Happy 245th Birthday U.S. Marine Corps! 11 Facts You May Not Know

military Nov 10, 2020

Today November 10th is the 245th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. What do you know about the U.S. Marines?

11 Surprising Facts About The Marines

# 1 The Marine Corps is older than the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

On November 10, 1775 the Second Continental Congress ordered the formation of a corps to assist naval forces in the Revolutionary War and they called it the Marine Corps. 

# 2 The first Marine Corps recruitments took place in a bar. 

Legend is that in 1775 captains Samuel Nicholas and Robert Mullan were commissioned to raise two battalions of Marines in Philadelphia. Mullan used his bar, the Tun Tavern, as the first recruiting post attracting potential recruits with cold beer and and promises for high seas adventure.

#3 The Marines take their birthday seriously.

It wasn’t until 1921 that the Marines Corps got serious about their birthday when Gen. John A. Lejeune issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921. The order summarized the history, mission, and tradition of the Marine Corps and officially recognized November 10th as a Marine Corps holiday. It is read aloud at all birthday celebrations and on November 10th to honor the founding of the Marine Corps. Other birthday traditions include the Marine Corps Ball and a cake-cutting ceremony where the first piece of cake is presented to the oldest Marine present and passed to the youngest, representing the passing of tradition from generation to generation.

#4 The Marine Corps is part of the U.S. Navy.

Though the Marine Corps is considered one of the four branches in the Department of Defense, it technically still is a component of the U.S. Navy.  Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores and served in every major U.S. naval action since 1775.

#5 The helicopter on the White House south lawn?

Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) was established 1 December 1947 at Marine Base Quantico, Virginia, when rotary wing flight was just beginning. In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was on vacation when he was urgently called back to the White. The HMX-1 reduced a two hour car ride to a seven minute helicopter ride. Since that day HMX-1 has been responsible for the transportation of the president, vice president, heads of state and other VIPs.   

Fun fact. Marine One does not refer to a specific helicopter. HMX-1 has a fleet of presidential helicopters. Marine One is the call sign of any Marine Corps aircraft carrying the President. 

#6 Every Marine is first a rifleman.

All enlisted Marines, regardless of military specialization, receive training as a rifleman with two weeks of dedicated training on the basics of marksmanship. Combat ready is a primary focus of the Marines.

#7 The Marine Band? The President’s Own.

Established by an Act of Congress on July 11, 1798, the U.S. Marine Band made its debut in 1801 on New Year's Day at a reception given by President John Adams. The Marine Band’s primary mission is to provide music for the President of the United States. That’s why the band is also known as “The President’s Own.” It is the oldest active professional musical organization in the country.

#8 If they have rifles, why do Marines carry swords?

Tradition and symbolism. If you haven’t figured out, they are big on that. In 1804, the Marines rescued the crew aboard the U.S.S Philadelphia from pirates in Tripoli. Marine Lt. Presley O’Bannon led the fight and was later awarded the Mameluke sword by Prince Hamlet, a chieftain in North Africa.

Today Marine officers wear the sword only with their dress uniform, and it is considered the oldest weapon used in active service. And, as I’ve witnessed, it also comes in handy when they need to cut their birthday cake in dramatic fashion.

#9 They are affectionately known as leathernecks.

This nickname originated from their 19th-century uniform, which included a leather collar around their neck intended to protect their neck and throat from bayonet and sword attacks.

#10 What does their symbol mean?

The Eagle represents the United States. 

The Globe represents worldwide service.

The Anchor represents their naval traditions. 

#11 Semper Fi and other Marine Mantras.

Semper Fi: short for semper fidelis, Latin phrase for “always faithful.” Semper Fidelis symbolizes the lifelong commitment held by every Marine for the Corps and America, a promise reciprocated by the Corps to all Marines. 

OOH-RAH: A battle cry among Marines, “ooh-rah” can be used as a greeting, a term of affirmation, or as a way of expressing enthusiasm. 

Ductus Exemplo: A Latin term that means “lead by example, “ ductus exemplo is the official motto of the Officer Candidates School (OCS). It means that being a Marine isn’t about giving or receiving ordersl it’s about behaving in a manner that inspires others. 

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