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Give Your Marine the
"Spirit of Semper Fidelis"
for the Holiday!

Leatherneck’s Famous Marine Quotes

If you have corrections or want to add what you believe to be a quote worthy of Leatherneck, send it to Please include your sources. If we select your quote we’ll will list it and give you credit for submitting it.

In the Beginning

Tell it to the Marines.
—It is generally agreed that this is probably of British origin dating back to King Charles II

Tell that to the Marines – the sailors won’t believe it.
—Sir Walter Scott, Redgauntlet, Vol. II, Chapter 7

Resolved, that two Battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors & Officers as usual in other regiments, that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office or inlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea, when required. That they be inlisted and commissioned for and during the present war with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by Congress. That they be distinguished by the names of the first & second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered a part of the number, which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.
—Resolution of the Continental Congress on 10 November 1775

To the Shores of Tripoli

I entirely approve the measures proposed by you in relation to the Marines who are lately captives in Tripoli. Therefore execute them.
—A letter from Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith to Col Commandant Franklin Wharton (3d CMC) on 21 Sept. 1805. Smith told Wharton to carry out certain measures proposed earlier.

“Fortitudine” (With fortitude)
—The first motto of the Corps antedating the War of 1812.

On board the GANGES, about 12 mos. ago, Lt. Gale, was struck by an Officer of the Navy, the Capt. took no notice of the Business and Gale got no satisfaction on the Cruise; the moment he arrived he call’d the Lieut. out and shot him; afterwards Politeness was restor’d”
—Signed “Yr obdt. Svt, W. W. Burrows, LtCol Comdt, MC” (2d CMC)

The Halls of Montezuma

Gone to Florida to fight the Indians. Will be back when the war is over.
—Commandant Col Archibald Henderson, USMC, (5th CMC) on a note pinned to his office door, 1836

The Marines…will never disappoint the most sanguine expectations of their country—never! I have never known one who would not readily advance in battle.
—Capt C. W. Morgan, USN in a letter to Brevet BGen Archibald Henderson, (5th CMC) 1852

I should deem a man-of-war incomplete without a body of Marines…imbued with that esprit that has so long characterized the “Old Corps.”
—Commodore Joshua R. Sands, USN in a letter to Brevet BGen Archibald Henderson, (5th CMC) 1852

Visit the Navy-Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts, —a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniments…
—Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1854

Leatherneck Against Leatherneck

A ship without Marines is like a garment without buttons.
— Adm David G. Farragut, 1862

I would rather command a company of Marines than a brigade of volunteers.
—Remark attributed to Capt John R.F. Tattnall, Confederate States Marine Corps, in explaining why he resigned his Army commission as a colonel and his post as acting brigade commander in Nov. 1862 to resume his work as a Marine captain.

If the Marines are abolished half the efficiency of the Navy will be destroyed. They are as necessary to the well being of a ship as the officers. Instead of decreasing the Corps, I would rather hope to see a large increase, for we feel the want of Marines very much.
—RAdm David D. Porter in letter to Col Commandant John Harris, 6th CMC, 6 Dec. 1863

Throughout my professional life, I have looked upon the Corps as a most valuable part of our naval organization, and this opinion has only been the more confirmed by every year’s additional experience in active service.
—RAdm S. F. DuPont in letter to Col Commandant John Harris, 6th CMC, 29 Dec. 1863

On board the new Ironsides, I had the Marine guard stationed at the after gun, thirty-five in number, and I think it was conceded that no gun of that heavy battery was worked more efficiently than the “Marine gun” as it was called.
—Cmdr T. Turner in letter to Col Commandant John Harris, 6th CMC, 29 Dec. 1863

Sir: It gives me pleasure to report to you the fine bearing and soldierly conduct of Captain Wilson and his men whilst absent on special duty. Though their duties were more arduous than those of others, they were always prompt and ready for performance of all they were called upon to do. As a body they would be a credit to any organization, and I will be glad to be associated with them on duty at any time.
— Letter from Cmdr J. Taylor Wood, C.S. Navy, to Confederate Marine Commandant Col Lloyd J. Beal, 16 Feb. 1864, in praise of CSA Marines commanded by Capt Thomas S. Wilson for their service in “cutting out” and destroying USS Underwriter on the Neuse River. 2 Feb. 1864.

Foreign Service

“Semper Fidelis”
—“Always faithful,” the motto of the Corps adopted in 1883.

Admiration of the Nation
We’re the finest ever seen
And we glory in the title
Of United States Marines.
—Early words to the last stanza of the first verse of the “Marines’ Hymn”

The Marines were always in the advance and how well they performed their part I leave to you to judge. To Captain Tilton and his Marines belongs the honor of first landing and last leaving the shore, in leading the advance on the march, in entering the forts, and in acting as skirmishers.
—Cmdr L.A. Kimberly of the Flagship Colorado in reporting on the battalion of Marines who landed in Korea, to RAdm John Rodgers CiC of the Asiatic Fleet, 1871

I selected an enormous Marine Corps emblem to be tattooed across my chest. It required several sittings and hurt me like the devil, but the finished product was worth the pain. I blazed triumphantly forth, a Marine from throat to waist. The emblem is still with me. Nothing on earth but skinning will remove it.
—MajGen Smedley D. Butler, recalling his time as a lieutenant in Asia.

