United States Marine Corps History and Information

Learn about the Traditions and Customs of the USMC

United States Marines, Quotes

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“First to Fight”
Marines have been in the forefront of every American war since the founding of the Corps. They have carried out over 300 landings on foreign shores. They have served everywhere, from the poles to the tropics. Their record of readiness reflects pride, responsibility and challenge.

The Marines’ long-standing nickname goes back to the leather stock or neckpiece, which was part of the Marine uniform from 1775 to 1875. The leather bands around their throats were intended to ensure that Marines kept their heads erect.

“Devil Dogs”
In the Belleau Wood fighting in 1918, the Germans received a thorough indoctrination in the fighting ability of the Marines. Fighting through supposedly impenetrable woods and capturing supposedly untakeable terrain, the persistent attacks, delivered with unbelievable courage soon had the Germans calling Marines “teufelhunden,” referring to the fierce fighting dogs of legendary origin.

“Esprit de Corps”
The “spirit” of a unit. This spirit is commonly reflected by all members. It implies devotion and loyalty to the Marine Corps, with deep regard for history, traditions and honor.

“Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue”
Refers to the victories in World War II, especially at Iwo Jima, the largest all-Marine battle in history. Admiral Nimitz’s ringing epitome of Marine fighting on Iwo Jima was applied to the entire Marine Corps in World War II.

A slang term used by sailors as early as World War II to refer to members of the Marine Corps, drawing the term from the resemblance of the Marine dress blues uniform, with its high collar, to a Mason jar.

“Semper Fidelis”
The Motto of the United States Marine Corps. Latin for always faithful. Faithful to god, Country, Family and the Corps.

“Once a Marine, Always a Marine”
The motto of the Marine Corps League. Having earned the title of Marine it becomes a integral part of who and what we will become later in life.

Ten quotations about U.S. Marines:

  • The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines.  Lord, how they could fight!  [MGen. Frank E. Lowe, USA; Korea, 26 January 1952]
  • Marines know how to use their bayonets.  Army bayonets may as well be paper-weights.  [Navy Times; November 1994]
  • Why in hell can’t the Army do it if the Marines can.  They are the same kind of men; why can’t they be like Marines.  [Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, USA; 12 February 1918]
  • The United States Marine Corps, with it 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]
  • The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.  [James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy; 23 February 1945 (the flag-raising on Iwo Jima had been immortalized in a photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal)]
  • I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world!  [Gen. Douglas MacArthur, USA; Korea, 21 September 1950]
  • We have two companies of Marines running rampant all over the northern half of this island, and three Army regiments pinned down in the southwestern corner, doing nothing.  What the hell is going on?  [Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., USA, Chairman of the the Joint Chiefs of Staff; during the assault on Grenada, 1983]
  • Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world.  But, the Marines don’t have that problem.  [Ronald Reagan, U.S. President; 1985]
  • 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 defense.  They’ve got really short hair and they always go for the throat.  [RAdm. “Jay” R. Stark, USN; 10 November 1995]
  • They told (us) to open up 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, in the U.S. Embassy; Mogadishu, Somalia, 1991]

Ten quotations by U.S. Marines:

  • 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, USMC (CMC); 5 May 1997]
  • Come on, you sons of bitches!  Do you want to live forever?  [GySgt. Daniel J. “Dan” Daly, USMC; near Lucy-`le-Bocage as he led the 5th Marines’ attack into Belleau Wood, 6 June 1918]
  • Gone to Florida to fight the Indians.  Will be back when the war is over.  [Col. Archibald Henderson, USMC (CMC); in a note pinned to his office door, 1836]
  • Don’t you forget that you’re First Marines!  Not all the communists in Hell can overrun you!  [Col. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, USMC; rallying his First Marine Regiment near Chosin Reservoir, Korea, December 1950]
  • 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, USMC; portrayed by GySgt. R. Lee Ermey, a Marine Corps Drill Instructor using his own choice of words in Full Metal Jacket, 1987]
  • You’ll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole!  Follow me!  [Capt. Henry P. Crowe, USMC; Guadalcanal, 13 January 1943]
  • 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, USMC (CMC); 10 November 2000]
  • 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.  [1stLt. Clifton B. Cates, USMC; in Belleau Wood, 19 July 1918]
  • I love the 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 Sornig, USMC; in Navy Times, November 1994]


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