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The administrative section of a battalion. Administrative personnel are usually given 01 MOSs.


The intelligence section of a battalion. The 02 MOS is assigned to intelligence personnel.


The operations and training section of a battalion.


The logistics and supply section of a battalion.

Sage Green

One of the names for the color of utility uniforms. See also OD.


Nickname for the air mattresses at one time provided to Marines for field use.

Sally Port

A gate or passage into a fortified place.


Referring to someone or something with a lot of experience, particularly at sea. A salty Marine is one who has been around a while. A salty uniform is more faded and obviously used but still sharp. Salty language is language salted with profanities or obscenities.

Sam Browne

A leather duty belt worn by commissioned and warrant officers consisting of a belt around the waist with a second belt running from left hip over the right shoulder back to the left hip. It would give added support for the wearing of a sword. Worn only for special occasions such as parades and formal events.

San Diego, California

Location of the Marine Corps' west coast Recruit Depot it is located in San Diego adjacent to the airport. See Hollywood Marine. Parents, friends and other relatives of Marine Corps Recruits can find help and understanding among the members of myMarine.

Sand Crab

A sideways-walking beach scavenger. It refers to a civil service employee or a civilian contractor on board ship.

Sand Fleas

Parris Island pests which delight in climbing on recruits attempting to stand at attention.


A-1 aircraft.


An army diminutive of sergeant and a good way to get your ass kicked when talking to a Sergeant of Marines.


(World War II through Korea) A uniform fabric that is made with a “carding” process that gives it an unique appearance, added durability and launderability.  Used in various uniforms from Class A through utilities.  It is still produced and sold today but is not in use for any uniform in any service.


M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. The automatic weapon for each fire team. It replaced the BAR after Vietnam.

Say Again

Repeat. Particularly important when talking to an artillery or mortar unit on the radio. Repeat has specific consequences.

Scarlet and Gold

The official colors of the U. S. Marine Corps as ordered by Major General Commandant John A. Lejeune in 1921.

School Circle

An informal circle, sitting or standing around a Drill Instructor or other instructor for the purpose of receiving training.

School of Infantry

The MOS school for the Infantry career field. SOI East is at Camp Lejeune, NC and SOI West is at Camp Pendleton, CA. Every Marine graduating from boot camp at Parris Island, SC or San Diego, CA goes next to SOI. New Marines who have not been assigned an 0300 (Infantry MOS) report to Marine Combat Training for four weeks of intensive training in combat weapons and techniques because "Every Marine is a Rifleman." After MCT they are sent to their MOS school. New Infantry Marines report to the School of Infantry's Infantry Training Battalion for MOS training. In addition, SOI operates an Advanced Infantry Training company to teach NCOs basic combat leadership skills as well as a Staff Non-Commissioned Officer's Academy.


Information, usually unofficial but often correct. See Bum Scoop.

Screw the Pooch

To make a major mistake, particularly one that will have serious ramifications.


A recruit who takes notes and makes lists for the platoon and the drill instructors. This is an informal position selected by the drill instructors.


Intricate drawings and etchings, usually on whalebone. Sailors would spend many of the boring hours at sea creating these masterpieces of art.


The only English language word that can be made from the letters U-S-MC.


See Shitbird or Maggot.


A keg of water on board ship around which sailors would gather and swap tales and gossip. Present use is as unverified information passed informally as well as a water fountain or bubbler.

Scuz Brush

The cleaning brush included in the PX issue used for cleaning floors and porcelain objects. As with all other items in the PX issue, the recruit pays for this item from his or her first pay.


Staff (or Squadron) Duty Officer. The representative of the commander during non-duty hours.

Sea Bat

A mythical creature used in a practical joke by salty Marines and sailors against inexperienced compatriots, usually aboard ship. There are a number of permutations of this joke, some quite nasty. One is that a newbie is shown a helmet lying on the deck and is told that someone has captured a sea bat. He is then told to position himself with one hand on each side of the helmet so that when the helmet is lifted he can capture the bat with his hands. The "bat" turns out to be a pile of feces or some other nasty substance.

Sea Buoy

See Mail Buoy.