To our Marines fell the most difficult and dangerous portion of the defense by reason of our proximity to the great city wall and the main city gate…The Marine acquitted themselves nobly.
—U. S. Foreign Minister Edwin H. Conger, Peking, Boxer Rebellion, 1900

“…And St. David.”
—During the Boxer Rebellion, the Marines were brigaded with the Royal Welch Fusiliers (23d Regiment of Foot). Since then on St. David’s Day (1 March), the CMC and Colonel of Fusiliers exchange by dispatch the traditional watchword of Wales.

Stand gentlemen! He served on Samar!
—A command given by Marines whenever a recognized survivor of the 1902 expedition to that island in the Philippines entered the mess or club.

The people of creed and class,
Of every country and clime
Have paid their respects to the Stars and Stripes
At one or another time;
At times they raise trouble among themselves,
And some one must intervene
Then the best man to send, so the President says
Is a United States Marine.
—Pvt C. Hundertmark, “Recruiter’s Bulletin,” April 1915

I am inclined to think there is no military body in our country of higher efficiency than the Marine Corps. Of course their problems are simpler than ours. Their esprit de corps is very high; they take great pride in their professionalism. They never let things slack a bit.
—RAdm C. M. Winslow, before the House Committee on Naval Affairs in 1916

He took the anchor on his back,
And leaped into the main,
Through foam and spray he clove his way
And sank and rose again.
Through foam and spray, a league away
The anchor stout he bore;
Till, safe at last, he made if fast,
And warped the ship ashore!
Such was the tale that was told to me
By that modest and truthful son of the sea;
For he ain’t like some of the swabs, I’ve seen.
As would go and lie to a poor Marine.
—E. H. Hart

Over There

First to fight.
—USMC slogan used in WW I by Maj A.S. McLemore

I am convinced there is no smarter, handier or more adaptable body of troops (U.S. Marines) in the world…Always spick and span, ready at an instant’s notice for duty, the nation owes them a great debt.
—American novelist Winston Churchill, 1917

Your Marines having been under my command for nearly six months, I feel that I can give you a discriminating report as to their excellent standing with their brothers of the army and their general good conduct.
—Gen John J. “Black Jack” Pershing in a letter to MajGen Commandant George Barnett, 10 Nov. 1917

Retreat Hell! We’ve Just got here!
—Attributed by MajGen Ben Fuller to Col Frederick M. “Dopey” Wise, CO 2d Bn., 5th Marines, 2dDiv, AEF in France, on being informed that the French troops were retreating and being advised to do likewise, Wise reportedly erupted with an expletive.

Come on you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?
—Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly urging Marines to attack in 1918 France.

I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold.
—Marine 2dLt Clifton B. Cates, 96th Co., 19 July 1918, 1045 a.m., from records of the U.S. 2d Division (Regular)

“Teufelhunde!” (Devil dogs)
—German soldiers referring to U.S. Marines in WW I

The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!
—General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, USA

Why in the Hell can’t the Army do it if the Marines can; they are all the same kind of men, why can’t they be like Marines?
—In a letter to HQMC, dated 12 Feb. 1918, concerning a inspection of Marines by Gen John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, CinC, AEF

Well, we just had chow and now we are going to draw some new uniforms and believe me, they are some swell. Got it all over any uniform I have ever seen. Can’t hardly wait till I get a chance to wear them on liberty. Forest green and patch pockets.
—Pvt Leonard D. Philo 6th Regiment, 2dDiv from June 22, 1917 to July 19, 1918

I wouldn’t miss the things I have seen since I joined the Marine Corps for anything.
—Pvt Leonard D. Philo 6th Regiment, 2dDiv from June 22, 1917 to July 19, 1918

All I can bring back with me is the memory and believe me, that is enough. The quicker I can get home and get settled down and forget this, as much as possible, the better I will be satisfied. The forgetting part is impossible though. I haven’t seen very much, but I sure have seen more than I want to see again. Civilian clothes will be good enough for me for the rest of my life.
—Pvt Leonard D. Philo 6th Regiment, 2dDiv from June 22, 1917 to July 19, 1918

I hear we rate the Croix la [sic] Guerre on our regimental flag, but don’t know how true that is. Anyway, the Marines are doing their share. I heard the Germans call us the devil dogs, but that probably is hot air.”
—Pvt Leonard D. Philo 6th Regiment, 2dDiv from June 22, 1917 to July 19, 1918

Their fiery advance and great tenacity were well recognized by their opponents.
—LtCol Ernst Otto, Historical Section of the German Army writing about U.S. Marines in the fighting at in 1918 Belleau Wood, France

What shall I say of the gallantry with which these Marines have fought! Of the slopes of Hill 142; of the Mares Farm; of the Bois de Belleau and the Village of Bouresches stained with their blood, and not only taken away from the Germans in the full tide of their advance against the French, but held by my boys against counter attacks day after day and night after night. I cannot write of their splendid gallantry without tears coming to my eyes.
—MajGen James G. Harbord, USA, in his book, “Leaves from a War Diary”

No one can say that the Marines have ever failed to do their work in handsome fashion.
—MajGen Johnson Hagood, USA

I can never again see a United States Marine without experiencing a feeling of reverence.
—MajGen Johnson Hagood, USA

The beginning and the end of the war for the Germans were the battles of the Marne – and with the name of Marne will always be associated that of the glorious American Marines…
—French Consul General Gaston Libert, 1918

“There were Northwesterners with straw-colored hair … and delicately spoken chaps with the stamp of the Eastern universities on them. There were large-boned fellows from Pacific-coast lumber camps, and tall, lean Southerners who swore amazingly in gentle, drawling voices. There were husky farmers from the corn-belt, and youngsters who had sprung, as it were, to arms from the necktie counter. And there were also a number of diverse people who ran curiously to type, with drilled shoulders and a bone-deep sunburn, and a tolerant scorn of nearly everything on earth. …

“They were the Leathernecks … the old breed of American regular, regarding the service as home and war as an occupation; and they transmitted their temper and character and view-point into the high-hearted volunteer mass which filled the ranks of the Marine Brigade.

