I entered the Marine Corps in 1982 and retired after a glorious, where-did-the-time-go, 20-year career in 2002. During that time, I worked with Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen, and from what I saw, we the Marines had the toughest outfit to be in. We were expected to be disciplined and always maintain the utmost military courtesy with senior personnel, no matter the service.
Many times, these senior personnel found our brand of discipline and courtesy a bit overbearing; I remember an Air Force captain at U.S. Central Command saying to me, "Steve, could you just relax a bit with the 'sir' stuff' It doesn't have to be the end of every sentence, does it'"
I thought about it for a moment, then said, "No ... sir." Hey, that's just who we are and what we Leathernecks will always be. The airmen didn't know what to make of us; the Sailors were used to us and didn't care; and Soldiers generally found us hilarious. They especially made fun of our propensity to call each other by our actual rank. In the Marine Corps, you darn well better add "staff," "gunnery" or "master" in front of sergeant, as befitting the person's rank, or you'd be strung from a high wire, drawers flapping in the breeze. "Gunny" is acceptable for a gunnery sergeant, and so is "Top" for master sergeant, but never just "sergeant."
That's just one of the things I have noticed, being back around Soldiers. It is through the eyes of a Marine that I view most things, including working for the 3rd Infantry Division as a contractor. I must say I am absolutely impressed with the quality of people in the division. I am impressed with the division's history - it is one of the most decorated units in Army history, as well as the one with the most Medal of Honor recipients. Its nickname, "The Marne Division," was taken from a World War I battle in France, something it shares with the Marine Corps ("Devil Dogs" was the name given to Marines by German soldiers facing the Corps for the first time during WWI). And the division has a cool motto directly related to its heritage: Rock of the Marne.
There are a few more things I have noticed (you knew this was coming):
Aca,!Ac How come the Army gets the cool uniforms' The Army Combat Shirt, for instance. Of course, for the ACS to look right, you have to have a 22-inch waist, but that's no problem for all these salad-eating young Soldiers who were raised on beans, curd and whatever other politically correct goop they were served in public school. At least that stuff is slightly more nutritious than the cardboard food my generation was served ... and I digress. Maybe the Corps does have such a uniform item; if so, I have yet to see it.
Aca,!Ac Seventy five percent of Soldiers wear Oakley brand sunglasses. Are these things issued in boot camp' I remember some of the first photos to come back from the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I was more struck by the cool look of the combat Soldiers in sunglasses than anything else. I understand protecting the eyes from the sun is a good thing - heck, my cheap Wal Mart clip-on sunglasses are an essential Old Retired Dude item - but dang, I want to look cool too. Guess I'll have to go shopping on the sunglasses website.
Aca,!Ac The Army likes to sing. I have been here for a little less than three weeks, and I have heard "The Army Song" and the "Dog Face Soldier Song" enough to last me a lifetime. I'm going to start cruising the halls of the Marne singing the Marines' Hymn. "The Army Song" is fine, but the first line in the "Dog Face Soldier Song" is a complete insult to my Leatherneck heritage: we are called "fancy pants Marine."
Okay, fine. I'll be a fancy pants Marine. But remember this, all you suave, smooth-singing Soldiers: "Marne" is one letter removed from "Marine."
But you ain't ever gonna get that letter! Semper Fi! And Rock of the Marne!