Sea Dip

An effect of over tightening the hoop in a Frame Cover, causing the sides to curve downward. A sign of saltiness sometimes considered fashionable among enlisted Marines. Never done by any officer other than a Mustang, and then only with great subtlety.

Sea Lawyer

Someone who appears to know all the angles and methods to escape punishment or who provides legal advice while not a lawyer.

Sea Snake

A legendary creature for which newer crew members would be sent to find or which would be used to intimidate inexperienced members of the ship's compliment. During Vietnam, however, great masses of white churning fish would follow the illuminated hull of the USS Repose (hospital ship) as she plied her course at Yankee Station.

Sea Story

A tale. Often containing a small grain of truth somewhere.


A large canvas bag into which sailors and Marines stuff their entire issue of uniforms and personal items when being transferred. In the Army it is a duffel bag.

Seabag Drag

See Bag Drag.


Navy Combat Construction Battalions.

Seagoing Bellhop

Derogatory term for Marines.

Seagoing Marine

The first mission of the Marine Corps. A Marine, trained at Sea School and assigned to the Marine Detachment on board ship. While most Marines at some time in their career will spend time on ship, only those Marines assigned as members of the ship’s compliment earn this title. The insignia of a seagoing Marine is a gold seahorse superimposed on a gold anchor within a crimson lozenge. In 1998 all Marine Detachments on board ships were disbanded, thus ending a tradition that dated to 1775 and the first duty of the Marine Corps. See USS Marine Association.


SEa, Air, Land. The guerilla and reconnaissance force of the U. S. Navy, specially trained for covert operations.  They were organized out of the Underwater Demolition Teams of World War II fame.


An enlisted sailor in the pay grade E-3, equivalent to a Marine lance corporal. The non-rated grades wear slash marks on the upper left arm only. Seaman is a "deck force" rate and is indicated with white slashes. Airman is an "aviation" rate and is indicated with green slashes. Fireman is a mechanical rate and is indicated with red slashes. Constructionman is for members of Navy Construction Battalions (Sea Bees) and the slashes are blue.

Seaman Apprentice

An enlisted sailor in the pay grade E-2, equivalent to a Marine private first class. See Seaman.

Seaman Recruit

An enlisted sailor in the pay grade E-1, equivalent to a Marine private. See Seaman.

  Second Front

  A series of bars and clubs along US 17 near Jacksonville, NC where Marines at nearby installations went to after Court Street in downtown Jacksonville was "cleaned up."

Second Lieutenant

The first grade of commissioned officer indicated by a gold bar on the collar of the uniform. The pay grade is O-1 and is the same in the Army and the Air Force. In the Navy and Coast Guard the rank is ensign and is additionally indicated with a broad gold stripe topped by a gold star (or insignia of staff branch) in the Navy or a gold shield in the Coast Guard worn on shoulder boards or jacket cuffs. Sometimes pejoratively called a "butter bar."

Secretary of the Navy

The civilian appointee of the President responsible for the efficient management of the Navy and Marine Corps. Abbreviated SecNav.


To stop work or to lock up for safe keeping.

Semper Fidelis

Latin for “always faithful”. The current motto of the U. S. Marine Corps. Often expressed informally as Semper Fi.  Selected by Commandant McCawley to replace "Fortitudine" which had been the motto of the Marine Corps in its early days.

Semper Gumby

An unofficial motto of the Marines in a mixed Latin/cartoon dialect meaning “always flexible”.

Senior Drill Instructor

See Drill Instructor

Sergeant Major of Marines

The senior enlisted person in a battalion, regiment, group, wing or higher. His or her insignia consists of three chevrons and four rockers with a star between the chevrons and rockers. The pay grade is E-9 and it is shared with the rank of master gunnery sergeant. In the Army the rank is the same but the insignia contains one less rocker. In the Air Force the rank is chief master sergeant and the insignia is a technical sergeant insignia with three chevrons on top. In the Navy and Coast Guard the insignia is worn on the left arm only and consists of a chief petty officer insignia with two stars above the eagle.

