50 Insane US Marines Facts That Will Shock You!

50 Facts about US Marines
   Reading time 23

50 Insane U.S. Marines Facts That Will Shock You!

***NOTE*** This is NOT my video, yes I know that there are some inaccuracies. This is what happens when a non-Marine, tries to talk about the Corps. 

50. What do they do?

Just like we did in our other shows, we have to give you some basics before we get into facts you probably don’t already know.

Unlike the regular Navy, the Marines spend much of their time on land, though they might capture naval bases or defend them.

As you’ll find out, they are kind of military multi-taskers, and many times they have been the main force in land battles.

So really, the name “Marines” can be a bit misleading.

49. Let the Marines explain

Here’s the Marines’ own mission statement:

“We are forward deployed to respond swiftly and aggressively in times of crisis.

We are soldiers of the sea, providing forces and detachments to naval ships and shore operations.

We are global leaders, developing expeditionary doctrine and innovations that set the example, and leading other countries’ forces and agencies in multinational military operations.

These unique capabilities make us “First to Fight,” and our nation’s first line of defense.”

48. What qualifications do you need to join?

You must be American, mentally stable, i.e. a history of meth abuse and related-psychoses in your teens won’t go down well in the interview.

You need a high school diploma or GED. 90 percent of marines have a high school diploma, some have GEDs and a very small percentage have neither.

One military site says there are 35 career fields in the Marines, so you’ll be chosen to do what you are good at.

47. What else?

You must be at least 17, but if you are that age you’ll need your parents’ permission to join.

You can be as old as 28, according to Stars and Stripes.

It depends on what you can offer or what you want to do.

46. How fit do you have to be?

Okay, so you don’t have to be quite as trim as a UFC middleweight, but you do have to be reasonably fit.

We went to the actual marine’s website to see what you have to do.

We can’t go through it all, but basically, you must be decent at pull-ups, push-ups, and crunches.

You then have to run a three-mile (4.8km) run in 28 minutes or less.

That’s not really hard for most people who jog a bit.

You then have a series of combat fitness tests.

All these are scored and for female Marines, there are different limits for the tests.

But before you even start that, you can’t look like you’ve lived most of your life playing Mario Kart and eating double-cheese pizza.

The marine’s website tells you to contact a Marine to find out body requirements, and we don’t really want to sign up ourselves.

We found one site that says they prefer men between 5 feet and 6 feet 8 inches tall and that weigh less than 255 pounds.

Those are pretty wide parameters, but if you are out of shape boot camp might prove to be difficult.

45. Is boot camp hard, like in the movies?

Are you eyeballing me son!” Is boot camp hard?

The short answer is yes.

Military.com writes, “Marine boot camp is extremely challenging – both physically and mentally – considered to be tougher than the basic training programs of any of the other military services.”

There are three phases lasting 70 days, and yes, your drill instructor is usually tough on you.

One of the last phases is to deprive you of sleep and not feed you much while you go on a grueling march.

It’s called The Crucible.

After boot camp, you’ll be sent for more training at your respective school.

44. Nah, not for me

Between 11 and 14 percent of people don’t get through boot camp.

43. And for some people, it really wasn’t for them

In 2018, a Marine dropped dead from a heart attack in San Diego.

42. Killing your DI
We can’t find any stories of Marines killing their drill instructor, but in 2008 four Marines murdered a United States Marine Corps Sergeant Jan Paweł Pietrzak.

It had nothing to do with bad feelings, though.

This was not a Full Metal Jacket scenario, just bad people that did bad things.

41. The first raid
Let’s get lighter and more historical.

The first-ever raid by the Marines came just after they were founded when they stole a bunch of weapons from the Brits in the Bahamas.

40. Famous Marines who don’t look the part way too many famous people to mention, so we’ll give you a few names that surprised us:

Jim Beaver, the guy that wrote the show Deadwood.

Drew Carey, comedian and TV star who looks like he might have struggled with the pull ups if he wasn’t much slimmer in those days.