“There is nothing particularly glorious about sweaty fellows, laden with killing tools, going along to fight. And yet—such a column represents a great deal more than 28,000 individuals mustered into a division. All that is behind those men is in that column, too: the old battles, long forgotten, that secured our nation … traditions of things endured and things accomplished, such as regiments hand down forever … and that abstract thing called patriotism, which I never heard combat soldiers mention—all this passes into the forward zone, to the point of contact, where war is girt with horrors. And common men endure these horrors and overcome them, along with the insistent yearnings of the belly and the reasonable promptings of fear; and in this, I think, is glory.”
—Capt John W. Thomason Jr.: “Fix Bayonets,” 1926, on Marines during WW I

…let men express the intense admiration, which I share with all other Americans, of the record made by the Marines.
—Theodore Roosevelt, 17 Oct. 1918

O Eternal Father, we commend to Thy protection and care the members of the Marine Corps. Guide and direct them in the defense of our country and in the maintenance of justice among nations. Protect them in the hour of danger. Grant that wherever they serve they may be loyal to their high traditions and that at all times they may put their trust in Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Marine Corps Prayer by Bishop Sherrill, former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and hero of WW I.

The Banana Wars and In Between Wars

Once a Marine, always a Marine.
—MSgt Paul Woyshner, a 40-year Marine

…We are intensely proud of their noble record and are glad to have had the whole world see how irresistible they are in their might when a cause which America holds dear is at stake. The whole nation has reason to be proud of them.
—President Woodrow Wilson to MajGen George Barnett, 12th CMC, 14 Aug. 1919

Any officer can get by on his sergeants. To be a sergeant you have to know your stuff. I’d rather be an outstanding sergeant than just another officer.
—SgtMaj Daniel Daly 1873-1937

A compliance with the minutiae of military courtesy is a mark of well-disciplined troops.
—MajGen John A. Lejeune, 13th CMC: Letter to all officers of the Corps, 1919

Boys, they are just like any other girls in some respects, for they carry mirrors with Marine emblems on them. But they are regular Marines for they are very proud of their personal appearance and carry their own powder.
—Leatherneck 1919 on Marine Reserves (F)

We will embrace you in uniform today, we will embrace you without uniform tomorrow.
—Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, 1919 who forgot he was talking to women Marines.

The first sergeant must be the first sergeant of the unit in fact as well as in name.
—U.S. Marine Corps Manual, 1920

Fleets cannot operate without bases.
—MajGen John A. Lejeune 13th CMC: Testimony to House Naval Activities Committee, 13 March 1920

Be kindly and just in your dealings with your men. Never play favorites. Make them feel that justice tempered with mercy may always be counted on. This does not mean a slackening of discipline. Obedience to orders and regulations must always be insisted upon, and good conduct on the part of the men exacted. Especially should this be done with reference to civilian inhabitants of foreign countries in which Marines are serving.
—MajGen John A. Lejeune, 13th CMC: Letter No. 1, to all officers, U.S. Marine Corps, 1920

We are all members of the same great family … On social occasions the formality of strictly military occasions should be relaxed, and a spirit of friendliness and goodwill should prevail.
—MajGen John A. Lejeune

Yes, Marines are down in jungle land and they did kill a man in a war, and a great many people did not know anything about it.
—Maj Earl H. Ellis, 1921

…In a special message to the Congress, the President broadened the commitment in the name of protecting lives, loans, foreign investments…He announced that he authorized the sale of arms to the Nicaraguan army and would enlarge the Marine landing force. The President justified his action in terms that satisfied American interventionists: The intervention was necessary to stop the spread of “communism”…and to protect foreign lives and economic interests. Despite testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Committee…Congressional criticism of the intervention did not abate even as the Marines sailed for Nicaragua.
—A report of President Calvin Coolidge’s speech before Congress Jan. 19, 1927

The relation between officers and men should in no sense be that of superior and inferior nor that of master and servant, but rather that of teacher and scholar. In fact, it should partake of the nature of the relation between father and son, to the extent that officers, especially commanding officers, are responsible for the physical, mental, and moral welfare, as well as the discipline and military training of the young men under their command.
—MajGen John A. Lejeune, 13th CMC: Marine Corps Manual, 1929

The future success of the Marine Corps depends on two factors: first, an efficient performance of all duties to which its officers and men may be assigned; second, promptly bringing this efficiency to the attention of the proper officials of the government, and the American people.
—MajGen John A. Lejeune, 13th CMC

I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to major general. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
—MajGen Smedley D. Butler, excerpted from a speech in 1933

The Marines have landed, and the situation is well in hand.
—Richard Harding Davis, war correspondent 1935 who reportedly wrote it after the 1935 landing in Panama

Never give a man a dollar’s worth of blame without a dimes’ worth of praise.
—Col L. P. Hunt: When on duty in Washington, 1937

From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo

Mine eyes have seen MacArthur
With a Bible on his knee
He is pounding out communiqués
For guys like you and me.
And while possibly a rumor now,
Some day ‘twill be a fact
That the Lord will hear a deep voice say
“Move over, God, its Mac.”
—Marine parody on Corregidor

Gung Ho!
—Originated by LtCol Evans S. Carlson, it is the battle cry of the Marine Raiders. It comes from the Chinese saying “Work together.”

Long after Raiders led the way,
Gung Ho will never die;
Still heard today from jungle scenes,
Two words, immortalized…
—from song “Gung Ho” by Raider H. E. LeBlanc

If you can’t carry it, eat it or shoot it, don’t bring it.
—Marine Corps saying, source unknown

There it is. It is useless to ask ourselves why it is we who are here. We are here. There is only us between the airfield and the Japs. If we don’t hold, we will loose Guadalcanal.
—Col Merritt A. “Red Mike” Edson, the Ridge, Sept. 1942

The only things those people have that you don’t is guts. Do you wanna live forever?
—Col Merritt A. “Red Mike” Edson, the Ridge, Sept. 1942

Take your time. Stay away from the easy going. Never go the same way twice.
—GySgt Charles C. Arndt, Guadalcanal, 1942 on reconnaissance

…Since 1775 the United States Marines have upheld a fine tradition of service to their country. They are doing so today. I am confident they will continue to do so.
—President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a letter to Gen Thomas Holcomb, 17th CMC, 1942, 167th anniversary

And when he gets to Heaven,
To Saint Peter he will tell:
“Another Marine reporting Sir –
I’ve served my time in Hell.”
—Epitaph on the grave of PFC William Cameron, H/2/1, Guadalcanal, 1942, but
in various forms dating back to 1917

Goddamn it, you’ll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!
— Capt Henry P. “Jim” Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan. 1943.

Show me a hero, and I’ll show you a bum.
—Maj Greg “Pappy” Boyington, WW II Marine Flying Ace

…The Marines have been the first to land—on embattled beaches throughout the world—we share the unfaltering confidence of all Americans that they will land again—and land hard.
—VAdm Herbert F. Leary, Commander Eastern Sea Frontier, 8 Nov. 1943

Casualties many; percentage of dead not known; combat efficiency: we are winning!
— Col David M. Shoup, USMC on Tarawa, 23 Nov. 1943, in a radio message to MajGen Julian Smith, CG, 2dMarDiv, aboard USS Maryland (BB-46)

Betio, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands – Even the dead Marines were determined to reach Tarawa’s shore. As one Higgins landing boat roared toward the dry sand, you could see a hand clutching its side. It was the hand of a Marine, frozen in a grip of death.

The Second Marine Division took this island because its men were willing to die. They kept on coming in the face of heavy defense, and though they paid the stiffest price in human life per square yard that was ever paid in the history of the Marine Corps, they won this main base in the Gilbert Islands in 76 hours.
Out of two battalions – 2,000 to 3,000 men – thrown onto the beach in the first assault at 0830, only a few hundred men escaped death or injury. Officer casualties were heavy. And still the Marines kept coming. The leathernecks died with one thought – to get there.
—Sgt John Bushemi, “Yank” Staff Correspondent

The Marines, the Marines,
Those blasted Gyrenes,
Those seagoing bellhops,
Those brass-buttoned queens,
Oh! They pat their own back
Write stories in reams,
All in the praise of themselves—
The U.S. Marines!
The Marines, the Marines,
Those publicity fiends,
They built all the forests,
Turned on all the streams,
Discontent with the earth,
They say Heaven’s scenes
Are guarded by—you guess! Right!
U.S. Marines!
The moon never beams,
Except when the Marines
Give it permission to turn on its gleams.
And the tide never rises, the wind never screams—
Unless authorized by the U.S. Marines
The Marines, the Marines,
In their khakis and greens,
Their pretty blue panties,
Red stripes down their seams.
They have thought all the thoughts,
Dreamed all the dreams
Singing, “The Song of Myself”—
The U.S. Marines.
—From “Gismo” a publication for all servicemen in the South Pacific, this pent-up irritation was let out in doggerel “believed to be by a sailor.” May 6, 1944.

The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.
—Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal to LtGen H. M. Smith, as the Marines raised the flag on Mt. Suribachi over Iwo Jima, 23 Feb. 1945

In the Army, shock troops are a small minority supported by a vast group of artisans, laborers, clerks and organizers. In the Marines there are practically nothing but shock troops.
—Combat correspondent John Lardner, 6 March 1945 report on Iwo Jima in New Yorker magazine, 17 March 1945

Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.
—Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, Pacific Fleet communiqué, 16 March 1945

We’re not accustomed to occupying defensive positions. It’s destructive to morale.
—LtGen H. M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith, Iwo Jima, 1945, quoted to Walter Karig

Marines have a cynical approach to war. They believe in three things; liberty, payday and that when two Marines are together in a fight, one is being wasted. Being a minority group militarily, they are proud and sensitive in their dealings with other military organizations. A Marine’s concept of a perfect battle is to have other Marines on the right and left flanks, Marine aircraft overhead and Marine artillery and naval gunfire backing them up.
—War correspondent Ernie Pyle, killed on Ie Shima, Ryukyu Archipelago, 1945

The brave ones were shooting the enemy; the crazy ones were shooting film.
—War correspondent after viewing Marine combat photographers

They (women Marines) don’t have a nickname, and they don’t need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere, at a Marine post. They inherit the traditions of the Marines. They are Marines.
—Gen Thomas Holcomb, 17th CMC, (1936-1943)