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

 This is a billet and not a rank. He or she is the senior enlisted advisor to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the insignia is the same as a sergeant major except that, between the chevrons and rockers is an eagle globe and anchor flanked by stars. The pay grade is E-9 and is shared with sergeants major and master gunnery sergeants. The other services have equivalent billets. The Sergeant Major of the Army’s insignia replaces the star with the Army eagle flanked by two stars. The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force wears a chief master sergeant rank except that the silver star is contained within a wreath. The Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and the Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard wear chief petty officer insignia with three stars above the eagle.

Sergeant of Marines

The second step in the noncommissioned officer ranks is indicated by three chevrons with crossed rifles. The pay grade is E-5 and is equivalent in the Army to a sergeant who wears three chevrons. In the Air Force a staff sergeant wears four inverted chevrons with the top three covered at the angle by a blue field and a silver star. In the Navy and Coast Guard the rank is petty officer second class and is indicated by two inverted chevrons under a Navy eagle, on the left arm only.

Sewer Pipe Sailor

A member of the submarine service (pejorative).


Servicemen's Group Life Insurance. GI Life Insurance.

Shallow Water Sailors

Coast Guardsmen. There is a Navy joke that inquires of a Coastie of short stature, how he was able to enlist. When asked what is meant by that the response is, "You guys in the Coast Guard have to be 6 feet tall so that when your ship sinks you can walk ashore."

Shanker Mechanic

A Navy doctor.


  A second lieutenant (specifically) or a newcomer (generally).


Anyone who has crossed the Equator and gone through the initiation. All others are Polliwogs.

Shelter Half

Half of a pup tent. Each Marine carried one half so that two Marines could buddy up, snap or button their shelter halves together and make a pup tent.

Shepherd Jr., Lemuel C.

Twentieth Commandant of the Marine Corps from Jan 1, 1952 until Dec 31, 1955 in the rank of general.  He served as a Marine officer during World War I, World War II and the Korean War. He was born in Virginia on Feb 10, 1897 and died in California on Aug 6, 1990. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Shield, The

Subdued metal collar device with a Caduceus on a shield worn by Medical corpsmen who are below the rank of chief petty officer, while in field uniform. The shield is worn on the left collar while a subdued rank insignia is worn on the right collar.


A large vessel equipped for deep-water operation. A sailing vessel furnished with a bowsprit and three masts (a mainmast, a foremast, and a mizzenmast), each of which is composed of a lower mast, a topmast, and a topgallant mast, and square-rigged on all masts.

Ship Over


Ship's Complement

The sailors and Marines who make up the permanent party of a ship, as opposed to those who are assigned for a single cruise or action. See Seagoing Marine.

Shit Bird

A screw-up. Someone who regularly gets into trouble.

Shit on a shingle

Ground beef or sausage gravy served over toast.  A breakfast staple.

Shit Pot

Toilet or a large group as in "A whole shit-pot full of Army pukes."

Shit Sandwich

A bad or barely tolerable event. Usually a mission or activity that has gone bad.


A trash can or to remove a person from his or her position.


A pejorative term for the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.


Nickname given to CH-53 helicopters due to the huge amounts of exhaust smoke that they "shit" out of their exhausts. See Super Shitter.

Shock Troop

(Vietnam) A form of address between Marines, mostly in-country.


Close to ETS or PCS. An attitude involving lack of interest and inattention. Someone who is short is known as a Shorttimer.

Short Arm Inspection

A physical inspection of the genitals usually by a corpsman, often in formation following Cinderella Liberty in a foreign port. It was intended to identify the early signs of sexually transmitted diseases early enough to be treated properly.

Short Round

An artillery shell that falls short of its intended target, often because of defective gunpowder or a miscalculation. Also a diminutive person.

Short Timer

Anyone nearing the end of an enlistment or an assignment.

Shoup, David M.

A World War II Medal of Honor recipient and twenty second Commandant of the Marine Corps he served in that capacity from Jan 1, 1960 until Dec 31, 1963. A graduate of DePauw University, he was a member of the Reserve Officer Training program and served for a month as an Army Reserve infantry second lieutenant before being commissioned into the Marine Corps. He received the Medal of Honor (and a second Purple Heart Medal) while in command of the 2nd Marines in the spearhead of the assault on Tarawa Atol. Following his retirement from the Marine Corps he became a vocal critic of the Vietnam War. He was born Dec 30, 1904 and died Jan 13, 1983. And most momorably he was CMC when your editor became a Marine.

