Response to Marine Corps Times article: Don’t call me ‘POG’

In response to the latest Marine Corps Times article: Don’t call me ‘POG’: The push to end the Corps’ most damaging divide.

The key issue here is not POG vs. Grunt. It is combat veterans vs. non-combat veterans. The majority of 03 Marines will look at anyone who holds a CAR and consider them proven and worthy, no matter there MOS. The major problem is that many key leaders in the Marine Corps have no combat service and they are driving the divide between combat roles and support roles. Marines are trained to fight and win; going out and obtaining a Combat Action Ribbon (which is the ONLY personal award in the Marine Corps that is not a medal) is similar to an athlete getting Gold at the Olympics. Do not blame the 03 community for being proud, do not blame them for doing their jobs and being awarded for it.

The 03 community has approximately 30,000 Marines out of a total force of approximately 194,000. That means roughly 15% of the Marine Corps is made up of the 03 community. The entire rest of the Marine Corps falls into support roles. They account for a small and very elite group of men. In comparison, the U.S. Special Operations Command has over 66,000 personnel.

Lets look at this from another angle. What percentage of Marines have earned a Combat Action Ribbon? Approximately 10% of the Marine Corps has a Combat Action Ribbon. The majority, being from the 03 community.

The Marine Corps is a warfighting organization and the backbone of the Corps is it’s 03 Marines. So why keep kicking them to the side and telling them they have not earned their place on the pedestal? Was it cooks who planted the American flag on Suribachi? Was it mechanics who cleared Hue? Was it admins who fought through Fallujah?

Chesty was an Infantry Officer. John Basilone was an Infantry Machine Gunner. James Mattis was an Infantry Officer. Dan Daly, Smedley Butler, Peter Pace, all from the 03 community. The majority of Marine MOH and Navy Cross recipients are from the 03 community, including both recent recipients Dakota Meyer and Kyle Carpenter.

Lets continue to pride ourselves on our history and never forget that it was the 03’s who made it. However, regardless of MOS, Marines who have earned a Combat Action Ribbon should be placed higher than those who have not yet proven themselves within our elite warfighting organization. These are our true leaders and the future of the Marine Corps. It wasn’t the new photo copier at IPAC, but the flag raising on Iwo Jima that meant “a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.”

 

*Note, I am not saying that a Combat Action Ribbon makes you a Marine, the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor does that. But, obtaining a Combat Action Ribbon certifies that you have participated in the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. Many of you disagree, and believe that the purpose of Marines is not to fight in battles…. Do you really believe that? Lastly, Marines with Combat Action Ribbons are better leaders. Would you rather have Lance Armstrong teach you how to ride a bike or someone who has never ridden a bike in their life? No shit. Combat decorated Marines are far greater qualified to lead and train Marines in and for combat.

Hate us cause they ain’t us.

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64 comments

  1. This is fine, but the awarding of the CAR is not equal throughout the various communities, Ground, Wing, MLG. Some fine Marines in the Wing and MLG who survive combat missions and firefights do not get the award because some officer above their pay grade refuses to put their names on the list either because they do not want to do the necessary paperwork or they did not earn one themselves. Very short sighted, but it has happened, especially in Desert Storm/Shield. Wing Marines on an amphibious assault ship which hit a mine received CAR’s for staying in their billets while Wing Marines on the ground surviving artillery and rocket barrages were denied CAR’s because they did not shoot back. One should never look down on another Marine without a CAR because it is missing. That does not mean the Marine has not been tested, it may only mean that the rules were not equally enforced. Unfortunately, ribbon racks do not always tell the full story.

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  2. The battle of Wake Island, at the start of WW2, saw a garrison of what we would refer to as POGs defend the island from wave after wave of Japanese assault. For 2 weeks they held off an overwhelming force. Despite being forced to surrender, they put up a hell of a fight.
    I’m of the mind that all Marines should be held to the standard of the infantry; Indeed, that warfighting should be every Marine’s first priority. As an 0311 I’ve met my fair share of “pogs” who carried their weight along side the grunts and fought with honor. Generalizations, as a rule, tend not to be very accurate. Besides, the grunts don’t give a fuck what POGs think.