I want you boys to hurry up and whip these Germans so we can get out to the Pacific to kick the s*** out of those purple-pissing Japanese, before the goddamned Marines get all the credit!
—LtGen George Patton, USA, 1945

And once by God, I was a Marine!
—Actor Lee Marvin, circa, 1967, about serving in WW II

From China to Korea

The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps.
—LtGen A. A. Vandegrift, 18th CMC: To the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, 5 May 1946 regarding U.S. Army proposals for the abolition of the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps went from 15,000, which its strength was when I was Commandant, to approximately 400,000 when I retired, and more than that afterward, without losing its individual characteristics. It was the same Marine Corps. It was not different in any respect.
—Gen Thomas Holcomb, 17th CMC in testimony before the Senate Sub-Committee hearings on S.677 (a bill to fix the personnel strength of the USMC, and make the CMC a permanent member of the JCS)

If the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eaton, the Japanese bases in the Pacific were captured on the beaches of the Caribbean.
—LtGen H. M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith: “Coral and Brass,” 1949

We had generals who were admirals and admirals who wanted to be generals. Generals acting as admirals are bad enough, but it was the admirals who wanted to be generals who imperiled victory among the coral islands.
—LtGen H. M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith: “Coral and Brass,” 1949

Since I first joined the Marines, I have advocated aggressiveness in the field and constant offensive action. Hit quickly, hit hard and keep right on hitting. Give the enemy no rest, no opportunity to consolidate his forces and hit back at you.
—LtGen H. M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith: “Coral and Brass,” 1949

As for the Marines, you know what Marines are. They are a small, fouled-up Army talking Navy lingo. We are going to put those Marines in the regular Army and make efficient soldiers out of them.
—BGen Frank Armstrong, USA, “Saturday Evening Post,” 5 Feb. 1949 (in a spirit of levity)

The Marine Corps has been called by the New York Times the “elite” Corps of this country. I think it is the “elite” Corps of the world.
—Adm William F. Halsey, 4thMarDiv reunion, Washington, D.C., 11 June 1949

Request immediate assignment Marine Regimental Combat Team and supporting Air Group for duty this command…
—2 July 1950 request form Gen Douglas MacArthur in Korea

…These Marines have the swagger; confidence, and hardness that must have been in Stonewall Jackson’s Army of the Shenandoah. They remind me of the Coldstreams at Dunkerque.
—A British military officer visiting the U.S. Marines in Korea included the above in his daily report to the British command in Tokyo, 16 Aug. 1950

The Marine Corps is the Navy’s police force and as long as I am president that is what it will remain. They have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin’s.
—President Harry S Truman, 29 Aug. 1950 letter to Congressman Gordon L. McDonough replying to his 21 Aug. 1950 suggestion that the Marine Corps be entitled to full recognition as a major branch of the armed forces.

Panic sweeps my men when they are facing the American Marines.
—captured North Korean major

I know that this operation will be sort of helter-skelter. But the First Marine Division is going to win the war by landing at Inchon.
—Gen Douglas MacArthur, USA, in conversation with MajGen Oliver P. Smith, USMC, August 1950

I sincerely regret the unfortunate choice of language, which I used in my letter of Aug 29 to Congress McDonough concerning the Marine Corps…
—President Harry S Truman, 6 Sept. 1950, letter to Gen Clifton B. Cates, 19th CMC

I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world!
—General of the Army Douglas MacArthur on the outskirts of Seoul, Korea, 21 Sept. 1950

A man with a flag in his pack and the desire to put it on an enemy strong point isn’t likely to bug out.
—Col Lewis B. “Chesty “ Puller to an Army staff officer who, watching Marines raise the flag over Seoul, complained “Marines would rather carry a flag into battle than a weapon.”

The amphibious landing of U.S. Marines on September 1950 at Inchon, on the west coast of Korea, was one of the most audacious and spectacularly successful amphibious landings in all naval history.
—Bernard Brodie, “A Guide to Naval Strategy,” page 238

I’m going to fight my way out, I’m going to take all my equipment and all my wounded and as many dead as I can. If we can’t get out this way, this Division will never fight as a unit again.
—MajGen Oliver P. Smith, CG, lstMarDiv, Korea, 1950, to LtGen Ned Almond, USA, X Corps, who suggested Smith’s division escape the Chosin Reservoir by letting “every man go out on foot by himself.”

Retreat hell! We’re just attacking in another direction.
—Attributed to MajGen Oliver P. Smith, CG, 1stMarDiv in Korea, 1950, regarding his order for Marines to move southeast to the Hamhung area from the Hagaru perimeter. MajGen Smith claimed he didn’t say it quite that way.

We’ve been looking for the enemy for several days now. We’ve finally found them. We are surrounded. That simplifies the problem of getting to these people and killing them.”
—Col Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, Chosin Reservoir, Korea 1950

Don’t you forget that you’re Marines- First Marines! Not all the communists in hell can overrun you!
—Col Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, rallying his 1st Marines near Chosin Reservoir, Korea, December 1950

The more Marines I have around the better I like it.
—Gen Mark Clark, USA

In the vast complex of the Department of Defense, the Marine Corps plays a lonely roll.
—Assistant Secretary of the Navy John Nicholas Brown to the Senate Armed Forces Committee, 17 April 1951.

