestly die to protect – the ideals set place in the Constitution of the United States and the proposition that all in this world deserve to be secure from those that would do them harm. Those that earn the privilege of being awarded that Eagle, Globe & Anchor were Marines long before they even set their feet on the yellow footprints @ Parris Island or MCRD San Diego. They just required the training to sharpen their mental sword and become hardened into the guardians that we are.

    I became a Marine at 10 years old as I watched my brothers defend our Embassy in Iran against the revolutionary horde and that resolve has hardened by watching my brothers and sisters sacrifice their lives defending the innocent by attempting to keep the peace in Lebanon shortly after. We know in every fiber of what we are that we are called to do instinctively as children – long before earning the title we hold so dear.

    And after leaving our period of active service we do remain United States Marines. We maintain that cold steely vigilance that is necessary to seek justice and honor in our society. We are different. We are the heart and soul of what makes this country great, never blending into those around us but standing tall – ready at a moments notice to do the right thing and live a life with honor and dignity that only our fellow Marines know.

    I thank God every day that I was allowed the honor to have the title of United States Marine. Those of you that did not experience this calling and answer its song will never understand. We are Corps. We recognize each other in a crowd of strangers on a daily basis. We never leave a brother or sister behind for the rest of our lives. And we would not have it any other way.

    God bless our great nation, my brothers and sisters & the United States Marine Corps.

    • Mr. Santy,

      Thanks so much for your comment and your service! Your passion clearly shows the love you had (and still have) for the Corps. I think it’s fair to say that your Drill Instructors would be proud to see such devotion from one of their Marines.


  84. The explanation i simple: Marines are the only service that actively promotes unit tradition and pride. The Army (my service 23 years) pays no attention to tradition…changes uniforms every five years, organizes and disbands units constantly, caters to girls and gays, decisions made by lawyers…what is there to be “proud” of? Navy names its ships for obscure politicians and meaningless presidents…what pride is there in serving on the USS Vinson (who was he???)? Take a tip from the Brits, who give their ships really cool names.p
    Air Force…unless you’re a flier what is there to be proud of? You go to work everyday, 8 to 5, just like any civilian. Big deal!
    The Coast Guard is different. Those guys are doing somiething worthwhile everyday, like saving lives and busting narcs. They should br darn proud of what they do, but you never hear about them.
    So…bravo, Marines! Keep it up!

    • I am pleased that you praise the Marine Corps and that you are one of the few to publically acknowledge the great job the Coast Guard.does. I am a little surprised that you are critical of your own branch of service. In regard to catering to women and gays, the Army is only guilty of complying with the law. Women have proven their worth defending our country. Gays have paid the ultimate sacrifice defending this country since the Continental Army and were rewarded by being given the boot if their homosexuality were discovered. It appears that you are among the misinformed that think homosexulaity is a choice. If that were true, everyone would be straight. No one would willfully choose a lifestyle that would earn them inequality, physical and mental abuse, the right to fight for their own country, and even the loss of religious freedom I don’t think women and/or gays who have given their lives in combat or are learning to use artificial limbs, were catered too. By the way, I am neither a woman nor gay. Army has a lot to be proud of, they have defended this country since the Revolution. You say “they don’t pay attention to tradition” which to my way of thinking means they have no tradition. Kind of hard to pay attention to something that does not exist. I know a lot of soldier’s who are proud to be Army and upheld and promoted the traditions of their division, specialized, or elite unit. Tradition is initiated by those who take pride in, and celebrate what they have accomplished and stand for. It is safe to assume that you have not done your part in that regard. It’s pretty sad that you degrade your own service branch but are not too proud to take the pension. Since you served 23 years, you must have done something right. You may not be proud of that, but I am and I thank you for your service.
      Your opinion of the Air Force is your business. I’ll just say that I would rather be on the ground than flying through artillery fire and flak in a flying coffin. Oh, by the way they didn’t get shot out of the sky, step on a mine, or get shot only between the hours of 8 to 5. I’m not aware of any “meaningless presidents”. How did you make that determination and who were they. Should Navy take pride in their ship based only on its name? Should a ship named USS Micky Mouse that sink two enemy vessels have less pride than the USS Abraham Lincoln?.The Navy does not name it’s vessels after anyone who has not earned that honor. You would not make such degrading comments if you had taken the time to find out why USS Vinson was that name.. The gentleman was a champion of the Armed Forces and especially the Navy and Marine Corps. It’s not to late to learn. Click on the following link for your first lesson.

      William H. RaVell III
      Chief Warrant Officer (CWO3)
      U. s. Coast Guard (Ret.)

      • Chief…with all respect, either I did not explain myself clearly in my letter or you have chosen to misread my words. Let me try again: I said that only the Marine Corps, among all the services, actively promotes unit tradition and pride to the point that is clearly evidenced in all the correspondence on this site. And bravo to the Corps for that! I did not imply that as individuals we who have served in whatever Service cannot be “proud” of our service. Do you think I am not proud of my service in SF and infantry assignments? Of course I am, but that is an individual thing, not aided or promoted by the Army as an institution. Just one example: witness the constant changes to the Army’s uniforms…not the field uniforms but the Class A uniforms, and for no reason other than pressure by the companies that sell uniforms. The Marines, in contrast, wear today essentially the same uniform Marines have worn since the 1930s. That, Chief, is tradition!
        As for the Navy: the naming of Navy vessels used to be a pretty straightforward process…battleships were named after States, carriers after famous battles and ships, and so on. Over the past 20 or so years naming of ships has become strictly an exercise in political masturbation, attempting to curry favor or reward some political hack whose connection with the Navy is minimal or non-existent. Examples: I know who Vinson was, but who cares? And how many of the sailors on board have the faintest idea who he was? And what in the world is “inspiring” about him for a young Navy guy? Gerald Ford? Gimme a break! Ronald Reagan? Same thing! Will we look forward, Chief, to the USS Barack Obama? How about the USS Hilary Clinton? Why not? As long as the whole thing is politics why not the USS Al Sharpton?
        Perhaps I was a bit harsh about the Air Force, but I clearly excepted those who fly as opposed to those who support. I know both sides well, as one of my closest buddies from high school was a fighter pilot for 25 years and my brother-in-law just retired as a senior NCO ground guy. He spent his entire career except for schools, at Pope AFB. We called this “homesteading” in the Army. Tough duty! The fighter pilot, has been all over, served two tours in VN as did I. He too is proud of what he did and accomplished, but not because of any institutional effort by the AF.
        Again, I have the utmost respect for the USCG although I have never served with them personally. I just know that their seamanship alone puts the Navy to shame.
        The issue of girls and gays is another topic completely. It is not a question of having to follow the law; it is a question of knowing that the law in this case is wrong,.. totally political. with absolutely no basis or justification in military history, and not ferociously opposing it! Army leadership not only went along with those abominations but actively supported them! Dempsey, Odierno, Petraeus and all the others should be forever ashamed!
        And, in my opinion, equally ashamed should be any nation, society, that sends its mothers, wives, and daughters to fight its wars while perfectly healthy men sit at home on their asses playing video games!

        • Jim Stelling

          Just a note about the Coast Guard.
          While serving as a Marine Instucor for NROTC students at Berkeley, CA (1975/1976) we had a navy captain (Capt Van Antwerp–Good guy) had to take a master seaman’s test before he could captain a US Navy vessel. Who administered that test?
          The US Coast Guard. I thought it strange at the time, I figured it would be the other way around.

        • Perhaps I did misinterpret what you were saying. I guess I assumed you weren’t proud because you said in this excerpt from your original comments “.The Army (my service 23 years) pays no attention to tradition…changes uniforms every five years, organizes and disbands units constantly, caters to girls and gays, decisions made by lawyers…what is there to be “proud of?” .

          I didn’t address uniforms because I didn’t have the knowledge to offer a rebuttal. Since you brought it up again, however, I did a little research. You said in your initial comments that the army changed uniforms every 5 years because of pressure from the companies that sell uniforms. The only reference I could find about changes in 5 years refers to camouflage uniforms, and according to what I read it was based on the dissatisfaction of the troops wearing them, poor durability, and insufficient testing, I derived that info from the following links:

          Now you say you are talking about Class A uniforms. That really confused me because class A’s haven’t changed since “Greens” were adopted in the l950′s. If you read the following link you will find that one of the main reason for the change is the historical significance of Blues. They were worn from the Revolutionary War to WWI. Just is important, it is to foster the pride and tradition that you say is lacking in today’s Army. See following link:

          Also, I found nothing even hinting that uniforms are changed due to pressure from uniform manufacturers.

          I don’t know anything about the army’s policy concerning disbanding or organizing units, so I will not comment.

          Lets talk about your disrespectful and unpatriotic comments about the naming of Navy vessels. You said: “Over the past 20 or so years naming of ships has become strictly an exercise in political masturbation, attempting to curry favor or reward some political hack whose connection with the Navy is minimal or non-existent. Examples: I know who Vinson was, but who cares? And how many of the sailors on board have the faintest idea who he was? And what in the world is “inspiring” about him for a young Navy guy? Gerald Ford? Gimme a break! Ronald Reagan? Same thing! Will we look forward, Chief, to the USS Barack Obama? How about the USS Hilary Clinton? Why not? As long as the whole thing is politics why not the USS Al Sharpton?”

          I think before you made such unsubstantiated statements, you should have known the history of Naval ship naming. You would do well to read the following:

          You should ask a sailor if he/she knows why their ship was given its name if you want to earn credibility. Every sailor I have known knew why their ship, submarine, or cutter was given a certain name. If you don’t think they care, just pick any vessel and go on line to see if they have an association or web site. You will find that if enough former crew members are still alive, they will. You refer to naming ships after some political hack who has minimal connection to the Navy, You say that you know who Vinson was, then have the temerity to use him as an example, If you read the link I provided about him, you could not possibly say he had minimal connection with the Navy.

          The Presidents you name were not meaningless to the people who elected them. You also need a lesson in respect for rank and office. You need not personally like the person in office or anyone senior to you. However, a soldier shall not show disrespect to the rank or office of a senior. Why not USS Obama? Like it or not, he is a Commander and Chief. Your opinion of Presidents Reagan and Ford are just that; your opinion!!.

          On girls and gays: It is a law and no military leader is going to violate it. You say they should fight it because it is wrong. I was on active duty when the controversy about women attending military academies was the main topic of discussion.Every branch of the military fought as hard as they could to prevent it, but saw the writing on the wall. It was going to happen because equal opportunity carried more weight than the wishes of the military. I was stationed at the Coast Guard Academy at the time. The Coast Guard decided that if it was going to happen, it was their responsibility to make it work. Coast Guard was the first Academy to admit women. They had to meet the academic and physical requirements as the men. Those, who did not get disenrolled or request disenrollment, have distinguished themselves well beyond expectations. Upon graduation they were assigned the same duty stations as men including ships, flight training, isolated or restricted duty stations, They are Captains and Admirals today. The superintendent at the Coast Academy is a Rear Admiral who was so assigned because of outstanding performance at all of her previous stations including commander of a nuclear powered icebreaker. The largest ship in the fleet. Our enlisted females and serve in the specialties (MOS) and are assigned to the same duties as their male counterparts. Thankfully, the other services are slowly assigning women to combat units, ships, submarines and as combat pilots. Again, your statement that the law is wrong is just your opinion. The same thing applies to gays in the military. They have the right to openly defend their country as they have since the birth of this nation. It is now the law and your opinion can’t change that. I had a Yeoman working for me whose performance was exceptional. If anyone knew he was gay, they did not say anything about it, or they didn’t care. Coast Guard Intelligence found out he was gay. Within a week he was gone. Not one person who knew or worked with him was happy about it, including me..

          You said your remarks about the Air Force were directed at support staff. As I said before, non flyers are assigned to combat areas also. Apparently you believe that those who are lucky enough to do their jobs between the hours of 8 to 5 are of no value. If that is how you think, you should have joined the Air Force and fought for your right to work as many hours as you could and not be allowed to, as the Army calls it, homestead. You must realize that without support personnel we would not have a military.

          Should we be ashamed as a nation to send our wives, and mothers and daughters to fight our wars. Absolutely not. women demanded those rights. If they were going to be in the military, they wanted to be treated as equals, have the same career patterns and promotion opportunities as men, and to serve in combat. As far as I know, we still have a volunteer military and those who join know they can be deployed to a combat area if the need arises. The fat men “sitting on their asses playing video games” did not enlist, therefore they cannot be assigned to combat unless the draft is reinstated.


  85. Kizzy

    As a civilian I would like to thank each and every serviceman and woman who has posted here. What you have done for my country and in return for me is a debt I can never repay. That being said – the Marine family has truly taken care of my family this year. My BIL is a Lt. Col in 29 Palms who had taken command of the 3/7 when my sister was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Due to be deployed as she started treatment he stepped down so that bone of his dogs would be endangered by his personal distraction. They received a hand written note from the Comandant wishing her luck and reassuring my BIL that he had done what was right for his batallion and family. Thank you Marines for taking care of my family and for providing such a strong lifetime community.

    • Wow. Pretty amazing story, Kizzy.

