View Full Version : What's so special about the Marine Corps?

02-27-03, 11:25 PM
Got this from a Marine around here known as sealaywer. (Yep. I spelled his username right.) Thought it needed to be seen again.

Ask a Marine what's so special about the Marines and the answer would
be "esprit de corps", an unhelpful French phrase that means exactly what
it looks like - the spirit of the Corps. But what is that spirit, and
where does it come from?

The Marine Corps is the only branch of the U.S. armed forces that
recruits people specifically to fight. The Army emphasizes personal
development (an army of one), the Navy promises fun (let the journey
begin), and the Air Force offers security (it's a great way of life).
Missing from all of these advertisements is the hard fact that it is a
soldier's lot to suffer and perhaps to die for his people, and to take
lives at the risk of his own.

Even the dramatic music of the services reflects this evasion. The
Army's Caisson Song describes a pleasant country outing over hill and
dale, lacking only a picnic basket. Anchors Aweigh, the Navy's
celebration of the joys of sailing, could have been penned by Jimmy
Buffet. The Air Force song is a lyric poem of blue skies and engine
thrust. All is joyful and invigorating, and safe. There are no
landmines in the dales or snipers behind the hills, no submarines or
cruise missiles threaten the ocean jaunt, no bandits are lurking in the
wild blue yonder.

The Marines' Hymn, by contrast, is all combat. We fight our
country's battles, first to fight for right and freedom, we have fought
in every clime and place where we could take a gun, in many strife
we've fought for life. The choice is made clear. You may join the Army
to go to adventure training, or join the Navy to go to Bangkok, or join
the Air Force to go to computer school.

You join the Marines to go to war.

But the mere act of signing the enlistment contract confers no
status in the Corps. The Army recruit is told from his first minute in
uniform that "you're in the Army now, soldier". Navy and Air Force
enlistees are sailors or airmen as soon as they get off the bus at the
training center.

The new arrival at Marine Corps boot camp is called recruit, or
private, or worse (much worse), but not Marine. Not yet; maybe not
ever. He or she must earn the right to claim the title, and failure
returns you to civilian life without hesitation or ceremony.

My recruit platoon, Platoon 2210 at San Diego, California, trained
from October through December of 1968. In Vietnam the Marines were
taking two hundred casualties a week, and the major rainy season
operation, Meade River, had not even begun. Yet our drill instructors
had no qualms about winnowing out almost a quarter of their 112
recruits, graduating eighty-one.

Note that this was post-enlistment attrition; every one of those
who were dropped had been passed by the recruiters as fit for service.
But they failed the test of boot camp, not necessarily for physical
reasons (at least two were outstanding high-school athletes for whom
the calisthenics and running were child's play).

The cause of their failure was not in the biceps or the
legs, but in the spirit. They had lacked the will to endure the mental
and emotional strain, so they would not be Marines. Heavy commitments
and high casualties notwithstanding, the Corps reserves the right to
pick and choose. But the war had touched boot camp in one way. The
normal twelve-week course of training was shortened to eight weeks.
Deprived of a third of their training time, our drill instructors
hurried over, or dropped completely, those classes without direct
relevance to Vietnam. Chemical warfare training was abandoned. Swimming
classes shrank to a single familiarization session. Even hand-to-hand
combat was skimped.

Three things only remained inviolate: close order drill, the
ultimate discipline builder; marksmanship training, the heart of combat
effectiveness; and classes on the history, customs and traditions of
the Corps.

History classes in boot camp? Stop a soldier on the street and
ask him to name a battle of World War I. Pick a sailor at random to
describe the epic fight of the Bon Homme Richard. Everyone has heard
of McGuire Air Force Base, so ask any airman who Major Thomas B.
McGuire was, and why he is so commemorated. I am not carping, and there
is no sneer in this criticism.

All of the services have glorious traditions, but no one teaches the
young soldier, sailor, or airman what his uniform means and why he
should be proud to wear it.

But ask a Marine about World War One and you will hear of the
wheat field at Belleau Wood and the courage of the Fourth Marine Brigade.

Faced with an enemy of superior numbers entrenched in tangled forest
undergrowth, the Marines received an order to attack that even the
charitable cannot call ill advised. It was insane. Artillery support
was absent and air support hadn't been invented yet, so the Brigade
charged German machine guns with only bayonets, grenades and indomitable
fighting spirit.