Sick Bay

The location on ship where sick and injured people are treated.

Sick Bay Commando

Someone who is frequently at sick call. A malingerer.

Sick Call

A designated time and place for people to report themselves as sick and unable to perform their duties.


  (Comtalk) The letter S.

Sierra Hotel

Shit Hot meaning the best or in prime form.

Sight Picture

Aligning the rear and front sights of a weapon so that the bull rests directly upon the sight blade. Firing alignment.

Signal Bridge

A small open deck in the superstructure of a ship, usually above the bridge, for the hoisting of flags and pennants which were used to signal to other ships and to shore installations from ship.


(OIF) Suck It The Fuck Up.


Usually, Your Six, meaning your back. From the clock system of identifying an object when 12 is to your front, 6 is to your rear.

Six By

Originally a truck with six-wheel drive, a deuce and a half. Now any multi-wheeled, multi-drive vehicle.

Six, Six and a Kick

The ultimate General Courts Martial punishment consisting of 6 months forfeiture of pay, 6 months confinement at hard labor and a dishonorable discharge.

Six, The

A full colonel from the pay grade (O-6).


Information, usually accurate. When it is known to be accurate it is often called Straight Skinny.


A term of respect for a company grade Marine officer (usually a captain). Not used much in the modern Marine Corps. Also, a commander of a small vessel.


A none too bright Marine.


Motrin™. The name is used supposedly because Navy Corpsmen handed out the pain killers like candy.


Underwear. More specifically, white baggy boxer shorts.

Skivvy Honcho

Lothario or ladies man.

Skivvy House

Brothel. Whore House.


A small space or time, from Japanese. Sometimes Mo Skosh.


Simonov Soviet or Chinese made semiautomatic 7.62 x 39 mm rifle. Standard Viet Com infantry rifle with a distinctive sound and high accuracy.


To treat with a reduced level of emphasis. To give someone slack. To ease off.


(Vietnam) A Huey helicopter with the seats and armament removed (or never installed) so that a larger number of combat troops could be transported. To distinguish them from "gun" ships.


Hamburgers, from the Naval reference to the amount of fat and grease on them, allowing them to slide down the throat. "With Lids" refers to cheeseburgers.

Slit Trench

See Straddle Trench.

Slop Chute

A bar for lower enlisted grades having few amenities and serving only low alcohol content beer--no hard liquor.

Small Arms

Weapons of small caliber and usually requiring only one person to operate as opposed to crew-served weapons. This is not a precise term as some crew-served weapons, such as smaller machine guns are usually called small arms.

Small Boat and Barge School

The U. S. Naval Academy.


Shoulder Launched Multi-Purpose Assault Weapon. A missile firing weapon which fires an 83 mm dual mode encased rocket which detonates in either a fast mode against a hard target or a slow mode against a soft target.


Boxing matches pitting unit champion boxers against one another.

Smoking Lamp

When the smoking lamp is lit it is all right to smoke; when it is out, smoking is prohibited. From the naval phrase. Fire is the most dangerous threat at sea so, particularly on wooden ships, it was necessary to strictly control the use of fire and smoking materials. A lamp was hung on the forecastle, where sailors were allowed to sit and relax, and the sailors knew they could smoke their pipes if the lamp was lit. If it was not lit, smoking was not allowed.


Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.


A pejorative term used in the 1960s in reference to Women Marines.

Snake Pit

(Not PC)Living quarters of female enlisted Marines (BAMs or WMs).

Snap and Pop

Term used to describe sharp and quick rifle drill, as would be seen when viewing the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team.

Snap In

Practice, especially on a rifle range.

Snapping in for a survey

(WWII through 1960)  A question asked of a person who is screwing up.  As noted above, snapping in is practice and a survey refers to something that was found unserviceable and was discarded (or discharged).


