The Old Corps

Submitted by, Jim Almeida

When We Were Young, They Talked About “The Old Corps.”

Now We Are The “Old Corps!”

Remember when…

Everyone was issued dress blues.

You kept your rifle in the barracks.

Your 782 gear did not wear out.

Mess halls were mess halls (NOT dining facilities).

No vandalism wrecked the barracks.

Everyone was a Marine and his ethnic background was unimportant.

We had heroes.

Chaplains didn’t teach leadership to the experts.

Getting high meant getting drunk.

Beer was 25 cents at the slopchute.

Skivvies had tie-ties.

We starched our khakis and looked like hell after sitting down the first time.

We wore the short green battle jacket with the winter uniform.

We wore Sam Browne belts and sharpened one edge of the buckle for the bad fights.

We kept our packs made up and hanging on the edge of the rack.

We spit shined shoes.

Brownbaggers’ first concern was the Marine Corps.

Generals cussed.

Generals paid more attention to the Marine Corps than to politics.

UA meant being a few minutes late from a great liberty, and only happened

once per career.

Brigs were truly “correctional” facilities.

Sergeants were gods.

The tips of the index and middle fingers of one hand were constantly black

from Kiwi shoe polish.

We scrubbed the wooden decks of the barracks with creosol.

We had wooden barracks.

Privates made less than $100.00 a month.

Privates always had money.

You weren’t transported to war by Trans World or Pan American airlines.

Barracks violence was a fight between two buddies who were buddies

when it was over.

Larceny was a civilian crime.

Every Marine had all his gear.

Marines had more uniforms than civilian clothes.

Country and western music did not start race riots in the clubs.

We had no race riots because we had no recognition of races.

Marine Corps birthdays were celebrated on 10 November no matter what day

of the week it may have been (except Sunday).

Support units supported.

The supply tail did not wag the maintenance dog.

The 734 form was the only supply document.

You did your own laundry, including ironing.

You aired bedding.

Daily police of outside areas was held although they were always clean.

Field stripping of cigarette butts was required.

Everyone helped at field day.

A tour as Duty NCO was an honor.

Everyone got up at reveille.

We had live bugle calls inside the barrack, sometimes at the foot of your rack.

Movies were free.

PX items were bargains.

Parking was the least of problems because troops couldn’t afford cars.

You weren’t married unless you could afford it.

Courts-martial orders were read in battalion formations.

A bum didn’t have a BCD awarded more than once before he actually got it.

We had the “Rocks and Shoals.”

Courts-martial were a rarity.

People receiving BCD’s were drummed out the gate.

NCOs and officers were not required to be psychologists.

The mission was the most important thing.

Marines could shoot.

Marines had a decent rifle.

The BAR was the mainstay of the fire team.

Machine gunnery was an art.

Maggie’s drawers meant a miss and was considered demeaning as hell to

the dignity of the shooter.

Carbide lamps blackened sights.

We wore leggings and herringbone utilities.

We had machine gun carts.

We mixed target paste in the butts.

We had to take and pass promotion tests to get promoted, plus have the

required cutting score.

We really had equal opportunity.

Sickbays gave APCs for all ailments.

We had short-arm inspections.

The flame tank was in the arsenal of weapons.

We had unit parties overseas with warm beer and no drugs.

Marines got haircuts.

Non-judicial punishment was non-judicial.

The squad bay rich guy was the only one with a radio.

If a Marine couldn’t make it on a hike, his buddies carried his gear and helped

him stumble along so that he wouldn’t have to fall out.

The base legal section was one or two clerks and a lawyer.

We had oval dog tags.

Marines wore dog tags all the time.

We spit shined shoes and BRUSH shined boots.

We wore boondockers.

We starched field scarves.

We worked a five and one half day week.

Everyone attended unit parties.

In the field we used straddle trenches instead of “Porta-Potties.”

Hitchhiking was an offense.

We used Morse Code for difficult transmissions.

The oil burning tent stove was the center of social activity in the tent.

We had unit mail call.

We carried swagger sticks.

We had Chesty Puller.

Greater privileges for NCOs were not a “right.”

EM Clubs were where you felt at home — and safe.

We sailed on troop ships and we rode troop trains.

Sentries had some authority.

Warrant Officers were not in their teens.

Mess hall “Southern cooking” was not called “soul food.”

Marines went to chapel on Sundays.

Weekend liberty to a distant place was a rarity.

The color of a Marine’s skin was of no consequence.

The Marine Corps was a big team made up of thousands of little teams.

We debarked from ship by means of nets over the side, landed in LCVPs and

always got wet.

We had platoon virgins.

We had parades.

We had pride.

We had Esprit de Corps.

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • RT

    OLD AS DIRT!!!!!!!!!

  • Steve Hamel

    Is old Corps when you had a serial number on your dog tags and not your SSN? That’s what I had. Nov 1966 – June 1969 MCRD PISC 3rd Battalion Platoon 320 (disneyland?… I don’t think so). RVN Mar ’68 – Apr ’69 (thereabouts). Am I now old Corps?

  • J. Roscoe

    I did not see Quonset Huts on that list…

  • henry kaspar

    i served 1951-54 the only ones issued Dress Blue were the ones who were assigned to sea going duty..I still have my original issued DT which are rectangle shape with round corners.
    Cpl.Henry kaspar

  • Greg Smith

    This list of “Old Corps” was from Maj. H.G. Duncan USMC (RET) from one of his great books of the Green Side Out, Brown Side Out, Run In Circles, Scream and Shout volumes or Fact and Fiction From Dunc’s Almanac. He was in during the Korean war till 1979. His books had a profound effect on me during my time in from 1983 to 1987.

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