Moving into Southeast Asia

These are my recruits. I will train them to the best of my ability. I will develop them into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Marines, thoroughly indoctrinated in love of Corps and country. I will demand of them, and demonstrate by my own example, the highest standards of personal conduct, morality, and professional skill.
—“Drill Instructor’s Creed” as it appeared in the Parris Island “Boot” newspaper, Aug. 31, 1956

There is only one ironclad rule for the birthday ball: Make it a good one.
—The “Marine Officer’s Guide”

You can’t snow the troops.
—U.S. Marine saying, source unknown

Ten thousand gobs laid down their swabs to fight one lone Marine.
Ten thousand more stood by and swore, T’was the damndest fight they ever had seen.

The aim of every woman is to be truly integrated into the Corps. She is able and willing to undertake any assignment consonant with Marine Corps needs, and is proudest of all that she has no nickname. She is a “Marine.”
—Col Katherine A. Towle

Americans often did not realize that their Marine Corps was a force without counterpart in the world. European navies used Marines for limited duties on shipboard or in naval bases, but neither the numbers nor the training were provided for large-scale offensive operations.
—historian Lynn Montross

You don’t hurt ‘em if you don’t hit ‘em.
—LtGen Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller “Marine,” 1961

Paperwork will ruin any military force.
—LtGen Lewis B. ”Chesty” Puller: “Marine,” 1962

We make generals today on the basis of their ability to write a damned letter. Those kinds of men can’t get us ready for war.
—LtGen Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller

Son, when the Marine Corps wants you to have a wife, you will be issued one.
—LtGen Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller when asked by a PFC for permission to marry.

Old breed? New breed? There’s not a damn bit of difference so long as it’s the Marine breed.
—LtGen Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller

I had always enjoyed the title of Commander-in-Chief until I was informed … that the only forces that cannot be transferred from Washington without my express permission are the members of the Marine Corps Band. Those are the only forces I have. I want it announced that we propose to hold the White House against all odds at least for some time to come.
—President John F. Kennedy, 12 July 1962 during a visit to Marine Barracks, to determine whether President Thomas Jefferson’s desire that a barracks be established “within easy marching distance of Washington” had been properly carried out.

If the history of military organization proves anything, it is that those units that are told they are second-class will almost inevitably prove that they are second-class.
—BGen J. D. Hittle: in “The National Guardsman,” July 1962

The Navy-Marine Corps team is unique in history because its mobility and versatility permit it to make a contribution in virtually every medium of warfare: land, sea and air.
—RAdm John S. McCain Jr., USN, “The Four Ocean Challenge,” Sept. 1962 (speech)

Through these portals pass the world’s finest fighting men: United States Marines
—Saying posted over entrances to Marine Corps Recruit Depots, Parris Island, S.C. and San Diego in the pre-politically correct era.

Let’s be damn sure no man’s ghost will ever say: “If my training had only done its job.”
—A reminder to drill instructors at MCRD San Diego

They say “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” In the Marine Corps, you can make that horse wish to hell he had.
—Sgt Fred Larson, drill instructor, Plt 343, San Diego, 1965

Being ready is not what matters. What matters is winning after you get there.
—LtGen Victor H. Krulak to a Marine unit leaving for Vietnam, April 1965

For those who fight for it, life has a flavor the protected never know.
—Inscription on the back of a flak jacket worn by a Marine machine-gunner on the DMZ, RVN, 1968

We would march through villages that had no name on roads that had no number to battles that had no purpose in a war that had no end.
—Marine Ron Suciu on Vietnam

I think of the U.S. Marines like we used to think of the Foreign Legion; as big mouths with big hearts.
—French Journalist Cathy LeRoy of Marines at Hue, RVN, 1968

It was a ludicrous, insane situation in which modern fighting men, possessed all of the highly destructive engines of war, were ordered to attack a medieval fortress using no weapons that would destroy or harm it.
—Retired Capt Dale Dye on the battle for Hue, “Run Between The Raindrops.” Page 4

It’s not ‘fire then maneuver.’ It’s not ‘fire or maneuver.’ It’s ‘fire and maneuver.’ You move and shoot in this battalion.
—LtCol William Drumright, Republic of Vietnam, 1969 on offensive tactics

In the attack people get killed and wounded. Some wounded will scream. Don’t let the screamers slow your assault.
—LtCol William Drumright, RVN, 1969, on the objective

Today I saw a Marine guard on a bridge. He had taken the plates out of his flak jacket to make it lighter. He had a Playboy magazine in one pocket and a bottle of ketchup in the other pocket. This man was saying to the world, “My leaders are fools, and that’s whey I’m dressed like this.”
—LtCol William Drumright, RVN, 1969 on discipline

Wake up, lieutenant. We have the enemy near the hill. When they get closer, we are going to kill them. You need to see this.
—SSgt Smotherman, RVN, 1969, on defensive tactics

The only difference in fighting at night and fighting in the day is you can’t see as well at night.
—1stLt Lee Gound, TBS, 1969 on night operations

A lot of the stuff you learned in college you won’t use again. But, this patrolling class…you will use it again. You’re learning yourself a trade today.
—Maj King Dixon, TBS, 1969 on theory versus application

If you candidates throw your eyes to the right together, I should hear ‘em click. Now let me hear ‘em click.
— SSgt James Steadham, Quantico, 1969 on teamwork

Dear Lord, grant that the ground this Marine walks upon always slopes down hill.
—E. L. Lane, E/2/5 on the birthday of Sgt Gary G. Murphy

With extreme pride we wish a happy birthday to one of this company’s finest officers. May your shelter half never leak, may your sleeping bag always be warm, and may your feet always remain dry.
—E. L. Lane, E/2/5, on the birthday of 2dLt Charles W. Hearn Jr.

