“Some people wonder all their lives if they’ve made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem. ”
On Nov. 10, the Marine Corps turns 232 years old. Ever since it was formed in a Philadelphia bar in 1775, the Corps has given Marines countless reasons to take pride in the heritage of their organization.
There is no shortage of instances in which Marine units and individuals have distinguished themselves in battle, but the bragging rights earned over the past 232 years weren’t all born on the battlefield.
The Corps’ culture sets it apart from other branches of the military in ways that those who have never earned the eagle, globe and anchor find difficult to fully understand. But what is obvious to even the most casual observer is that Marines distinguish themselves through their unique appearance, spirit and accomplishments.
To know the Corps is to love the Corps, which is why Marine Corps Times compiled the following list of 232 reasons to stand proudly at this year’s birthday ball.
On to the List!
1. Cpl. Jason Dunham. First Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. If jumping on a grenade to save a buddy isn’t worth the top of the list, nothing is.
2. Civilians have to find time to go to the gym. Marines get paid to go.
3. The National Museum of the Marine Corps. It’s like a Smithsonian of leatherneck.
4. There’s no such thing as an “ex” Marine.
5. Re-enlistment rates are higher IN the war zone.
6. Stink-proof socks. Well, almost. Systems Command is working on them.
7. Jalapeño cheese.
8. “Every Marine Into the Fight.”
9. Lump-sum re-enlistment bonuses up to $80,000. Many of you would consider doing it for free.
10. New uniforms #1. Pixel-pattern cammies? Yeah, the Corps came up with that.
12. Flexed arm hang is harder than it looks. We tried it.
13. Barracks parties on non-payday weekends.
14. Marine Gunners.
15. The Wounded Warrior Regiment.
16. MarAdmin 266/07: Letting 18-year-old Marines drink on base at this year’s birthday ball.
17. No receipt necessary for travel claim expenses less than $75.
18. The lance corporal underground.
19. Fallujah II.
21. Archibald Henderson’s couch, re-upholstered, is still in the commandant’s living room.
22. “No better friend, no worse enemy.”
23. Typhoons approaching Okinawa often spark islandwide beer runs.
25. Gen. James Jones, who followed his tour as commandant with appointment as “supreme intergalactic overlord” (OK, it was Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, but close).
26. 10 rounds from the 500-yard line.
27. Per diem.
28. To civilians, every Marine is recon.
29. Recruiting in Texas is like hunting at the zoo.
30. The “boat cloak.” Because every super hero needs a cape.
31. You can re-enlist in the IRR.
32. The wallet in your sock.
33. Motivating television commercials.
34. The “horse shoe” haircut, gone but not forgotten.
35. The global address list. Find your buddies and send them links to Marine Corps Times.
36. Running cadences that mention napalm. And Eskimos.
37. Stories that begin with, “So there I was …”
38. Modified parade rest.
39. The transformation. Who you are when you join is not nearly as important as who you become.
40. Lt. Gen. Jim Mattis getting a fourth star.
41. If you’ve been on liberty in Twentynine Palms, you’ve been on liberty in Yuma and Barstow, too.
42. Grooming standards. Not only can you not act like a thug, you cannot look like a thug.
43. It’s not the Army.
44. Women in Manhattan have all seen the Fleet Week episode of “Sex and the City.”
45. Combat shotguns.
46. Combat Action Ribbons. IEDs count now, and should have counted all along. Duh.
47. The occasional free beer. Wear your blues into a bar and see what happens.
48. After decades of debate, there remains no resolution on whether sand fleas trump “The Reaper.”
49. The Corps’ doesn’t call its officers, commissioned or not, “petty.”
50. Cpl. Gareth Hawkins, lying on a stretcher after an IED shattered his leg, demanded re-enlistment before medical evacuation. And got it.
51. Whereas Army, Navy and Air Force jokes are funny, Marine jokes are potentially dangerous.
52. The occasional friendly debate. Refer to a Marine staff noncommissioned officer simply as “sergeant,” and see what happens.
