From a OMV visitor:
Hello, I looked at your web site and I need answers, so who better to ask but a Marine.  My son who is 17 whats to join, I say NO, I have heard they are the worst of all branches.  My father was a Naval Officer for 30 years, I would rather him join that.  What are you thoughts?

(Should I stay or should I go-The Clash)

Well let me tell you a story. While I finished High School my senior year, I received a Scholarship to go into the Air Force Academy , enlist into the Air Force in order to play football for them. That being said, my mother didn’t want me to join the military out of my safety and showed it to me at the last minute just before the date on it expired. I chose not to go to the Air Force Academy for one single reason. I wanted to be a Marine.

When you say the ”worst of all branches” I’m going to assume you personally don’t know many Marines. That is something as “a very worried mom” you should fix. Your son is probably already talking to a Marine recruiter. Have you introduced yourself to him? We take new Marines very preciously as the American people are giving their country their prize possession.  That is something we never take for granted. “Worst of all branches”, I will again assume you mean as in the enemy thinks of us as their worse group of people to show up n their front porch after they have attacked America. It isn’t uncommon for a few Navy ships to park off the coast of a foreign country and have the fear and intimidation overwhelm them as they know those ships are filled with Marines.

If everyone could be a Marine, then we wouldn’t be the Marine Corps we are today. You should be proud that your son is considering it is as it is continuously the absolutely most challenging branch in the US military. We take pride in being selected to protect this country. We take pride in protecting the White House, Embassy’s around the world as only Marines protect these specific symbols of America. We take very serious pride in being a Marine.

Some state it’s almost like a cult or a club, perhaps a gun club. We seem to be audacious and over confident even some say arrogant. Perhaps. Back in the early 1940s, some even said we don’t need a Marine Corps any more as it was tethering on being disbanded, several times, until America was attacked. Then the world cried out for America to “Send in the Marines”.

My friend, there is simply one and will always be only one reason we have a Marine Corps.

Because the American people want a Marine Corps and what it represents.   
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a MARINE CORPS for the next 500 years."

We worship our customs and courtesies and we force our new Marines to learn about our history. Why? Because that is blood that runs through the Marine Corps. We don’t buy this phrase you may hear from other branches like “former “ Soldier or I use to be a Marine. Once a Marine, Always a Marine. Ask any Marines you meet about this. After you ask them “Are you a former Marines” most likely they will come back with the previous phrase.

Joining the Marine Corps has to be a decision made by the individual, because when the training is hard, the temps are high and nobody really seems to like you very much, you will have to find it in yourself to complete the training and eventually the mission and meet the mark set so high like so many before you have done to become Marines. Nobody will promise you a rose garden.

Should your son join the Marine Corps? I think you should ask your son, he’s a man now.

Semper Fidelis-Maj Pain

Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem."


  1. My blessings on anyone who joins any branch of the service today. Naturally, I’m pro Army, but they’re all hard for a young person.
    Mom — please do meet the recruiter. They will answer your questions and you can judge that aspect of it for yourself.
    Good luck to your son.

  2. Dear Mom,
    I share your pain. I’m a Marine Mom of 2. I raised all my kids to honor those who served; made them stand when the flag went by; took them to the cemetery on Memorial Day; taught them American history and to love their country. But when my son wanted to join the Marines, my heart screamed “no, no, no, let someone else do it.” The truth is that it CAN’T always BE someone else’s son.
    There are several pro-active things you can do to help your son as he decides what course his life should take, because it is truly HIS decision, not yours.
    First, if you have religious beliefs, get in the habit of spending a lot of time in prayer. You will need it if your son enlists, but right now, he needs it for guidance and direction in his life.
    Second, meet the recruiter and go out of your way to meet other Marines (they are the ones with Eagle, Globe, and Anchor flags on their cars, houses, shirts, hats, etc.) Find other Marine Moms. All of these are available on-line too. They will answer your questions and also become your support group if necessary.
    Third, think about who your son is and what his interests are. That was the deciding question which brought me to peace about the first Marine decision at our house. Of all my children (I have 7) he was the one most interested in, most temperamentally suited to being in the military, specifically the Marines. He did well, earning Sgt. in the four years before he got out. Not all people are so inclined.
    Fourth, support your son 100% in his decision. You’ve raised him, done your best, it’s time to let him fly. If he joins the military, WRITE LETTERS in boot camp, every day. Send packages (after boot camp). Pray. Update family members and friends. Find his unit’s on-line website and stay updated that way. Get your name on the family readiness officer’s email list. And be proud of the man he is, the man he is becoming.A Military Mom’s heart will always be filled with equal amounts of both pride and pain. Learn to live with it.
    As for my sons, one has survived combat. He doesn’t much care to argue over hamburgs or hot dogs any more; he’s learned what’s important in life and a great deal about himself. One enlisted after graduating from college. He wanted more self-discipline and to serve his country. He spent two years in Washington, DC doing ceremonial work and is now preparing for his first deployment (yes, I’m struggling with it again). Both of them were mighty fine young men before; both of them have been deepened and refined in the Corps. Both of them have met some great guys; both of them have met some jerks…just like in the civilian world. Both of them have had opportunities which they wouldn’t have found anywhere else. Both of them have earned respect from other military personnel and civilians alike. Both of them are glad they joined.
    I am too.
    Best wishes to you and your son.

