History of the Marine Corps

THROUGH EVERY CONFLICT. FOR EVERY COMMUNITY. THE HISTORY OF OUR CORPS TELLS THE TRIUMPHS OF OUR NATION.

 

Since November 10, 1775, ours is a legacy of having each other’s back—and never backing down. On legendary battlefields like Guadalcanal, Chosin Reservoir, and Marjah in defense of our national interests. Through necessary actions back home, enabling our own struggling communities to thrive once more. Then and now, every Marine is a United States Marine, fighting through every circumstance to continue our Nation's advance.

 

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STORIES OF DISTINCTION

To be a Marine is to always move forward with tenacity towards the next battle standing in the way of our Nation’s progress, but Marines also have a long lineage of defining moments to look back on, serving as a source of immeasurable inspiration. View some of the stories that make all Marines walk a little taller and prouder.

Captain Samuel Nicholas sets up the first Marine Corps recruiting headquarters at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, PA, looking for "a few good men." The "Few and the Proud" who make up today's ranks are comprised of men and women who have the resolve to fight and win for our Nation's common cause.

Captain Samuel Nicholas sets up the first Marine Corps recruiting headquarters at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, PA, looking for "a few good men." The "Few and the Proud" who make up today's ranks are comprised of men and women who have the resolve to fight and win for our Nation's common cause.

Five companies of Marines carry out the Corps’ first amphibious landing on foreign soil, successfully seizing stockpiles of British gunpowder and munitions.

Five companies of Marines carry out the Corps’ first amphibious landing on foreign soil, successfully seizing stockpiles of British gunpowder and munitions.

The Marines rescue the kidnapped crew of the USS Philadelphia on the shores of Tripoli. They receive the nickname “Leatherneck” due to the high collar they wore as protection against the sabers of pirates.

The Marines rescue the kidnapped crew of the USS Philadelphia on the shores of Tripoli. They receive the nickname “Leatherneck” due to the high collar they wore as protection against the sabers of pirates.

Marine forces launch a last-ditch close combat assault against German soldiers and completely shred the defensive counterattack. Surviving German soldiers nicknamed their adversaries “Devil Dogs,” due to their relentless fighting spirit.

Marine forces launch a last-ditch close combat assault against German soldiers and completely shred the defensive counterattack. Surviving German soldiers nicknamed their adversaries “Devil Dogs,” due to their relentless fighting spirit.

Several innovative tactical strategies were used by the Marines to capture the Japanese airfield, including intense Close Air Support for Marine ground forces. From the Father of Marine Aviation, Alfred Cunningham, "The only excuse for aviation in any service is its usefulness in assisting the troops on the ground."

Several innovative tactical strategies were used by the Marines to capture the Japanese airfield, including intense Close Air Support for Marine ground forces. From the Father of Marine Aviation, Alfred Cunningham, "The only excuse for aviation in any service is its usefulness in assisting the troops on the ground."

The flag raising on Mt Suribachi on February 23, 1945, was a vital moment at the Battle of Iwo Jima, propelling the U.S. to victory on the tiny volcanic island three weeks later. Today, this symbol serves as a permanent reminder of the fighting spirit found in our Marines and the resiliency shared by our entire Nation. "Uncommon valor was a common virtue."

The flag raising on Mt Suribachi on February 23, 1945, was a vital moment at the Battle of Iwo Jima, propelling the U.S. to victory on the tiny volcanic island three weeks later. Today, this symbol serves as a permanent reminder of the fighting spirit found in our Marines and the resiliency shared by our entire Nation. "Uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Outnumbered 8 to 1 and cut off from air support, the 1st Marine Division battled and defeated 10 Chinese infantry divisions through snow, -40ºF temperatures, and dangerous terrain to rejoin American forces.

Outnumbered 8 to 1 and cut off from air support, the 1st Marine Division battled and defeated 10 Chinese infantry divisions through snow, -40ºF temperatures, and dangerous terrain to rejoin American forces.

Lasting 33 days, the Battle of Hue was an intense, unrelenting ground battle that deployed block-by-block street fighting strategies, hammering back defensive forces and allowing Marines to secure the city.

Lasting 33 days, the Battle of Hue was an intense, unrelenting ground battle that deployed block-by-block street fighting strategies, hammering back defensive forces and allowing Marines to secure the city.

Combining precise air operations, tenacious amphibious assaults, and grueling ground tactics to push back invading Iraqi forces, the Marines, in concert with UN forces, lead in one of the most successful modern operations.

Combining precise air operations, tenacious amphibious assaults, and grueling ground tactics to push back invading Iraqi forces, the Marines, in concert with UN forces, lead in one of the most successful modern operations.

Within two months of the attacks on September 11, 2001, Marines were the first major ground forces in Afghanistan, focused on defeating Al-Qaeda. By mid-December Marine forces had captured Kandahar Airport, creating one of the first coalition command centers.

Within two months of the attacks on September 11, 2001, Marines were the first major ground forces in Afghanistan, focused on defeating Al-Qaeda. By mid-December Marine forces had captured Kandahar Airport, creating one of the first coalition command centers.

Using street-level ground tactics first deployed during Vietnam, Marines in dense metropolitan areas like Fallujah breached, searched, and cleared areas, building by building, to root out insurgents.

Using street-level ground tactics first deployed during Vietnam, Marines in dense metropolitan areas like Fallujah breached, searched, and cleared areas, building by building, to root out insurgents.

"The Marine Corps will be the 'force of choice' for the President, Secretary, and Combatant Commander. No matter what the crisis, our civilian leaders should always have one shared thought—Send in the Marines." —General Berger, 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps

"The Marine Corps will be the 'force of choice' for the President, Secretary, and Combatant Commander. No matter what the crisis, our civilian leaders should always have one shared thought—Send in the Marines." —General Berger, 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps

STORIES OF DISTINCTION

 

To be a Marine is to always move forward with tenacity towards the next battle standing in the way of our Nation’s progress, but Marines also have a long lineage of defining moments to look back on, serving as a source of immeasurable inspiration. View some of the stories that make all Marines walk a little taller and prouder.

NAVAJO CODE TALKERS

Crucial in securing victory over Japan in World War II, it was our Marine Navajo Code Talkers who provided the unbreakable code necessary to communicate on the battlefield effectively.

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MONTFORD POINT MARINES

Paving the way for generations to come, more than 20,000 Montford Point Marines made history winning crucial battles for our Nation in the Pacific, Korea, and Vietnam.

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A CADENCE STEEPED IN HISTORY

 

It is on 10 November of every year that our Nation, our Corps, and our Marines pay tribute to all the Marine Corps Birthday symbolizes. Listen to the Marine Corps birthday cadence, 10 November, and feel the heartbeat of a legacy nearly two and a half centuries long.

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MAKING THE BIRTHDAY CADENCE

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the Marines and their work—from writing and repetition to sound engineering—that brought the birthday cadence to life.

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FAQs

One doesn't consider an endeavor of this magnitude without having questions. Here are some of the most common.

 
 

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