Ex-Marines, Former Marines or just Marines?

Ex-Marines, Former Marines or just Marines?

I wrote about this topic 3 years ago in How To Address A U.S. Marine and wanted to touch on this again after seeing the term “ex-Marine” being used regularly in the news media.

Just this morning I was reading an article on the Detroit TV 4 news website about a Gold Star family who was disrespected on a plane that had to wait for them while en route to pick up their son who was killed in the line of duty and the father of the soldier was a Marine, but the TV station wrote that he was an “ex-Marine”.

I politely tweeted back to the station that it should be corrected, then waited about an hour and decided that a phone call to the station might effect a better response. I called the station and politely informed them that there are no ex-Marines and why that was. The lady on the other end said she’d pass it on.

Just like “ex” there are no “former” Marines either. It’s basically one and the same.

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.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos – December 2011

I understand when civilians use the term that they almost never intend to be disrespectful when saying “ex” or “former” but there are some Marines who will take offense to it since the term “ex” carries a negative connotation with it implying that the Marine did something wrong or lost what he earned many years ago.

Marines have done and achieved something that the overwhelming majority of the population either will not or cannot do and thus have earned the title U.S. Marine. That is something that cannot be taken away from you, no matter if you’re actively serving or have been out of the service for many years. It’s a difficult achievement and when a person earns it they really earn it and deserve to be called a Marine for the rest of their life.

It does bother me somewhat when I see the news media improperly use the term in their stories since they are professional organizations and professional journalists who should be doing their homework and vetting their facts. Even Colonel Oliver North addressed the issue on the Fox News network several years ago.

“The expression “once a Marine – always a Marine” is hammered into every recruit who makes it through boot camp at either Parris Island or San Diego.,” said FOX News contributor retired Marine Corps Col. Oliver North. “It is an expression derived from the Marine Corps motto “Semper Fidelis” which means “Always Faithful” in Latin.

That was on national TV and I’d like to think that news organizations around the country would have picked up on it and remembered it. They like to tout that they have respect for the military and its veteran’s, but don’t always take the time to get the details just right.

I am in hopes that WDIV TV 4 will update their web page with the correction and show this Marine the respect he has earned.

As of the time of this post the story has yet to be corrected.


Happy 238th Birthday My Fellow U.S. Marines

Happy 238th Birthday My Fellow U.S. Marines

Happy birthday to my fellow U.S. Marines! Here is a birthday message from the Commandant. Semper Fidelis

For 238 years, The United States Marine Corps has proudly served our great Nation with unfailing valor – bolstered by the enduring fortitude of our fellow Marines, our families, and our friends. This is why each year on November 10th, Marines from all generations gather together, in groups large and small, to celebrate the birthday of our Corps and to reflect on the proud legacy and warrior ethos we share. This is what unites us as Marines. From our first battle at New Providence to today in Afghanistan, Marines have always shown that they were made of tougher stuff – that when the enemy’s fire poured in from all angles, and the situation was grim, Marines unequivocally knew that their fellow Marines would stay behind their guns, fight courageously, and drive the enemy from the battlefield. We have always known hardship, fatigue, and pain…but we have never known what it is to lose a battle!

Marines of generations past built our reputation as the most disciplined and honorable warriors to ever set foot on a battlefield, and we have triumphed in every battle because our Corps has always focused on iron discipline and combat excellence. This is who we are…this is what we do! It matters not whether you carried an M-1, an M-14, or an M-16. It matters not whether you fought on a lonely island in the Pacific, assaulted a citadel in the jungle, or marched up to Baghdad. It matters not whether you are a grunt, a pilot or a loggie. What matters most is that, when the chips were down and things got tough, your fellow Marines could count on you to stand and fight…and fight we did!

This year, we celebrate the anniversary of several epic battles in our celebrated history: the 70th anniversary of the 2nd Marine Division landing on Tarawa, the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Hue City, and the 10th anniversary of the “March Up” to Baghdad. Marines who fought in these legendary battles each made their mark upon the history of our Corps. They have passed a rich and illustrious legacy on to us – a much heralded reputation. It is ours to jealously guard, and it is up to us to make our own marks and thus proudly pass it on to the generations of Marines who will follow.

Sergeant Major Michael Barrett joins me in congratulating each of you. Because of you, your selfless service, and your many sacrifices, our Corps remains strong and ready to respond to any crisis. Throughout history, Marines have faced tough times and there will be tough times ahead, but there is no challenge we cannot overcome if we remain honorable and always faithful to our Nation, our Constitution and each other. Happy Birthday, Marines!

Semper Fidelis

James F. Amos

General, U.S. Marine Corps

Commandant of the Marine Corps

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