  3. “Worst” hmmm that just blows me away.
    Worst as in the toughest, meanest baddest a–ed fighting machine this or any other country has EVER developed and deployed?
    Worst as in expects their recruits to train harder, jump higher, run faster, carry more, BECOME MORE then any other branch?
    Worst as in trains men to honor their God and country above all else?
    Worst as in trains their recruits not only to be the hardest working, longest fighting but the best of folks you’d ever want to meet?
    Yeah how much worse can you get!
    If he wants to be a Marine then sign him up don’t hold him back from his passion you would regret it, because he’ll always wish he had been a Marine!

  4. Worst enemy, best friend.
    My Mom sent my Father to fight WWII as a Marine, then to Korea as an Army Reservist. She sent her son (me) to fight the communists in Vietnam as a Marine.
    Your young man should make up his own mind. You, Mom, should decide what your mission is. Then act that way. If he listens to you about this, he isn’t Marine-material anyway. He should stay home, perfectly safe with you.
    Don’t worry though, Marines are protecting you both!

  5. Major P –
    What you you told your “visitor” – WAY TO GO!
    Too many people are uninformed and have no clue as to how vital our Devil Dogs are to the welfare and well-being of our country.
    Thank you and the rest of our Warriors for doing what you do best and doing it so well. You do it for those of us who love and respect you guys. You do it for those who don’t understand what a Marine is. You do it for those who speak for you. You do it for those who speak against you. You do it for America.
    I like what the Marine in the post above me said. “Your young man should make up his own mind. You, Mom, should decide what your mission is. Then act that way. If he listens to you about this, he isn’t Marine-material anyway. He should stay home, perfectly safe with you.” Well put!!
    God bless you guys.

  6. Dear Mom of a future Marine
    Congratulations. You have raised a young man to love his country and want to protect it. The Marines are tough they also have marshmallow hearts when it comes to kids and the downtrodden.
    As others have said, meet the recruiter, dialogue with other moms of young Marines. You may send a boy off to boot camp but you will receive a well trained, polite, caring young man back.
    Our family is multi military- Army(me) Navey(son)Coast Guard(nephew) Marines(nephew).
    We all get along well. We have a common bond- the love and well being of America and its people.
    We each have different missions and thats what drew each of us to our particular branch.
    Give him wings mom- watch him fly – and be proud that you have raised such a fine young man.
    Trust the Corps- each Officer takes personal responsibility for the men and women under them. They are family!!!
    Best of luck
    Major Mom

  7. Everywhere I was sent to be shot at and fire back, there were Marines. Where I grew up you went to the Corps or wanted to be Special Forces paratrooper, unless you wanted a career in electronics then you went Air Force or Navy – but you were probably a nerd or smart if you took those choices. Nothing changes much, Marines are fine folks and can really improve one’s life and life skills.

