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S.0.S. Recipe - U.S.M.C. Style

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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Joe Rainey L/Cpl 75-79 - May 31, 2020

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.

Sgt.M.L.Best USMC Aug. 71′-Aug. 74′ - May 31, 2020

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!

SSgt John Little Eagle – Freeman - May 31, 2020

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 !

Robert E. Hays - May 31, 2020

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!

Sgt T. K. Shimono (59-68) - May 31, 2020

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.

Ed Grantham - May 31, 2020

Frank Sinanian, did you work IRC in 67-68? Moved to San Francisco?

Dale Landon 3371 MOS - May 31, 2020

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.

Dennis R. Smith - May 31, 2020

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?

Frank Sinanian Cpl 58-64 - May 31, 2020

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.

artymgysgt - May 31, 2020

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.

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