Our young men in Vietnam have not only acquitted themselves in an outstanding manner during combat operations, but they also have been outstanding ambassadors of goodwill in the vital civic action and pacification work among the tortured populace of South Vietnam.
—Gen Lewis W. Walt: “Football and Freedom” to Annual Meeting of the Football Coaches Association, Washington, D.C. 14 Jan. 1970

Lieutenant, if you go in there and watch those stag movies, I’ll write you mother and tell her.
—SgtMaj Charles Skinner, RVN, 1970, on standards of conduct

Shoot low. Push the muzzle down. You can see where the first shot hits. You can get him with a ricochet.
—LCpl Campbell, RVN, 1970, on quick-kill marksmanship.

The Marines don’t have any race problems. They treat everybody like they’re black.
—Gen Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., USAF, circa 1970

The U. S. Marine is a professional who stands ready to fight anytime, anywhere, any enemy that the President and Congress may designate and to do so coolly, capably, and in the spirit of professional detachment. He is not trained to hate, nor is he whipped up emotionally for battle or for any other duty the Corps may be called on to perform. Patriotism and professionalism are his only two ‘isms.’
—Col Robert D. Heinl Jr. USMC (Ret) 1970

The five dangerous things in the U.S. Marine Corps:
A private first class saying, “I learned this in boot camp…”
A sergeant saying, “trust me, Sir…”
A second lieutenant saying, “Based on my experience…”
A gunny chuckling, “Watch this s***…”
An A-6 pilot who thinks he’s a real Marine!
—Larry Leighton

Aviation is a dynamic profession. The rate of obsolescence of equipment is high and new aircraft have to be placed in inventory periodically in order to stay abreast of the requirements of modern war.
—Gen Keith B. McCutcheon: “Marine Aviation in Vietnam, 1962-70,” Naval Review, 1971, Page 134

Retention of operational control of its air is important to the Corps’ air-ground team, as air constitutes a significant part of its offensive firepower.
—Gen Keith B. McCutcheon: “Marine Aviation in Vietnam, 1962-70,” Naval Review, 1971, Page 134

After about 25 medals, you run out of shoulder to put them on.
—Former Marine, Col George Day, USAF, Vietnam POW, (Ret) MOH

War, the ordinary man’s most convenient means of escaping from the ordinary.
—Marine Lieutenant Philip Caputo, author of  “Rumor of War”

Wherever you are or whatever your job, don’t be confused or diverted by false priorities. We have only one mission to perform—that is to fight and win. And, we must do it better than anyone else in the world.
—LtGen Leslie E. Brown

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

Over the Top of Y2K

A Marine on duty has no friends.
—Marine Corps proverb

I still need Marines who can shoot and salute. But, I need Marines who can fix jet engines and man sophisticated radar sets, as well.
—Gen Robert E. Cushman Jr., 25th CMC, at Armed Forces Day luncheon, Spokane, Wash. 17 May 1974

Leaders swim upstream. Chesty Puller was a real salmon.
—Maj Michael Carey, Norfolk, Va., 1975

People criticizing the Marines are like the skinny guy trying to kick sand on the muscle guy in a Charles Atlas advertisement.
— Gen Louis Wilson, 26th CMC,  Norfolk, Va., 1975, on public relations

I am They.
—Gen Louis H. Wilson, 26th CMC

In the last analysis, what the Marine Corps becomes is what we make of it during our respective watches. And that watch of each Marine is not confined to the time he spends on active duty. It last as long as he is “proud to bear the title of United States Marine.”
—Gen Louis H. Wilson, 26th CMC, 22 Aug. 1975

Counter-reconnaissance planning is going the way of the condor and the Packard.
—Capt Al Bevilacqua, AWS, 1975, on research

In combat in a built-up area you need a direct fire weapon that shoots something the size of a trashcan.
—Col Ernest Cheatam, AWA, 1976, on ordnance

The insurgent leader is a stallion standing on his hind legs. You don’t win his heart and mind. You kill him.
—Maj Sean Leach, AWS, 1976, on counterinsurgency 

The only bad thing about running is that it’s unpleasant.
—Col Robert Thompson, Okinawa, 1976

These are the best tents you can find? You’ve looked everyplace? Find some other places.
—LtCol Ernest Cook, Okinawa, 1977, on logistics

Sitreps don’t kill anybody.
—LtCol Ernest Cook, Pohang, ROK, 1977, on combat operations centers

I don’t doubt your battalion’s willingness to fight. I doubt your battalion’s ability to fight.
—Col Robert Thompson, Okinawa, 1977, on readiness

Band of Brothers
1.  All Marines are entitled to dignity and respect as individuals, but most abide by common standards established by proper authority.
2.  A Marine should never lie, cheat, or steal from a fellow Marine or fail to come to his aid in time of need.
3.  All Marines should contribute 100% of their abilities to the unit’s mission. Any less effort by an individual passes the buck to someone else.
4.  A unit, regardless of size, is a disciplined family structure, with similar relationships based on mutual respect among members.
5.  It is essential that issues and problems, which tend to lessen a unit’s effectiveness, be addressed and resolved.
6.  A blending of separate cultures, varying educational levels, and different social backgrounds is possible in an unselfish atmosphere of common goals, aspirations, and mutual understanding.
7.  Being the best requires common effort, hard work, and teamwork. Nothing worthwhile comes easy.
8.  Every Marine deserves job satisfaction, equal consideration and recognition of his accomplishments.
9.  Knowing your fellow Marine well enables you to learn to look at things “through his eyes,” as well as your own.
10. Issues detracting from the efficiency and sense of well being of an individual should be surfaced and weighed against the impact on the unit as a whole.
11. It must be recognized that a brotherhood concept depends on all members, “belonging” – being fully accepted by others within.
—“Band of Brothers” FMFPac concept by LtGen Charles Cooper, late 1970s.

