Saturday, May 28, 2011

The lingo/the lore and the fighting spirit

"The United States Marine Corps, with its fiercly proud traditions of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth."
- Thomas E Ricks
There are so many legends and mutterings, I can't really begin to share them here. But according to this one, if you don't quite believe something you can just go and  "tell it to the Marines."

"Tell It to the Marines"
This legend goes back to the London of 1664, when Charles II was King of England. A ship's master, returned from a long cruise, told him a sea story he couldn't believe.
"Fish that fly like birds?" the Merry Monarch exclaimed. "I have my doubts!"
"Nay, sire, it is true," said Sir William Killigren, colonel of the new British Marine regiment raised that year. "I have myself seen flying fish many a time in southern waters. I vouch for the truth of this strange tale, your Majesty."
The King thought it over. At last he turned to Samuel Pepys, the Secretary of the Admiralty.
"Mr. Pepys," he said, "no class of our subjects hath such knowledge of odd things on land and sea as our Marines. Hereafter, when we hear a yarn that lacketh likelihood, we will tell it to the Marines. If they believe it, then we shall know it is true." Legends of the Marine Corps

Many, many of the legends of the USMC involve tales of bravery and fierceness. I think this is one of my favorites.

"Send us more Japs"
Many, many instances of the fighting spirit of Marines could be cited but one story in particular attracts the attention. When the Japanese initiated the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, they did not neglect the tiny island of Wake which served as an outpost for Hawaii. Their plans had been for a speedy seizure of this objective; however, the Marine garrison thwarted their initial attempts. Late in December, the enemy returned with an even more powerful armada. Attack after attack was mounted against the heroic defenders. All Marine planes were shot down, casualties mounted, the situation was becoming desperate. However, communications were still maintained with Pearl Harbor. A relief expedition was mounted but the remnants of the Navy were so pitifully weak that the mission was cancelled at the last minute. Finally, Pearl Harbor queried Wake "Is there anything that we can provide?" In one of the last messages from the doomed island came back "Send us more Japs!" Legends of the marine Corps

Definitions and Terms
Head—the bathroom facilities.
Squad bay—the barracks, houses one platoon.
Platoon—the training unit or fighting unit of 43 men and a second lieutenant. The smallest unit for all practical purposes.
Gunny—a gunnery sergeant in rank.
A recruit—a shit bird, a turd, a shit maggot, a clown
A woman—a broad, a cunt.
A joint—the penis.
S-2—Battalion level of anything.
G-2—intelligence code number.
Gear—the necessaries issued every Marine.
Deck—the floor or the ground.
Bulkhead—the wall.
Hatchway—the door.
Overhead—the ceiling.
Rifle—any weapon with a barrel over 18" in length, never to be called a gun.
Cover—any type of hat or cap.
Boondocks—woods or forest, (shortened to boonies)
Grab ass—any type of goofing off, horseplay.
Blues, Greens, Trops—three types of uniforms.
Utilities—the fighting uniform.
Field day—a clean-up session where everything is scrubbed.
Butt—a cigarette, or the butt of a rifle.
Brass—the brass belt buckle and any other accessories made from brass.
Stacking swivel—the attachment on a rifle which allows it to be-stacked.
Drill—that portion of training where discipline and working close
together are emphasized.
Gung-ho—A Chinese word meaning work together, usually used as an adjective
to describe a good Marine.
Squared away—neat and proper in appearance.
Field scarf—neck tie.
Crud—any type of dirt etc. found on anything.
S.O.S.—shit on a shingle, ground beef and gravy on toast served for
Regs—regulations or regular Marines as opposed to reservists.
7£2 gear—packs, tents, and other field gear.
Webb gear—any gear made of canvass webbing.
Grinder—the parade grounds.
To shit can—to do away with (shit can—a trash can)
Military crest—that portion of a hill just below the topographical
crest where full vision is possible.
CO.—company commander.
Old man—the unit commander of a company size or over.
Exec—the executive officer of the unit.
Corps—the Marine Corps as a whole.
Swab—a mop (a swabby, a sailor)
A doggy—an Army soldier.
A zoomy—a pilot in the service.
P.X.—post exchange store.
Mainside—the main section of the base or town or country.
Ladder—a stairway.
Scuttlebutt—rumors or a drinking fountain.
Pogybait—candy, cookies, cold drinks, etc.
The Marines in China before WW II were issued candy (Baby Ruths, Tootsie Rolls, etc.) as part of their their ration supplements. At the time, sugar and other assorted sweets were rare commodities in China and much in demand by the Chinese, so the troops found the candy useful for barter in town. The Chinese word for prostitute, roughly translated, is "pogey". Thus, candy became "Pogey Bait". Urban Dictionary
Railroad tracks—captains' bars.
Barman—man who carries a Browning Automatic Rifle.
S.T.P. or S.T.U.—special training unit or platoon.
Boot—bootcamp or a trainee.
Happy hour—the hour every Friday and Saturday nights at the clubs when
beer is 5 cents a glass.
0.course—obstacle course used in training and conditioning.
The G.I.s—upset stomach and diarrhea caused by eating out of unclean
mess gear.
D.I.--drill instructor, the hated sergeant in charge of training recruit
P.I.—Paris Island, South Carolina Marine Corps base.
Diego—San Diego, California Base, Camp Pendleton.
Civies—civilian clothes.
Police the Area—pick up all papers etc., and clean it up,
Suck ass or Kiss butt—a Marine who seeks to win favors from those of
higher rank.
Rank—the width of a group of men in formation, or rating.
File—the depth of a group of men in formation.
Corpsman—medical man that cares for wounded.
B.A.M.—broad-assed Marine, a woman Marine.
ComCo—Commandant of the Marine Corps.


  1. I could be mistaken but Top refers to Gunnery Sergeant or Master Gunnery Sergeant and never a First Sergeant.

  2. "Top" = Master Sergeant (MSgt).
    Source: USMC officer 1998-present

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