Thursday, June 12, 2014

Be a Marine!

"Be a Marine" read the 1940 style poster archived at the entrance to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia not far from Quantico. The female Marine depicted was holding a clip board, I noted, but if this was any indication that female Marines would be clearly and fairly depicted in the following exhibits, I'd be impressed.

Turning the corner, I see a dozen photos of female Marines, three erected beside the quote, "The Marine Corps...took a boy and made a man." A cynical voice inside me whispered, 'Figures'.

An hour later, about half way through the WWII section, I see the full poster. "Be a Marine" read the header. The footer, however, read, "Free a Marine to Fight!"

By the close of that Great War, almost all base personnel were female. They weren't Warriors, however. Their enlistment into 125+ MOS’s, (Military Occupational Specialty/AKA “jobs”), enabled 90% of male Marines to be deployed to the front lines.

Gives the Corps’ motto Semper Fidelis a whole new meaning. Particularly since that war saw several hundred thousand women—three quarters of which actually volunteered--serving in combat roles.  Only a quarter of male forces volunteered.  Sixty seven female enlisted were even captured by the Japanese and held in POW camps for two years. Yet, we never hear about them.

Know what else gives ‘Always Faithful’ a new slant? The other Marines our tax dollars employ NOT be Warriors. The Pentagon spent over $388 million last year employing 5,000 military band members. 

The United States Marine Corps is known for its tough and ready specialized front line warriors. Yet, those enlisted into the Marine Corps Band are not trained for combat—in that they are exempt from boot camp--and will never see combat. Ever. Not under any circumstances.

The President’s Own, the crème de la crème hired to entertain the Big Guy and DoD’s elite, receive permanent posts in metropolitan Washington, are never deployed, and are never restationed. 

Most band members are college educated, many with advanced degrees, and upon acceptance are appointed to the rank of Staff Sergeants at an E-6 pay-grade. Meaning, with dependents, they are raking in $60K, gross annual income. AND, unlike other enlisted, military musicians are guaranteed pay raises every two years.

Comparatively, the start-up salaries of newbee members of orchestras around the country range from $30K to almost $200K, though many do not receive paid health benefits or pensions. Nor, I might add, are they members of our national defense paid from the public kitty.

A hot topic during last season’s budget process when all banches but the Marines had made personnel cuts. The Marines, though, increased their budget by $6.4 million. That’s hardly surprising since its America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization created by an act of congress. 

The Marine Corps currently has 12 bands. They are currently auditioning for cello.


  1. Great insight into another of many Govt. wasteful spending programs that our so call leaders allow to continue. Another subject you may want to explore is why in all the programs that are coming out of World War 2 there is very few Hispanic soldiers shown, yet they won more medal of honor than any other ethnic group ??????????????????????

  2. Thanks for the prompt! In researching your lead, I compiled enough information to write a section on WASP and Stalin's Falcons. Keep an eye out for the Hispanic installment.

  3. That story, called Pistol Packin' Mamas: WWII's Forgotten Pilots. It can be found on my creative writing site : . Thanks for reading.