      They try as much as they can to take care of family. It’s hard with all the deployments and separation, but they certainly try.


  86. CPL/USMC 1984-1988

    Hand Salute to all of my fellow veterans! I earned the title United States Marine in 1984. been damn proud of it ever since. I crack jokes on the Chair Force, the Army, Navy, and Coast Guard just like any other Jarhead….however, as a Patriot Guard Rider, and as someone who has visited some of our wounded Heroes at WRAMC I am truly humbled and grateful for the men and women of all branches of our armed forces.

    Very recently a non veteran (Civilian Puke) butted in on a conversation where I was busting the chops of an Army Dog who in turn was equally busting my chops….Civi chimed in with a smart ass comment, whereas I told him only Veterans get to bust each other’s chops….civilians STFU!

    There is one very painful truth that the other branches just can not come to terms with, and that is Dress Blues have been making women’s panties fall off since 1775!

    oh yeah…..and swing with the wing baby! 6132/ MAG-29 H&MS-29 HMM-162

  87. Brandon Hill

    2/4 Fox Co , 1st Marine Div. FMF Infantry Corpsman , I seen both Navy and Marine Corps side . Even though Marine Corps play’s fuck , fuck games they do not take disobedience to the rank structure and have more discipline than the Navy towards being trained to deal with misery and asking for second helping of it . Marines being the lest likely to join is because who ever did those surveys were probably weak minded individuals who been spoon fed by the mothers all the way up to high school . People are afraid to get there hands dirty these days . Brains go a long ways , but people forget without balls you can’t reach your full potential as a man and your true limits . Without the man to your left and right any man would quit a longtime ago , but somethin about working as a unit shows strength that a grunt unit reputation can only uphold . Plus it’s probably voted so low because there are less women in the Marine Corps than any branches .

    • Brandon,

      Appreciate your service. Not a Marine that I know who doesn’t think the world of Corpsmen. And this comment was so dead on:

      “Without the man to your left and right any man would quit a longtime ago, but something about working as a unit shows strength that a grunt unit reputation can only uphold.”

      Thanks for dropping the comment, brother, and check back in often. (Or sign up for email alerts.)


  88. wow, have I EVER enjoyed all this. screw the guy from Yahoo – as a fellow professional writer, i understand that he’s just writing for a paycheck, nothing personal.

    i enlisted into the navy during viet nam. served aboard the Kitty Hawk, with bombers landing on my roof. but please allow me to share some things with you (and your most interested blog followers):

    my dad was a gentle civilian, a college professor who actually never personally got a college degree – he got there using the discipline and motivation he received from the USMC. another example: dad was a combat Marine who went from private to captain (field commission led to OCS) in 12 years, while suffering back problems the rest of his life from a little snowy walk out of the chosin reservoir valley (only Marines will know what i’m talking about). dad served directly with and could direct-quote chesty puller. and yet he was the most gentle man i ever knew. and remained married to the same crazy woman for 55 years.
    proud of him? damn right.

    my son is a Marine, will always be no matter what or where he ends up. made sergeant in his first five years. got a college degree WHILE a Marine (even studied while in japan and the Philippines, and even got elected as vice president of his university’s student body, and is now in law school).
    best story about him, was when he took personal leave to come home and help his younger sister (my daughter) celebrate her 21st birthday (talk about a great gift!). while at a club around 3 in the morning, a couple of older guys started disrespecting the young woman, and my son stood up to them, even though outnumbered and much smaller than any of them. when he cautioned that he was a Marine sergeant, they stood down, which was good because my son said they were drunk enough and big enough to do some damage..
    proudest moment of my life: daughter blogging on her facebook that a Marine saved her on her birthday night.

    saddest moment of my life, which brings tears to my eyes even as I write this:
    that my parents, Karl and Wilma Gene Rushing, didn’t live to see their grandson, Ira Rushing, become a Marine and the man he could be.

    hats off to ALL who serve or served their country. but a hearty THANK YOU to all Marines, current or former.

    • oops. got carried away. my dad retired as a lieutenant, not captain. no matter, still did it in 12 years, and always remained a radioman grunt at heart.

      • Wow, Felder. Thank you SOOOOO much for sharing your family’s history. What an amazing family lineage you have (and which continues under your grandson). And I’m betting Karl and Wilma saw Ira graduate and share remarkable pride as he freezes, sweats, and curses at various places around the world!

        And your son sounds like an amazing man and Marine, as well. Please send them both my regards. I imagine knowing their Grandfather walked out (actually, make that helped lead Marines out) of the Chosin Reservoir helps propel them to greatness in moments when weakness nearly wins out.

        I think my greatest regrets from the Corps are the times when I fell short of the mark. Those moments of weakness can haunt you a lifetime.

        SF, Felder, and thank you for all those lives you helped save during Vietnam. I’m sure there’s mroe than a few groundpounders reading these comments who were glad to have the Kitty Hawk within the AO.


        • thank you, stan, for your encouraging remarks which i am passing on to my son (who turned me on to your blog on his own facebook page).. but one last thing: Ira and his nephew (who is an army major) represent 11th continuous Rushing generations to serve in SOME form of American military service, starting under the British Crown in the 1650s, to BOTH sides of the American Revolution and both sides of the Civil War. here’s hoping he has a son or daughter to continue the tradition of “where there’s a fight for America’s best interests, a Rushing will be there.”‘.

  89. I meant to say ira’s COUSIN, major nathaniel rushing… sorry. no need to reply to any of this

  90. “Because they stand upon a wall and say, Nothing’s going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch. ~A Few Good Men”

  91. I enjoyed reading all these blogs for more than a hour , I was in the corp 54-57 17-20 years old, one thing even thou I was a metal smith on Helos we had to re qualify with our M1`s every year , so when I left my 3 year enlistment I went back to Sheet metal A/C 66,000 hours , I still have on my email my friends from the Corp. I made e 4 in 26 months .
    Mos 6441 Loyal Severson..

    • Loyal Severson,

      Thanks so much for the comment and your service to our country. And I agree! These comments are a treasure! Even if I ever deleted my blog, I’d print all these comments off to remind me of my time in, and all the wonderful stories shared by others…


  92. First time dropping by this but it won’t be my last. 22 years in the Corps an 2 tours in Nam, 66-67 & 69-70. Honor,Courage,and Commitment run through my veins, and yes there is a Marine Corps Flag 3′X5′ hanging on my front porch.Various MOS’ but the one most gratifying is the 8531 PMI, which I had the Honor between Viet Nam tours at MCRD Parris Island. The responsibility of taking raw untrained shooters and in Two weeks giving them the skills to keep them and their buddies alive and to Kill the enemy was what Motivated me every morning coming to work at 0400. Semper Fi.

    • fiftycaliber,

      Thanks so much for the visit, and for following the blog! Look forward to hearing from you regularly and I’m honored to make your acquaintance.

      Help keep me between the lines and keep a good overwatch position for me.


  93. Rob Sorensen

    I’ve read many of the comments in here, and though I’ve never served my country in any branch of service, I have the highest respect for all the men in here, (no matter what branch you served in).
    My father in law is a marine in heaven now, and I miss him every day since his death in 04. He and I were best friends and I always kid my wife that I only married her so I would be able to hang out with her dad. He introduced me to competition bullseye shooting in 1986 and with that came many friends that are marines. I have yet to meet one that I haven’t liked, and now I wish I would have done things a little different when I was younger, but hindsight is 20/20. My mother in law is still active with the first marine division, out of Willow Grove Naval Base. We have made many trips with these fine men down to Washington D.C. to visit the many monuments that have been dedicated to all of the brave servicemen, and it is amazing to see the brightness that comes from these hero’s as they walk around and look at all there is to see. We have also stopped at the marine corps museum a couple of times and while in D.C.went to the parade and watched the silent drill team work their magic, the drum and bugle core, and the marine corps band, which just leaves you in awe after their performances. In closing I just want to say, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, ONE AND ALL. WITH OUT YOU MEN WE WOULDN’T HAVE THE LIBERTIES WE DO NOW !!!!!

    • Thank you, Mr. Sorensen, for your kind words and for sharing that story. That was a wonderful story to share, and I would have loved to hang out with your Father-In-Law, as well!

      Marine or not, we’d sure love to have you come back and visit again.

      Sincerely yours,

  94. Anonymous

    First I’d like to say that I’ve spent a life time exposed to our countries Military born and raised in Hawaii: Spent 2-years in the Army Guard and 12-years as a 0311 & 3531 Marine. I have met hundreds of service men and women other then Marines who were proud of their time serving. My father was a former Army paratrooper, he shared many of his service experiences with me, I’m so very proud of my dads service and his commitment to our country. I’m especially proud of the many men and women from the other branches I had the priviledge to serve beside during my time on active duty as a young Marine, they all served with pride & commitment. The Marine Corps shaped & matured me as a young man and prepared me for a lifetime of service. One cannot truly understand the brotherhood that exist on the battlefield or in the Corps unless one has experienced it themselves, The Marine Corps prides itself of these ethos of sacrifice, service & brotherhood…..the title Marine is a title that is earned, it is never given. In Army basic your a Soldier, Navy bootcamp your a Sailor, Air Force basic your an Airmen. In the Marine Corps, your a recruit…never a Marine until you can show that you’ve earned the title. In no way does it mean we are better then our sister branches, it just means that this is the culture of our Marine Corps. This how we MUST function in order to achieve victory on the Battle field, we are not mindless robots, some of the most intllignet people I have ever met served in the Marine Corps uniform. Combat is an extremely foreign and violent environment. In order to schieve victory one must be emersed in the operational art of warfare…Mind, body, and soul, he must be intelligent, fit and focused. There is no place for touchy feely type individuals here. Some within our country in general may not appreciate our ethos and spirit, regardless they exist because we exist. The United States Marine Corps.

    (Service: U.S. Army Guard: 1978-1980 Units served Troop-E 19th Cav Air Assault) (Service: U.S. Marine Corps: 1980-1992 Units served: 2/3, 1/1, Marine Barracks Seal Beach, EWC-Team-1)

    • Thanks so much for your comment, and your service to our country.

      It must be really neat to be a Marine and then to later experience military culture in other branches in order to have that frame of reference.

      I really appreciate you sharing that dual experience you had, and the differences you saw/see.


      • GMan

        Thanks Stan. Here goes another intersting experience I was exposed to while in the Corps deployed aboard the USS Alamo LSD-33 during my first WESTPAC cruise back in 1981: Like most of us young Marines we had an almost ridiculouse rivalry between the other services. After being afloat a few months now I was on the flight deck taking-in the evening stars when this Navy guy showed up on the flight deck, smoking a cigarette, soaked-wet, he had this unkept kinda look, his uniform wasn’t ironed and it was kinda filthy looking. I shrugged it off as just another typical Navy deck ape. Afew minutes later I couldn’t help but go chat with the guy being that I’ve never seen him on Ship before, after a few months on Ship in the middle of the IO you kinda get to know everyone aboard, no idea who this guy was. Come to find out he was the ships engineer, he took care of the Alamo’s engines: to my surprise he invited me down to the engine room after I told him I’d never seen a ships engines before…so myself and a few other Marines followed this guy to the Ships engine room…it was like a maze getting there. Upon arrival I was impressed with how sophisticated it was, what was even more baffling to me was the unbearable heat, it must have been nearly 160 degree’s down there, I watched and listened as he shared with us the details maintaining the engine, the hours and days he and his shipmates worked down there in the heat to keep (His girl) as he called it, singing the right tune, he was so meticulous about handdling gauges, fittings and pipe’s: always wiping them down and touching it like it was a living being. What amazed us Marines even more was how proud he was of that dang engine, and even prouder to be serving aboard the Alamo, he loved that ship like no other….He even reeenlisted to stay aboard her, this was his 8th year abord the USS Alamo, (I was only there for an 8-month deployment) needless to say he was treated like royalty by us Marines after that experience, even the Seal Team Det aboard Alamo respected & apreciated this guy, I don’t think he ever purchased a beer out in town being that whenever us Marines saw him we dragged him with us. I now had a new and proud appreciation for our sister service, I never said anything bad about the Navy and her proud dedicated sailors ever after…..

        I got a good Coast Guard Story to if ya wanna hear it?….

        Semper Fi

        • Oh, Gman… That’s a great story!!!

          And I’m all into Eastern Philosophy, i.e. living in the moment, embracing wherever you are in life, etc., so just imagining this guy who somehow not only endures the heat and travails of his job, but then EMBRACES it and learns to love it?!?!

          Oh, man, that’s rich stuff right there. That’s life’s lessons all rolled up into one short story. It’s like that old tale of being the best no matter what you do. You know, even if you’re a janitor, be the best in the world, and eventually you’ll be a janitor at the White House or somewhere spectacular.

          And yes! Request fire, (immediately!), on your Coast Guard story… (I think most of the lurkers have left these comments anyway, since most of the controversial comments have subsided.)

  95. Spike

    Marines are not fit to wipe Paratroopers asses…from ww11 to current …Paratroopers,
    Rangers, Green Berets and Delta rule!!!!