A bandy-legged little barrel of a Gunnery Sergeant, Daniel J. Daly,
rallied his company with a shout. "Come on, you sonsa *****es! Do you
want to live forever" He took out three of those machine guns himself,
and they would have given him the Medal of Honor except for a
technicality. He already had two of them. French liaison officers,
hardened though they were by four years of trench bound slaughter, were
shocked as the Marines charged across the open wheat field under a
blazing sun and directly into enemy fire. Their action was so
anachronistic on a twentieth-century battlefield that they might as
well have been swinging cutlasses. But the enemy was only human; they
couldn't stand up to this. So the Marines took Belleau Wood.

Every Marine knows this story, and dozens more. History is taught
in boot camp as a regular part of the curriculum. Every Marine will
always be taught Marine Corps History. You can learn to don a gas
mask anytime, even on the plane enroute to the war zone, but before
you can wear the emblem and claim the title you must know of the
Marines who made that emblem and title meaningful. So long as you
can march and shoot and revere the legacy of the Corps, you can
take your place in the line. And that line is unified in spirit
as in purpose. A soldier wears branch of service insignia on his
collar, and metal shoulder pins and cloth sleeve patches to identify
his unit. Sailors wear a rating badge that identifies what they
do for the Navy.

Marines wear only the eagle, globe and anchor, together with
personal ribbons and their cherished marksmanship badges.

There is nothing on a Marine's uniform to indicate what he or she does,
or (except for the 5th and 6th Regiments who wear a French fourragere

for Belleau Wood) what unit the Marine belongs to. You cannot tell by
looking at a Marine whether you are seeing a truck driver, a computer
programmer, or a machine gunner. The Corps explains this as a security
measure to conceal the identity and location of units, but the Marines
penchant for publicity makes that the least likely of explanations.
No, the Marine is amorphous, even anonymous (we finally agreed to wear
nametags only in 1992), by conscious design. Every Marine is a rifleman
first and foremost, a Marine first, last and always.

You may serve a four-year enlistment or even a twenty-year career
without seeing action, but if the word is given you'll charge across
that wheat field. Whether a Marine has been schooled in automated
supply, or automotive mechanics, or aviation electronics, is
immaterial. Those things are secondary - the Corps does them because
it must. The modern battle requires the technical appliances, and since
the enemy has them, so do we. But no Marine boasts mastery of them.

Our pride is in our marksmanship, our discipline, and our membership
in a fraternity of courage and sacrifice.

"For the honor of the fallen, for the glory of the dead", Edgar
Guest wrote of Belleau Wood, "the living line of courage kept the faith
and moved ahead." They are all gone now, those Marines who made a
French farmer's little wheat field into one of the most enduring of
Marine Corps legends. Many of them did not survive the day, and eight long
decades have claimed the rest. But their action has made them immortal.

The Corps remembers them and honors what they did, and so they live

Dan Daly's shouted challenge takes on its true meaning - if you
hide in the trenches you may survive for now, but someday you will die
and no one will care. If you charge the guns you may die in the next two

but you will be one of the immortals.

All Marines die, in the red flash of battle or the white cold of
the nursing home. In the vigor of youth or the infirmity of age all will
eventually die, but the Marine Corps lives on. Every Marine who ever
lived is living still, in the Marines who claim the title today. It is
that sense of belonging to something that will outlive your own
mortality that gives people a light to live by and a flame to mark
their passing.

Marines call it esprit de corps!

Semper Fi

ROSS L. Webster
COML: (252) 464-5629, DSN 451-5629
FAX: (252) 464-6431

02-28-03, 03:17 AM
I was running low on motivation today. This post got me back on my feet. OOOOO RRRAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!:marine:

Roberto T. Cast
02-28-03, 06:47 AM
We are MARINES because we wanted to be Marines, those that didn't make in Boot Camp, did not have the Esprit De Corps. I too went thru Boot Camp training in 8 weeks beginning in September of 1965. Because I am 5'4", and I wear Vietnam Vet cap, people don't think I am Marine. I reply to them, remember, dynamite comes in small package. Others say we hear a lot of crazy things about Marines, and I say to them, you better believe it, and its all true. Remember Marines tour of duty in Nam was 13 months and not 12 months like the other branch of service. I could go on and on, but I won't. Remember, Once a Marine, Always A Marine.

All I have to say now at this point in my life, is " IF BEING A MARINE IS AN ILLNESS, LET NO DOCTOR FIND A CURE." VIVA THE CORPS. :marine: