Behind the Cover: For grunts only?


“Every Marine a rifleman.”

It’s a philosophy every recruit is indoctrinated with from Day One. No matter his MOS, every Marine is trained to be capable of picking up a rifle and heading to the front.

But, in today’s operating environment, many Marines never hear the crack of an enemy rifle. That’s why some grunts want a device to distinguish them from other Marines. The best way to do that, some oh-three-hundreds say, is to reserve crossed rifles for infantrymen.

Others, however, say that threatens to erode camaraderie and rob the Corps of that which sets it apart from all other services.

Read about the debate in this week’s Marine Corps Times on newsstands now. Or, subscribe here.


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  1. The crossed rifles distinguish Marines from Soldiers and other military services. I was in the Marines from 2002-2006. I am in the army now due to personal reason and if i could go back to the Marines, i would in a heart beat. Do not remove the crossed rifles. Semper Fi!!!

  2. Cpl Baytarian on

    I agree with John Duncan. They are a huge part of what seperates us from other services. We need to stop finding ways to further segregate our Corps. That’s one thing I do love about the Corps, is that no matter what it comes down to, you’re still a Marine. I don’t want to end up like the Army where they’re finding ways to distinguish certain units with certain patches on their uniforms, and dividing The Marines already did away with that, so why are we trying to take a step backward? If it really matters to the grunts, give them something extra, like Fifth and Sixth with the French Fourragere, but don’t take away from what other Marines have already earned. Semper Fidelis

  3. Sully Sullivan on


    I have read the Cpl.ideas several times and have a number of thoughts
    The MOS 03XX A recruit has the MOS designate as 0300. Does this qualify? When I was in boot camp, here it is straight from the DI’s Every one of you skumbags will be a rifleman when you leave here. some will have other MOS designations. But you will still be a rifleman. The only guarantee of of being designated MOS 0311 was to request Sea Duty. There it was The opportunity. Sure enough, I was quick to act. My dream come true.

    Spring of 1965 combat unit arrived and landed and after storming the beach, they were greeted by the press and the women were hanging flowere around their neck. But make no mistake. The war was on.
    Now here we are 2+ years. A Cpl. Crossed Rifle Blood Strip Fire Watch and Goodie Bar and Expert Crossed Rifle and Crossed Pistol held in distain by
    the Nam Vet. How could I have been so pathetically duped into Sea Duty.It took 3 months a request to have orders pulled so not to go on another Cruise to the Mediterranean, all the way up to the Bn Commander. I remember telling him about getting back from a 6 month cruise over there and wanted to spend some time with my wife and new born daughter. He looked at my service record, and looked up and said” “in three weeks, you ill have orders for west Pac, will you be back here asking for the same request for a change of orders. I said No Sir. He reached out to shake my hand and said request approved, Cpl.

    Now a 2 part question. for the Cpl who I have great respect and I thank you for your service. Had your designated MOS been that of radio operator what could you have done. The shame you are about to endure. How would you live with it what would you tell your family and friends.

    Don’t despair. There’s always the purple heart, or combat action ribbon. All you need now is a war. Finally by God we have a war and you have orders.Oh but you happen to be the best damn radio man the USMC has to offer .Now you are screwed again cause they want you at regiment or division command. You are now down to the heart. You get incoming at the headquarters and one lands right on you Guess the crossed rifles didn’t mean a damn thing, not a damn thing.

    Not done yet? Was this your lucky day the rockets landed on the other side of the base. You think, combat. I’m locked in. Not did another Marine have his MOS changed to 1369.

    .One more thing, I believe the Combat Action Medal is an award that is given as a result of participating in a fire fight.
    You may want to verify this.

    Sergeant David Sullivan
    USMC Veteran
    1965 – 1969
    MOS: 0311
    United States Marine Corps
    View My Shadow Box on

  4. Sully Sullivan on


  5. Zweizig, Zachary C on

    I do believe in the crossed rifles, as well as what the signify. As a Marine I have always felt a tremendous sense of brotherhood throughout the Corps regardless of any specific MOS. At that same time though I have felt, as I am sure many other 03’s have, a greater sense of brotherhood to those specific bastards that have fought, were wounded, and many whom have died by my side in combat. I think that this distinguishing device that is trying to be found by 03’s is, with hope, fully to signify that select brotherhood and not signify some superiority of job. There are devices for many other specialties throughout the Marine Corps, why not one for the grunts? This device should also be able to be given out to those with other MOS’s who have fought along side these grunts. For example radio operaters assigned to a line company, engineers assigned to a weapons company. It should be symbol that you and select others have fought side by side, clearing house after house, not sat in a comfy, plush barracks that have running hot showers, tvs in every room, and a regular 0900 to 1700 timeline on weekdays while overseas. So it is clear, I am against removal of the crossed rifles, but I am for a device to signify that greater brotherhood of 03.

  6. Daniel M. Clancy on

    Ok, the crossed rifles is a tradition, no sense in changing it now, as a grunt myself I believe there is absolutely no need for any type of distiungisher for our mos, half the grunts that are complaining about this probably never even saw combat, ie.. Getting shot at and returning fire, thats a whole other topic, If you want more recognition for your mos, join the army I hear they give out badges for just about anything, throwing grenades, etc..haha the pride you hold inside and battle scars and stories I have are all I need! As for every marine a rifleman, uhh I disagree highly!! Every marine able to use a rifle and qualify yes, the term rifleman is given to the mos, 0311, rifleman, look it up! Is there a radio rifleman, admin rifleman, no, there isn’t! They need to stop this asap! If you get offended it’s probably cause your not in fact a 0311(rifleman), try lat moving. Semper Fi

    Sgt. Daniel M. Clancy
    0311, 1st BN 4th Marines A Co
    ” be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet ”
    General Mattis

  7. If that happens then make my chevrons cheaper and tailor my uniforms for free. If you want to be distinguished from everyone else then join MARSOC.

  8. While your at it, go to the burials of the 220 Marines killed in Beirut in 1983(deadliest death toll rate since Iwo Jima in a single day). Dig them out, pull their cross rifles out of their rank, and put them back in their graves. Just so you can distinguish yourself from them and make yourselves feel better. I bet you if you ask any infantryman from that event they will disagree with you in a heartbeat. We are all one team…enough said.
    “Most of the Marines and Sailors killed in the bombing were administration, cooks, corpsmen and supply,” quote Col. Claude H. Davis III

  9. What a lot of these grunts nowadays don’t realize is that they aren’t the only thing going. Ok, their is only one MOS in the marine corps that matters 0311, but we are all in the fight together. Everyone supports everyone else. What happened in Chosin Resevoir? Everyone was fighting. Everyone. Just because the support marines don’t go on the front lines on a daily basis doesn’t mean we aren’t ready and willing to. Instead of taking the crossed rifles for yourself, and making us more like the navy, have a device or patch that signifies your MOS. Infantrymen could have a combat device like jumpwings or something similar. A patch like the army has would work too. The main point is that whatever job you choose to have, you are a United States Marine first. The crossed rifles were given to the corps by people that had done more than most of us can imagine, let it stand. Don’t mess with a good thing.

  10. Of course pogs are going to argue against grunts being the only ones to wear crossed rifles, but if a pog had to do an ounce of work that an 0311, a real rifleman, has to do then their argument would be much different. I think it is a good thing and it would bring great pride to the infantry.

  11. Grunt’s are well deserving of something to set them apart from other unit’s. Like recon have their little scuba man,air wing have their wing’s and shore party has their little red patch. But for them to want sole rights of the crossed rifle’s is being some what selfish. And they should first of all, back up and re-group. Because I recall, that all Marine’s go through the same boot camp and that all Marine’s also have to attened Infantry training school. Regardless of what their mos is going to be in the end. because all Marine’s have been,are and always’ will be basic rifleman.

  12. coming from an 0811 perspective all u mother fuckers need to shut up do your job try to do what everyother 0811 already knows how to do ive been to afghanastan been on patrols been in firefights been on the “front lines” and think its bullshit to think that your a better marine than i am. when has a grunt ever save an artillary man? but everyday in combat 0811’s save Marines not only grunts but marines everyday. Be humble marines becase thats all we have left while this marine corps crumbles to the ground more and more every year.

  13. We’re MARINES – all of us, 24×7. I seem to remember any clime and place? Even as a retiree, I’ll always be a Marine.

    My MOS isn’t taped on my uniform but USMC is. As a
    retired Communications Chief, I’d qualify for grunts and everything else (i.e., a grunt with a radio). I have (just like you) earned the title of a Marine.

    There is nothing more to it. Keep it simple Marines or we’ll get confused.