    • Spike,

      Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think any Marines on here claimed to be superior to “Paratroopers, Rangers, Green Berets, and Delta.” Furthermore, if they had, I would have put them in their place.

      I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt on a couple of premises.

      First, I’ll assume you figured this site was just some pro-Marine, total-Jarhead hangout. I get it. You saw my logo up top and probably made an assumption. Well, if you made that assumption, then you guessed incorrectly. That’s not the case.

      Second, I’m confident you didn’t read any — or very many — of the comments… Because, if you had, you would have seen that I respect all branches and everyone who has served. I haven’t trashed any other branches since I entered college, because while there I quickly realized just how few serve, and how much I respect everyone who actually did.

      One final thought, since you have me a bit curious. Since you feel so strongly about how much better Paratroopers, Rangers, Green Berets, and Delta are, why don’t you tell us when you served and where, and recount some times you trained with or encountered Marines, so we can better understand why you feel so strongly…

      Sincerely yours,

      • Spike

        Stan, I appreciate your response. First of all, in 1968 I went through jump school and was initialy assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. However, prior to completing jump school my assignment was changed as I was selected, one of 20, out of 1000 students to attend Parachute Rigger School in Virginia which I did. After coming back to Fort Benning and packing parachutes for a short time I was then hand selected to go to Jump Master school. I did so, and graduated at the top in my class. At that point I became part of the 507th Airborne Infantry training division trading my Red Hat for a Black one. I was part of the “Follow Me” cadre. As a Jumpmaster I worked in an jump week at which point I trained Paratroopers, Pathfinders and Ranger in their various jump assignments During my 29 months on jump status I completed 83 jumps consisting of, day, night and heavy combat equipment jumps, Out of C-130s, C-141 (jet) and C 119′s, both the doors and the tailgates. Helicopters included Hueys and Chinooks enough about me.

        A little about my father who jumped into Normandy with 101st Airborne Division and fought there in Europe until the end of the war. He fought in Africa, Italy , Germany, France, and when U S Army finished with the Germans, VE Day, some were on their way, including my Father to the Pacific to help the finish the war there, however, the A Bombs did so !

        I don’t have anything against any one, in any branch of the service, I just get tired listening to the Marines run their mouths,they seem to think they’re always the first ones in and the Media coddles them just like they do the Democrats! Anyone who watches the Movie “Heartbreak Ridge’ would be led to believe the Marines were the first ones in liberating the students in Grenada, Not true!! the Rangers jumped in at 5:35 in the am and liberated the students while the 82nd Airborne chased the Cubans into the hills. Marines were at the other end of the Island, the movie is full of you know what! Spearhead, tip of the Spear, Airborne lead the way, whether it’s the 82nd,173rd, Rangers, Special Forces or Delta they are my Friend, the first ones in!!!!!!!!

        God Bless all of our Military….Go Army!!


  96. Spike

    Look up “Angels came at dawn” by Robert Wheeler and you will see what the Airborne was accomplishing the same day the Marines were getting a photo by by replacing the Flag at Mt Sirabuchi

  97. Wow!! Your criticism of the Marines based on a famous photograph is without merit. The Marines accomplished a lot more than having their picture taken.The Airborne, and troops manning the Amtracks made a daring and successful rescue of the prisoners and never got the media attention they deserved. That is sad, but while there were combat reporters and photographers covering most battles, it is not likely that they would accompany a mission such as that carried out by the Airborne and Amtrack drivers who made the extraction. The fact that it occurred the same day as the “Flag Raising” does not diminish what the Marines Accomplished. They went through hell battling their way to the top of the mountain. Three of the six men raising the flag were killed in battle a short time later. Yes, it was the second raising of the flag; the first flag was too small to be seen by the troops and offshore navy ships responsible for the victory. The Marine Corps did not make the picture famous, that was the result of wide spread publication by the news media, it’s selection by President Roosevelt as a logo for bond drives, and an American public who adopted it as a symbol of pride in our military as a whole, and not an endorsement of any specific branch of service. In fact, one of the flag raisers was a Navy corpsman. Another, little known fact is that the second flag came from a Coast Guard Quartermaster assigned to a Navy LST. The second picture was resented by the Marines, who while under enemy fire, raised the first flag. The photo was distributed by the AP and within 17 hours appeared in thousands of News papers and magazines.The photograph became a tribute to all soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors who fought for our right to fly our National Ensign.

  98. OOPs!!! I did not proof read my previous comments very well or I would have written “its selection by President Roosevelt” and not “it’s selection”.
    I would like to add that marines can take pride in the fact that Iwo Jima was the first Japanese homeland soil to be captured by the Americans, I am also certain that there were many extraordinary and brave combat operations that have gone undocumented and unheralded.

    • Spike

      503rd Infantry, Corregidor, Operation Topside

      At 0825 on 16 February 1945, the 503d Parachute Regimental Combat Team, affectionately known as The Rock Force courageously parachuted into 22-knot winds onto the fortified Island of Corregidor (The Rock) initiating Operation Topside. Defying a defending Japanese force of up to 6,550 in strength, the 2,050 paratroopers from the 503d Parachute Regimental Combat Team valiantly leapt from fifty-one C-47 aircraft of the 317th Troop Carrier Group at a 1,150 foot altitude onto a Drop Zone barely suitable for airborne operations. Topside Drop Zone was a rubble-strewn patch of land no bigger than 325 yards long and 125 yards wide and previous used as a parade field located on the upper portion of the island. Reinforced by the 3d Battalion Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Division, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of the 503d Parachute Regimental Combat Team, portions the 462d Parachute Artillery Battalion, and C Company of the 161st Airborne Engineer Battalion surprised their Japanese foe in one of the most daring, well-planned, and superbly executed airborne operations in the annals of US Military history. Fighting valiantly and engaging thousands of Japanese soldiers hidden around the island that refused to surrender The Rock Force repatriated the island on 2 March 1945. Of the thousands of Japanese soldiers defending the island, only 50 survived. The 503rd, however, lost 169 men killed and many more wounded or injured. For its gallantry The Rock Force was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions on Corregidor. This print is dedicated to all American Paratroopers then and now. Their courage and sacrifice demonstrate their commitment to freedom and American resolve.

      Iwo Jima… 30,000 Marines against 22,000 Japs

  99. Spike

    “The Rock” 503rd PIR is now the 173rd Airborne Brigade who spent 13 months (Battle Company) in the Kongregal Valley,Afghanistan the most dangerous place in the world,5 hours from any help by Helicopter defending outpost RESTREPO!!

    • Spike

      Semper Fi to the Marines…Alltheway to my Brother Paratroopers

    • Yeah, and if you haven’t read “The Outpost” — An Untold Story of American Valor — then you need to grab it. It’s about Combat Outpost Keating, written by Jake Tapper. Incredible book.

      And thanks again for all your comments and helping share (and preserver) the history of some of America’s greatest and most daring men. (Also, thanks for your service, as well.)

      Sincerely yours,

  100. There is no question that the liberation of Los Banos Prison is one of the greatest operations of WWII as evidenced in this link: .It was a an outstanding plan successfully executed as a result of a concerted effort and coordination of several groups comprised of a reconnaissance platoon of american officers, soldiers and Filipino guerrillas, an Armored Tractor Battalion, a squadron of sailboats, information provided by camp escapees and, of coarse, the airborne. Because of the information provided, the raid was executed when the prison guards were doing their morning exercises wearing only loin cloths and did not have their weapons. The prison was attacked at the same time by the land forces and the air drop. The point I was making that the operation to liberate Los Banos and the taking of Iwo Jima were both overshadowed by a photograph. The successful raid on Los Banos was carried out in one day, but involved many days of planning, gathering intelligence and reconnoassance patrols. The marines outnumbered the Japanese on Iwo Jima. However, Japanese forces were well dug in, had miles of underground tunnels. pill boxes and machine gun nests, They were in a better defensive position than the marines were in an offensive position. It took approximately 35 days to take Iwo Jima with great loss of life and causalities There were 27 Medals Of Honor awarded to marines and sailors in that battle. The heroes of Los Banos were later (too much later) given recognition for their exceptional bravery and execution of the rescue of over 2000 U. S. Military, allied military, and allied civilian prisoners. My opinion, as stated before, is that each service branch has unique areas of expertise and the they tactics employ in combat are predicated by the strength and weaponry of the enemy, their defensive or offensive position, the weather, terrain and their own manpower and armament.

    • Spike

      I know very well the details of the Los Banos rescue. 2201 prisoners, including a new born baby brought out in a helment liner were saved from execution that very morning!

      Lets not forget the Raid at Cabanatuan , US Army Rangers ( not Airborne qualified at the time) crawled the last mile on their bellys and rescued 501 prisoners form a Japanese prison camp, Sadly there was one casualty,

      Sir, I see that you are retired from the Coast Guard and I honor your service and intelligent comments . I have enjoyed sharing facts and details with you!

      I have a tremendous, detailed Knowledge regarding the combat accomplishments of the United States Army Airborne both in Europe and the Pacific through current time as well ,

      I Bleed Army and I am very proud of all their endeavors! I am also proud of all other American branches of the Military! God Bless all of our Heroes today!


  101. Spike, I have enjoyed corresponding with you also and I too, am proud of all branches of the military.


  102. Pingback: Let’s not forget the Coast Guard… | Stan R. Mitchell -- Action fiction writer

  103. Pingback: Marine Sergeant’s response to Soldier’s claim of Marine arrogance | Stan R. Mitchell -- Action fiction writer

  104. Roy

    I saw this article when it first came out and I felt the exact same way. The reasons he used to rank us last are exactly the same reasons I rank us first. I am in my 29th year on Active Duty and love our Corps just as much today as when I was a young PFC. However, most people would never know I was a Marine if they saw me out of uniform. I don’t say oohrah or have a “moto tattoo” or wear USMC t-shirts or speak in naval terminology. What they do notice is an unflappable bearing, confident leadership, discipline, perseverance, someone who keeps their word, shows up where they say, when they say, someone who happily volunteers their time and talents… ALL of which are traits or habits that have come directly from being molded and shaped as a Marine.

    Semper Fidelis.

    • Roy,

      Thanks so much for your comment, and for your incredible amount of service. I assume you’ve got to be a Master Sgt or Sgt Major , so I don’t rate to say much, but I will say that in my professional career, the Marine Corps has done as much as college to help me stand up and earn more than my colleagues. (For exactly the reasons you stated above.)

      College did help round down the rough corners, and certainly helped, as well, but the Corps instills pride and discipline in ways that are impossible to explain, as you know so well.

      I assume you’re nearing the end of your military career, so I wish you the best of luck as you transition. Unfortunately, it’s a hard as hell transition to the civilian world, made probably still harder by your long service and how infused the Corps has become into your way of life. But, you’ll surmount those challenges just as you’ve surmounted challenge-after-challenge from the moment you stepped on those yellow footprints…

      Semper Fidelis from a humble (but proud) Sgt,
      Stan R. Mitchell

      • Roy

        Thanks Stan, I appreciate your encouragement. I am looking forward to the challenges in the next chapter of life! Your estimation of my rank makes sense but I am a bit more unconventional… I was a gunny with 15+ years before I jumped to the “dark side” and became a WO… and eventually an LDO… so I will have had a career with 15 years enlisted and 15 years as an officer. I am a blessed man and could not be happier with me life!

        It’s good to see you have used the tools the Marine Corps has given you or honed for you to be successful as you chase you’re dream of writing. I’m not a big reader but I will look for your name and pick up a few books to support a fellow Leatherneck following in the footsteps of likes Leon Uris and many other fine authors and journalists! Good luck in your future endeavors!


        • Wow, Sir. I didn’t even know what an LDO was. Had to google it. (Honestly, I’m still stunned it exists and that I’d never heard of it. I just assumed they did something similar during major wars in the form of battlefield commissions, but to do it during peacetime is nothing short of amazing.)

          And it sounds like you’ve had an amazing career, to say the least. (There has to be a book in there!) And I’m honored you’d consider taking a look at my books.


  105. Jay A. Jones

    I spent five years in the Marine Corps and did a tour in Vietnam. I was discharged as a Sergeant after the Vietnam War was winding down. Because of Agent Orange I have a lot of appoints with the VA Hospital. It never ceases to amaze me that as I walk through the VA hospital halls, yes with my USMC cap on my head how many other Marines I see wearing similar gear. I also see Navy, Air Force, and Army personnel wearing their gear. However, when Marines see each other you also seem to hear “SEMPER FI”. Yes, we are a breed apart. I am extremely proud of my time in the Marines. I have a brother-in-law who retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC). You would never guess he served because very seldom displays anything “military”. He jokes with me that I wear more gear for someone who served “five minutes”. I joke with my other brother-in-law also about being a retired Army First Sergeant. I am also joking with my friends who served in the Navy and Air Force as well.

    The truth is Marines are Marines for life. You learn that when you arrive at boot camp. However, I truly don’t want to delineate the service provided by ALL VETERANS. It truly takes all of us to get the job done and I thank them for their service as well, but there is no other branch like the Marines and I am honored to be amongst The Few. The Proud. The Marines.

    • Mr. Jones,

      I really appreciate the comment, and your service to our country. I am sooo sorry you’re dealing with the physical effects of Agent Orange, as well as the emotional results from your service. (And dealing with the VA might be just barely a step below dealing with the enemy, if the stories I continue to hear from wounded Marines returning from the ‘stan and Iraq are true.)

      I am so thankful you answered the call, Mr. Jones, and show such pride to this day. I know how easy it must have been to be angry at the Corps and your country and to be resentful of what has been taken from you in your hard service to this great nation.

      I hope you will continue to dig deep and exemplify the highest standards of the Corps, and that your health recovers — or holds — as best as possible, and that you will maintain an unshakable faith in the beauty of this world, this life, and all those around you, many of whom are probably in dire need of your words of encouragement, your strong example of strength, and your clearly positive attitude that you display for all to see.

      Keep the faith, sir, and thank you for upholding the traditions of a Corps that I’m so proud to be a member of.

      Semper Fidelis,
      Stan R. Mitchell

  106. Clyde Hamilton

    I just got off of the phone with a young man that I helped conquer a difficult time in his life. He was trapped in a split marriage and his father could not handle it alone. Together we got custody of him and now he is a proud Captain in the Marines. He said he joined because he saw the compassion and toughness in me and wanted that too. I credit my ability to conquer to my experience in the Corps. Semper Fi

    • Ooh-rah, Clyde. It’s compassion that keeps us from becoming monsters, and it’s compassion that helps make this country great. S/F! (And may you be blessed beyond measure for all your compassion and sacrifice.)

  107. Anonymous

    The Marine Corps is not for everyone/anyone, it it more of a calling. I believe it is a testament to our commitment to God, Country and Corps to show our colors after we depart the service, me; 1983-2013. I will never believe the Marine Corps is the worst, we are the toughest to join, require more from our members, and never EVER lower the bar. The fact that I have not changed my way of doing business makes me stand out among my peers in the corporate world; in fact I’ve been asked to recruit more like me…are we really that bad?

  108. Peter Cila

    The Marine Corps is not for everyone, it is not for the weak minded, it takes a certain person to be able to Step up to the Plate, and earn the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor…..2008-2013 but a Marine is in a brotherhood till he/she leaves this earth, that person will earn the title Marine, oo-rah I am still proud of being a Marine!!! OO-rah Semper Fidelis to all of my brothers and Sisters of this Corps!!!

    • Semper Fi, Peter!!! And the crazy thing is you’ll get prouder every single day that you’re out. For many, even those lucky enough to achieve a lot, the Marine Corps defines them their entire life…

  109. Nick Curry


    Obviously the author has very limited exposure to our beloved Corps. Our Support and Air Combat Elements are second to no one. When a box kicker has that warrior mentality, more gets done with less.
    Furthermore, my time as a combat engineer and the Marine Corps mentality has allowed me to succeed in the civilian world by giving me opportunities that would not be offered to me otherwise.
    The traditions that outsiders look at as silly are the ones that I hold dear to my hear. I know that I can always count on another Marine whether he is 19 or 99.



  110. Bruce

    I find the authors view point not fully correct. And being a Marine may skew my point of view a bit. But I have family who served in all branches of the services. We may kidded with each other but there is still a respect because we all have served in Combat.

    I find that the Esprit De Corps in the brotherhood of Marines transcends generations. Back in the summer of 2004, I was moving across country.
    On a open stretch of I-20 in Texas, I saw white Cadillac pulled over on the side of the road. It was the Marine Corps sticker that first caught my eye and I pulled over to see if I could help. The old couple was very thankful have I pulled over since they didn’t have a cell phone. They been there for almost an hour and many cars passed by but I was the first to stop.

    To make a long story short, as other Marines drove by they stopped to see if they could help. We had six Marines on the side of the road in Texas during the summer swapping war stories as we changed the tire of the first Marine. The Marine who needed help had served in WWII and Korea. Myself and another brother had been in Desert Shield / Desert Storm. Two had served in Vietnam and the last had just return from combat in Afghanistan.

    To this day, if I see a car with a Marine Corps sticker, I stop to give what ever help I can. As the author did state we Marines do believe in “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.”

    The only thing I will comment against is the Author’s statement that Marines are made by Drill Sergeants. They are Drill Instructors not Drill Sergeants. SSGT Ostei, SSGT Allen, SSGT Talent, SGT Mummy and SGT Scott would totally disagree with the Author that they were Drill Sergeants.

    Semper Fidelis.

  111. Jason Mitulinski

    It’s a Drill Instructor not drill sergeant

  112. Anonymous

    So being proud of what you did in the military and showing respect for those still in the fight and those that have fought before you by flying a flag is a bad thing. Why not use the argument as Marines we did more with less. Meaning we got the leftover founds from the navy. This is the dumbest thing I have ever read. Pride in your service is bad?

  113. I heard or read that in ww2 the average time a radio man had once he hit the beach was like 10 seconds before he went to guard the pearly gates

  114. Mike

    I am currently in a volunteer fire dept. In our dept, we have USAF (me), Army, Navy and Marine vets. Different eras, different experiences, same general story – proud of their service and their branch. AND, we have quite a few friendly fire incidents when we puff our chests. All in fun, because we all respect each other’s service. You are right about a very small minority of the population that have signed that “check”. Let’s all be proud and remember the services are different for a reason, and the best military in the world needs all of its branches to be successful! And yes, Semper Fidelis to you marines.

  115. Anonymous

    Semper Fi, Part of Americas 911 speed dial killers, oohhrrraaahhh!

    • Someone, there’s no doubt about that. And any Marine who’s served on a MEU knows all about that, not to mention a few months here or there on air alert, getting jerked around!

      Semper Fi, bro!

  116. Bill

    We are the Marine’s the worlds most feared fighting force. Along with that, we are the nations 24/7 (911). We are the Presidents own and can be deployed at a moments notice to anyplace in the world. Oh and this is without approval from congress. Unlike the other services. So yes I am proud to have been a part of this organization for a bit over 20 years spanning two wrs and many other little conflicts in between.


    Mr. A USMC (Ret).

    • Mr. A,

      Thank you so much for your comment and for your many years of service! Every time I get a comment from a person such as yourself, who has done so much more and served 10x longer and harder, I hardly know what to say. (Most of the time, I have that slight moment of panic wondering if my room is ready for inspection. I’m assuming, since it’s been 15 years since I got out, that this feeling of fear will never go away!)

      At any rate, I am humbled that you dropped by, passed along some motivation and knowledge, and left your mark for the world to see, same as you have done for 20+ years. Thank you for doing so much to the make the Corps a unit that myself and so many others have been (and will continue to be) proud of to call our home.


      • The rules of deployment are the same for every branch of service. Congressional approval is required for a declaration of war and the President can deploy troops without congressional approval only if we are attacked and there are conditions even then. Read the following: The
        War Powers Resolution of 1973 (50 U.S.C. 1541-1548)[1] is a federal law intended to check the president’s power to commit the United States to an armed conflict without the consent of Congress. The resolution was adopted in the form of a United States Congress joint resolution; this provides that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by declaration of war by Congress, “statutory authorization,” or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”
        The War Powers Resolution requires the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war. The resolution was passed by two-thirds of Congress, overriding a presidential veto. It has been alleged that the War Powers Resolution has been violated in the past, for example, by President Clinton in 1999, during the bombing campaign in Kosovo. All incidents have had congressional disapproval, but none has resulted in any successful legal actions being taken against the president for alleged violations.

  117. Jim

    Pretty sure you’d get plenty of chances to kill the enemy as a Ranger, SF, Delta or SEAL too..PJ’s shoot if they have to.

    Semper Fi,

    L/Cpl J.H. Pleace

  118. Victoria

    The Marine Corps doesn’t have drill sergeants. Only drill instructors, and one of a kind, at that!

  119. Barb Wilson

    I have been favoring the UNITED STATES MARINE CORP since I was. Very young
    And I am almost 58 yrs. Old. They are reliable, well trained, and always fit to do nothingbut defend our country. There is nothing at all wrong staying a marine after their time has been served.
    In my eyes it shows they are and always will be quite honored in being a Marine

  120. Anonymous

    I am a NAM Marine, served with 1/9 & 2/9 for 13 months at Leatherneck square, RVN.. Had a heavy taste of Rocket & Mortar attacks, as well as night line attacks by the NVA. Gout out, Did Police & Security work. Finally in my 50s, was a Security Contractor In Iraq & Afghanistan from 2006 -2010.

    • Anonymous,

      Thanks so much for your comment, and all your years of service!!! (Glad you got paid well there at the end for continuing to put your life on the line!)

      And I’ve got to say, whoever trained you did a great job! Most folks are done dodging bullets by the time they’re 25 or 30. Definitely by the time they’re 40, in most cases.

      But isn’t it funny how when you get that craziness pounded into you, it never really goes away? I’m betting you’re going to be like this 72 year old Marine, who beat the crap out of a younger guy tryign to take his money:

      I’ll tell you one thing for sure: I definitely plan on being that man. I hit my heavy bag everyday, do insane amounts of kung fu, regularly pound away at the pull-up bar hanging on my doorway, etc.

      Frankly, I may not be able to run like I did when I was in, and I certainly couldn’t pull off an 18-mile hump, but I’ll guarantee you the 36-year-old Stan could rip the 18-year-old a new one about 20x over.

      But even having said that, I’m not sure I’m raring to go over in some third-world dump to prove myself, so I got nothing on you.

      Stay strong, War Dog. Real warriors like you inspire me.


  121. Brian S

    *Drill Instructors

    • Correct, Brian S. I didn’t write the part that is quoted. I know the difference between Drill Sergeants and Drill Instructors. Believe me. Been there, done that.

      The person who wrote the article is named Ron Johnson and he wrote the article for Yahoo. I merely linked to it, and quoted that part. (I think Ron served in the Army, and thus the mistake…)


  122. Anonymous

    There is no “turning off” what is in your DNA. Even at 54 and having been retired 5 years I have still spent half my life in the Marine Corps (27 years). Yes, I’m the guy with the stickers, the hair cut, the walk, the “rip you’re fucking throat out” stare and I’d have it no other way. I recently went on a Boy Scout trip with my son and slept in my sleeping bag in the dirt while the other fathers used cots. I woke up stiff as shit and smiling with memories of so many days spent in the field. If I’ve had trouble in civilian life it’s been because I will never cease to be a leader of men where lack of candor kills people. I’m going to tell you what you need to hear, unvarnished and with complete conviction. That is not a trait well received in much of corporate America and I won’t change for anyone.

    • Anonymous (SgtMajor?),

      I like that comment that “There is no ‘turning off’ what is in your DNA.” It kind of rings home for me.

      And thank you for your 27 years of service! And while I keep a Marine Corps flag up in the office, I haven’t put them back on my vehicles again. Mainly because it seems when I had them, most of the people who mentioned them were what I’d call “barely” Marines.

      Like the young guy at a gas station who told me Ooh-Rah and how much he loved the Marine Corps. He seemed a bit too motivated/energetic about it, so I asked who he served with.

      “First battalion,” he said.

      “Like, 1st Bn, what regiment?” I asked.

      “Just 1st Bn. You know, down in Parris Island?” he said.

      “Oh, I see. So, how did you manage to stay in 1st Bn?” I asked.

      “Well, I got hurt — broke my leg — and left after six weeks,” he said.

      I hadn’t ever heard of such a story. (Most of the Marines I know who got hurt were in Boot Camp were rehabilitated and re-entered with another Platoon. Plus, having had a medical procedure, I know the military doesn’t let you go until you’re fully healed.) Thus, I decided I’d heard enough and avoided asking any more questions.

      I’m assuming he went there for a cousin’s graduation, maybe?

      Anyway, these days, I prefer the double-glance I sometimes get from a stern, steely-eyed gentleman, who meets my eyes and measures me up. There’s usually a mutual measuring up and a quick recognition by both that we’re changed men, and have done our time in hell. Sometimes there will be a Marine sticker. Sometimes a 101st or Ranger one. Sometimes, no sticker at all.

      But I try to carry myself in a manner that if you cross my path, you know, without needing to see any form of proof. You know I served, you know I could serve again, and you just know that I’m not like the other people crossing your path.

      The only difference between you and me, SgtMajor, is I’m usually smiling, nodding at people, offering a cheerful word or two, asking how folks are.

      Life is brutal, and most of the people I cross paths with are beaten down and about two bad breaks from being completely broken. I like speaking with them, finding out how they’re really doing, and offering a kind word of encouragement.

      Such acts have helped me in times when I’ve been down, and I can only hope to help others in a similar fashion.