53. That troublesome “10 percent,” making good Marines look great since 1775.
54. Everyone at a high school reunion is obliged to justify his last 10 years, except the guy wearing alphas.
55. As if ranks that include the words “master” and “gunnery” aren’t intimidating enough on their own, the Corps uses them both. At once.
56. Soldiers have Hooah Bars. Marines have Ka-Bars. The second will generally get you the first.
57. The dress code. You can wear your cammies to meet the commandant or repair a tank.
58. From “Aliens” to “Doom,” the future vision of warfare almost always includes Space Marines.
59. The Corps was formed in a bar.
60. Marines predicted the WWII campaigns in the Pacific years earlier and prepared for the inevitable. So when a Marine says, “Hey, I’ve been thinking …” perhaps you should take notes.
61. Give a Marine some free time, and he’ll rip down your dictator’s statue.
62. If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training.
64. Duty station garden spots: Jacksonville, N.C.; Yuma, Ariz.; Bridgeport, Calif.; Twentynine Palms, Calif. (Yes, we’re kidding.)
65. Making morning PT on time.
66. Recruiters who promise everything EXCEPT a rose garden.
67. Mustangs #1. It’s easier to take crap from a CO who went to boot camp.
69. Gen. Peter Pace, the first Marine chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He left his four-star insignia with his fallen comrades at the Vietnam Wall when he retired. Nice move.
70. The people zapper. Using microwave energy to disperse a crowd sounds like fun. Semper fry, gunny.
71. Nothing says “Good morning” like a mouthful of Copenhagen and freeze-dried coffee.
72. Nothing says “I love you” like a welcome home sheet hanging on a chain-link fence.
73. Bill Barnes. In June, the former Marine beat the crap out of a 27-year-old pickpocket who tried to make off with his dough. Oh yeah, he’s 72.
74. Leftwich Trophy. Heisman winners only think they know about leaving it all on the field.
75. EOD. If you don’t know why this is on the list, defuse the next IED yourself.
76. Tax-free combat pay. Doing what you signed up for and not having to give Uncle Sam a dime back.
77. Montford Point Marines. The first African-American Marines know a little something about honor, courage and commitment.
78. Front toward enemy. It’s not just a visual reference on a Claymore mine, it’s a Marine Corps way of life.
79. Mustangs #2. You know at least three Marines who drive them. It’s like a Ford dealership exploded on base.
80. Fred Smith, founder of FedEx. Only a former Marine could truly appreciate the value of getting your mail on time.
81. CMC: The tallest member of the Joints Chiefs. OK, so we haven’t actually measured, but he looks the tallest anyway.
82. No more spit shining boots.
83. Chuck Norris was in the Air Force. Steve McQueen was a Marine.
84. The Crucible.
85. 1/9, 2/9 and 3/9. Welcome back, fellas.
86. The FROG uniform. You are now sweat-wickin’ AND flame-lickin’.
88. The M4. More rifles in the fight is generally a win-win.
89. MRAPs. Trucks straight out of Mad Max. We still love a good Humvee, but we loved jeeps, too. Things change.
90. Arty guys who do civil affairs. They blow it up, then they fix it. Circle of life.
91. Service Charlies. They look so good, the Navy’s copying ’em.
92. Fake Marines. No one eats ’em up faster than real Marines.
93. John Lovell. A 71-year-old former Marine is sitting in a Subway restaurant when two armed men try to rob the place. Lovell grabs his .45, kills one and wounds the other. No word on how Lovell’s sandwich fared.
94. 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Six Navy Crosses so far. Six.
95. Staff Sgt. Lawrence Dean II, aka the “BadAss Marine.” He recites a poem. He gets uploaded to YouTube. Thousands get motivated.
96. Gen. James Conway takes over as the new commandant. Among his demands: a new PT uniform, new tattoo regs, a plan to add dress blues to the seabag, a change-up in medals and 22,000 more Marines. Someone’s been thinking about taking over for a while, huh?
97. Body-fat standards. Everyone hates them, until they see a fat Marine.
98. “Jarhead.” Only a former Marine could write a war story about not fighting anyone and make it last for 200 pages, then get Jamie Foxx to star in the movie.
