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Tacking On

See Pinning On.


Temporary Additional Duty. An assignment in addition to the normal billet, usually "at no additional cost to the government". Also, Traveling Around Drunk.

Tail End Charlie

The last person or element in a line or column.

Tan Belt

A Marine with the lowest level of martial arts training.

Tango Uniform

 Tits Up.


Temporary Duty. A temporary assignment other than the normal billet, often at another location and frequently with additional pay during the period. Used since the 1980s, prior to that the term was TAD.

Technical Sergeant

A World War II and Korea period rank, the insignia of which was three chevrons and two horizontal bars. It was part of a dual rank system which had technicians and command ranks. In the 1960s the rank became gunnery sergeant and the crossed rifles were added. Also a current Air Force rank upon which the insignia of the top three enlisted grades are constructed. See Staff Sergeant of Marines.

Terminal Leave

Leave from which a Marine is not expected to return to duty, such as just prior to retirement or separation. Usually taken to get a jump on civilian life or to use up any unpaid leave remaining on the books.


(Vietnam) Lunar new year celebration which in 1968 marked the start of an offensive by the North Vietnamese Army to oust the Americans from Vietnam. While fighting was fierce is was a failure for the Communist forces.


Thermite. See AN-M14.

The President's Own

The United States Marine Band.


(Vietnam) Illumination of a combat zone by dropping 55-gal. barrels of napalm from CH-53 helicopters. Go to: this site for more info.

Three Ss

Shit, shower and shave.

Three up and three down

A reference to a First Sergeant or a Master Sergeant (three stripes up and three rockers down).


  A device attached to a belt to which a sword is attached.  Most often incorrectly called a Frog.


A length of cord with two clips every 10 inches issued to recruits. The recruit would cut between the clips and use the resulting length of cord to tie laundry to a line to dry. Clothes clips were not used in boot camp in the mid-20th Century.

Tiger Piss

(Vietnam) Tiger brand beer or more generally any beer.

Tight Jawed

Pissed off, angry.


This Is No Shit. Sort of the "Once upon a time" of Sea Stories.

Tits Up

Dead, broken, inoperative. A politically correct version is Toes Up. See Tango Uniform.


Temporary Living Allowance.


Traffic Management Office. Where one goes to arrange for the shipment of household goods, vehicles or other items on a permanent change of station.

To the Colors

A bugle call sounded in the morning as the U. S. flag is being raised. See Retreat.

Toe Chain

The smaller of two chains holding the dog tags. It could be draped on the big toe to identify a casualty while the tag on the larger chain went to Graves Registration.

Toilet Seat

Pejorative term for the "Marksman" Shooting Badge. It is the lowest of three levels of marksmanship qualification and the badge is shaped like a square target. Qualifications for the Marksman Shooting Badge would earn an "Expert" rating in the other services.

Tombstone Brigadier General

Following World War I Congress passed a law that, upon retirement, advanced a Navy commander who had been decorated during the war one grade on the retired list. It was intended as a one-time fix for a decorated officer whose career was compromised by an accident which kept him from promotion. The law, which applied only to the Naval Service, however, remained in effect until 1967 when it was repealed. Marines who retired and had received personal decorations were routinely promoted to the next rank the day after retirement. The effect was most noticed with colonels who, the day following retirement became flag officers.

  Too Bo Coo

  (Vietnam)  Bo Coo meant "very much" and Too Bo Coo meant too much or too expensive.  The smaller "ladies of the night" would often decline to offer services to black men because their equipment was too large (see Alabama Black Snake) and at other times a client would use the pharse to indicate that the lady wanted too much money.

Tootsie Roll

A candy that was air dropped to the Marines who were cut off at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. It kept many of the Marines from starving to death as all of the other food they had required heating due to the 30 degrees below zero temperatures. Tootsie Rolls could be put inside clothing, close to the skin, and it would thaw out enough so that it could be eaten. In addition, as their trucks and jeeps were being shot up by the Chinese the Marines would repair the holes by placing a chewed up Tootsie Roll into the hole where it would immediately freeze and create a weld.


(WWII through Vietnam)First Sergeant, informal reference not currently in use. At present, if it is used at all it refers to a Master Sergeant (who is in the same pay grade as a First Sergeant but serves in a more technical capacity). While not the top enlisted grade, a first sergeant is the senior enlisted grade authorized in a company, the organizational level at which most Marines spend their time. Sometimes used as "top kick" (mostly a WWII usage).


 The deck or floor(s) above, from the naval term. Also used to refer to the upper levels of the chain of command.

Towle, Katherine

As a colonel she served as the second Director of Women’s Reserves from 1945 to 1946 and as the first director of Women Marines from 1948 to 1953.

Toys for Tots

A nationwide project to collect toys and distribute them at Christmas to childrn of need.Toys for Tots It began within the Marine Corps Reserve and is now assisted by the Marine Corps League. It has been placed within its own corporation, the Toys for Tots Foundation.

Track Lube

A tanker's term for Infantrymen.


Tactical Recovery of Aircraft Personnel Team. A TRAP Team from the 24th MEU rescued Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady from Bosnia on June 8, 1995.


The civilian community outside MCB Quantico, VA.


Managed health care program for the military, dependents and retirees. Replaced CHAMPUS.


Tropical Uniform consisting of Khaki Long Sleeve Shirt, Trousers, Cover & Tie. Worn until the mid-70s.


The top of a flagpole containing either a ball or an eagle and a pulley for the flag lanyard so that the flag can be hoisted and lowered.

Tuna Boat Driver

A pejorative term used by tankers in reference to Amtrac drivers.

Tunn Tavern

A tavern in Philadelphia where the first Marines were recruited for service in 1775. It was also the home of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Pennsylvania.

Turkey Bar

(Okinawa and Japan) A local bar where oral sex is performed for a fee. In the 1960s some of the bars even advertised being Turkey Bars on their signs. The bar girls are called gobblers.

Turn to

Naval command to begin work.

Twilight Cruise

Transfer to a cushy duty station for a Marine's last assignment prior to retirement.

Twilight Zone

The 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC in the 1960s before the new brick barracks were built.  The 1st Battalion was Frontier land and the 3rd Battalion was Disneyland.  The 4th Battalion was officially Woman Marine Battalion.


(Korean War Period) Marine aviation personnel.

Links to another web site with more info. additional reading on this topic.


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© Glenn B. Knight, 2002-2011

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