  8. As a parent, it is HARD to let your children go and be who they choose to be. As a parent, it is HARD to let your children grow up how they choose to. As a parent, it is HARD to let your children decide what is best for them. As a parent, it is HARD to let them go off into a war zone. As a parent, you HAVE to be proud of those choices they make, whether it be right or wrong in your eyes.
    There is no right or wrong branches of the military. They all serve our country.
    I can however tell you what the Marines have done for my child, including Major B and MamaTod’s Marine….they have come into my sick child’s life, full speed. They have given my sick child the courage and strength to fight her battles with her health. They have given my child the unbelievable pride of being a United States Marine. They have shown incredible honor, and most of the time, words didn’t even need to be spoken. They have ensured that my child has the dedication she needs to survive.
    Does this sound like ‘the worst’? I beg to differ.
    Talk to a Marine, don’t look at the clothing, look into the eyes. Don’t listen to the words, but listen to the conviction in which they are spoken. There is a reason why there aren’t vast numbers of Marines, they are elite, there is much expected of them, there is much that is demanded from them. I have yet to come across a Marine that is ashamed to say they are just that, a United States Marine.

  9. I would also like to commend Major P for even commenting on this. It can be read a few different ways, I know this mom is looking for answers, but I personally find it inappropriate to send to a Marine who happens to be in the middle of a war zone, not only fighting for the better of mankind but one that has been there on several deployments and VOLUNTEERING for this one, and tell him his branch is the worst.
    He could have taken a different path and ignored this all together, but yet, he took the time to answer. I am sure that there are many other pressing matters in front of him at the moment. To the lady, this is your Marines working once again for YOU.
    Did he shove this off as nonsense? No. Did he ignore you and call it ignorance? No. Did he get his much needed sleep instead of replying? No. Did he laugh it off as an over bearing mom? He didn’t get his sleep, he didn’t write to his family or the many people he knows that loves him or the hundreds of supporters he has, he didn’t try to scrounge around some much needed nurishment, he instead read what you wrote to him while in very harsh conditions and he took the time to think of a reply, look up things for you and replied.
    I for one am glad that I have Major P and the many many many other Marines that have come into our lives. I am glad for the many many many Marines that I will never meet, but have fought for me to live the life I live. I for one am glad for the Iwo Jima veteran my daughter has become good friends with. I am glad for the many Marines that laid down their lives in those most horrific battles of WW11 so that I am not under Japan’s rule and live as an American. I am thankful for the many young men that have taken the oath now, today, knowing they could go to war, knowing they ARE going to make a difference for someone.
    Once again, I ask you to go to speak to ANY Marine, not just a recruiter and do as I asked, look into their eyes and listen to their convictions….I also ask that you please send words of encouragment to those on the war front, to let them know they are appreciated, not looked at as the worst.

  10. My dad says the Navy is the worst and wouldn’t let me date Sailors and since he was a Sailor he should know. Everyone has their own opinion, but I love them all.

  11. Major Pain, recently I had the honor of meeting a Marine General. I told him how honored I am to support Marines. He thanked me. I said before I adopted my first Marine platoon, I thought all Marines were knuckledraggers. He said they are. I said I thought they loved to fight. He said they do. I said I had always thought that they would stick together against all enemies even when outnumbered. He said they do. I then told him that since adopting Marines and meeting many of them, I now knew there is no one better, braver, stronger or more steadfast than a Marine. He said I was right again. He then told me how much he loves each and every one of his Marines, how proud he is of them and their families. That is something that will stay with me forever because most men don’t express that love for one another that Marines do. Their bonds are incredibly strong.
    When asked why the Marines don’t have a football team like the Army, Navy and Air Force, a Marine answered, “Because we protect a country, not a quarterback.”

  12. I attended the 40th reunion of 3/26 last night (volunteer photographer). General Mundy spoke. He spoke of the time he had recruiting duty and met with a Marketing expert because the Marine corps was trying to improve its message.
    The expert asked him, “When I say Air Force, what comes to your mind?”
    Mundy replied, “Bombers, air planes, figher pilots.”
    The expert asked again, “How about the Navy?”
    “Carriers, submarines,” Mundy replied.
    Again the expert asked, “Army?”
    “Artillery, big guns, tanks.”
    “Marines?” the expert finally asked.
    Mundy thought for a few minutes for something unique about the Marine Corps, being a Marine you’d think this would be easy for him, but the best answer he could give to the marketing expert was, “Marines”.
    “There is your problem,” the expert said, “When you mention all of the other branches, they invoke images of ‘things’. When you say ‘Marines’, it invokes images of people. The Marine Corps is about its people.”