      S/F and keep the faith,

  123. my life never felt more fulfilled or enjoyable painful than the time in the grunts. We got at each other throats, group fights, but when deployed the machine worked. I miss the misery all to well. I can’t get over dead friends, or a civilian I saw get his face kicked in and the pink mist filled the air, or the murder of a buddy and others marine-marine, informing intel of no security on the waterside of the ship and they didn’t do nothing than the Cole get bombed, driving 600miles deep into the north no fly zone with no ammo and are as hanging in the breeze with only bayonets for protection. Then based on intel I knew, after I got out giving my first speech in class August of 2001, how I belived the US would be attacked, people laughed, then 1 month later I was back in the green machine, fighting two wars, one on th egate of Quantico against civilians and toky the terrorist trying to hit the base, and the other agaist corrupt Marine MP’s who would steel from civilians, sell drugs on time off and the command staff had their own dealing with junior marines and it all was a world of shit. Infantry is the holyest place I have found in the world, as f up and it might seem, truly we were for eachother. not the semper me of other MOS’s the green weenie didn’t attack to much because we kept shit contained for the most part. we saved a lot of peoples lives. new blood fills the ranks everyday, new marines are born every Friday. there is still hope

    • Sam

      Well, Stan – sorry to say it, but after being subscribed for a day or two and reading pulp fiction like the above – and not even good pulp fiction – I’m gonna have to unsubscribe. The liars and wannabes clearly are in the minority, and most of those who post seem legitimate and sincere. But the others simply make me want to reach through the screen and grab them by the stacking swivel. Like many of those who post, I’m a retired Marine (53-80), was a grunt for the first ten, on the grinder from 56-58, and feel the same bond with other grunts you do. Without an apology for it. Good luck with your blog and your books. S/F

      • Sam your time was your time, mine was mine, unless you were there you don’t know shit, same for me for your time, I don’t know shit about you, but if you say it as a marine I take your work for it, one thing for sure I don’t lie wen tit comes to the corps, the truth hurts, people die for not making good decisions, seeing a MP LT beat a handcuffed civilian is low to say the least.

      • Thanks for the words, Sam. While I can’t vouch for Josh, I will say I understand what he wrote about the no ammo part. When we left Albania, the bastards in supply didn’t want to be breaking out additional ammo, so we — no shit — staged/counted ammo and left it in the perimeter. We then loaded helo’s to fly out. (Maybe the officers had ammo. Maybe the SNCOs, but the troops didn’t — and our helo’s had been fired on during our insertion two days before!!!).

        Now granted, by that point, it had calmed down a ton. No rounds fired inboard, police security restored, so maybe it was completely safe. I, however, will probably never forgive higher for this absurdity, or one other incredibly stupid and dangerous decision, which I’ll describe below.

        I learned then that there were truly people in the Corps that put avoiding risks/getting promoted far above troop safety. I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive whoever was involved in either the decision to disarm us when we flew out or the second act (which was loading us on buses as tight as possible in a completely un-tactical way and risking our lives, instead of allowing us to do a foot march in a tactical patrol; Would we have come in contact on foot? Yes. But it would have been FAR safer, though maybe not as good on the news for CNN. However, had a single RPG hit that bus, we’d have had about thirty or forty dead Marines, none of whom had the ability to defend themselves. (We were too crammed in with gear to even have our weapons facing outboard, not to mention the windows on the bus wouldn’t open out more than just a few degrees. And of course we couldn’t knock them out since I’m assuming they rented the bus from locals.) It was possibly even more stupid than Beirut.)

        I’m not the smartest guy in the world, and it’s true that sometimes I think I matter far more than I do, but I realized then what the Marine Corps — or at least some in the Marine Corps — valued my life at. And the answer — in full candidness — was not much.

        Now, I gave them four years to sacrifice my life, and I even went back (voluntarily) for two more in the Reserves as part of a post-9/11 “let’s go get some” surge of patriotism. But deep down, whether they were putting Anthrax shots in my arms or loading us unarmed in helos or crammed in buses in a dangerous situation, it’s a fact that our safety was not always the Marine Corps’s priority. I’m ashamed to type these words and I hope my few instances were atypical of the Corps, and not typical.

        I try to calm myself by sayign the bus incident was a ballsy and risky move that actually paid off. Might have even played off surprise and prevented us from having to fight our way out of the State Department grounds to the Embassy. But none of this was explained to us, and all the men in my Platoon were livid beyond belief. We felt betrayed and sold out, and felt someone should have lost some rank. Who knows? Maybe the Albanian government or State Department demanded we not patrol there, but our leaders SHOULD HAVE stood up for our safety and refused such foolishness.

        I’ve written too much, and I’m pissed off again, and I’m sure I sound like a petulant boot who doesn’t rate to talk to a man who did 20+ years. For that, I’ll ask your forgiveness. (I am, after all, an anomoly. I’m both a guy who earned Sgt in four and won Marine of the Qtr for the entire 2nd Marine Div in 97, but also a guy who has a Page 11 for insubordination because one of our leaders that I won’t name told us prior to going into a war zone that we were not allowed to return fire unless he specifically ordered it. I told him — he was a recent transfer from security forces and in over his head — that, as a Fire Team Leader representing my Marines, that what he said was an illegal order, that it went against our ROEs, and that he was an idiot, who was worried too much (as usual). Instead, both my Fire Team and Squad had both the right, and the duty, to defend ourselves and the men around us. That’s written about a hundred different places. Standing up for what’s right, to me, is what leaders do. They stand up for their men and keeping folks alive. I’m as proud of that Page 11 I received for insubordination as I am my rank of Sgt. I was right, everyone who was there knows I was right, and he’s lucky he was able to spin it in a way that the real truth never came out. And in hindsight, I was too stupid to request mast about the matter, but I was just a LCPL fire team leader and didn’t know then what I know now.)

        One final word in a much too long comment, Josh Johnson did use his name and I investigated his link to facebook. There are plenty of Marine pics there that appear legit. Of course, the link could be to someone else’s page, the pics could even be stolen, etc., etc., but I personally choose to take him at his word.

        I hope my comments about my deployment, the Corps, and some of its leaders have not knocked down your thoughts of me too much.


    • Thanks for the comment, Josh. And for your service! S/F, Stan

  124. Dan Stoy


  125. Glen Goodell

    Nov will make 30 yrs I’ve been out and I still consider myself a marine and I always try to live my life according to the Marine Corps standards

    • Glen Goodell,

      I know the feeling! It’s like our DI’s, Chesty, Dan Daly, and the rest of the crew are looking down on us, no matter what we’re doing. And, you best be looking sharp, 24/7.


  126. Loved the article I was a Marine Grunt during OIF1 and OEF did my time in the sand box and Love my Marine Brother to this day. I have also been An Army 68w combat medicine ‘DOC’ for the better part of 3 years and while I love being in the army working alongside Rangers and 18D nothing will ever replace My Corp it isn’t a branch it’s a breed a cult and once your in it stays with you til the end of your days Semper Fi Cpl Milewski J Animal alpha 1st bin 7th Mar div 29 stumps. Grunt4lif

    • Cpl Milewski,

      Wow. Thanks so much for that perspective. I had some brothers leave the Corps for the Army, as well. The Marine Corps sure makes it damn hard to stay in sometimes, and I’m amazed at men such as yourself and my friends who still want to serve and are even willing to switch branches to continue doing so.

      Yell if I can ever be of assistance.


  127. D.B.

    Air Force guys are called, an airmen.
    Army guys are called, soldiers.
    Navy guys are called, seamen.
    Only Marines, are called, Marines.
    We are FEW, we are PROUD, we are, MARINES! Being a Marine is not something that you can turn off and on like a switch. Becoming a Marine involves a fundamental change deep within and is not temporary. As stated many times before, the uniform may change but, once a Marine, always a Marine, this is not just some empty statement, it is gospel. Semper Fi, means, ALWAYS FAITHFUL, not temporarily faithful.

  128. GSgt. V

    I served 21 years in the Corps, both infantry and air wing. I agree with those that wrote about being a 1%er. Both my boys have served in the Army, my youngest still serving. I would raise my glass to anyone who served. Think about it, a grunt doesn’t get paid without an Admin clerk. There is a bond between those who have shared a fighting hold, but at the end of the day, as Marines we all have stood on the yellow footprints.

  129. Anonymous

    I must say my Marine Corp experience was both one of growth and a mix of horrific experiences. I joined the Marine Corp for the wrong reasons (many of us have). Having no idea what I got myself into I tried to keep my ideals intact and self intact only towards the end accepting the Marine Corps for what it is. I can say I came away with the thought that there are two types that stay and serve in the Marine Corps. 1. Those that truly love the Marines and most of which it stands (I generally found to be good people) 2. Those that fear that they will become a lessor individual out in the civilian sector (This is a mixed bag of folks and less cut and dry). I must say to this day my feelings on the Corps are still mixed, being that said I truly think that the desire to serve should be the first screening process of this elite force.

    • Someone,

      Thanks so much for that comment, and for your service to our country.

      I COMPLETELY relate to your comment. I think most Marines — if they’re honest — have mixed feelings about their service.

      In so many ways, the Corps helped make me what I am, but I hardly go running around telling people they should join.

      Joining WILL change you, and unfortunately not all those changes will be good.

      Thanks again for dropping such a real comment. (It’s much harder to be open and real than just be all RAH-RAH.)

      Semper, Bro,

  130. This guys makes my life fun. Yes we only create killing machines! That is why most of the jobs I have to present to young men and women are not combat oriented. And being a combat guy ya… I am gunna have a super hard time transitioning in civ life again like the regular stereotypical messed up jarhead right?… Haha! Politics
    Marine Corps like any other branch is what u make of it.

    “Make your life your own” -Sgt McConnell USMC

  131. RedRaider61

    Marines pride themselves on being the “First to Fight”, “America’s 9-1-1 Force”, and the one service wherein a rose garden has never been promised. So, we are exactly as advertised. If we had been anything BUT last on this list this I would have been disappointed.

    Oooh Effing Rah!!!!!!!!!


    • Hey Mark!

      Thanks for the comment! You make a great point. We do sort of own how we’re treated, funded, etc., and take a sort of perverse pride in this reality. Semper Fi!


  132. Bob Hankamp

    You hit it right on the head we are all volunteers and damn proud of it!
    Semper Fi 1966-1972

  133. Great article and spot on, and yes we are that good. Semper Fi, Charlie Co, 1st Bn 3rd Marines 0331, Vietnam 1968-1969.

    • Thanks, Jack for the comment and for your service! I’m assuming you toted The Pig around in some hot places. Never met a Marine who didn’t appreciate having a good 0331 along with them.


  134. Scott Hopkins

    Scott “Hoppy” Hopkins 1985 -2007:
    Wow I read a majority of the commentary and I spent a lot of time away from home like many others . . . I would like to make three comments:
    1. Agree the Corps is what you make it, if all you do is complain and make comments like “__ck the Suck” and Semper I… then you probably will get the short end of the stick; the “suck_a55 details” and duties.
    2. If the Corps wanted you to have a family, they would have issued you one… your family… true is your motivation and defending our country, BUT The Corps always comes first; my wife is a veteran Marine too (10 years). She always said to me . . . “I understand why you have to go…but, as a wife and a Mom, I don’t have to like it and I worry” Semper Fi USMC-families and their support.
    3. I have served with so many different commands, US service members and NATO / Coalition military services; I praise them all . . .for their service. BUT, I still know we, The US Marines, Are the BEST.

    Finally – I am glad the article puts us last, ranks us the US military service you least want to join… That just means we get the by majority most dynamic group of self-starters, that say you can’t tell me…, I want to be the best, be challenged. We get the pig headed, anti-socials, hard chargers – Men and Women who want to be the best that with the right influences (DI’s at MCRD – PI & SD and OCS/TBS) can be molded into Marines. Those hard chargers can chew nails and spit out razor blades. (this one’s for my Dad, the Navy Man…, and other comments about being a “Dept of the Navy” – Yes, the Men’s Department) – Nothing like a topsy-turvy ride across the big pond on a postage stamp, drinking water that smells like diesel, bad chow that tastes like saw-dust…and racks that are made of flat steel to make you curse the ship when you leave it; get the job done… hookin-&-A-Jabbin; and kiss the deck when you get back on it to find your way home.

    Keep working it – SEMPER FI

    Pvt – Sgt USMC
    Sgt-GySgt, CWO2 USMCR ret.

  135. Otto Lehrack

    An Army officer’s comments.

    “Good week here as we bring in our new crews and get them up to speed with the environment, the situation and the enemy. Good week in that I was able to send some of my Marines home after a tough and valor-filled deployment.

    I’ve had the opportunity over the past few days to take part in one of the greatest military traditions in the US Armed Forces: the remembrance and celebration of the Marine Corps–and all of those who have the honor of calling themselves Marines–on the anniversary of the Corps founding. So a little context is necessary here. First, the majority of my task force, and certainly the core of our fighting formation, is made up of Marine Special Operators. Second, we work within the Area of Operations of Regional Command Southwest currently under the command of II MEF (FWD)….that’s basically a Marine Division Headquarters. So we are basically surrounded by the USMC, and the bulk of my formation IS USMC. Third, several months ago these same Marines accosted us Army types, with shouts of Happy Birthday followed by back slaps and EW-RAH! It took me all day to figure out that this just wasn’t some practical joke used as an excuse to slap us all on the back, but instead, was an actual sentiment of appreciation for the US Army on our Birthday. Marines take birthdays seriously.

