S.0.S. Recipe – U.S.M.C. Style

What you’ve all been waiting for!

Everyone recalls the famous pre-invasion Marine Corps breakfast of steak and eggs. However, that was not the normal morning meal served aboard transports as they slowly plodded across seas to deliver Old Breed Marines to their next combat venture.

Once in a while a great document of historical importance concerning the Marine Corps comes to light. This is not one of them, but worth printing for those of you who miss the famous, everyday meal commonly called S.O.S. One note of interest, did you know Marines had their own ‘special’ recipe, which differs from any other branch of service?

S.0.S. Recipe – U.S.M.C. Style 1-1/2 pounds extra lean hamburger or ground chuck
2 table spoons Oleo or Butter
1 cup freshly cut chopped onion
2 table spoons flour
2 tea spoons granulated garlic
4 table spoons Soy Sauce
1 table spoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown meat, add oleo and stir. Add onions and cook until they are translucent. Add flour, stir and cook two to three minutes. Add garlic, soy sauce and Worcestershire. Mix thoroughly. Add milk and stir till it thickens. Serve on a shingle (toast}.

It’s now time to rush to the grocery store to get any ingredients you don’t already have. One must keep this in mind before leaving the house. You either: (1) miss the Corps terribly and should volunteer for fleet duty, (2) have a great desire to do bodily injury to yourself, (3) suffer from dain- bramage or, (4) have neighbors you can’t stand and want to invite them to a special dinner. Before doing option #4, suggest you dig a slit trench in the back yard in case of emergency gastric distress imposed upon your guests.

Written (with tongue-in-cheek) by:
Historian, FMDA

Submitted by:

Some good eating.


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22 thoughts on “S.0.S. Recipe – U.S.M.C. Style”

  1. Growing up in the fifties and early sixties I can remember my Mom making this for breakfast many times. My Dad was a WWII Marine and liked to eat SOS. I don’t know if Mom used the ingredients shown above or not. I’ll copy it and show it to her. I will even try it, though I’m on a diet now trying to stay lean, mean, and alive. LOL. Semper Fidelis and Merry Christmas.

  2. In the past I’ve enjoyed it on the toast but I’ve found it’s just as good on homemade flaky biscuits broken in half with the first poured over them. The extra large servings S.O.S. was the mainstay of a great Marine Corps breakfast.

  3. My dad was a WWII army veteran, so I was familiar with S.O.S. as it was called. It was not bad and a very hearty breakfast. When I got to boot camp, we had scrambled egg, that had to be made from a dried powered mix , they were horrible. I was pleased to see S.O.S. in the chow line. Unfortunately it was made with some sort of ground meat (not the best quality), and there was this layer of grease floating on top. It lived up to the marine corps food standards, none ! I had the opportunity to sample food from the other banches, and enjoyed most of it. We provided security for the seabees, building a bridge on the CamLo river, in Vietnam. They made S.O.S. for breakfast and it was made the correct way with dried beef. They knew how to cook. Marine cooks were so bad overall that when I was at C2 near the DMZ the food was so bad that we requested that, the skipper get us “C” rats. The so called cook would put out a large pot of canned tuna, and a pot of warm coolaid and call it a meal. No wonder marines are lean, and mean.

  4. Cpl. Hopkins, you certainly a gentleman with great tastes. While many of my buds thumbed their noses at this delightful cuisine, I found it to be a better starter breakfast than the usual eggs and things. As a farm boy from the country, I had never heard of SOS, but the cooks at Parris Island in 1952 enlightened me. To this day, I continue to drool over a plate full of it. In fact, I’ve been making my own for years, but I leave out the oleo/butter, garlic and soy sauce as per a recipe from LEATHERNECK magazine years ago. I’m in the process of losing weight in preparation of surgery next month so my taste buds won’t be satisfied until after the operation at which time I shall make a heap of it and savor every durn bite.

  5. Yo Hopkins you forgot to mention that one should douse the referenced culinary delight with copious amounts of Tabasco sauce in order to render said culinary delight palatable. SF

  6. Hot and filling as it is; it was however never what would be called a culinary delight. It would help if you put scambed eggs with cheese on top.