The Everly Brothers, old school musicians.

Carlo Mastrototaro, a Mafia boss.

Tom Monaghan, the man that gave America Domino’s

Charles Ng, rapist and killer of 25 people currently residing on Death Row in San Quentin.

William Clark Styron Jr., one of America’s most celebrated novelists.

You might not be surprised that the list is full of boxers and other athletes, as well as lots of politicians.

39. Heartburn
Marines must finish eating their meal the second their DI (drill instructor) finishes his meal, which is why some people say marines eat really fast.

38. The Tavern
Now, some people dispute that this even happened this way.

But as the story goes, the way the Marines got started was when two Captains, Robert Mullan and Samuel Nicholas, invited a bunch of decent men for a beer at a place called the Tun Tavern.

The National Museum of Marine Corps in Virginia has a restaurant called the Tun Tavern.

37. A few good men
You’ve heard that phrase and it comes from an ad asking for Marines to sign up to sail. The ad goes like this: “The Continental ship Providence, now lying at Boston, is bound on a short cruise, immediately; a few good men are wanted to make up her complement.”

That was way back in 1779.

36. Tough Dogs
While the British Bulldog has been used to symbolize the stubbornness and hard temperament of Winston Churchill, as well as being painted in the past on tough guy’s arms, the Marines actually use it as its mascot.

What’s kinda funny though for all those tough guys and Marines is that this breed suffers lots of health problems and usually dies at a young age.

35. Change the mascot
Shih Tzu’s and Chihuahuas have one of the longest life expectancies.

34. Toy Heroes
Not many people know that Toys for Tots was started by the Marine Reserves.

They have collected over 500 million toys since they started in 1947.

The idea came from Major Bill Hendricks, who took inspiration from seeing his wife donate toys.

It’s not all about being tough and killing people.

33. Super Rabbit
Bugs Bunny was made honorary Marine Master Sergeant for his performance in the cartoon Super-Rabbit.

Very few people receive this award, which is given to “individuals in the civilian community who have made extraordinary contributions to the Marine Corps.”

Chuck Norris gained that honor, too, as did comedian Bob Hope.

32. Jarhead
The term jarhead was given to Marines during World War II.

Some say it was because of their “high and tight” haircut but others say it was more about how the neck of their uniforms was high and so it made their heads look like jars.

Most people on forums discussing this say it was the hair, not the clothes.

31. Leatherneck
Another name for a marine is leatherneck.

This originated in the 19th century when a Marine’s uniform consisted of a very hard and high leather neck.


So, a bayonet couldn’t penetrate a Marine’s neck.

30. Devils
The Germans gave the name of “Teufel Hunden

to the U.S. Marines in the First World War.

The Marines were sent to save Paris from invading Germans and did a tremendous job.

That German phrase above translates to devil dogs.

29. The big man The first ever officer of the Marines, then called the Continental Marines, was called Major Samuel Nicholas.

He was the guy that was responsible for that Tun Tavern event, but it’s thought he went around lots of taverns looking for able men to fight.

He was a Freemason of a Masonic Lodge and a good recruiter.

He fought in many battles and died only after he retired from the Marines when yellow fever got him in 1790.

His birthday, 10 November, is now the Marine Corps birthday.

28. Honor and ethics
If you read the manual for becoming a Marine a big part of the training is about teaching men to be honorable soldiers.

While their job is to defend and kill, they also learn how to do that ethically.

This is why they have the motto “Semper Fidelis”, which is Latin for “Always Faithful”.

Faithful not only to the Marines but to the country and to the values they have been taught.

27. PTSD
That’s not always easy when you have PTSD.

It’s said around 8 percent of Americans will get PTSD at some point in their lives, but as for people in the military that goes up to 11 to 30 percent.

26. Not enough help

One ex-marine writes, “In the military, young people are indoctrinated into a warrior culture.

When they’re sent to boot camp and then to war, they are required to do extreme things in order to survive.”

Some don’t cope well.