    For the life of me, I can’t tell you what day the Army’s birthday falls on. Honestly if you put a gun to my head and told me to pick which month it was in, I’d probably be doomed. I think we have a ball in DC during the Army Birthday that no grunts attend, but several celebrities probably do. And I’m pretty sure, although not completely certain, that we don’t have a lot of tradition around the Birthday. Perhaps we do, but if I’m not aware of those traditions after 20 years of service then they probably aren’t traditions in any real sense. And my intent here isn’t to poke fun at the Army–fun and easy as it is-but, rather, to set the contrast.

    There isn’t a Lance Corporal on the face of the globe that doesn’t know what happens on the Marine Corps Birthday. Since 1921, and after the orders of the 13th Commandant, the Marine Corps celebrates the Birthday as close to 10 November as possible. No matter how many Marines are present, no matter the conditions that they are living in, no matter that it may occur solemnly during a lull in the fight, the Marines are celebrating their Birthday. The history behind it is fantastic, the traditions around it are tremendous, the fact that Marines–not the institution but the guys on the line–approach it solemnly as a remembrance of Marines past and present is awesome. The ceremony is all about the brotherhood that connects every Marine of the present to every Marine of the past, and unlike so many of the chicken-shit ceremonies that we conduct unto ourselves–this connection is real and I swear you can feel it just standing among them as they conduct it. I could be growing old and sentimental, or it could be that this ceremony grows more dignified in combat, but I’d guess that the ceremony has the same impact and effect and connective power regardless of where it happens. Lance Corporals don’t have it in their power to fake ANYTHING. They are a constant source of amusement for me because they say and do exactly what they are thinking. You want the truth about how you look, ask a Lance Corporal. You want to know if your tactical situation is good and screwed? The Lance Corporal will tell you, “Sir, we are good and screwed”. They take their birthday seriously and reverently–and in so doing these young guys are connected to their Master Gunnery Sergeants of today, and Vietnam Veterans and WWII Warriors of yesterday’s glory, in a way that I–an Army dude–can never be.

    I attended one USMC Regiment’s Marine Birthday celebration and any Marine alive would have been proud of the precision and revelry that went into it. They’d be proud of the Sergeant Major who gave a brotherhood, blood and guts speech that left the young Marines in awe. But my favorite by far was the small ceremony that my departing Marine Special Operations Company (812) held just prior to their re-deployment home. They had spent the last six months fighting, advising, shaping and influencing an enormous battle space of Helmand. Most of them–nearly all of them–have deployed into this province several times before. They remembered the sacrifices that they’ve made, their families have made, and the ultimate sacrifice of several brother Marines over the past few years. We’ve paid a large sum of blood and treasure in Helmand, most of it shouldered by the USMC. My Marines kept faith with one another this deployment, their accomplishments were tremendous throughout a tough and kinetic fighting season, and on this occasion they re-deployed with every Marine that they deployed with. It was an awesome way to send them home.

    So in the words of Lieutenant General Lejeune, in his message delivered to the USMC in 1921:

    “In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term ‘Marine’ has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.”

    Happy Birthday Marines. Rest well today knowing that the Marines of the present represent their Corps with the pride and honor you expect.”

    • Hey Otto,

      I wasn’t real clear. Was this quoted from a speech somewhere by an Army Officer, or are you an Army Officer who made this speech?

      And you’re dead on about LCPLs. When I ran my own company, I hired a Marine who was a LCPL in the Reserves. (Or he might have just been promoted to CPL.)

      He was a great employee, but having been away from the Fleet/Corps for nearly 10 years, I had forgotten how blunt young Marines are. Most of the time, the frankness is good. And while the truth is ALWAYS good, usually it’s important to frame it with tact, respect, and discernment.


  136. Thomas Ruggles

    To others we are messed up but that’s the beauty of our brotherhood we are all the same …… Mad respect for our veit nam devils ……. Semper fi brothers past and present …….. Rah!!! Kill bodies!!!!

    Oif -06/07 ramadi
    Oef -08/09 Helmand

    • Thomas,

      While I respect to no end our Vietnam warriors, I likewise completely respect our OIF and OEF vets, as well! You guys didn’t exactly have a cakewalk… : )

      Thanks so much for the comment and for the shout out to our Vietnam vets!


  137. Mike StClair

    Stan – good article. I believe that once you have matriculated through MCRD Parris Island, MCRD San Diego, or Quantico you are forever changed. Once you become a Marine you remain a Marine until the day you die. I spent 30 years as both and enlisted man and officer, which include a variety of assignments and units (my favorite which was being the S2 of the 1st Recon Bn), and two tours in Viet Nam. I have been retired since 1988 – but still look upon myself as being a Marine. That being said I learned long ago that each service has it specific mission and all of us, no matter what uniform we wear/wore were proud of our service and its place in the grand hierarchy of things. Lastly I blended I believe very well back into civilian life – working another 23 years until I finally retired for good.

    • Mr. StClair,

      I’m honored by your service and leadership, as well as the fact you have taken the time to pen a few words on on my website, when I don’t even rate to shine your boots.

      Besides all your service, I’m equally impressed you adjusted so well to the civilian worlds. Sometimes, I think service members who retire have it even harder adjusting, given their length of service.

      Thanks again for your service and comment, and let me know if I can ever be of assistance.

      Semper Fidelis,

  138. Ray Ramos

    “Today is Jesus’ birthday.Jesus loves the Marine Corps You know why Jesus loves the Marine Corps? Cause the Marine Corps keeps heaven packed with souls”

    Semper Fi

    2nd Bat/5mar div

  139. Anonymous

    Mike Co. 3rd Bn. 26 Mar. 0331 Vietnam 69-70. The best thing I ever did and
    stays with you for the rest of your life. Semper Fi Cpl V. Benavidez

    • Agreed, Cpl V. Benavidez. Thank you for your service and make sure you check out a Vietnam post I’ll be dropping in the next couple of days that follows a number of emails back and forth between me and another Marine who served in ‘Nam.


  140. Anonymous

    Marines are NO BETTER than the BEST of ANY service! It’s just that only the very best of any service is just the average Marine.

  141. Nothing more to say except SEMPER FI

    • Semper Fi, Sir!

      And, I’m honored you stopped by a young boot’s page.

      And it goes without saying, but if you’re ever looking for a working party or a volunteer to assist you on a leader’s recon, stop back by here.

      Even after six years (I had two in the Reserves), I still volunteer without hesitation.

    • At 17 I watched the movie the Sadie Thompson story with Aldo Ray as a salty Marine in Hawaii My buddy and I decided to join the Navy (we were both 17) this was in Feb.1954 in Glendale Ca. the Navy recruiter said there was a 6 months waiting list He said what about the Marines ? at 5ft 6 inches I said I am too short the Marine recruiter across the hall said can you see lightning and hear thunder I said yes He said your in , my buddy said he would have to think about it, later his brother said John that would be the best thing for you, as a Sheet metal apprentice I told the co. I was joining the Marines , so After Boot camp San Diego I went to J> ville Florida for A&P school then onto Metal Smith School at the Navel Air station at Millington ,then to El Toro then to LTA Tustin metal Smith in the Helo Squadron 362 made e 4 in 26 months. at 20 went back and finished my 4 year apprenticeship and now at 77 recieved my 60 year service pin in the sheet Metal I am the maintenance man 3 days a week for my church O.N.C. . .

      • Semper Fi, Mr. Severson!!!

        That’s an amazing story! How funny that something as simple as a six-month waiting list completely altered the course of your entire life?!

        Thanks so much for typing all that out and sharing your story and how you ended up joining the Corps!

        Semper Fi!

        • Stan not a day goes by that I dont think of my 3 years in the Corp, Spent 10 days off of Pendleton on the helo carrier Thetis bay and 600 marines we with 40 Helicopters unloaded them in 2 hours for maneuvers called vertical envelopment then we flew back to LTA (lighter than air) tustin . I took class at El toro called ABCD school ,each year we requalified with the M! Garand and I would shoot Expert I had a chance to be on the Marine corp Rifle team if I shipped over for more years. I was in charge of the squadron metal shop . so I had to get 2 hours a month for flight pay so I would talk to the officers to get a ride , our 362 Squadron was the first Marine out fit to go to Viet nam. In boot camp the d.I`s said you will donate $20 for the IWO Monument at Arlington we did ,and when My wife and I went with my grand daughters we seen the Memorial.I was a Scout master and My brother in laws son got his Eagle rank and one of the flags that flew over Ca. capitol and Iwo statute were given to Him and I videoed the program .

          • Jim Stelling

            You will donate $20.00 to the Iwo Memorial? I was a DI from June 1963 until Dec. 1965 and again from June 1967 until March 1970. I have heard of a lot of ways for DI’s to fatten their own wallets but I haven’t heard that one. When I was in boot camp (1960) my DI was honest. He said he had a poker game to attend and to fill a bucket with gambling cash. No singles, No jingles, please.

  142. Darryl H. Ellis, Former Captain, USMC

    Had to print your excerpt and hang it on the wall in my home office right next to the “THERE IS NO EASY WAY IN. THAT’S WHY THEY SEND IN THE MARINES.” poster. Thanks.

    Semper Fi!

  143. ej

    Talk about Marine pride, when was the last time besides Marines do you see a 90 year old man stand up from his wheel chair, remove his hat and stand at attention during the national anthem? Semper fi brothers……do or die!

  144. Bob Diehl

    Stan, Thank you for your service. I appreciate your taking the time to allow us this outlet. My opinion is the same as SSgt. White, my DI at Paris Island, Spring 1966. You are 10ft tall and bulletproof because the Marine Corps and I made you that way, Your job is not to die for your country, but to make that other son of a bitch die for his country. Semper Fi Marine! Sgt. Bob Diehl VMF 242 DaNang Camron Bay and Chu Li 1966-67-68

    • Hah! That’s too funny, Bob! Believe it or note, they’re still saying this at Paris Island: “Your job is not to die for your country, but to make that other son of a bitch die for his country.”

      And my service was nothing compared to yours.


  145. Jereme

    Worst branch? Lol no. If you want discipline and the courage to get s*** done, then the USMC is for you. If you want lazy and sloppy, go somewhere else. I wasn’t part of a ground unit, I was a 6484, so the thought of killing someone doesn’t really appeal to me unless my brothers in arms, family, and/or closest friends were put in harms way. God, Country, Corps. Semper Fi.

  146. Jim Stelling

    This a satyr sent by a friend, wrtten by on of my recruits in 1963.
    I do not remember this recruit but I guess he remembered me.

    MCRD San Diego

    Thanks to Sergeant Davis’s letter. I too was a member of platoon 294 fifty years ago at MCRD, San Diego. My junior drill instructor was Corporal James Stelling. He was “warm and understanding.” The milk of human kindness flowed through his “government issued body.” He seemed to take special interest in me. I was a blond haired, blued eyed ex college student. I was 21 years old and a reservist. My name ended in a vowel and I wore milk bottled thick glasses. I was opinionated, somewhat loud, and, oh may I mention, I came from Brooklyn, New York, where the sewers met the sea.

    Boot camp for everyone is basically the same thing, but there are certain instances that burn in one’s memory. Platoon 294 was organized just after the assassination of JFK. When Corporal Stelling made his entrance, it was obvious that he would become a major factor in our painful birth as US Marines. He was immediately given nicknames. One was “Cuddles” because of his “warm and loveable” personality. The other was “Lobster Face”. You see when Corporal Stelling screamed at any recruit, his face took on the color of a freshly cooked lobster. His eyes bulged and the blood vessels seemed ready to pop. As he stood in front of you and screamed in your face you could see his spleen. I know from experience because he took special interest in explaining to me in intricate detail, that I was the “lowest crawling specimen of humanity that he had ever encountered”. But I wanted to be a Marine and I would put up with anything or anyone to wear the forest green uniform. I wanted to be a “mud Marine” in the worst way.

    The beginning of boot camp is a blur. It takes time for you to get your feet on the ground. I was really trying hard and doing my best. There were perks for my effort and I remember I got one. Corporal Stelling made Iggy Evans and I stand in front of him at “parade rest” while he did paper work and listened to the championship fight with Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) and Sonny Liston.

    I remember every punch that was thrown because Corporal Stelling demonstrated each one on me. Thankfully, it was a short, bloodless fight.

    Soon we were at the rifle range, Camp Mathews. I seemed to come in to my own. I could not read the numbers on the targets but they put me in a place where all I had to do was to hit the third target from the right and I managed to get a sharp shooters badge. Sadly, I never took any training for the Colt .45 1911 Pistol. I became sick, so sick that I was put in the Infirmary. I don’t remember any of the last few days while I was there. My temperature was 103 and they kept me in bed.

    Corporal Stelling realized that he would lose me from the platoon and I would be put back into another series if I didn’t get back into formation. I don’t remember him entering the Quonset hut and informing me that my presence was requested. I do remember him dragging me out of my bunk across the ice cold concrete floor. The days that followed were a blur but the fever broke and I became a member of platoon 294 once again.

