The United States Marine Corps, USMC, has a rich tradition of courage, dedication, commitment and overall sacrifice that is demanded by a loving country in support of it, America. Since November of 1775 the USMC then born into a tavern Tun Tavern, outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania came into being when several regiments were stood up to combat what would be a hard and long fight against the British Empire.
“If I charge, follow me. If I retreat, kill me. If I die, revenge me.” ―
In Full Metal Jacket, actor Tim Colceri is famous for his helicopter scene where he says over the roar of the helicopter, “Anyone who runs is a VC. Anyone who stands still is a well-disciplined VC.” He would have been even more famous in the part for which he was originally cast—as the strict and unrelenting senior drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. That role, however, went to R. Lee Ermey, who had been hired for the film as a technical advisor.
Ermey, a former USMC drill instructor and Vietnam veteran, filmed a tense 20-minute reel of himself in character dressing down and squaring away the movie’s extras, without repeating himself. When director Stanley Kubrick saw the video, he recast Ermey for the role on the spot.
The fictional Hartman became perhaps the most famous gunnery sergeant in the history of the USMC. Ermey retired as a Staff Sergeant, and in 2002, the USMC granted him an honorary promotion in accordance with the rank for which he is most associated. He is the first retiree in the history of the USMC to receive such an honor.
2. THE USMC HYMN REFERS TO THE BATTLE OF CHAPULTEPEC.
The USMC Hymn famously begins, “From the Halls of Montezuma…” This refers to the Battle of Chapultepec in 1847, in which the USMC conquered Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City and subsequently occupied the city as part of the Mexican-American War. The battle is also famous (according to USMC tradition) for the establishment of the “blood stripe,” a red stripe sewn into the trousers of the uniform commemorating the Marines killed at Chapultepec.
3. “THE SHORES OF TRIPOLI” IS A REFERENCE TO THE FIRST OVERSEAS LAND BATTLE FOUGHT BY THE UNITED STATES MILITARY.
In 1801, the United States decided to do something about piracy in the Mediterranean so President Jefferson sent in the Navy. In 1805, the USMC finished the job. The Battle of Derne, on the shores of Tripoli during the First Barbary War, was the decisive action of the war, and the first overseas land battle fought by the United States military.
4. THE “LEATHERNECK” NICKNAME IS A HISTORIC ONE.
5. THE USMC WERE HELD BACK AT NORMANDY.
The purpose of the USMC is amphibious warfare, or attacking the land by storming from the sea. And yet the USMC are largely absent from the Normandy Invasion—history’s most famous amphibious assault. Why did the Army get the job?
More people. The Army had 89 divisions; the Marine Corps had 6. (As goes the saying, “The Marines win battles; the Army wins wars.”) And almost all of the Marines were in the Pacific. But there was a contingent of US Marines on board the U.S.S. Texas who were held back, probably because of the ongoing rivalry between the Army and the USMC. Because the leaders of the Allied Forces were Army generals, there was no chance they’d share the spotlight on the biggest operation of the war. Even when the invasion looked grim, the US Marines who watched from the U.S.S. Texas were never unleashed. As journalist W. Thomas Smith has written, the leadership didn’t want headlines the next day to read “Marines save Rangers at Normandy.”
US Marines assigned to the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner to the CIA and U.S. Army Special Forces, were on the ground, however, secretly working as observers of the invasion and facilitators for Army paratroopers who were jumping behind enemy lines.
6. WHEN THE FAST FOOD WARS ARE FOUGHT, A MARINE WILL COME OUT ON TOP.
In the 1993 film Demolition Man, Sandra Bullock’s character makes reference to the Fast Food Wars, of which only one restaurant survived—Taco Bell. This is probably in no small part because the founder of Taco Bell was Glen Bell, a US Marine who served in the Pacific Theater in World War II.
The Fast Food Wars would have been quite savage, however. Mike Ilitch, the late founder of Little Caesars, and Tom Monoghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, are also former Marines.
7. AN AMERICAN TO ORBIT THE EARTH? YOU’RE GONNA NEED A MARINE FOR THAT.
During the Korean War, a USMC fighter pilot nicknamed “Magnet Ass” shot down three MiG fighter jets. (He earned his nickname because of how often shrapnel hit his planes.) None of that was scary enough, apparently, because after he got back from the war, he became a test pilot. As part of Project Bullet, he set the transcontinental speed record, flying a Vought F8U Crusader from California to New York at 725.55 miles per hour. (The project was so named because he flew faster than a .45-caliber pistol round.) By the time the pilot—John Glenn—was recruited by NASA and became the first American to orbit the Earth, it must have seemed like a pretty boring day at the office. In 1998, we strapped him into another spacecraft and made him the oldest person to ever go into space, at age 77. It was a safe bet because clearly the man was invincible.
8. THERE ARE SOME PRETTY FAMOUS MARINES WHO AREN’T FAMOUS FOR BEING MARINES.
Before he became famous for co-hosting The Tonight Show, Ed McMahon was a USMC fighter pilot with six air medals and 85 combat missions under his belt. While Drew Carey was a reservist in the USMC and looking for a way to make a little extra money, he tried stand-up comedy—and it worked. Robert Ludlum’s time in the Marine Corps no doubt informed his novels about a super-spy named Jason Bourne. And Paulie probably could have taken Rocky in a fight; actor Burt Young is a former US Marine.
9. THE USMC WAS BORN IN A BAR.
The U.S. Marine Corps was born on November 10, 1775, the day the Second Continental Congress passed the Continental Marine Act of 1775, ordering “That two battalions of Marines be raised.” The Continental Marines disbanded in 1783 and was formally reestablished in 1798. The first Marines enlisted at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, which is considered the birthplace of the Marine Corps.
During the annual birthday celebration, Order No. 47 is read, which says, in part, “it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.” The commanding officer cuts the birthday cake, and the first piece is given to the oldest Marine present, who passes it to the youngest Marine present.
10. THE PHRASE “A FEW GOOD MEN” IS OLDER THAN THE MODERN USMC.
On March 20, 1779, Captain William Jones of the Continental Marines placed a recruiting advertisement in the Providence Gazette: “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.” He’s been recruiting US Marines ever since.
11. IF YOU’RE FIGHTING A WAR IN SPACE, YOU’RE GOING TO NEED A FEW GOOD MEN.
The USMC doesn’t don’t just fight on Earth. Popular culture has the Corps on planet Mars in the video game Doom; on moon LV-426 in the film Aliens (“Game over man! Game over!”); in the tabletop role playing game Warhammer 40,000 (“Give me a hundred Space Marines. Or failing that give me a thousand other troops”), and on planet Pandora in the film Avatar (“was a marine. A warrior of the Jarhead Clan”).