Staff Noncommissioned Officer. An NCO in the rank of staff sergeant, gunnery sergeant, master sergeant or first sergeant, sergeant major or master gunnery sergeant and sergeant major of the Marine Corps. While officially Enlisted Marines they are set apart much like Commissioned Officers are set apart from enlisted Marines.

Snoopin' and Poopin'

(Vietnam) Patrolling or walking in the bush.

Snot Locker

The nose. Used mostly as in "I'm gonna hit you in the snot locker."


A low ranking enlisted Marine.


Special Operations Capable. A designation usually placed after the title of a Marine unit and usually within parenthesis (SOC). See Marine Expeditionary Unit as an example of an organization that can be given this additional designation.


School of Infantry


A member of a military force that trains for and fights in wars. General reference is to a member of the Army while in fact soldiering is practiced by Marines, certain sailors and some airmen.

Sommers, David W.

Eleventh Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps serving from June 27, 1987 through June 27, 1991. He was born on Feb. 18, 1943 in St. Louis, MO.


Standard Operating Procedure.


An international distress signal used mostly with Morse code communications. See Mayday. Also, Shit on a Shingle, a breakfast meal consisting of creamed chipped beef served on toast.

Soup Cooler

The mouth.

Soup Sandwich

Not squared away. Not sharp or crisp.


Shore Patrol. Duties performed by both Navy petty officers and Marine noncommissioned officers, usually as an additional duty, to police sailors and Marines on liberty in a foreign or domestic port. Not a professional MOS but now often performed by MPs. See MP.


A-1 aircraft.


Semper Paratus, Always Ready. The motto of the U. S. Coast Guard and the group name for a woman in the Coast Guard. Also a wooden or metal pole such as a boom, yard or bowsprit used to support sails. See Women Marines.

Special Sea and Anchor Detail

A shipboard situation in which everyone has a special job on entering and leaving a port. This may include Manning the Rails.

Spider Hole

(Vietnam) An enemy fighting hole, always well hidden.

Spit Shine

An unauthorized reference to “high gloss footwear”. It came by its name honestly as it had been customary to use saliva when shining leather shoes and boots before Corfam became the norm.


To drive an Amtrac off the back of an amphibious ship.


(Vietnam era) A term for black people (in its earliest use the word was not derogatory, and was in fact complementary and used openly by both black and white Marines, but eventually it became an insult through misuse). Sometimes spelled Spliv. The etymology is unknown.

Splice the Main Brace

(Civil War) A Naval term indicating that the crew should muster for their regular issue of Grog. The issue of Grog on U. S. flag vessels ended during the Civil War. The main brace is the line (not rope) that holds the main sail in place. It was always a target of battle and after the battle the first duty of most sailors was to take care of the main brace and splice it if it was torn. On completion of that arduous task it was customary to take a drink of strong spirits to also strengthen the men. The NATO signal flag code is  A-D-2-8 which is flown on ship when spirits are being distributed.

Split Tail

A female.


(Vietnam)A gunship (See Puff the Magic Dragon).


Wife or husband usually proceeded with "Dependent". (see Dependent Wife)

Spy Rigging

A rope designed to be hung from a helicopter to which Marines have been attached for the purpose of inserting them into or extracting them from dense jungle or other places where helicopters cannot land. Sometimes called Dope on a Rope.


A unit consisting of a three fire teams. It is assigned to a platoon and is usually led by a sergeant or staff sergeant.

Squad Bay

The living quarters for a recruit platoon it consists of a large open space where bunk beds are set up, a head, a drill instructor’s hut and a small meeting area. Also, any open living space for Marines.

Squared Away

In good shape, everything in place, prepared.


A pejorative term for sailors. It is said that a squid is the only fish in the sea so screwed up it swims backward.


Service Record Book.


Social Security Account Number. Attack Nuclear Submarine


Social Security Number. Nuclear Submarine.


Shit, shower and shave or Skin So Soft, a skin moisturizer by Avon that also repels bugs. Skin So Soft works so well that it is part of the initial PX issue in boot camp (the cost of which comes out of the recruit's first pay).