    I must have done something right because the next major event would be “mess week”. The best job of “mess week” was the “greeter” who stood before the mess hall and greeted each platoon. In a loud voice you would say, “serve section 6″ to the platoon that was formed up at the front door. This went along beautifully, until one day a platoon that was much more advanced than ours, came to eat at the mess hall. Their drill instructor had them all primed. They were all smiling and laughing. When he brought them up, he said to me that each one of his men would like to “knock my block off”. I remember standing at perfect attention, and saying to the drill instructor in a clear and precise manor that if he would be so kind as to line up his platoon according to size I would be pleased to accommodate each of them. His head snapped on its swivel and he realized that I was one of Corporal Stelling’s bright stars.

    That moment was great but the “crowning jewel” with the job was that there was no additional work required. I could “skate” for the entire day.

    While I was speaking to a cook he realized I had nothing to do. So he took me back to the private toilet that was utilized by the head cook. I was told to clean that toilet. While cleaning it, I leaned my head against the wall. In less time than it takes to tell you I was asleep. I slept the sleep of the innocent; each blissful moment an eternity. Suddenly the door opened there stood the cook. He shouted “You’re sleeping!” I feebly tried to deny the obvious. He smiled at me and asked, “where are you from?” I said Brooklyn, NY. “I’m from Coney Island.” In fifteen minutes of animated conversation, we realized we had mutual friends. Who would guess that out of 2 million people in Brooklyn, I would meet with a friend under these circumstances.

    He explained to me that at half past ten every morning, he would like to use a clean porcelain convenience and if I could guarantee him this, that would be my only job for all of mess week. Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe never used a “facility” that was more meticulously prepared for their personal toiletries. I also had unlimited access to the best food from my new friend the head cook. I loved “mess week”.

    After “mess week”, I believe that Corporal Stelling realized that I had to be brought back to reality. I had not gotten the memo and I was enjoying boot camp at a level never conceived by any of the powers that ruled our little world.

    One day, “our fearless and gallant leader” invited me personally to enter the duty hut. There he asked me to please climb into a wall locker. Somehow I managed to squeeze myself in and he closed the door. When I heard the lock snap, I realized that my fate was not my own. Then he called in Private Lee, a Mississippi farm boy who was considered the platoon “Love Child”. He ordered Private Lee to take an M14 and put in a magazine and fire into the wall locker. Things did not seem to be going my way and my level of concern started to peak. The moment that Private Lee discharged the rifle, Corporal Stelling struck the aforementioned wall locker with a baseball bat. You might think that sound would be loud, it was “apocalyptic”. Next thing I knew the door opened and I fell out “a mass of twitching pulsating protoplasm”. “Cuddles” stood there triumphantly over me.

    From that time on I was a “true believer”. Final Inspection, Graduation, and off to Camp Pendleton (ITR) for “fun and games”. I would see Corporal Stelling only once again for a brief instance. I always wondered what happened to him. Those thirteen weeks he had been the center of our universe.


    In 1987 I was in Washington DC and found his name was not on the roll call of Fallen Heroes at the Vietnam Wall. Few things have given me greater pleasure. I recently found out that he survived the War, and stayed in his beloved Corps. Today I am 72 years old and I look back at my life and I realize that no man had a more profound and dramatic effect upon my life in such a short period of time. Over the long decades the love hate relationship that is the aftermath of boot camp has been tempered by time and space. Corporal Stelling changed boys into Marines. He left an indelible mark on everyone he trained. None would forget him.


    • Oh my word, 1st Sgt! What a story!!!

      And the footlocker/baseball bat story was unbelievable… I’m confident that had I climbed into that footlocker, I would have probably been screaming like a little girl. (But then again, you’re so nuts and scared out of your mind in Boot Camp, that maybe not…)

      So, I’m not sure how many Platoons you trained, but did you even remember this guy? Or is his face/name a blur among all the others you probably made similar impacts on?

      • Jim Stelling

        I have no idea who the recruit was but I’m pretty sure that if he is 72 years old, it would have taken place in 1963.

        • So, you treated them all the same? (Just like shit?!) : )

          • Jim Stelling

            Pretty much. I tried to do different and horrible things during each platoon.
            I had one platoon that had 3 attempted suicides. I finaly taped up one side of a double edge razor blade and taped it outside my office, I put a sign above it that said: Duty Razor Blade and expained the proper way to cut ones throat or wrist. I demanded the best and got the best, most of my platoons were Honor Platoons which I understand they don’t have any, anymore. The best platoon in a series. However, some of my more succesful recruit graduates–a couple of doctors a police captain and chief, dentist and computer IT folks have spent the money, over the last few years, to track me down and travel across country to thank me and take my wife and myself to dinner. They all reported to my wife that the choke holds and punches to the gut gave them the ambition to get through college and to become the best they could be. I could give you phone numbers to verify this if you wish.
            By the way–I read your first two books and congratulated you on being at least better than Lee Childs–You never said thanks. I may not read your 3rd book.

            • Jim Stelling

              Oh–the first post said wall locker not foot locker.

            • Wow! Love the razor idea!!!

              And that’s got to feel incredible that folks would travel across the country to find you and thank you. I really try my best to thank those that have had an impact on me, since it’s really made my week the time or two a former intern or Marine has thanked me.

              And on the review, are you talking about on Amazon or on here, on this website?

  147. Perkins

    They’re drill instructors drill sergeants are army

    • Correct, Perkins. I didn’t write the article. It was written for Yahoo by a guy named Ron Johnson and I didn’t feel right making changes to his article. So I quoted the parts he wrote, word-for-word.


  148. Anonymous

    Perfectly said! Ooh rah Semper Fi. Marines are under no illusion what they are signing up for. The author is correct you can join other branches of service if you just want a challenge. You can join the Marjnes if you like the road less traveled and become part of a lifelong fraternity. Marines are close and bonded for life due to the harsh times they endure. Only fellow Marines can relate.

  149. Stan R. I’d like to emphasize on the MOUT Training you had in Quantico. How realistic was the MOUT Site? Did it lack cultural realism?

    Here is a website I thought would help our war fighters with Pre-Deployment Training:

    • Hey Mike,

      I would say it was decent back then. Had multiple levels, windows to climb through, the basics… But no furniture or much of hte stuff you offer. I think the sites are improved these days, but I haven’t been to any in 10+ years, so I can’t speak with any authority on that…


  150. Anonymous

    I served 11 years in the Marines and 11 Years as an ARMY officer in the National Guard. My wife served 6 years in the Navy and 8 years in the ARMY national guard. Both my sons serve in the Coast Guard. Here are my ratings:
    A. Coast Guard
    B. Air force
    C. Navy
    D. Marine Corps
    E. ARMY
    This an accurate evaluation…

  151. Arnie EAsterly

    21-year, retired Marine CH-46 pilot. It seems to me the basic criteria used by Ron Johnson to rack and stack the services is, “What will each service do for me?” I believe that people become Marines to serve, not to be served. You can’t make it throught the training process – officer or enlisted – just because you want to learn a trade for a later life – there are easier ways to learn to be an air-conditioning tech or a commercial pilot. The Marine Corps is not a technical nor business school; it’s a brotherhood of arms. Most of us believe this creedo and that’s what separates Jarheads from everybody else.

    • Mr. Easterly, (or probably if I had to guess, Lt Col Easterly)

      Thank you for your service and for safely flying a bunch of stupid yucks like me and who knows how many others into (and out of) harm’s way.

      And interestingly, I’m not sure anyone has made your point in the 400+ comments above. (Though it has been many months and I may have forgotten one.)

      At any rate, kudos for you if you read all the comments, saw the point hadn’t been mentioned, and had the brain capacity to getting a better grip on how he was rating the services.

      Thanks again for your service, and for taking the time to leave a comment.


  152. MCRDSANDIEGO 060369-090369, only EXPERT M-14(246 out of 300, nickname in boot was “BOOKS”(Name went before me* lasted my 6 yrs in the “SUCK”) cause I went to college, taught the dummies the “Green Bible(Marine Corps Guidebook)!!!!
    “A Bitching Marine was a Happy Marine”

    • What I meant was by my nickname went before me was that I had a lil good rep from my COs & SNCOs. PMIs & DIs wanted to know what part of Texas I was from, I said “West Texas”, “the oil patch” Jack rabbits & rattlesnakes. I had a single shot Remington .22, mouthful of .22, load faster, faster shooter!!!!
      “A Bitching Marine is a Happy Marine” is correct saying!!!!

      • Ben Weihrich,

        Thanks so much for your service, and for dropping a comment on the page!!! The guys and gals coming out of West Texas are tougher than nails, so thanks for contributing to the excellence of the Marine Corps, and helping continue a legacy that I couldn’t wait to join.

        And I would have loved to qualify with a M-14!


  153. Jim Stelling

    Yep, tougher than nails. I remember as a young cpl in 2/5 (1962) a young man from Texas joined our unit strait from boot camp. He chewed his nails. During an inspection our company commander asked him (during inpection arms) –Do you chew nails? It was obvious his finger nails were chewed to the quick. The young pvt (thinking the CO was asking him if he chewed real nails) answer, Yes Sir. Texans have been inbread to think they’re tough. I laughed about that many times.

  154. Rich

    There is, no doubt, some really rugged Marine Corps units. There are also a lot of little crying pvssies in the Corps, too.

    I am an EX-Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine? BULLSHOT. I hate the Marine Corps, and I wish it would be disbanded. When I got out with some of my buddies, we had a party, BURNED our uniforms AND THE MARINE CORPS FLAG. Burn that rotten Bird, Ball and Hook!

    So, like we used to say… FOCK THE SUCK. The Marine Corps is redundant. There is nothing they do that can’t be done by any other branch. The U.S.M.C. is simply a terrible WASTE of tax dollars.

    • Rich,

      Some of the finest Marines I’ve ever served with had close to similar feelings when they’ve gotten out. They either couldn’t get a re-up slot, or they had been stuck in a bad unit, or they had to deal with some SNCO who should have been leading a Boy Scout troop and not a Marine unit.

      When I got out, I can’t tell you how frustrated I was with the Marine Corps. I was still reeling that my childhood dream to do 30 had smacked into a hardcore dose of I’m still not sure what on most days. And after a couple lifer NCOs turned on me and tried to pull a quick one, I thought I hated the Corps.

      And so when I returned home, I said some pretty stupid things. I’ll just share the most embarrassing thing I ever said, since there aren’t many days that go by that i don’t feel complete shame at such words. Whjo knows, maybe the words will help you if you managed to stop back by and read them.

      One day, while the bitterness was at its pretty much all-time peak, an elderly acquaintance probably in his early 60s (“who wished he had joined”) was talking to me about how great the Marine Corps was and how much pride and honor and bravery we had. And somehow it got off onto taking hills and I finally said, “I don’t give a shit about showing courage and taking hills. Me and my buddies used to say that if we took fire from a hill, we’d unload every round we had and wait for resupply so that more air and arty could hit the hill. No hill over there, regardless of where there is, is worth a single American life.”

      And after I had spat these words out, with about as much vitriol and hatred as any man can muster, I saw a look of shock cross this man’s face. I saw probably 50+ years of high regard for the Corps just vanish right in front of my eyes. And I saw him look at me with a look of shock that I, a man who he knew from my family to be a Sergeant, who’d won multiple awards, had just dishonored both the Corps and myself in such a shocking manner.

      The moment this happened, I wanted to take the words back, but the pride and youth in me was too strong. But with every passing hour and day that followed, I felt more and more guilt for saying such a horrendous thing.

      I thought of the literally hundreds of men whose awards for bravery I’d once studied. I remembered the esteem I used to look upon the uniform with when I was a kid. I thought of all the 70 and 80 year old men I’d seen proudly wearing Marine Corps covers in parades who’d been to hell and back in WW II or Korea.

      I completely and totally and shockingly dishonored the Marine Corps that day, and there’s almost not a day that goes by that I’m not ashamed of that comment. (I also remember one of the greatest Sgts I ever had the honor of serving with say at one point — when he had decided to get out — that he’d rather be a cab driver in Jacksonville than be a Marine. And he said this to an officer who had asked him what he planned to do. This Sgt would later re-enlist on active duty and pull out an entire career, just like I’d later join the Reserves, in part to pay a penance for the deep shame that I carried.)

      One of these days, Rich, I’ll bet your views of the Corps burn with less anger, and as the weeks and months and years go by, you’ll look back upon it with increasing pride. You’ll remember the guts you had to join, probably the incredible feats you no doubt performed, and you’ll be embarrassed at some of the things you did when that anger burned like a fresh wound.

      You’ll miss the brotherhood you shared — and one I promise you you’ll never find elsewhere. You’ll be proud that you continued a tradition that spans 200+ years. And you’ll embrace the respect bestowed upon you by almost everyone who’s never served.

      Semper Fi, brother. Thank you for your service, and every bone in my body says you were probably a hell of a Marine. I have no doubt I’d have been honored to share a fighting hole with you. Come back to this page in ten years — probably two — and tell me to remove that comment. I’ll gladly do so and buy you a drink to boot.