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    1. 1st Marine Defense Battalion defended Wake Island. Comprised of Artillery and Rifleman. Some Marine Defense Battalions included Tank Platoons and entire Rifle Companies. There are several incredible books about the Marine Defense Battalions, specifically, “Condition Red: Marine Defense Battalions in World War II” by Major Charles D. Melson. Semper Fi.

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  3. “However, regardless of MOS, Marines who have earned a Combat Action Ribbon should be placed higher than those who have not yet proven themselves within our elite warfighting organization.”

    You are implying that those who did not earn a CAR did not prove themselves within the Marine Corps. -Complete Nonsense. You cannot win wars without supporting the Marines on the ground. Support Role Marines are just as essential as any rifleman kicking down door, whether it be the aircraft mechanic, or the admin clerk ensuring you get paid. Furthermore, combat action ribbons do not distinguish Marines…the Eagle Globe and Anchor does.

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    1. I agree. Support role Marines are just as important. An Eagle, Globe, and Anchor makes a Marine, but a personal award for combat service most definitely distinguishes a Marines service.

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  4. This comes off as having been written by someone with a very narrow and limited view of the Marine Corps. I’m not a special little snowflake because I have a combat action ribbon. I just happened to join the Marine Corps at the right time and end up with the right unit under the right set of circumstances. Combat experience does not automatically make you an effective leader, nor is it a prerequisite. Not to mention all the guys who never got their CARs because of administrative fuckups or those who did get CARs because of a mortar attack clear on the other side of Camp Cupcake or whatever other dubious circumstance.

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  5. This article comes off as having been written by someone with a very narrow and limited view of the Marine Corps. I’m not a special little snowflake because I have a combat action ribbon. I just happened to join the Marine Corps at the right time and end up with the right unit under the right set of circumstances. Combat experience does not automatically make you an effective leader, nor is it a prerequisite.
    Not to mention all the guys who never got their CARs because of administrative fuckups or those who did get CARs because of a mortar attack clear on the other side of Camp Cupcake or whatever other dubious circumstances.

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    1. Narrow and limited view of the Marine Corps?

      National Security Act of 1947 directed the Marine Corps to conduct:

      • The seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and other land operations to support naval campaigns.

      • The development of tactics, techniques, and equipment used by amphibious landing forces.

      • Such other duties as the President may direct.

      That is the most narrow and limited view of the Marine Corps. It is what Headquarters Marine Corps teaches its officers.

      I believe that a Marine with combat experience would be greater qualified to prepare Marines for combat than a Marine with no combat experience. So yes, a CAR does make better leaders, instructors, trainers, etc. Unless of course, your primary purpose is to not fight battles and win wars.

      “Those who did get CARs because of a mortar attack clear on the other side of Camp Cupcake or whatever other dubious circumstances.” Mortar fire is not part of the revised criteria for a Combat Action Ribbon and it is Officers who submit that type of fraudulent awards paperwork diminishing the value of the award, ultimately deteriorating the history and traditions of the United States Marine Corps. Semper Fidelis.

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    1. “Meyer deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2007 as a scout sniper with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines. He gained national attention for his actions in Afghanistan during his second deployment in Kunar Province with Embedded Training Team 2-8.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I partially disagree with this article. I myself deployed twice in a support role as a 5811Military Police. I provided security for a EOD team when IED calls, 9Line, came in. I never got shot at but I can think of missions where we were at risk of getting blown up, every time I got out of the Humvee on a MSR. Yet I myself never got a CAR. I have explained my role to several 03 brethren and they admitted it was a small part of what they did. And just to keep the trolls at bay, no I am not saying I pretty much did what infantry did.

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  7. I disagree with your comment that those with a CAR should be held in a higher esteem than those without one. Just about every Marine I know would do anything on the battlefield for their fellow Marines, some just haven’t had the opportunity. They should not be punished for that. This is coming from a former infantry officer with a CAR. I say get rid of the ribbon and just do campaign medals.

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    1. I believe that a Marine with combat experience would be greater qualified to prepare Marines for combat than a Marine with no combat experience. So yes, a CAR does make better leaders, instructors, trainers, etc.

      “Some just haven’t had the opportunity. They should not be punished for that.” Agreed. I also think that boot 2nd LT’s fresh from IOC should keep their mouths shut and stand at parade rest for Lance Corporals who actually know what is going on, but that is just me. Semper Fi.