If any of you get hernias in this tug-of-war against the Army, I’ll pay to get them fixed.
—MajGen Robert Haebel, Parris Island, S.C. 1982, on welfare of the troops

Tough as woodpecker’s lips!
—Marine officer describing his Marines in Beirut in 1983

We have two companies of Marines running rampant all over the northern half of the island, and three Army regiments pinned down in the southwest corner, doing nothing. What the hell is going on?
—Gen John W. Vessey Jr., USA, Chairman JCS, during the assault on Grenada, 1983

Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a
difference in the world, but the Marines don’t have that problem.
—President Ronald Reagan

Written Sept. 23, 1983 in a personal note to LCpl Joseph Hickey, the son of a close friend of the President. The Marine was scheduled to deploy to Lebanon.   
The next time I see a Marine in PT gear in the PX, I’m going to wrap him around the neck of the nearest lieutenant or lieutenant colonel.
—BGen John Hopkins, Camp Lejeune, N.C., 1986, on setting the example

We are going to Marine. When we can’t Marine anymore, it’s time to retire and to go sit on the porch.
—Maj Steve Shivers, MCAS, Cherry Point, N.C., 1986, on retirement

If you’re going to wear utilities to work, Major, don’t wear the same ones you wore on Charlie Ridge.
—SgtMaj Charles Skinner, Parris Island, S.C. 1986, on personal appearance

Marines die, that’s what we’re here for. But the Marine Corps lives forever. And that means you live forever.
—The mythical GySgt Hartman portrayed by SSgt R. Lee Ermey, a drill instructor using his own choice of words in the movie “Full Metal Jacket,” 1987

Deep thinking in the ranks leads only to drinking.
—Former Marine author William Overgard: “A Few Good Men,” 1988

It does not pay to be friendly with officers, they take advantage of you.
—Former Marine author William Overgard: “A Few Good Men,” 1988

If there’s anything more arrogant than a Marine on a horse, it’s one in a plane.
—Former Marine author William Overgard: “A Few Good Men,” 1988

There’s no such thing as a crowded battlefield. Battlefields are lonely places.
—General Alfred M. Gray, 29th CMC

They told (us) to open the embassy, or “we’ll blow you away.” And then they looked up and saw the Marines on the roof with these really big guns, and they said in Somali, “Igaralli ahow,” which means “Excuse me, I didn’t mean it, my mistake.”
—Karen Aquilar, is the U.S. Embassy, Mogadishu, Somalia, 1991

It is a good thing to win wars.
—LtCol Gary Anderson, editorial, “Washington Times” 25 Feb. 1992

You earned the title “Marine” upon graduation from recruit training. It wasn’t willed to you; it isn’t a gift; it is not a government subsidy. Few can claim the title; no one may take it away. It is yours forever.   
—MSgt Thomas P. Bartlett, Managing Editor, Leatherneck magazine

Marines know how to use their bayonets. Army bayonets may as well be paperweights.
—“Navy Times,” November 1994

Any firefight that involves you is a big one.
—Col W.V.H. White, USMC (Ret)

I love the Marine Corps for those intangible possessions that cannot be issued: pride, honor, integrity, and being able to carry on the traditions for generations of warriors past.
—Cpl Jeff Sorni, USMC “Navy Times,”1994

Oooh Rah is not just a catchy little term that should be used lightly. It’s a feeling of emotion that comes from deep within and is used only when the amount of motivation in your gut has been built up so high it has no other choice but to explode through your vocal cords and crack the very air which tries to contain it.
—Sgt Scott Stranger, MB 8th & I, Washington, D.C., 1995

Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They’re aggressive on the attack and tenacious on the defense. They’ve got really short hair and always go for the throat.
—RAdm “Jay” R. Stark, USN, 10 Nov. 1995

A person has to know despair before he is allowed to experience unmitigated joy.
—Former Marine Capt James Webb, “A Country Such as This,” page 151

When I joined the Marine Corps, I figured I’d be a infantryman, go on liberty, drink beer, punch sailors, chase wild women, kill communists, and if I kept my boots clean and qualified with the rifle every year, I might grow up to be a gunnery sergeant.
—Retired MGySgt R. R. Keene, Leatherneck, April 1996, page 51

The United States Marine Corps with its fiercely proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth.
—Thomas E. Ricks, “Making the Corps,” 1997

For over 221 years our Corps has done two things for this great Nation. We make Marines and we win battles.
—Gen Charles C. Krulak, 31st CMC, 5 May 1997

We are United States Marines, and for two and a quarter centuries we have defined the standards of courage, esprit, and military prowess.
—Gen James L. Jones, 32nd CMC, 10 Nov. 2000

We Marines are truly blessed. We get to enjoy the sweet taste of freedom because we know its price.
—Marine veteran John Chipura, survivor of the 1983 Beirut bombing, a NY Fireman, who wrote the above for the 225th Marine Corps birthday, 2000. He was later killed while responding to the terrorist attack, Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center, Tower 2.

Here’s to the drunken Marine
With beer in his canteen!
You’ve heard of the Unknown Soldier
But, never an unknown Marine!
—An old toast oft repeated by Col John Ripley, Navy Cross


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