The US National Institute of Health writes that veterans don’t get enough help, and many turn to drink, drugs and worse.

It writes, “Our findings suggest that mental health disparities are often a leading factor to the high suicide rates among veterans who experience depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

You’ve all seen the movies.

Perhaps that phrase “Semper Fidelis” should work both ways, not just when the government wants men to fight but when it has to take responsibility for the consequences of war.

25. Marines have it tough

Suicide is among all veterans is about double that of American civilians.

In fact, in 2016 a Pentagon report said, “Suicide kills more troops than Islamic State.”

This might be all the military, but let’s remember the Marines are often right in the mix and have one of the hardest jobs.

One report, although from 2010, said more marines kill themselves than any other branch of the military.

Not by much, though.

The army was second, and the navy was much lower than both.

24. The Marines have their own hymn
This is the first verse:

“From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;

We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;

First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;

We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.”

23. What does it mean?

The Halls of Montezuma refers to the battle of Chapultepec in 1847, the Marines took Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City and the took the city in the Mexican-American War.

The second line refers the Barbary War in the early 1800s when the United States and Sweden went up against some North African states.

You can actually learn a lot just from analyzing the full song.

There are pirates involved, and who doesn’t like reading about pirates.

22. Normandy Invasion
One of the things some people find strange is that it was the American army who made up most of the Normandy invasion and not the Marines.

Storming the land from the sea, isn’t that what the Marines are trained to do?

The reason was simply about numbers. The army had 89 divisions in the war and the Marines had just 6.

The Marines were scattered around the world, especially the Pacific, and the army had enough troops for the invasion.

21. Marines in other worlds
It’s often Marines that are depicted fighting on other planets.

They ended up in the film Aliens, in the movie Avatar as the “jarhead Clan” and also in the video game Doom.

20. How to save your friends
A Marine called Jason Lee Dunham was posthumously given the Medal of Honor for an act of valor.

The marine serving in Iraq with the 3rd Battalion 7th Marines threw himself on a grenade and tried to cover it with his helmet.

It exploded and he was very seriously hurt.

His comrades however were not seriously hurt.

Gunham was evacuated but his injuries were grave, and his life support was turned off in 2004.

During the posthumous presentation of the Medal of Honor, the first few lines read, “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

19. Getting there fast
In 2002 the U.S., Air Force and the Marines began a project called “Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion”, the acronym being SUSTAIN.

The object was to be able to deploy Marines anywhere on the planet within just two hours or less.

Suborbital spacecraft would be used to make this happen.

“We’ve batted ideas back and forth,” said one of the main people involved, regarding the challenge.

We can’t find how the program has progressed recently.

18. Bambi was a Marine
The kid that did the voice for the cute deer Bambi, an animated movie made back in 1942, became a Marine.

His name is Donald “Donnie” Roan Dunagan.

He’s 83 today, but in his younger days – post-Bambi
– he served in the Marines and was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.

That’s a tough little deer.

17. No girl left behind
In the book, “Goodnight Saigon” by Charles Henderson, it’s written that during the Evacuation of Saigon by American Troops in 1975 one Marine called Gregory Hargis drove
a truck full of prostitutes to an airstrip and put them on a C-141.

He said they were his friends and signed a responsibility form for them.

This is some of the dialogue in the book:
“Where we go,” they chimed together.

“You go stateside,” Hargis called back.

16. Reckless
The Marines had a horse they named Reckless, but we are not sure how conscious the horse was of its recklessness.

During the Korean War, the warhorse carried ammunition, wounded soldiers, and more.

She made many, many missions and was injured for her efforts.

She was awarded 2 Purple Hearts and became a staff sergeant.

15. Hard Times
The New York Times reported in 2009 that when times are tough economically in the USA and the Marines have enough recruits they would change their ads.

Rather than tempt folks to join they would make marine life look really hard.

When numbers fall, expect to see more enticing ads.

14. Peyote
Again, from the New York Times, there is a report in 1997 that tells us native Americans were allowed to take peyote–containing the psychedelic drug mescaline – in the Marines in spite of antidrug policies.