99. The Stumps. The Rock. The Sandbox. Oh, the places you’ll serve.
101. Tattoos #2. Getting a fallen friend’s name tattooed on your other forearm, and knowing the same.
102. The new PT running suit. Sure, the Army had them first, but the Army gets most things first.
103. Marine expeditionary units: The cheapest cruise you’ll ever take.
104. Camp Lejeune: The closest interstate and the nearest good shopping mall are both at least an hour away.
105. Camp Pendleton: There are roads and malls, but try affording a house near the main gate.
106. Tattoos #3. Meat tags. Getting your blood type and other info inked on your ribcage isn’t necessarily a bad idea.
107. The Marine Corps is getting bigger. The Navy is getting smaller.
109. 30 days’ paid vacation, plus federal holidays off, is obscene by civilian standards.
110. Maj. Gen. Marion E. Carl, the Corps’ first fighter ace. First Marine to fly a helicopter. Two Navy Crosses, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 14 air medals. In 1998, the 82-year-old was killed during a home break-in when he jumped in front of a shotgun blast aimed at his longtime wife, Edna.
111. Tattoos #4. Reaction to the new policy: Conway says sleeves are going away, Marines run for the chair. Tattoo parlors never saw so much business.
113. Guaranteed pay raises.
114. Marine Security Guard #1. Duty in the Bahamas.
115. Having a WWII Marine say he’s proud of you
116. Drew Carey used to be in the Marine Corps Reserve. Now, he’s the host of “The Price is Right.”
117. Combatant diver pins. No more of that Navy crap.
118. A Red Stripe is a beer, mon. A Blood Stripe is a symbol of pride.
119. NMCI, if only they would remove the “MC.”
120. You watched “300,” and it reminded you of your unit.
121. The “Det One” .45 pistol. Designed by Marines, for Marines.
122. Combat marksmanship. You are creeping death. And you get graded on it.
123. Never lost six nukes on a plane.
124. CamelBaks. Water tastes like water again.
125. Give a Marine enough free time, and he’ll marry your Bahraini princess.
126. Go to YouTube. Type in “bored Marines.” Enjoy.
127. When the president gets on a helicopter, it’s not called “Army One.”
128. The opposite of the Peace Corps.
129. Camouflage. You can camouflage anything and make it cool.
130. No Fear #1. Marines aren’t scared of anything. Except apricots. And Charms.
131. Combat optics on M16s. Leave the iron sights, just in case.
132. “Combat loss” amnesty for missing gear. It’s like pleading the fifth.
133. Riding a chartered Continental Airlines flight home from the war zone with assault weapons stuffed in all the overhead compartments.
134. In combat, the division band becomes a heavy-machine-gun platoon.
135. What do headaches, broken bones, infectious diseases, missing limbs and hurt feelings all have in common? Motrin. Thanks, Doc.
137. Global instability equals job security.
138. When NMCI goes down, and it will, it’s like having the day off.
139. The honor, privilege and responsibility of leading, mentoring and caring for junior Marines.
140. Gunnery sergeants. Don’t know the answer? Ask the gunny. Need something? Ask the gunny. In trouble? Avoid the gunny.
141. Because gunny said so.
142. The line to get “tazed” at a military gear expo. Marines will do anything for a free T-shirt.
143. Deployment reunions. Like reliving your wedding night. Sweet!
144. Gig lines. Even in khakis and a polo shirt.
145. Eight-point covers. Even the uniform stands at attention.
146. Marine Security Guards #2. They’re not cute and cuddly, but when they greet you at the door, it’s like getting a great big hug from the United States of America, no matter where you are.
147. The Mameluke sword. Distinctive.
148. The NCO sword. Earned, never given.
149. The World Famous Mud Run. Thousands of people pay good money to run through 10 clicks of muck every year at Camp Pendleton.
150. John Philip Sousa. A Marine, the nation’s March King and composer of “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Ooh-rah.
