There is a special breed of person that enlists to become a Marine. While every branch of the United States Military has its own challenges, difficulties, requirements, and standards, members of the United States Marine Corps. are built a little differently. From waking up at 0500 (5 am) to lights out at 2100 (9 pm), their days are filled to the brim with routine, training, following orders, drills, and endurance. Sometimes doing tasks more than once until everyone gets it right. Although, this is not usually by their own desire, but that of the squad or platoon leader in order to get everybody on the same page. The ethos of the United States Marine is that of striving for excellence. Excellence both in the field and being the absolute best at what they do. Discipline is at the very core of this ethos and that of every man and woman in this service branch. Marines are often the first boots on the ground when the battle begins and although they don't get to decide when it starts, they do determine how it is going to finish.
Being a part of the United States Marine Corps is about more than just wearing the uniform, it's about embodying the values of strength, courage, honor, and commitment. The Marines take great pride in their service, overcoming the many physical, mental, and emotional challenges needed to become a member of this elite force. They must possess the inner strength and courage that enables them to make tough decisions under pressure and stress, always conducting themselves with a cool demeanor with what is best for the team in mind and at the forefront. Being a part of this branch is an honor in itself and the toughness that needs to be exhibited is almost unparalleled to anything in civilian life. These men and women get to feel the honor of being part of an exclusive branch that few others have been able to be a part of.
And finally, commitment. Marines have a prodigious amount of commitment to their brothers and sisters in arms. The needs of the many outweigh their own at all costs with an emphasis on if one person fails, they all fail. This can also be easily seen in any interview with a Marine as well as with their motto, "Semper Fidelis," which translates to, "Always Faithful." It's this and their dedication to their own betterment within themselves, their expertise, and the encouragement of these values within each other that makes this service branch have such a strong sense of camaraderie within the ranks and on the field. More often than not, this results in the forming of many special bonds, with many Marines viewing each other as if they were part of a second family. A family they will have for the rest of their lives.
Marine Corps. Day is a salute to these brave men and women, to the elite maritime land force, and to all that they do for our country and people. Known for their courage, willpower, and valiant combat history, the Marines serve both on land and at sea. With diverse roles ranging from the operating forces who engage in battle to the aviation combat element. But most importantly, all Marines are first and foremost, riflemen.
This institution holds a significant place in US military history. In this article, we will be discussing the history of the Marine Corps. and its establishment, their role within the United States Military, and much more, such as their daily life and why they wear dress blues. Join us as we celebrate their birthday by remembering their past and learning about the lives that have given so much.
Understanding the Role of the USMC, What exactly do they do?
The Marine Corps. was the first amphibious land force created specializing in both water and land combat. Their job was to protect naval officers while aboard the ship and then to be some of the first people on the ground when they got to where they needed to be. Think naval officers with specialized weapons training and expertise in land combat.
Establishment and History of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Revolutionary Years
The United States Marine Corps. was first established on November 10, 1775. Their history lies primarily within their sister branch of the United States Navy with whom they have officially been a part since 1834. Although the original iteration was only in operation from November of 1775 to April of 1783, their legacy and what we would count back to in terms of their age is still dated back to the year 1775. Their upcoming 2023 birthday is going to make the USMC the ripe old age of 248 years old.
Initially created to serve during the Revolutionary War, Marines would encounter their first bit of action in the Bahamas. Their first naval landing would be on the British seaport of Nassau in March of 1776, where they would occupy the area for two weeks. The primary goal of this operation was to obtain as much firepower as they could, which they ultimately succeeded with 168 barrels of gunpowder being taken on the first night.
Just under a year later, the Marines would take part in a small victory in the Battle of Princeton as per orders of George Washington. It is said that 130 Marines were present during this conflict.
Shortly after the Revolutionary War, both the Continental Marines and the Continental Navy were disbanded in 1783.
The Marine Corps. would be re-established on July 11, 1798, in an effort to be ready for the unofficial war or Quasi-War with France taking place in the Caribbean between France and the United States.
Supporting a Future President on the Front Lines
Marines most notably aided General Andrew Jackson and his defensive line in the War of 1812 at the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, a turning point for the war that would see the British pull out from their efforts in the Louisiana Territory and subsequently see the war ended.
Following this time the Marine Corps. would be stationed throughout the Caribbean until their official title of sister service to the United States Navy in 1834 and their contributions to the Mexican-American War. Though the war lasted from 1846 to 1848, there was one battle in particular that was noted. It was here where we get a famous line from the Marine Hymn, the "Halls of Montezuma," as a result of the assault on the Chapultepec Palace just outside of Mexico City. The Marines would continue to be in service around Panama and Asia the following decade.
