United States Marines Famous Quotations


"First to Fight"

Marines have been in the forefront of every American war since the founding of the Corps. They have carried out over 300 landings on foreign shores. They have served everywhere, from the poles to the tropics. Their record of readiness reflects pride, responsibility and challenge.



The Marines' long-standing nickname goes back to the leather stock or neckpiece, which was part of the Marine uniform from 1775 to 1875. The leather bands around their threats were intended to ensure that Marines kept their heads erect.


"Devil Dogs"

In the Belleau Wood fighting in 1918, the Germans received a thorough indoctrination in the fighting ability of the Marines. Fighting through supposedly impenetrable woods and capturing supposedly un-takeable terrain, the persistent attacks, delivered with unbelievable courage soon had the Germans calling Marines "teufelhunden," referring to the fierce fighting dogs of legendary origin.


"Esprit de Corps"

The "spirit" of a unit. This spirit is commonly reflected by all members. It implies devotion and loyalty to the Marine Corps, with deep regard for history, traditions and honor.


"Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue"

Refers to the victories in World War II, especially at Iwo Jima, the largest all-Marine battle in history. Admiral Nimitz's ringing epitome of Marine fighting on Iwo Jima was applied to the entire Marine Corps in World War II.



The term "Gyrenes" is a jocular reference to Marines which was first used in England as early as 1894. It was used in the United States around the time of World War I. Its exact origin is unknown, but it did appear to have a derogatory meaning in its early usage. It has been suggested that the term may embody a reference to pollywog, a naval slang term for a person who has not yet "crossed" [the equator], hence, a landlubber.



A slang term used by sailors as early as World War II to refer to members of the Marine Corps, drawing the term from the resemblance of the Marine dress blues uniform, with its high collar, to a Mason jar.


"Semper Fidelis"

The Motto of the United States Marine Corps. Latin for always faithful. Faithful to god, Country, Family and the Corps.


"Once a Marine, Always a Marine"

The motto of the Marine Corps League. Having earned the title of Marine it becomes a integral part of who and what we will become later in life.


"Come on, you sons of bitches - do you want to live forever"
(Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly, USMC, Bellevue Wood, June 1918)


"Goddam it, you'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!"
(Captain Henry P. "Jim" Crowe, USMC, Guadalcanal, 13 January 1943.)


"Retreat Hell! We just got here!"
(Attributed to several World War I Marine Corps officers, Battle of Belleau Wood, France June 1918)


"Casualties many; Percentage of dead not known; Combat efficiency; we are winning."
(Colonel David M. Shoup, USMC, Tarawa, 21 November 1943.)


"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."
(James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 February 1945.)


"Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."
(Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, 16 March 1945.)