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10 things only Marines say



It is no secret that every branch has their own little quirks. From what boot camp is like to what kind of policies they adhere to, each individual sect of our armed forces is a culture within itself.

Interestingly, each branch has its own language as well. From ways to describe things to methods of acknowledging one another, there is no more curious a language than that of Marines. Here are a few examples.

1. Oorah (and variations):

The equivalent to the Army’s “hooah”, “oo-rah” or “rah” can be universally used to do anything from agree to ask a question. More versatile than “okay”, “rah” transcends the need for punctuation.

2. Err:  The lazy form of “oorah”, “err” is the sawed-off shotgun of agreement.

3. Kill:  Another enthusiastic way of agreeing in the most Marine way possible, “kill” is also used as a greeting.

4. Moto:  Short for motivated, it generally refers to something or someone perceived as “gung-ho”.

5. Fire Watch Ribbon:  Another name for the National Defense Service Medal, this is usually referred to in a negative way towards the fact that one only needs to finish boot camp — complete with guard shifts known as “fire watch” — to get the award.

6. SITFU:  “Suck it the f*** up”. Usually used to inform someone to stop whining and do their job.

7. Boot:  Although it once meant the beginning of a one’s tour in Vietnam, “boot” evolved to refer to someone undeployed or fresh out of boot camp. New Privates are often referred to as “boots”.

8. Semper Gumby:  A play on “Semper Fidelis”, Semper Gumby pairs the Marine Corps Motto of “always faithful” with the flexible claymation character, resulting in “Always Flexible”. This is particularly used when plans repeatedly change.

9. Lance Corporal Underground:  The Marines’ equivalent of the Army’s Private News Network (PNN), the Underground is the Marine Corps’ rumor mill, where often tiny forms of rumors become outlandish stories.

10. OFP:  Short for “Own F***ing Program”, the term refers to someone who is not working as a team and pursuing their own interests.

While these are but a few of the great examples of USMC lingo, the Corps is filled with different sayings, phrases and acronyms that have been passed down from Marine to Marine for generations. Regardless of whether or not you can understand them, just be glad they are on your side.

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  1. the NDSM is awarded after you have served 3yrs without any disciplinary charges . it is also called a good conduct medal. check your facts!

    Army means ARn’tMarinesYet

    • Larry; the National Defense Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal are two different awards. The NDSM is awarded upon graduation from boot camp and the GCM is the one that you refer to which is awarded every three years served with no disciplinary charges. Check YOUR facts.

    • Ummmm, no it is not the good conduct medal!! National Defense Medal is given to new graduates from either PI or San Diego, because we are in a war time. You are not even correct on the time for the Good Conduct Metal??? It is every 4 years!!

    • Uh, no, the NDSM is issued to all who are in the military during a time when the US is actively involved in a conflict someplace. (War). I got one right out of Boot Camp for being in during VN. I received the Good Conduct medal 3 years later for doing my job and basically keeping out of trouble for those 3 years. Check your facts.

    • sorry Larry, the NDSM is given straight out of boot camp. It’s not the same as the Good Conduct Medal, or “good cookie”

    • No the NDSM or National Defense Service Medal is awarded to those who serve during a war time period. The 3 yrs of continuous good service gets you a Good Conduct Medal, not a NDSM! You get your facts straight boot!

    • Larry AND USMC2512 (let’s call him CARL) are BOTH confused….but then again, maybe USMC2512 aka CARL, got NJP’d in his first year, then 3 years as a good boy…that would have made his GMC a 4th year of service award (1 bad + 3 good = 4 years) lol

      • You both are wrong. In the Army, it’s the Army Service Ribbon (ASR) that you get after Basic (Boot), for the Marines, that would be the Globe and Anchor. The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) is awarded to those who on active duty for a set period of time during a conflict, they don’t have to be in a War Zone. The Good Conduct Medal is award for completion of three consecutive years of “honorable and faithful service”. The United States Army authorizes each stripe for three years service, while the United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, and United States Coast Guard authorizes each stripe for four years of duty.

        • This is wrong. The article is correct. A USMarine Private who graduates boot camp in war time receives the national defense medal.

          And yes. We marines call it the ” fire watch medal/ ribbon”

  2. Checking my DD214, the Good Conduct Metal awarded after 3 years of service with staying out of trouble (1st award). The next 3 years with no trouble would be the (2nd award) and so on. During the VN era I was given The National Defense Service Medal at graduation from boot camp and I believe it is the same whenever the US is in conflict . The Globe and Anchor and title of Marine is given at graduation when a recruit goes from maggot to Marine.

  3. ok so how about the SSR? (sea service ribbon) i’m Navy and was on board ship for 3 yrs. 5 mos. .which included a 6 month Med cruise and other assignments.. I feel I qualify for this but my DD 214 doesnt show it. ..

  4. The NDSM is awarded upon graduation from boot camp during times of conflict which are defined by DOD. I received it when I graduated from MCRD San Diego as part of Plt 2040 in May ’69. My son, Francis, received in in July 2009 when he graduated from MCRD Dan Diego. There is a picture of him saluting me at graduation on the Sgt Grit website; grunt.com. His NDSM is visible on his blouse.

    The GCM is awarded after three years of good conduct when on active duty. The Reserve equivalent is the OMCR [Organized Marine Corps Reserve] medal is awarded for ever four years of good conduct in the Reserves.

    The Sea Service Deployment ribbon is awarded after serving 90 days in a ‘sea service’ qualified capacity. This capacity does not necessarily need to be served on a ship at sea. It can be earned if serving in a ‘hardship’ billet even if not at sea. For example, I received one each for Desert Storm in 90-91 and Iraq in 2003 even though I did not serve on a ship in either case.

    Dudley J Garidel Jr
    CWO4 USMC [Ret]
    17 February ’69 – 1 August 2004

  5. I too received the NDSM when I graduated Parris Island in April 1970. We all got them during the Viet Nam conflict. It was the only ribbon I had at the time along with my sharpshooter medal I earned at the rifle range.


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