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By Tom Cole Marine Retired
Western Outdoor Times Special Features Writer 

All Of The Services Have Nicknames

How About Those Nicknames?

 

November 1, 2023



All of the services have nicknames for the other services and their members. It’s all part of the well-intentioned harassment we provide each other free of charge. For example, Navy personnel are referred to as ”squids”, “ducks” or “Marine chauffeurs”. Army as just mostly “grunts boys”. Air Force as “airdales” or “bus drivers”. Space force As “space cadets”. Marines as “soldiers of the sea”, “leathernecks”, “jarheads” and “Devil Dogs”. But, where do these come from?

NAVY: Squids & Ducks are associated with water hence those nicknames. Marine Chauffeurs: Is joking about the fact that Marine combat forces predominantly are transported everywhere in the world on Navy vessels. I myself have over 52,000 nautical miles on the seas with the Navy. Good food too.

ARMY: Grunts is grunts and although NOT all soldiers are grunts, they all get to retain that nickname.

AIR FORCE: Generally they are just Airdales because they do the aviation thing. They get the Bus Driver moniker due to the blue uniform they wear sometimes with a blue “bus driver”, jacket over their uniform. Pretty funny.

SPACE FORCE: Now these folks are pretty new to the nickname arena, but they still garnered the Space Cadet name because well, they’re new and what the heck: science fiction has space cadets. See the link. I’m sure they will be christened with some more in the future.

MARINES: The term Soldiers of the Sea was placed due to the Marine maritime affiliation with the Navy as Marines have served on Navy ships since their inception in 1775. Admiral David Porter in a letter to the Commandant of Marines in 1863 famously said, “A ship without Marines is like a garment without buttons.” The term Jarhead comes from the high-and-tight haircut that makes a Marine's head shaped like a jar. The term Leatherneck cannot be totally confirmed by history, but it is said to come from the leather stock Marines wore around their neck to prevent their neck from being cut during sword-play with sabers on ships. You can see what this looked like represented on the Marine dress blues collar today. And finally, Devil Dogs.

This was given to the US Marines at the battle of Belleau Wood in France by the opposing German army who faced the Marines there for the first time Marines served in WW I. The Marines were so tenacious, aggressive and violent in that battle that the Germans were afraid to face the Marines ever again for the remainder of the war and called Marines TeufelHunden (Devil Dogs).

Now I’m sure if we all sit down, we can all come up with more of these fun little tid bits, but for now I think this will. Enjoy.

 

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