A Divide within the Marines, unfortunately with Little Effect on the Outcome
During the American Civil War, most Marines were issued with the simple task of blockade duty. Their job was essentially to prevent certain areas from sending or receiving goods, weapons, food, or communications. As time went on with the war, more and more states were starting to secede from the Union resulting in a third of the United States Marine Corps. joining in part with the Confederate States Marine Corps. However, this had little to no effect on the end result of the war as the Marine Corps. was still a very small division.
The rest of the 19th century would see the Marine Corps. dwindle in strength and even come into question about their role and if they were even needed by Congress. This is thought to be primarily due to the transition of ships from sail to steam. Fortunately, this would later be squashed as Marines would continue to be a viable asset for the United States as they specialized in affairs that took place offshore and overseas.
Resurgence and Foreign Combat
Marines would again prove to be a force to be reckoned with in the Spanish-American War which took place in 1898. They would go on to lead American forces in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, exhibiting within them their willingness to do what was necessary for their country. Marines would also capture a sophisticated naval base of the time in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This base by the same name is still used to this day.
The following years from 1899 to 1916 would see the Marines travel the world with the United States Navy and tidy up where needed. According to Wikipedia, they took part in the "Phillippine-American War, the Boxer Rebellion in China, and Panama, the Cuban Pacifications, the Perdicaris incident in Morocco, Veracruz, Santo Domingo, and the Banana Wars in Haiti and Nicaragua; the experiences gained in counterinsurgency and guerrilla operations during this period were consolidated into the Small Wars Manual."
World War I
General John J. Pershing would lead the United States Marines alongside the French and British Armies in WWI. They would see a huge influx in members starting with just over 13k officers and personnel and finishing with over 72k. This was also the time when the term "Devil Dogs," would be coined for the Marines by their German enemies. The reason for this is that, in the Battle of Belleau Wood, Marines were seen lumbering up the hill on all fours with bloodshot eyes peeking from behind their gas masks. This along with their combat skills not only made these men a formidable foe, but also an intimidating one.
The Marine Corps Reserve was established in 1916 and provided a source of trained manpower that greatly aided in the war effort.
The USMC was included in the American Expeditionary Forces, fighting in France and on the high seas against German U-boats. The First World War lasted from 1914 to 1918.
World War II and the Pacific
The United States Marine Corps. would go on to play a large role in World War II from December 1941 to September 1945 with the Pacific frontline being a major location for a lot of the fighting. During the course of the war, the Marine Corps. was integral in executing the Allies' "Island-Hopping" strategy. They engaged in fierce battles against Japanese troops across the South Pacific along with the United States Army on the shores of Guam, Okinawa, Saipan, Tinian, and many others on the Pacific front including the famed Battle of Iwo Jima.
Marine aviation also provided critical protection for troops and ships, conducting reconnaissance and supporting artillery and naval gunfire. Despite comprising such a small percentage of the U.S. armed forces, the Marines suffered a significant amount of all the American battle casualties, with over 19k killed. This reflects the intensity and high-risk nature of their involvement when it comes to conflict. It is estimated that some 600k Americans served in the USMC during WWII.
The Korean War saw the Marines once again deployed overseas, only this time to combat the communist North Korean and Chinese armies. They first engaged the enemy at the Naktong River, stabilizing the Pusan Perimeter. Throughout the war, the Marines would play a central role in various operations, including the initial amphibious invasions and the Inch’on invasion. The success of these landings would see the lines of North Korea fall back.
The conflict highlighted the importance of maintaining the Marine Corps as a ready-striking force and the use of amphibious warfare. The Corps emerged from the war with the highest sustained peacetime strength in its history. However, it also suffered high casualties at just over 30k. Despite this, 42 Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor, further solidifying the Marine Corps' reputation as America’s elite fighting force.
The Vietnam War lasted an excruciatingly long time from November 1955 to April 1975. Originally between North and South Vietnam in the very beginning, the war would start to see countries picking sides, with communist countries such as China and the Soviet Union supporting the North and anti-communist countries including the United States supporting the South. The U.S. would officially become involved a decade after fighting began and at the time asked a lot of the USMC. Initially deployed as advisors, their role would continue to expand as the conflict intensified.
Marines would be the first wave of U.S. combat troops to take part in the Vietnam War with 3500 troops landing on the shores of Da Nang in 1965. Due to the rotation of troops, it is said that more members of the Marine Corps. served in Vietnam than in WWII.
