10 November 1996 

Being Called "Marine"

Anthony F. Milavic,
Major, United States Marine Corps (Retired)

The 11 November 1996 Marine Corps edition of the Navy Times celebrates this 221st birthday of our Corps by publishing a list of testimonials on "Why Marines Love Being Marines." In reading the words of those Marines, I was prompted to reminisce:

Graduation day 1954 was an emotional event for Platoon 418, MCRD, Parris Island, South Carolina. Not so much because Boot Camp was finally over; but because that was the first time since arriving that we were called, "Marines." Oh, we all knew we were in the Marine Corps for right there on our left breast pockets was a Marine Corps emblem with "USMC" stenciled underneath. Hell, didn't that mean we belonged? Sure it did. But, it was being recognized as a Marine . . . being called "Marine" by other Marines that made the difference. That day our commanding officer called us Marines; our drill instructors called us Marines; why even some other recruits called us Marines. We could finally say it ourselves, "I am a Marine!" We did and it felt good!

The years that followed was punctuated by duty a: Platoon Sergeant W/3/8, 2nd MARDIV; Sergeant of the Guard on Sea Duty; MP with 1st FAW; and Instructor-Guide, MC Cold Weather Training Center. By the time I joined the 1st Interrogation-Translation Team (1st ITT) in Hawaii as an Interrogator-Translator, my attitude had accumulated an abundance of salt. In '64, S/Sgt Tom Pentony, also a member of the 1st ITT, told me about some civilian who had called him "Marine" and he retorted by saying, "Since I'm wearing a Marine uniform, it's obvious that I'm a Marine. So, you can call me, 'Staff Sergeant!' I liked it, used it and it felt smug.

In 1966, I wound-up at The Basic School, Quantico, Virginia as a new warrant officer. Toward the end of the course, our class decided to give the school a gift of an oil painting of a Marine. As is the custom, we invited the subject of the painting to a formal unveiling and presentation. After the formalities, we all sat around and talked until about midnight when the Jack Daniels ran out. As the guest was about to walk out the door to his waiting car, he turned to us assembled new warrant officers and said, "I live down south of here at a place called Saluda. If any of you Marines are down that way, stop by and say, 'Hello.' " That night, I was reminded that Marine is the word, the ground truth and I would never again let salt or rationalizations tarnish it: "MARINE!," Chesty Puller, called me "Marine" and it has felt proud ever since.

Happy Birthday, MARINES!

Anthony F. Milavic 

Major USMC (Ret)