151. MRE crackers. Hard as Milk Bones but much tastier. You can almost feel your teeth getting cleaner as you eat ’em.
152. Jane Wayne Day. She’ll never ask about work again.
153. Shirt stays. Or garters. Whatever you call them, they’re a triple whammy, keeping your shirt tucked, your socks up and removing all that unwanted leg hair.
154. The slogans: “The Few, The Proud, The Marines.” “We’re Looking For a Few Good Men,” “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” “Tell that to the Marines.” If they could only purchase the rights to Hallmark’s “When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best.”
155. Speaking of slogans, “The Few, The Proud, The Marines” beat out such notables as Nike’s “Just Do It” and Burger King’s “Have It Your Way” for a 2007 spot on the advertising Walk of Fame. Better luck next year, losers.
157. Real duty station garden spots you can go an entire career without being assigned to: Southern California; Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; Okinawa, Japan.
158. Rear-party Marines. God bless them. Whatever reason they stay behind — injury, impending retirement or being volun-told — they are indispensable. They deserve medals for what they have to deal with while a unit is deployed.
159. While field-grade officers are at the company office, company-grade officers are in the field.
160. Colonels who can take a joke.
161. Free flu shots. And smallpox shots and anthrax shots …
162. Former Sgt. Chris Everhart. While camping with his three sons in June 2007, a bear snatched their cooler and made a play for his 6-year-old. Everhart threw an 18-inch log at the bear’s head, cracking its skull before it could attack and killing it instantly. Then, the park ranger gave him a ticket for leaving the cooler where the bear could get it.
163. Standards. The Corps doesn’t lower the bar when recruiting gets tough.
164. Jim Nabors. “Gomer Pyle” becomes an honorary Marine in 2001 and makes lance corporal. It takes him six years to pin on corporal. Talk about art imitating life.
165. Vincent D’Onofrio. The other “Private Pyle” is doing pretty well on “Law and Order: Criminal Intent.” He’s still weird, though.
166. If you ambush Capt. Brian Chontosh’s boys, he’s going to take off his Navy Cross and kill you. Then, he’s going to pick up your rifle and kill your buddies. Then, he’s going to pick up your buddy’s rifle and kill your buddy’s buddies. Then, he’s going to pick up a rocket-propelled grenade launcher …
167. Speaking of the Navy Cross, a combat award second only to the Medal of Honor, Marines have earned 15 so far in Iraq, plus one in Afghanistan. Of the six awarded to sailors for those combat zones, five went to SEALs, and one went to a corpsman who exposed himself repeatedly to enemy fire to evacuate and treat wounded Marines. Along with Chontosh, the other recipients include:
168. Gunnery Sgt. Justin D. Lehew.
169. Lance Cpl. Joseph B. Perez.
170. Sgt. Scott C. Montoya.
171. Cpl. Marco A. Martinez.
172. Sgt. Willie L. Copeland.
173. Capt. Brent Morel (posthumous).
174. Sgt. Anthony L. Viggiani.
175. 1st Sgt. Bradley A. Kasal.
176. Cpl. Robert J. Mitchell.
177. Cpl. Dominic Esquibel.
178. Sgt. Jarrett A. Kraft.
179. Cpl. Jeremiah W. Workman.
180. Cpl. Todd Corbin.
181. Sgt. Aubrey L. McDade Jr.
182. Pfc. Christopher Adlesperger (posthumous).
183. Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Louis E. Fonseca.
184. Iwo JIMA. Japan might have changed the name to Iwo To, but that doesn’t mean you have to acknowledge it.
185. Col. John Ripley. Received the Navy Cross for the destruction of the Dong Ha bridge in Vietnam. The Corps takes care of its own. In 2002, with Ripley near death, doctors finally found a donated liver for his much-needed transplant. So the Marine Corps sent helicopters and Marines to Philadelphia to retrieve it, and they personally rushed it back to Washington in time to save his life.
186. Marine Corps Times isn’t a version of Navy Times anymore. How many careers get their own newspaper?
188. Gatorade bottles wrapped in green, 100 mph tape so as not to offend the sailors in the room.
189. Camaraderie. Marines will hook you up with their sisters, then punch you in the mouth for doing what they knew would happen the whole time.
