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.


US Marine Master of Quiet Leadership

US Marine Master of Quiet Leadership


In a profession dominated by boisterous personalities, command presence and aggressive confidence, it’s hard to imagine a quiet and patient leader. In a fast paced and chaotic training environment, credit is not always attributed to the Marine who forms the ranks, defines the standard, and presses forward with excellence and no complaint. When any man or woman demonstrates unparalleled dedication to the tasks at hand, it’s worth mentioning.

Lance Cpl. Glenn Schroeder, a rifleman with Black Sea Rotational Force 14, has demonstrated exceptional leadership, albeit quietly, while in Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania Jan. 3-10, 2014. His diligent work ethic, dedication to fellow Marines and outstanding self-discipline has earned him the title of “Marine of the Week.”

Schroeder has been in the Marine Corps for less than two years. Although his experiences have been limited, they have already shaped who he is as both a leader and a peer. His humble and introspective leadership traits are hard to teach.

Sgt. Nicholas Zablonski, Schroeder’s squad leader, has been alongside him for the entirety of the deployment.

“His leadership styles are still developing into his own, but I would say knowing himself and always seeking self-improvement is a leadership style I have seen him develop more throughout this deployment than his peers,” said Zablonski.

Staff Sgt. David Dahl, first platoon commander with BSRF-14, and Sgt. Donnell Watkins, Schroeder’s platoon sergeant, spoke candidly about Schroeder’s self-discipline and his potential as a future leader.

“He doesn’t say much but he is one of the hardest workers I have,” said Dahl. “He devotes his liberty time to physical training, which surpasses unit training in difficulty.”

“[Schroeder’s] motivation, dependability and work ethic as a teammate within his fire team is an outstanding example of how he out performs his peers and junior Marines,” said Watkins. “He shows an extraordinary ability to be flexible working out of his military occupational specialty. He demonstrates a strong desire to develop himself throughout this deployment.”

According to Watkins, Schroeder is usually the first to volunteer for any tasks and never complains.

“I look at everything pretty positively. I try and look at things if I was a sergeant or a corporal. Attention to detail is a big thing. It may seem insignificant but normally there is a bigger picture that we don’t always see on [the junior Marine] level,” said Schroeder.

For most, being Marine of the Week serves as a strong accolade for not just one week of accomplished leadership but a trend of success.

“I do a lot of knowledge based stuff. I do a lot of PT in my off time. To [be Marine of the Week] proves to me that I’ve been putting out and my hard work is paying off,” Schroeder genuinely admitted. “In a few instances, we do drill and some people would have problems. I would help them one-on-one and help them get it down during the chow break or whenever.”

Regardless of his volume and dialogue, Schroeder has demonstrated an efficient form of silent leadership through example that has been solidified by his self-discipline and enduring positive attitude.

Here is a great example of how introverted people can be just as effective leaders as extroverted people can. What more of an ultimate test of character and practical demonstration of this than in the US Marines? None that I could say.

In an environment of predominately type A personalities and constant competition in all imaginable aspects, it can no doubt be difficult for a quiet individual to distinguish himself among the crowd. Kudos to this fine Marine for being able to do so. It takes incredible courage and bearing to maintain his type of character and discipline in the face of all the extroverts around him and yet come out on top.

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