Marines are… strange. Elenor Roosevelt once said, “The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!”
Keep in mind, this is the same woman who became close friends with Major Lyudmila Mikhailovna Belova, also known as Lady Death, the Soviet sniper, so Mrs. Roosevelt was no stranger to unusual company. I am a Marine, so there is no disparagement in my statement, only awe that we function as well as we do as humans.
Take our birthday as an example. 10 November 1775, my Marine Corps came alive, as this was the founding of the illustrious service. In a bar, of course, which we are all particularly proud of. To know your own birthday, or the birthdays of close family or friends makes sense, by why celebrate the birthday of a branch of the military? If you know anyone in the Air Force, ask them when their birthday is, and you’ll see the difference start to form in front of you. If you ARE in the Air Force, don’t google it. (Hint, you share a birthday with the CIA, so that’s something.) Don’t worry, I’m not making fun of the Air Force. The Marine Corps of all the services places a high value on its history; battles won, heroes built, history made… And our birthday. In that spirit, here are some interesting facts about our birthday to share with Marines you may know, to appease all the grunting you’re soon to hear.
Captain Samuel Nichols, the First Marine
While the Marine Corps’ first officer was appointed by the 2nd Continental Congress on 5 November, the paperwork wasn’t signed and official until 28 November. This means that while citizen Nichols sat in Tun Tavern in Pennsylvania to enlist recruits, he wasn’t technically on the job until the Marine Corps was 17 days old. Admin is famous for making pay errors, so it's only fair the good Captain shares the tradition. Speaking of errors, there doesn’t seem to be a record of the first Enlisted Marine… Odd.
The Marine Corps Has Two Birthdays
Don’t expect 1st Sergeant to give you a 96 though, we only officially celebrate the earliest one. After the Revolutionary War, the Marine Corps was (foolishly) disbanded in 1783. Fifteen years later, realizing their mistake, the Marine Corps was brought back to life on 11 July 1798. While there have been no repeats of this blunder as President Adams made them a permanent branch, the original 1775 birthday wasn’t made THE recognized one until Maj. Edwin N. McClellan requested Gen. John A. LeJeune, then the Commandant, make the switch. For posterity, of course, but I also wish to believe because Dress Blues aren’t as blasted hot in November as they are in July.
Carrier Landings Are Real
While a tradition not universally observed, the Carrier Landing is in line with one of Marines’ best non-combat skills, partying. It’s not unusual for the atmosphere of the Marine Corps ball to change dramatically after the formalities conclude, and after the drinks get bigger. Watching your chain of command dancing like something from a TikTok video is wild enough to see, but the Carrier Landing is something unique. Essentially, within the units which observe this practice, beer and other non-biological liquids are poured over the dance floor to make a de facto slip and slide. If I had seen then 1st Sgt. Frank D. perform this maneuver when I was a boot, I think I may have gone blind from shock. Still, it would have been a sight to see. Or not, as would be the case.
So yes, we are the weird, snarling little brother who’s command of polite language leaves something to be desired, and we’re known to operate like guerilla cells when we need to… Acquire things from supply. At the same time, we love our history, we make our own, and we look damn good in our Dress Blues. Make sure to tell the Marines in your life happy birthday, then check to see where the fire extinguishers are located.