190. Ingenuity. MRE bombs, 101 uses for cleaning rods and iPods wired into field radio speakers.
191. Getting off the ship.
192. Getting back on the ship.
193. No beach? No problem. Marines inserted 400 miles into landlocked Afghanistan and created Camp Rhino using CH-53 Sea Stallions. Imagine what you can invade with the Osprey.
194. Cases and cases of bottled water mean never having to stand behind a water bull.
195. Race as a nonissue. It wasn’t always the case, but three black sergeants major of the Marine Corps in a row show that the Corps has only one color: green.
196. Every day in the Corps is another reason to celebrate. That’s why they call them working “parties.”
197. Riddick Bowe had what it took to be boxing’s undisputed heavyweight champ. He did not have what it took to be a Marine.
198. The U.S. Army Band is called “Pershing’s Own.” The U.S. Marine Corps Band is called “The President’s Own.”
199. “8th and I.” Ten bucks says you have no idea where the Army chief of staff lives. Commandants don’t hide.
200. MRE “rat boxes.” How grunts trick-or-treat.
201. The poncho liner. It’s a blanket, it’s a tent, it’s a keeper.
202. Combat fit-reps. People say they’re equal to regular fit-reps. People lie.
203. The “E-tool lean.” Sailors don’t know how good they have it.
204. Navy Lt. Vincent Capodanno, Medal of Honor recipient. If Marines have a hot line to heaven, Father Capodanno — aka the Grunt Padre — would take the call. His body peppered by shrapnel, his right hand nearly severed, the Navy chaplain and priest crisscrossed a Vietnam battlefield Sept. 4, 1967, to render last rites to his fallen Marines and corpsmen with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, until 27 rounds from an enemy machine gun took his life. Last year, the Vatican declared him a “servant of God.” Next step, sainthood?
206. Amphibious warfare means always being near the beach.
207. No Fear #2. Talk about the AV-8B Harrier’s troubled past all you like, but brave jump jet pilots are flying missions in Iraq.
208. New Uniforms #2. Wash-and-wear combat uniforms mean no more starch, no more dry cleaning.
209. Marine air-ground task force. Nothing like controlling the air and the ground.
210. Slapping an eagle, globe and anchor on the back of your car and knowing it’ll get you out of at least one speeding ticket.
211. The Navy wants to put Marines back on warships. It seems that Tomahawk cruise missiles can’t do everything.
212. Liberty in Thailand.
213. Liberty in Australia.
214. Liberty, well, anywhere.
215. The Navy’s mascot is a goat. The Corps’ mascot is a bulldog. You don’t need Michael Vick to tell you who wins that fight.
216. If you need another occupying land force, you can use the Marine Corps. If you need another rapidly deployable, sea-based, front-door-kicking, air-ground team, you can’t use the Army.
217. 1775 Rum Punch. Four parts dark rum, two parts lime juice, one part pure maple syrup, grenadine to taste.
218. “It’s fun to shoot some people,” said Lt. Gen. Jim Mattis. He says what he thinks.
219. The Beirut Memorial Wall. If you ever forget what you’re fighting for, pay a visit.
221. “Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.” Jack Nicholson, “A Few Good Men.”
222. Maj. Meghan McClung, Marine public affairs officer, killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq while escorting media. The PAO is more than just a spokesman.
223. Sgt. Rafael Peralta. Like Dunham, he hugged a grenade to save his buddies in Iraq. No Medal of Honor … yet.
224. Hearing an accidental discharge into the clearing barrel, then waiting for the lieutenant to walk inside.
225. Call signs like “Spider” and “Assassin,” and these guys were generals.
227. Buttered noodles for breakfast.
228. “Every Marine should look like a Marine. But a Marine looks like a Marine when he’s got a bayonet stuck in the enemy’s chest.” Gen. Robert Magnus, assistant commandant, discussing body-fat standards.
229. “Infantry” is the easiest job for recruiters to sell.
230. Being the youngest Marine at the ball.
231. Being the oldest Marine at the ball.
232. Marine Corps Times appreciates all you do. Happy birthday, Marines!