  14. I had no idea what I was getting into when I joined. I told the recruiter I wanted infantry but for some reason the recruiter whittled me down to going Motor T. I don’t know why. Maybe he got a bonus for filling quotas. Oh yeah he said I had a high ASVAB score. And don’t start that grunts are stupid shit. There are plenty of dumb asses in every MOS. I came in under the impression that I would be an Infantryman first and motor T second. I was a mechanic by the way. Well fuck. I knew that was bull as soon as I got to Camp Geiger. So I spent 4 years wondering why I did this. I will say this though I learned to like being a mechanic. It was a very cool job. You actually learn alot of cool stuff. I will say a POG life can vary from unit to unit. When I was in Okinawa it was turning wrenches all the time and Marine Corps bullshit 24/7. Until we got a new battalion and company CO who thought that every Marine should be a rifleman and sent alot of us to Jungle Warfare School. Which was great and various unit level field ops. During the unit level field ops we would have infantry Marines train us on infantry tactics like patrolling and ambushes, land nav, etc.. If our stupid POG NCO’s were left to train us they would just play games and make our lives miserable. The infantry guys actually gave a shit and made us feel like Marines. Same with the jungle warfare instructors. When I got to Pendleton at 7th ESB there were alot more oppertunites to train as well. I was attached to an EOD as their mechanic in the same manner as their Corpman and cross trained with them. We went to the field quite a bit and went to 29 stumps. At 29 palms I would fix trucks all day, cross train with the combat engineers and heavy equipment guys. At night we would patrol. Sometimes during the day we would do patrols and hump. The EOD guys were all prior infantry and would help us out with tactics. At night the op 4 would attack the base. And so this went on for a couple of months. All as I’m saying as a POG I got to do some Marine stuff and quite a bit of it. I’m not comparing that to an infantry Marines job. The one thing I noticed is that when I would ask the tankers to teach me about there tank or ask the grunts for tactical advice they were very happy to teach me stuff. My last 3 PFT scores were 300, 299, 299. I shot expert twice and made SGT at 2 years and 9 months. I know I’m just rambling and I never did see any combat. But I will say this about the subject of the cross rifles thing. Now that I’m out people will sometimes ask me if I was in the Marines or military etc. I tell them I was in the USMC. They ask me what I did in there. I say Motor T mechanic. They act disapointed and usually that’s were the conversation ends. So I would like you Infantry guys to give that a thought. Oh yeah do they make war movies about Motor T? NO. I got out because of stupid decisions. Shit I was only 21 when I got out. I will say this. If I could do it over again I would definatly go into the infantry or at least combat engineers or tanks. I cant blame you for hating POGS. I hated alot of them too. But there are certain types of POG. They are guys like me who do their MOS but have a tactical mindset and constantly try to improve themselves. There are POGS who are experts at their MOS but try to avoid the field and PT. Then there are the POGS that cant do shit and are obsessed with drill, uniforms, play cadence tapes in their cars, rat people out, pick up NCO and write Marines up for nothing, are weak, talk shit, act like they are special forces, etc. I really don’t think The Corps should have many POG mos. I feel alot of that shit could be done by the navy. Or maybe everyone should serve their first 2 years as a grunt. This would weed out the shitheads. Oh yes I know you combat arms guys have your shit bags too. If anyone reads this who is thinking about joining the military. Talk to other vets and make an informed decision on your career choice. I do feel combat arms is the tip of the spear. With that said I think infantry guys fail to see how miserable some POG MOS can be. Turning wrenches in the field can be a cold wet bitch and then you turn around and get gassed then hump. I also feel there are a bunch of POG MOS who could get into some shit and need to take learning how to fight very seriously. I mean if you were the enemy wouldn’t you want to hit that juicy supply convoy or kill those guys building a bridge. Why face all those infantry guys? When you can hit the soft targets. I think the corps should take “Every Marine a Rifleman” seriously and stop just saying that shit to make people feel better. That is gay. Don’t act like their isn’t any time. Stop doing useless garrison bullshit and get these Marines competent with weapons and tactics. A good bunch of motor T mechanics can keep their deadline down and get out there and train. Another thing either stand up and be proud to be a POG or lat move to 0300 or try for Recon. POG stop arguing with grunts. Go to the gym and learn how to grapple. Then if you are getting shit on do something about it. And stop saying that grunts need us to support them. The United States Marine Corps is never going to tell support Marines to turn their backs on the grunts because of this POG vs Grunt thing. Combat arms trains for combat all the time. As a POG you should be try to be as good at combat tasks as you can and kick ass at your MOS. As for me I’m keeping my crossed rifles and when some one asks me what I did in the Corps I will say Motor T mechanic and they can go get fucked. Sorry for going on but who gives a fuck its just the internet.

  15. Well, well. Has it really come down to this in our little corps? A Marine is a Marine (period) but a Marine who has earned the combat action ribbon is a few steps above the Marine who has done everything in his/her power to avoid field ops and deployments. Sorry, I was a wrecker operator and I had my fair share but to have a gunny in ’09 that had still not been on a deployment is total bull.

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