  13. dear mom of the future-Marine…
    please take it from a 37-yr old female who 20 years ago wanted so much to be a Marine. someone in my life discouraged me (a parent i idolized), and at the time, there was no covert way to go about emailing a recruiter, etc… but i carried that want with me in silence until about 5yrs ago… when my ex’s niece was in boot camp @ Parris Island. i wrote her often, and one night i broke down in tears…realizing how i was vicariously living thru her boot camp and enlisting.
    please. do not discourage your son’s dreams. there ARE some things in this life you are too old to do. i regret every day that i did not persue becoming a Marine. i would have been a fine Marine and would have loved every blessed second of it… i still dream of being a Marine, it is in my heart so deeply…and i find it hard to let go of this dream that is not going to ever come true in my lifetime ~ the grief would be too much.
    god bless you and your son always!
    semper fi…

  14. Hello Mom of Future Marine to be
    When I graduated from High School I wanted to join the Marines. I contacted a Recruiter he asked me many questions.
    When the question of Health came up, I honestly spoke to him about my broncial asthma. That’s when my dream ended for the Marines as well as any other Military Service.
    When I got home my Mom asked me how it went as I told her she did a dance in the kitchen. She was estatic! Me, I was heart-broken and NO ONE CARED.
    I ment with the Marine recruiter one more time and he took the time to listen to me as I poured out my broken heart. He spoke to me of the things that I could still do with Honor and Pride and helped me to get past the joy of my Mom and the heart-broken disappointmen IN AND OF myself.
    If your son could become as this Marine Recruiter was then you should not be afraid of his choice. The Marines care very deeply about the people who have a great need and desire to wear the Egale, Globe and Anchor and it shows in every way.
    As for me…I have been reaching for that Pride and Honor that the Marine Recruiter spoke of so many years ago because for the last 2-1/2 years I have been supporting the Marines with letters and care packages. So, after 41 years, I am finially serving the Marine Corps in a way that brings me a small amount of joyfull peace and full-fill-ment knowing that I am sending a piece of Home to those who ARE Marines.
    Better Late than Never!!
    Hoorah — Semper Fi Marines One and All. . . . .
    from one who dreamt of being a Marine.

  15. Ma’am, let your kid join the Marines. It takes guts to do that, and he’s got the guts, so let him go and support him all the way. If your kid wants to join, he probably will. If you’re not gonna support him, you’ll tear him apart, and it’ll be extra hard on the both of you. Marines the worst branch? Snort! The United States Marine Corps is the best of any branch of any Military anywhere, and anybody who says differently isn’t in the least bit ejicated. Hooah and Semper Fi, Devil Dogs, it’s Do or Die! I support y’all 100% and anything after that. Thanks for all,

  16. Dear Mom
    I too am a military mother. My son joined the Canadian Army at 17, yes I had to go and sign the paperwork to allow this to happen.That was almost five years ago and I couldn’t be any prouder of him.He is a much better person for it.Let your son decide,at 17 if he is man enough to walk up to you and say this is what I want to do then he is better then a lot of teens.He is already showing some of the signs of a good soldier, courage,and pride.

  17. The important person in this is the son.
    Pay particular attention to Marine@Heart’s comment.
    I have met a lot of people who “wanted to join” 10 years later.
    There is a definite sadness in them.
    Don’t be the mom who’s son said .. my mom didn’t want me to so I didn’t.
    Marines are among the best people I ever had the chance to associate with.
    Semper Fi

  18. It’s scary when your child grows up, any time… knowing that Marines are “first to fight” and are truly the most bad as** of the group…it’s REALLY scary. They go first into the deepest pits, they fight for you and me and our whole way of life, they get little pay and even less gratitude while they’re humping it out in the burning sands. My brother is a Marine and we were really worried that he wouldn’t come back from Desert Storm. He did, thank God, but if he hadn’t, we would have been proud that he served his country with the highest honor and he gave everything he had to it. Mom, take the advice of several here and go meet the recruiter, get to know him and what the Marines are about. You’ll really feel better knowing what your son stands for. My brother’s recruiter came around all the time and we were proud to know him. Be proud that you raised a son that takes pride in what he does and wants to be the best. Like they said above, it can’t always be “someone else’s son”… or brother… or husband… sometimes it has to be ours. Not every man is a Marine… the best of the best. Thank you to every Marine who reads this! Thanks Maj Pain!!!!! You rock!!!!
    One Proud Sister

  19. Miss Em…
    we need to have lunch or something and talk… your story sounded so much like mine it was scary…
    feel free to email me…
    ladybugkip (at) yahoooooo (dot) com

  20. You either love us or hate us. America loves us while the enemy hates us. As a leader in the Marine Corps it is my duty to train and press my younger Marines as further than they have ever been pushed. In the end I will return a better man (or woman) back to society.