The War extracted a high cost, with over 13k Marines killed and more than 51k wounded. The last Marine ground forces left Vietnam in June 1971, marking the end of the longest war in the history of the Marine Corps.
The War on Terror
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, marked another era of conflict known simply as the War on Terror. Again, the USMC would play an integral role in this effort.They were instrumental in identifying and attacking terrorist targets worldwide that posed a threat to the American people. Marines covered a host of locations from Afghanistan to the urban centers of Iraq. The Marines participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, a series of military operations aimed at dismantling the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
This is where the Marine Corps. would move beyond the traditional developments in warfare and start the utilization of counterinsurgency and irregular tactics. Complex urban terrains were the norm for their locations and as such, a new approach was needed if they were to be successful. Unmanned drones for surveillance and recon missions would be used along with a variety of other advanced technologies and urban combat techniques.
Recruitment and Training in the Marine Corps
To even be considered to start training in the Marine Corps. and join in on the recruitment, there are a few standards that must be met. For starters, you must be between the ages of 17 and 28, have your high school diploma, and be a U.S. resident to enlist as a Marine. If you want to be commissioned as a Marine Officer, The same is required as previously mentioned and you must also have your Bachelor's Degree and be between the ages of 20 and 28. Along with this, you must also pass a background test and have no prior felony convictions.
After recruitment, an initial strength test is given to measure the base of physical ability. This consists of pushups or pullups, a plank pose, and a timed one-and-a-half-mile run. New recruits are also required to take a multiple-choice vocational test that covers subjects from math to mechanics and electronics.
The United States Marine Corps. website writes,
"No recruit earns the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor alone. Becoming a Marine will only be accomplished with those in your platoon you fight alongside, with the torch that's passed to you by many generations of Marines who built this legacy with willingness and determination, and with the fighting spirit inside you that will stop at nothing to win for our Nation."
Training in boot camp is no walk in the park as their website will gladly tell you. With tests that aim to make the recruit as tough as they can and to find out just where they are on this spectrum of toughness. This includes things like sleep deprivation and food rationing, missions performed in little to no light, and what they call "rigorous day and nighttime marches." All of this is designed to mimic the possible real-world scenarios that may be encountered during battle or wartime and to ensure each member is strong enough to take on the role within their platoon or squad without not only compromising themselves but also each other.
There are four phases to recruitment training covering everything from weapons safety, combat water survival, and martial arts to leadership discussions.
All of this culminates into a final 54-hour endurance test known as the Crucible. The main purpose of this is to see how future Marines can handle more high-stress situations on small amounts of sleep and food. Theoretically, these recruits will learn how to truly rely on each other, form strong bonds, and encourage one another to finish the task at hand.
Daily Life in the Marine Corps
Daily life in the Marine Corps. is going to vary depending on not only what part of the recruitment and training process they are in, but also where they are and even what position they are going for. This routine can also be different depending on the deployment status of the company, whether located on a home base or out in the world ready to go to battle. Not only this, but the USMC has made it clear that for the most part, this is kept away from the general public. This is done to keep future members on their toes and adds to the element of seeing if they have what it takes to be a Marine. Aside from comments on websites like Quora and YouTube videos from Marines and students or recruits of the like, what happens in daily life as a Marine is shrouded in a bit of mystery. With that being said, there is a general consensus that we can take some liberties with and shed a little bit of light on the subject.
To simplify it to its most basic concept, daily life as a Marine consists of a rigorous schedule with "simple," tasks and duties to be performed. From what I have gathered in my research this can be broken down into a cycle of PT (Personal Training), work, eat, and sleep.
I am going to be sharing an amalgamation of what I gathered in my research. Please note: this is by no means an actual schedule just an idea of what one may look like.
0500: Alarm goes off
0515: Shave, brush teeth, use the restroom, change into workout clothes, clean area
0530: PT or Personal Training, this can vary from running 1.5 to 6 miles to lifting weights in the gym
0630: Finish up PT, hit the showers, and dress into work uniform
0700: Arrive at work, and ensure all tools are accounted for
0715: Tell SNCO or Staff Non-Commissioned Officer about everything that was just done. Breakfast chow (breakfast)
0745: Back to work, meeting to acquire workload for the day
0800: Return to shop to pass word about the plan of the day, and begin tasking Marines out appropriately
1100: Begin cycling Marines to afternoon chow (lunch)
1630: Evening maintenance (night crew) meeting to be given a workload and priorities
1700: Pass word at the shop, kick out the day crew, and go home, personal time
Uniforms and Dress Code in the Marine Corps
The dress code in the Marines typically consists of four different uniforms, personal training attire, service, utility, and dress uniforms.