  7. Thankyou Cpl Hopkins.My mother was the worst cook in the world.When I arrived at P.I.and was first served SOS,I thought I died and went to heaven.The stuff was great and I loved it.Many of the recruits quietly grumbled or would whisper “Oh crap,SOS again”.You know we had to have clean trays by the end of chow and a few recruits next or across from me would dump their remains of SOS on my tray.After my enlistment was up,no more SOS but in the 1980s I found a restaurant that actually served it because a few Veterans (Canadian & U.S.) demanded it and the owner loved us so she served it.It was a sad day when land owner would not renew the lease for the restaurant.I loved using tobasco sause.Thanks again for your recipe.

  8. First couple of weeks at Parris Island wondering how anyone could eat that “stuff”, and then I tried it. For the rest of my time in the Corps, breakfast was two slices of SOS, hash browns, sometime scrambled eggs, if I was really hungry, finished up with orange juice. Mrs. “G” makes up a great batch of SOS from time to time as well. AAAHH the good times.

  9. I have enjoyed SOS for more then 55 years and I make it myself occasionally every one of my kids and all of my wife’s liked it also. My first time to eat it was when I was an 0811 in Hotel #/10 and on a cold morning at Fort Bragg N.C. while there for the spring shoot as I stood in the mess line for breakfast the container with SOS was putting off steam and I filled my mess kit with it and I have loved this USMC comfort food ever since.

  10. I loved the stuff, ate it every morning. Good with chopped hard boiled egg on top. Still eat it every other Sunday at the Moose Lodge.

  11. Thanks for the S.O.S. recipe, always liked it, stuck to your ribs. Does anyone have the recipe for the delicious cobbler that the mess hall made from fruit cocktail?

  12. You cook the beef with the garlic in one pot and drain the liquid off. Then in another pot melt the butter and put in the flour and then break it down with milk. You add the Worcestershire sauce to the gravy and then stir in the beef. Do not over season. It works great over fresh made biscuits. I broke the recipe down for the biscuits from my Food Service School baking handout. This is for five portions of biscuits. 1 1/2 cups of flour, 3/4 ounce baking powder, 1/3 tablespoons of salt, 3 ounces of shortening and 1/3 cup of milk. Sift the dry ingredients and then add shortening. The shortening should be worked until quite small and then add the milk. Knead the dough but not for long as it will make the biscuits tough. Bake in an oven for about 15 minutes at 425 to 450 degrees.

  13. In 1960, on Okinawa, this is all we were given, breakfast, lunch and dinner because the Federal government ran out of money, we did not receive pay and supplies were not sent. You would not believe how many ways we mixed SOS with other ingredients to make it taste edible. Enjoy.

  14. True, the Marines did have their own recipe. However, having had the delicacy in both Marine and Navy installations, (Senior Corpsman, D 1/4, 3rd MarDiv, RVN, ’68-’69) I must say that the Marine Corps version actually did taste a lot more like SOS! The Navy version tasted like good food. Come to think of it, maybe that’s part of what made Marines so bad when the S hit the fan!

  15. I always enjoyed SOS but couldn’t resist adding MORE pepper,……….as if the cooks hadn’t already dumped copious amounts in the mix. My wife (Okinawan) worked in the mess hall and learned how they made this concoction. She cooks it for me whenever I want. I am a happy man that weighs twice what I weighed during my two enlistments in the Corps. I don’t need to hear the sound of Reveille to awake, just the smell of SOS on the stove. SEMPER FI BROTHERS !

  16. I was a cook, 3371; stationed at Marine Barracks,8th & I. I don’t know about the rest of the Corps, but we served some damn good chow to our MARINES!

    1. I always ate well as far as I remember. Except my first meal at Parris Island. It was about 3:30 in the morning (or so it seemed) and I had a slice of white bread, untoasted with nothing on it, a cup of water and some scrambled eggs that tasted like metal. Other than that I thought we ate well. And I was a picky eater back then. Thanks fellows and Semper Fi.

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