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  8. I have to agree in some ways, but don’t forget the many combat tested “non-grunts”. Whether it’s the M1A1Tank operators, LAV’s, AAV’s, F/A 18, Huey and Cobra pilots, and my personal favorite, Crew Chief’s. These guys aren’t your prototypical rear echelon Marines. Their “support” is much more direct and deserves respect. Look up MOH recipient PFC Raymond “Mike” Clausen. True badass.

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    1. LAV crew are 0313’s and go through ITB as 0311s. I was a scout in LAR and was sent through the crewman after my firt pump to iraq. But I agree with the jist

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    2. There’s also the artillery war fighters (MOS 0811 and others). I am a retired “support” element myself but earned my CAR with the grunts of 2nd Bn, 5th Marines as an 8404 (Doc).

      Semper Fi – HMCS(FMF)

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    3. The Lav community is 03′ brah. They are an infantry battalion. They actually have less support personnel and more 03’s than a straight leg battalion.

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    4. Completely agree with you. This is the exact point I was making. It doesn’t matter what your MOS is. It matters what you have proven within the Marine Corps. Also, don’t forget Combat Engineers, EOD, and Radio Operators.

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    5. You got THAT right! I got my CAR as a gunner on an old M60A1 tank. Grunts tell me we are “just POGS”, and self proclaimed POGS tell me we’re grunts. In reality we are neither, and don’t really care. What we ARE is just the armored bastards of Uncle Sams Misguided Children.

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  9. Yes it was cooks who helped repel banzai attacks on the airfields on Iwo….yes ut was cook and support that brought out the dead at the Chosin fighting all the way…yes it was the cooks and support who repelled the NVA…..and yes it was wingers that repelled tthe sappers who infiltrated the airbase
    Cpl Jorgenson
    Cco 1/2 Operation Eastern Exit 86-92

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    1. Agree. My main point was that it was primarily fought by 03 Marines. I am not trying to take away anything from those of other occupations or services who fought. Nearly stating a statistic. Semper Fi.

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    1. Agree. My main point was that it was primarily fought by 03 Marines. I am not trying to take away anything from those of other occupations or services who fought there. Nearly stating a statistic. Semper Fi.

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  10. I’m not buying it. For many a CAR was received pretty nearly as a unit award because some guy on the wadi a few hundred yards over took incoming. I was in both pre and post 9/11 as a grunt and have an OEF and OIF tour. Some of the best and hardest Marines I knew were 03’s that got out pre-Iraq and I know many a shitbird who carries a CAR he got for cheesedick reasons like he’s Kyle Carpenter.

    All hail the infantry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely understand and have heard this before. Though, I never experienced this and our unit leaders were very strict about awarding Combat Action Ribbons. No CAR’s are issued to a unit, they are in fact personal awards.

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  11. I’m an 03 and have a Combat Action RIbbon, but I can immediately point out that having a CAR does not make you an Elite leader. It means you’ve seen combat, but it does not reflect how you handled yourself. I take great pride in my Comabt Action Ribbon, and agree that everyone should. However what you are suggesting is that simply having a Combat Action Ribbon qualifies you as an Elite Leader, when it in no way, shape, or form even remotely proves that. This article may have a few valid points, but quite honestly this sounds like an oppurtunity to for people to toot their own horn, and meanwhile gives everyone with a CAR a superiority complex. Those that are confident in their accomplishements, and themselves as warriors don’t need recognition or a pedistol. Here is a short excerpt from the Navy Seal ethos that I think applies: “…I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions…” Now if the Navy Seals who have certainly proved themselves and stand out as Elite leaders, can handle their staggering amount of accomplishments with a sense of humbleness, then I certainly see no reason we as Marines cannot do the same.

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    1. I believe that a Marine with combat experience would be greater qualified to prepare Marines for combat than a Marine with no combat experience. So yes, a CAR does make better leaders, instructors, trainers, etc.

      Navy SEAL’s handle staggering amount of accomplishments with a sense of humbleness? I must have missed that while watching all their movies and reading all their books. You do realize we cater mainly to U.S. Marines and Navy SEAL’s? There is no comparison between us, we have different training, missions, and purposes. We are both exceptional at what we do.

