from Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines|
- Devil Dogs
- The German Army coined this term of respect for U.S.
Marines during World War I. In the summer of 1918 the German Army was
driving toward Paris. The French Army was in full retreat. In a
desperate effort to save Paris, the newly arrived U.S. Marines were
thrown into the breach. In June 1918, in bitter fighting lasting for
weeks, Marines repeatedly repulsed the Germans in Belleau Wood. The
German drive toward Paris sputtered, fizzled, and died. Then the
Marines attacked and swept the Germans back out of Belleau Wood. Paris
had been saved. The tide of war had turned. Five months later Germany
would be forced to accept an armistice. The battle tenacity and fury of
the U.S. Marines had stunned the Germans. In their official reports
they called the Marines "teufel hunden," meaning Devil Dogs, the
ferocious mountain dogs of Bavarian folklore.
- Around 1900, members of the U.S. Navy began using Gyrene as a
jocular derogatory reference to U.S. Marines. Instead of being
insulted, the Marines loved it. The term became common by World War I
and has been extensively used since that time.
- For roughly 50 years, sailors had little luck in their effort
to insult Marines by calling them Gyrenes. So, during World War II
sailors began referring to Marines as Jarheads. Presumably the high
collar on the Marine Dress Blues uniform made a Marine's head look like
it was sticking out of the top of a Mason jar. Marines were not
insulted. Instead, they embraced the new moniker as a term of utmost
respect. ... Alternate explanation: the term originates from
the "high and tight" haircut that many Marines have, which makes their
head look like a jar.
- The nickname Leatherneck has become a universal moniker
for a U.S. Marine. The term originated from the wide and stiff leather
neck-piece that was part of the Marine Corps uniform from 1798 until
1872. This leather collar, called The Stock, was roughly four inches
high and had two purposes. In combat, it protected the neck and jugular
vein from cutlasses slashes. On parade, it kept a Marine's head erect.
The term is so widespread that it has become the name of the Marine
Corps Association monthly magazine, LEATHERNECK.