Stacking Swivel

A clip near the muzzle of most military rifles allowing for the stacking of weapons when in a garrison setting. Often a euphemism for the neck. A drill instructor might, for instance, threaten to grab a recruit by the stacking swivel if he or she were particularly upset with the recruit.

Staff Sergeant of Marines

The first staff noncommissioned officer rank is indicated by three chevrons with a single rocker connecting them and crossed rifles in between chevrons and rocker. The pay grade is E-6 and the Army equivalent is also a staff sergeant who wears the same insignia except for the color and without the crossed rifles. In the Air Force the rank is technical sergeant which is indicated by five inverted chevrons with the top three partially covered with a blue circle containing a star. Navy and Coast Guard equivalents are petty officer first class and their insignia of three inverted chevrons topped with a Navy eagle is worn on the left arm only.


On board ship, any pole or pillar used to support the overhead.

Stand Fast

A command to stay where you are and not move until told otherwise.


Right. From the naval term. The starboard side of a ship will be illuminated with a green light.


Highly starched utilities.

Starlight Scope

Night vision equipment. See Green Eye.


The United States of America. In Vietnam it was also referred to as "The World" as in "Back in the world."


Approaching invisibility usually through the application of technology.

Steel Beach

A party on board a ship.


An individual row or line of Marines lined up to disembark a vehicle (aircraft or ship). Most famously used by paratroopers preparing to jump from a well maintained and fully functional aircraft.


To put away in its assigned place and neatly. Or to stop as in the Navy phrase "stow that bilge" meaning stop talking garbage.

Straddle Trench

A field head or latrine dug quickly with an entrenching tool just wide enough so that the grunt can squat with one foot on either side of the trench. Also a Slit Trench.

Straight Skinny

See Skinny.

Streeter, Ruth Cheney

As a colonel, served as the first Director of Women’s Reserves from 1943 to 1944.

Strength Test

See Initial Strength Test and Final Strength Test.


A sailor in training for a rate is said to be striking. Someone learning to be a fire control technician is called a fire control striker. A midshipman at the U. S. Naval Academy is said to be an admiral striker.

Stroke Book

Pornographic magazine or pulp-paper book.

Stumps, The

Marine Corps Air-Ground Coordination Center, Twenty Nine Palms, California. The largest Marine Corps base right in the middle of the desert. It is said that a Marine cannot go UA there because he or she can walk for three days and still be seen from mainside.


A mouth

Summer Creases

Wrinkles in uniforms (mostly utility uniforms) from sum 'mer here, sum 'mer there.

Super Shitter

Nickname reserved specifically for the CH-53E Super Sea Stallion helicopter. See Shitter.


All of that portion of a ship above the main deck. The decks are numbered up from the first deck above the main weather deck, the 01 level. Therefore the 05 level is five decks above the main weather deck. The bridge is located in the superstructure.

Suppression Fire

Fire directed at an enemy position to keep that position from using their weapons. Often applied to allow portions of a unit to reposition without being hit by enemy fire.


Dispose of or evaluate for value to the mission.

Sustad, Jeanette

As a colonel served as the fifth Director of Women Marines from 1969 to 1973.

Suzy Rottencrotch

Every Marine's girlfriend, most of who are shacked-up with Jody while the Marine is off defending his country.



Swagger Stick

A short (usually under 2') decorated stick carried by some Marine commissioned and noncommissioned officers. They have been outlawed at times by the Marine Corps and were introduced by the British Royal Marines whose leaders use them extensively.

Swamp Lagoon

A pejorative term for Camp Lejeune NC.

Sweet, Herbert J.

Fourth Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, he served from July 17, 1965 until July 31, 1969. Born Oct 8, 1919 in Hartford, CT he died in October of 1997.

Swinging Dick

A male individual. Used most often in the phrase, "every swinging dick" meaning all present.


Term for the travel of a Marine on liberty to his or her hometown, usually ridiculously far from where they are assigned.

Swoop Circle

The place on base where swoop drivers met up with swoop passengers. At Camp Lejeune it was the handball courts (formerly the outdoor theater) on mainside across from the 8th Marines gym.

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Home Page ¦ Dictionary Cover ¦ Marine Quotes 

© Glenn B. Knight, 2002-2011

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