It was decided they could on the grounds of their religion, but not on the battlefield of course.

13. Feed your head
The marines are given a reading list.

Marines must read history, some biographies, and lots about war.

They must also read the U.S. Constitution.

It states on the Library of the Marine Corps website, “I want Marines to read beyond the list, too, especially paying attention to current events, science, and technology and what our potential adversaries are up to around the world.”

12. The Drill
A marine was saved by ad hoc brain surgery partly using a Black and Decker drill.

The surgeon was CNN chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta.

In 2007 the doctor wrote in a CNN article, “I remember the day well.

It was in April of 2003.

A 23-year-old Marine, Jesus Vidana, suddenly fell to the ground, his helmet and head bloodied by a sniper’s bullet.”

Gupta writes that the marine survived and did well, saying he wouldn’t be telling you the story if it hadn’t gone that way.

11. Older than the actual country
The U.S. Marine Corps is actually older than the USA itself, which you should know if you know your history.

It was formed one year before the Declaration of Independence.

10. Talking down the enemy
At the battles for Saipan and Tinian islands in 1944 during World War II a US Marine called Guy Louis Gabaldon is said to have convinced 1,300 Japanese soldiers to surrender.

How did he do this?

After shining shoes on Skid Row and joining a gang, he went to live with a Japanese family when he was 12.

He learned the language and their customs.

For his efforts, he became known as the ‘The Pied Piper of Saipan’.

9. Raising the flag
One of the soldiers from that famous moment in history when soldiers raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War Two, was actually color blind.

It’s said he got in the Marines by memorizing what another man had said in the tests.

He was killed in action a week after that flag was raised.

*** Average Joe comment *** This was the first flag raising and Platoon Sergeant Ernest Ivy Thomas Jr. is the Marine who was color blind.

8. Look smart

Stars and Stripes writes that when Marines are in uniform they should always be well groomed.

But another thing they are told not to do is put their hands in their pockets.

“Again, if you are in the field and it is cold, and you don’t have gloves, common sense says, put your hands in your pocket, but you better not do it in garrison,” said Mary Boyt, of the Marine Corps Uniform Board.

But what if you have an itch in a certain spot?

Stars and Stripes didn’t ask that question.

7. And if it rains?

Male Marines are not allowed to carry umbrellas.

This was called a silly rule by some American media after conservatives were apparently outraged at a photo of a marine holding an umbrella over President Barack Obama.

By the way, female Marines can hold umbrellas.

6. Drinking snake blood

Every year American Marines visit Thailand and do all kinds of jungle exercises.

It’s known as Cobra Gold and is a big deal in the Thai media.

It culminates with U.S. Marines cutting off a cobra’s head and drinking its blood.

5. The hidden pin
Some marines have a pin with their next rank they could be promoted to somewhere on their uniform, but they often keep that pin covered.

*** Average Joe comment *** I spent 10 years in the Corps and I have never heard of this one, it must be something that was started after 1998

4. Cake Time

During the Marine Corps’ birthday every year, there is cake.

The first piece is given to the guest of honor, the second to the oldest marine at the party, and the third to the youngest marine.

We guess then it’s a free-for-all.

3. The band

The Marines have had a band since 1798, which has been performing for American presidents at their inauguration since Thomas Jefferson in 1801.

It’s called “The President’s Own”. It’s usually pretty formal music, although Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter Alice asked the band to perform a Scott Joplin ragtime number.

2. Loss of life

While marines died in small numbers in the 18th and 19th centuries, it wasn’t until World War I’s Battle of Belleau Wood that huge numbers died in one battle.

It’s said around 5,000 marines died.

1. Carrying a lot of money around

Star Spangled Flags wrote in 2017 that these days each marine carries about $14,000 worth of gear and equipment, and that’s not even including night-vision goggles.

Average Jow Weekly Logo
Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.


  • Average Joe

    Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

    View all posts
Avatar photo

By Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.