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Once a Marine, always a Marine?

Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mallory S. VanderSchans/Released)

The words former Marine were used widely for decades until the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps General Amos declared, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

This quote is widely referred to and was originally posted in the 2010 CMC Planning Guidance.

In it, General Amos states:

“A Marine is a Marine. I set that policy two weeks ago – there’s no such thing as a former Marine.

You’re a Marine, just in a different uniform and you’re in a different phase of your life. But you’ll always be a Marine because you went to Parris Island, San Diego or the hills of Quantico.

There’s no such thing as a former Marine.”

But do those words always ring true?

What about the dishonorably discharged Marines? Or those who’ve committed atrocious crimes? Should they be called Marines in the media?

Or do they deserve the title former Marine?

Weigh in with your thoughts.

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  1. I agree with the Commandant, once a Marine, always a Marine. But, I also believe that it should be held only by those who served honorably. Those who commit crimes after serving honorably, in my opinion, do not deserve to be called Marine. The oath I took as a Marine still to this day holds me to the principles of carrying the title, Honor, Courage, Commitment. If you have committed a crime that lands you in prison, to me you have broken the honor code that binds us as Marines. To this day, when I meet people, I am told; “You are either a Marine or you were a Marine”. I always tell them back, “I am and always will be a Marine”….

  2. Once a Marine always a Marine is very much true to this day , but some one who has disgrace the name and uniform should never carry the title

  3. Once a Marine, ALWAYS a Marine. What you were before you became a Marine doesn’t matter. What you became after you became a Marine doesn’t matter. You made it through Boot Camp you earned it then. You can take away your job, self-respect, life, but you EARNED this, it can’t be taken away and it can’t be said, ‘well, he never WAS a Marine’.
    Having said that, i became a journalist after my life as a Marine. I am STILL a Marine. But the media has different rules; as does civilians. To us, we Marines, it doesn’t matter what was before, or after, Once a Marine, Always a Marine.

  4. Once you earn the title of Marine, there are expectations and standards you have to maintain, therefore I’m going to have the Courage to say there are Former Marines, Dishonorably Discharged Marines, Medically Retired Marines, Honorably Retired Marines, etc. When someone calls out,”Is there a doctor in the house”, you expect a medical professional to come to the rescue. If someone calls out,”I”s there a Marine in the house, you don’t expect to see someone that can’t shoot, move and communicate. So as on active duty, if you don’t maintain the Marine Corps standards you will be discharged accordingly, in life you should be addressed as the title you attained..

  5. Much like someone who murders, forfeits their life under capital punishment laws, I believe that a Marine who commits a crime that’s dishonors the title of United States Marine, also forfeits that title! Outside of that, I believe “Once a Marine, Always a Marines” holds true!

  6. Just a good marketing gimmick. Once you are discharged regardless how the Corps washed its hands of you. Though you are taught once a Marine ALWAYS a Marine, it could not be further froom the truth. Just a gimmick

  7. Several years ago Leatherneck Magazine posted the proper designations for Marines. Marines who served and had been discharged are “Marine Veterans”. Marines who were dishonorably discharged are “Ex-Marines”. Marines who had passed away are “Former Marines”


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