Personal training attire typically consists of olive-drab green nylon shorts, a polyester t-shirt, and green sweats with Marine Corps. logo, pants, and sweatshirt, or green track pants with a reflective stripe and logo. Marines are also permitted to wear a watch cap and gloves, weather permitting.
Service uniforms in three styles are dress clothes in green and khaki colors, worn while on leave or off-duty. These come with a host of combinations including ties, hats, and coats.
Utility uniforms are worn for either work or in the field and look more like the traditional army attire. These come in one of four different MARPAT digital camouflage patterns depending upon what kind of terrain the area or location in which Marines are stationed. These are only allowed to be worn while on duty.
And finally, we have the dress uniform. This is a blue uniform with the colors, red and white as well. The dress uniform is worn only for ceremonies and other formal events.
The Importance of Dress Blues
While I could try and paraphrase the following, I'll simply share with you what the USMC has to say on the subject:
"There are common threads woven in the flag of our Nation and the dress blue uniform of our Marines. Sewn from the ideals America stands for and the resolve our Marines fight with, this is the only uniform in the U.S. military designated to include the red, white, and blue colors of the American flag. The distinctive dress blue uniform Marines wear represents the values Marines live, and has origins dating back to the American Revolution. Dress blues are worn for many events, including ceremonies with foreign officials, visits with U.S. civil officials, and formal social functions attended in an official capacity. Wherever Marines wear this uniform, they do so proudly, standing united as the moral fiber that forms the fabric of our Nation."
Ways to Celebrate Marine Corps. Day
Although there are a number of ways you can celebrate Marine Corps. Day, as it is entirely up to you, I figured I'd still share a couple of ideas that anyone can do.
Thank a Marine
Thank the Marine(s) in your life for their service and all that they do and continue to do to make the world a better place. This can be someone you know or someone you just met on the streets. I'm sure they would appreciate that or a well-deserved "Oorah."
Learn About their History and what They Do
Learning about what these men and women do on the daily in order to be a member of this service branch is truly awe-inspiring. From how the USMC began to what they do now has really been a pleasure for me to learn about during my research for this article and given me a newfound respect and admiration for the Marine Corps. and the thousands of people in it.
Wave a Marine Corps. Flag
If there's one thing I have found in my studies, it's that the Marines are indeed a very proud bunch. And seeing their flag wave off base is sure to give them a strong sense of pride and joy to see. Be sure to check out our full collection of Marine Corps. Flags, right here.
Wave the American Flag
And, if you don't have a Marine Corps. flag, an American flag is sure to do the trick. After all, without the red, white, and blue, these men and women wouldn't be doing what they are doing.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Marine Corps
Are the Marines Part of the Navy?
Yes, in a sense they are. Although they are their own separate Military Branch, the United States Marine Corps. has been alongside the United States Navy since the very beginning. With their formation in 1775, the Marine Corps. main job was to be the land operation that was needed when traveling via ship. Their job also consisted of keeping the men of the ship safe from mutiny and other threats.
What Do Marines Specialize In?
Marines specialize in both land and water combat along with a host of other skills in the field. They are first and foremost riflemen, experts in shooting their rifles with exemplary marksmanship.
How Long Do You Have to Serve?
How long you have to serve is dependent on what you are going for or planning to do within the service, however, with that being said, commitment ranges anywhere from four to six years.
Inc, MarineParents com. “History of the Marine Corps from MarineParents.com.” MarineParents.com®. Accessed November 3, 2023. https://marineparents.com/marinecorps/history.asp#:~:text=The%20Marine%20Corps%20started%20as.
Marines. “United States Marines Corps.” United States Marine Corps, 2019. https://www.marines.com/.
Wikipedia. “Raid of Nassau,” November 9, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raid_of_Nassau.
Wikipedia. “Uniforms of the United States Marine Corps,” February 12, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniforms_of_the_United_States_Marine_Corps.
Wikipedia. “United States Marine Corps,” November 3, 2023. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Marine_Corps#cite_note-35.
www.usmcu.edu. “Marine Corps University > Research > Marine Corps History Division > Brief Histories > Brief History of the United States Marine Corps,” 2006. https://www.usmcu.edu/Research/Marine-Corps-History-Division/Brief-Histories/Brief-History-of-the-United-States-Marine-Corps/.