  21. Gosh, I guess I may have read ‘Mom’s’ post a little differently than most. I think by worst, she meant the hardest training, hardest fighting, in the worst places, etc. and that other branches are easier and safer, and some are, not all of course.(for instance the Army Airborne at the KOP in A-Stan) They all have a job that’s important to our country, the Marines just seem to have the ‘worst’ ones. ie dangerous, most of the time. As a Mom I understand, it’s always a balancing of pride in them and fear for them.

  22. I, too, am the mother of a Marine. Even those of us who saw their child’s enlistment coming for years (family tradtion, four years of MCJROTC, the recruiter calling….) had that moment of gut clenching “Not my baby!”. That means we are good parents.
    The coin my son gave me after his MOS school graduation reads, “Marine Parents. It is because you protected him, that he is now willing and able to protect you.”
    You raised a son who has the calling to be a warrior, and despite political climate that blows hot and cold, it IS a calling, in my opinion – just like a call to the ministry.
    Get aboard and their forums. You’ll meet parents and family from all over the country and have a place to share your fears and ask your questions.
    We say over there, “My kid enlisted, but I got drafted.” You are at the start of what will be the most frightening and wonderful ride of your life – rather like parenthood itself.
    Be strong – you raised a Marine and now you can’t let him down.

  23. To the concerned mother,
    I too wished to become a marine right out of high school. I remember having this dream since the age of 16 (I am now 21). While at a patriotic breakfast on July fourth, a speaker, whom i can no longer remember, acknowledged each branch of the military and its veterans. The man asked each to stand up as he thanked them for their service to this country. He went through each as the crowd cheered. Army, Air Force, Navy, then finally…the Marines. As the speaker said the word “Marines” my mother leaned over and said, “Watch how tall these guys stand.” An elderly gentleman next to me stood up with the aid of a cane, but I will never forget the way he held his head and the look of pride in his eyes. After graduating high school I met with a recruiter but stopped after the persistent pleas from my parents not to join the service. As I stated earlier, I am now 21 yrs old and am currently working with a Marine recruiter to be able to enlist. I realized, after the passing of 2 friends, that life is not measured by length or wealth or lack of hardship. Life is measured by the honor that we live with. The fact that your life may be taken in the fight for our freedom is ever present in any military branch, even more so in the Marines perhaps. However I believe it is the greatest gift a person can give…their own life for those they love. Best wishes to you and your son.

  24. I get the anxiety an all, but ‘the worst of all the branches’ is a bit over the top. Like you said, it’s the young man’s (or woman’s) decision, because it’s ridiculous to think, regardless of good intentions, that a parent is going to be able to guide him (or her) toward something that seems remotely as challenging and gratifying. If the kid wants to join the Marines, get behind him. Pushing him in any direction other than the one he wants to go, you may as well be pushing him backward.

  25. It is possible to love your country quietly but deeply, without loud posturing and jingoism. Two of my favorite cousins are Marines. As young men, they enjoyed the macho camaraderie. Neither made it a career or feels it helped him with his future–rather, enlistment delayed their getting started in their careers, and they feel they would have done better to get an education FIRST. Both felt they were mislead by their recruiters, who implied that it would be relatively easy to become an officer after enlisting, and that they were almost certain to receive assignments in their areas of interest. Neither returned as he had been, and that was not a good thing. Now my own son (17) wants to enlist, and my heart is broken. Discourage him? I can’t; it truly is his life to live. But with his personality and best interests in mind, I think it’s a disastrous waste. I understand why the Marines want my loyal, intelligent, enthusiastic, athletic, and sensitive son. I don’t understand what he will get out of the deal. And, selfishly, I don’t believe I will ever get him back.

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