      Sincerely yours,

      • Arnie Easterly

        Rich’s vitriol exists in the officer ranks as well. I too left the Marine Corps very bitter at being passed-over for LtCol. This was especially galling to me as I had never received anything less than outstanding fitness reports, and had received numerous personal awards. Approaching that year’s selection board, my monitor, actually a close personal friend, told me I only had a 50/50 chance of being promoted and was probably not competitive because I had made the mistake of not arranging my carreer in “an eye-pleasing manner”. The problem was that as a young 2Lt. flight student in 1976, I took the advice of my first flight instructor, a highly-decorated Vietnam vet, to “never leave the cockpit”. Accordingly, I always asked for orders that kept me flying, either in a squadron or on a Group/Wing staff. I took all the “required” courses you’re supposed to have via mail through MCI. I did very well at every assignment I was given – so well that I was honored to be selected for HMX-1 at Quantico. Even at HMX, I was considered talented and professionally competant enough to be designated a Presidential Command Pilot ( a position that only a few pilots out of the 60 or so at the squadron attain). While on a trip with President George Bush (senior) to California, I got a call from our XO telling me that my name was not on the LtCol’s list. The irony was that here I was in charge of a 120-man, 6 aircraft detachment to California, and was personally trusted with the life of the president and his family, but was not considered competant enough by the Marine Corps to be an O-5. The bitterness only grew annually as I suffered through what became the annual embarrassment of yet another pass over until I retired in 1995. It took me about 5 years to get over the bitterness and anger and to realize that the Corps is really just a reflection of our society. It’s made up of individuals – good and bad, idiots and geniuses – and our long-term perceptions will, thankfully, filter-out the negatives. Don’t confuse the lofty principles and noble history of the Corps with day-to-day life in the Corps. The guiding principles of honor and duty are pure; unfortunately, Marines themselves are just human and sometimes not so pure. I still have close, lifelong friendships with USMC brothers and I hope Rich can come to the same place in his life.

        • Major Easterly,

          Thank you SOOO much for taking the time to weigh in and writing such a thoughtful comment for so many others to see.

          It’s interesting that this same phenomenon occurs at the officer ranks, as well, though I guess I should have known had I considered it.

          I’m very sorry that the Corps lost an amazing pilot when it passed over you, and I’m so proud that men and women of your caliber are trusted with keeping our Presidents safe.

          You have so much to be proud of (a book, please?!) and it shows your grit and determination that you fought back and beat down the bitterness you no doubt felt (and probably still feel, from time-to-time).

          Semper Fi, brother, and please feel free to email me anytime. (I am always trying to grow and reach for the clouds, and I try to regularly steal from those more talented and capable than me! lol)


  155. Jim Stelling

    I wonder if he was really a Marine?

    • I’ll let others weigh in, as well, but I personally think so.

      • Jay_0311_USMC

        Fuck that guy “Rich” or whoever talking all that negativity. That soils the reputation of my brothers who died in my arms. I live near the 2nd largest Military Cemetery and also by a VA Home. They have retirees and, amputees,all types who are PROUD of all they gave. Ive volunteered a bit of time there bc they helped me after my injury and I did kayaking w/ Wounded Warriors for a bit and felt blessed, not once did ANY of them piss or moan or even consider feeling regret. Also at the care facility there are young men, 18 or 19 years old who have suffered TBIs and need constant care,I seriously doubt that he could think that those things after looking them or their families in the eyes. You BF be grateful. I don’t see how ANY Marine or anyone breathing who has been through hell with his brothers to his left and right or watched them fade away can say something even remotely close to that. Go ahead”Rich” go to the VA hospitals and look those people I mentioned in the eyes and their families or even just come once to one of or outings and see the men who strongly hold tight to their families with the one arm they still have and the smile their wear and then see what you think you bucket of abortion juice. My apologies to anyone who may be offended by my comments and I’m really using restraint but like I said,we carry the legacies of those who have gone before us. And a lot of us have held our friends as they took their last breath and much worse but I don’t need to get graphic about what I’ve been through in combat. Those of us who have been through it know. 2/5 “Retreat Hell”

        • Jay_0311_USMC,

          Thanks so much for your comments. And for your courageous service into harm’s way.

          I’m very sorry for what you and your brothers had to go through, and I wish you peace and healing as you go forward in life. Thanks also for how much you volunteer, and how passionately you care about the Corps.

          Semper Fi, brother. Let me know if I can ever be of assistance.


  156. Katherine Blaylock

    My undying thanks go to our Veterans of all branches, but there’s a special place in my heart for our Beloved Marine Corps. My son served as a combat Marine infantryman in Iraq; he was in that God-awful place of Fallujah.

    Thank you for your service and sharing your wit, wisdom, and love of the written word..
    God bless America, our troops and military families, and, lest we forget, our Fallen and Our Gold Star Families.

    • Very well said, Katherine, and your son has my highest respect. Fallujah was a nasty place, without question…


    • Having a sense of humor is important. I laugh at myself all the time. I want someone who lives life to the fullest, looking for new adventures around every corner.

      In all combat Marines this is the only keeping us alive, keeping us going forward, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

      Ben Weihrich
      USMC ’69-’75
      grad of Saigon “U”

      • Ben Weihrich,

        Thanks for that comment and the wisdom. A sense of humor is definitely crucial!

        And thanks so much for your service during a very difficult time in our country’s history…


  157. Jay_0311_USMC

    I am glad you passed this on, I couldn’t agree more with what was said about the fact we don’t change like other branches when we go back into circulation. When I became a Marine in 04, my senior drill instructor said some things always on my mind “Your Birthday is November 10, you and every Marine who has ever worn the uniform brothers. We are not black,brown,white,yellow, we are ALL GREEN. Most importantly, wherever we go for the rest of our lives we carry the legacy of every Marine to ever wear the uniform including and especially those who have laid down their lives so conduct yourself according to the standards passed down to us.” To me that is why we are the way we are, unwaveringly so, ETERNALLY. Thank you all and Semper Fi

  158. Jose Rivera

    I find the article very true about how us Marines seem to have trouble turning off the Marine Corps attitude. Of course it’s a sad story when we hear of fellow Marines killing outside the battle field but honestly it’s not a surprise . We are trained to kill from day one and that is hammered into our brains but it is a neccessity. We are the spearhead of our military and it’s why when you look back in history our enemies have gone on the record to say the Marines were the fiercest fighters they ever faced. War strategies have been changed during times of battle so they would avoid conflict with Marines. An Iraqi general during gulf war at one point told his troops never attack a Marine Corps supply convoy because they will fire back and hunt you down until you are found. I am extremely proud to have served in my beloved Marine Corps and did 2 tours to Iraq during the second war.

    • Mike StClair

      While I agree with most of your comment, I cannot find myself in agreement about being trained to kill. What is inculcated in Marines is a willingness to engage the enemy and then defeat that enemy. What a Marine is trained to do is quickly gain and maintain fire superiority, and continue the assault until the objective is achieved. If it necessitates the killing of that enemy, it is and accepted part of warfare. Granted we are taught to put rounds on the target, and if necessary to engage in hand to hand combat, but killing isn’t always the necessary outcome of those. I still remember a Warrant Officer during Desert Storm taking 80 some Iraqi prisoners armed with nothing but his 9mm. Being trained to specifically to kill is not what its all about. We as Marines from day one are taught/trained to be courageous, adaptable, disciplined, committed, and most of all honorable. And that is one of the principle reasons that once you are a Marine, you are going to always be a Marine. The Marine Corps has changed you forever, and in doing so has made you a better person than you were before.

      • Well said. Thanks for keeping us between the lines, Major!

      • Jim Stelling

        True and not so true. I had to write the Commanding Officer at Kodiak Island, AK ten letters in order to get a Marine Recuiter in Anchorage. He finally got there in late July of 1960 after I had graduated from high school.
        I became the first Marine to be enlisted in the State of Alaska.
        The recruiter told me that boot camp was going to be the toughest thing that I had ever experienced in my life. I would do excercises until I was bleeding but I would learn how to shoot and maim people with hand to hand combat training and at the end of boot camp–I would be a Paid Professional Killer–Man–that was ME. I joined and later became a Drill Instuctor for nearly 6 years over 2 tours. I tried and think that I inspired most of my recruits to think they were better than anyone else in the world at killing people.
        However, I also tried to teach them manners. You may have an idiot step-dad at home who has raised you for the last 10 years, maybe it would be nice to accidentaly drop him a Sir the next time you go on leave. Never, never hit a woman, do not swear in public and always try to become the best that you can be. Some of my recruits have become doctors, dentists, lawyers and computer IT’s (what ever that is) and police chiefs.
        To teach them that there are people out there that needed to be killed was my pleasure.

        • Mike StClair

          Understand. I heard the same sort of things when I went through boot camp (Jan-Apr 1959). But once I got out into the fleet (1stBn, 5thMar) I quickly found out that a lot of the things said or intimated by my Drill Instructors weren’t really so. Over the next 30 years, and mostly I suppose when I was in Viet Nam, I found that Marines as a whole were indeed those fierce, intense, and uncompromising warriors that had been depicted in boot camp. I also found that they were compassionate, and somewhat gentle creatures who loved puppies, children, and had great respect for old people. Who lived their traditions, and were uncompromising in their oath. Who would risk their lives to save the life of another Marine. Marines I guess are paradoxical in nature – and perhaps that’s among the things which makes the Marine Corps the institution it is. Semper Fi.

  159. Billy

    My name is Billy , I’ve wanted to join the United States Marine Corps , right after high school ! I absolutely love this article ! I know it’s probably bad say this , but I can’t wait to join ! I’m in JROTC , so I’ll be rank E2 when I enlist !mI’m also on the Raiders team !

    • Billy,

      Thanks for the comment, and I wish you luck upon entering the Corps! And don’t go through your last bit of high school like I did. I rushed through it, hating every second fo it, anxious to hit my departure date for bootcamp.

      Trust me when I say this: You want to enjoy every second of HS that you can You WILL miss it and wish you hadn’t rushed through it. (Sidenote: All of life is this way, and yet we all rush through it trying to get to the next step.)

      Again, good luck, and keep me informed of your progress in the Corps. Shoot me an email after boot camp, if you don’t care.

      Semper Fi,

  160. Tucker

    Well in my opinion the Marine Corps is exactly what the “military” is supposed to be. I’m sorry we train the hardest and have the most dedication for our country and for “OUR” American flag. The military shouldn’t be somewhere you go to “find” yourself its somewhere you go to protect this nation from all enemies no matter the cost. So think about that the next time you want to bad mouth the military or the US Marines. Without the sacrifices that my brothers and sisters made before me you wouldn’t be able to speak out against anything without the risk of having your throat slashed. American’s take the liberties and freedoms promised to them for granted, I think most of us should step back and have a reality check.

  161. Mike

    This is such a great article…so glad I stumbled across it and discovered your site, Stan. Reading through these comments gives me somewhat of a nostalgic feeling too, and causes me to miss places like Pendleton & 29 Palms…even Parris Island. Funny how it was already 20 years ago that I was stationed there (the stumps), yet many memories are crystal clear. I’m originally from & currently live in an NYC suburb…moving back to SoCal though next year, have a civilian friend who works on base at MCAGCC – will definitely make a visit there and check out the areas I knew well /the changes over time, etc. Thanks again, Semper Fi
    USMC, ’92 – ’96

    • Mike,

      It gives me HUGE nostalgia, too! And I never dreamed I’d miss a place like Parris Island, or even the heat and humidity of Lejeune’s many swamps, but on many a day, I do.

      Thanks for your service and for leaving a comment! (Nice to see a commenter from when I served. As you probably noticed in the comments, we’re boots on this comment thread, and FAR outranked, so stay squared away!!!)


  162. US Naval Corpsman Vietmam ’67-’68. My son is Air force 13 yrs and a top
    cryptological linguist with several commendations. I love all and every one in all services and rank them all number one. Yes I was a Naval Hospital Corpsman attached to the Marines in 1st medical battalion. Thank God the Marines had my back in the bush.
    Tim Harley

  163. zenobia

    My brother in law was a Marine. He came back from Vietnam with Agent Orange related problems, and died at the age of 58 waiting for VA health care. My best friend was a Navy corpsman, he took a bullet in the brain in the field, lived, but later died of a seizure.

  164. Will

    ’76-’88. My worst ’79 Mt. Fuji fire. Read our story online if want. Survivour guilt until chaplain set me straight. All in rear view mirror now. But still screams, smells, and sights live on. Weird! I had just made E-3 meritoriously week before and my ITS bud’ killed. Help load on chopper. All happened in middle of night but pain fog set soon after. Was just an 0311 so spent rest of career as grunt and ended E-5 at 1st Mar Div CA. Missed all action before and after but Fuji was enough! Semper-fi.

    • Will,

      Thanks for your service and for dropping your comment. You bring up a great point that I try to always make when talking to others, and that point is simply this: Our jobs are dangerous even in peacetime, even when just training against each other.

      My unit was involved in Operation Purple Star,, and then we lost a man to drowning while practicing dangerous stream crossings in Okinawa…

      We train for a dangerous thing, and it’s impossible for it to not be dangerous even in training…

      Again, thanks for stopping by and saying a word.


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