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  12. It appears you are not open to criticism of any kind by not allowing my comment. I respect your writing and thoughts and only commented to contribute to the discussion in what I thought was a fair and professional manner. I support the mission of your organization, however disagreed with aspects of your response to the Marine Corps Times article. I wish you and your organization the best.

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    1. That’s because they receive the Air Strike/Flight Medal. The “strikes” are considered combat action and are denoted by bronze numerals because that’s typically when they deliver ordnance against the enemy.

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  13. then tell them dont tell me im “to dirty to eat in the fob chowhall” after a quick stop in from combat ops while in the middle of a war zone that would be a good start

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  14. The major weakness with your argument is that CARs were not easy to come by in the early stages of OIF and OEF. Marines of all MOSs were engaging the enemy as a result of vehicle ambushes, IEDs, rocket attacks, etc. using the CAR as a measuring stick is inaccurate, especially during the March to Fallujah when nearly every Marine would have been put up for a CAR if the governance of award distribution from the latter parts of the war were in place in, say, 2003-2006.

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  15. I agree with your statement. But how many of that 10% “earned” a CAR vs a chain of command that just signed off on one. There are many people in all services that have a CAR just because their chain of command was willing to do the paper work, even though there recipient never actually experienced combat. (search USS Kearsarge combat action ribbon).

    Additionally, you also should mention the fact that 03s join the marine corps knowing that they’re going to be in the thick of it all. They join KNOWING that they’re going to be risking their life. But not all of them get the opportunity to engage in combat. They get in the combat zone, and for 6 months take nothing but IED attacks. They’re lives are risked just the same, but they don’t rate a CAR because they weren’t unlucky enough to be in the truck that got blasted.

    POGS are POGS. They don’t join looking for a fight, they join looking for a title. They think they’re “devil dogs” because thats what the germans called the marine corps infantry during battle…. because the fought viciously, not because they were good at admin.

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  16. Pretty errogant response, but coming from a grunt I guess I expected it. How can you judge the type of leader a Marine is based on whether he/she has a CAR? A good leader listens to his experts and utilizes the SME’s that he has to help him make the best decision he can. I know a ton of outstanding leaders that could probably lead circles around any grunt out there and some don’t have a CAR. Secondly, I know multiple Marines that are air wingers and supply and even cooks with CAR’s. Doesn’t mean they are better Marines or better at their job because of it. Just means they were in the right place at the right time to get some, good for them! I also know a few grunts without CAR’s, are they lesser Marines because they haven’t been shot at and returned fire? They got the same training as every other grunt just haven’t gotten the chance to put someone in their crosshairs yet. Lastly, if it weren’t for all these “lesser” forms of Marines like the Wing or Motor T or supply, you grunts would be sitting on you asses with no bullets, beans, or bandaids and no ride to the fight. We all have our place in the Corps and I thank God for men and women that want to get out and hook and jab with the enemy on a daily basis but don’t you dare belittle or marginalize the rest of the Corps that allows you to do your job by doing theirs! A CAR doesn’t make you a Marine.

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    1. I agree with you. I was merely saying that a CAR is equivalent to a Gold Medal in the Olympics: you have trained all your life, competed, and placed. This purpose may not be as relevant among other MOS’s, but generally it is the purpose of all Marines. To fight and win.

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  17. I feel sorry for your employees. If you have this kind of attitude towards them then certainly your not a Equal Opportunity Employer!! For you to separate Marines in this matter proves that your the 10% that we still talk about that ruins the Marine Corps reputation.

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  18. I was an 0341 and latmoved to communications (another combat MOS according to the MOS Manual). I spent 5 years with an entity of JSOC as a TIER 1 Special Operations Communicator. I never got a CAR, but that does not mean that I have not been in and seen some shit after 5 tours in Iraq. Not all other MOS’s are POG’s, so just remember, without your RTO’s and communications assets, the grunts would be hurting. Just imagine a grunt FO wanting to call in air support without comm, they would be fubar’d.

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  19. Historically, there was a dramatic difference between the roles as well. I was a grunt for 8 years and chewed my fair share of dirt. I knew my grandpa had been a cook as his mainstay MOS, but before he died he told me about them landing on D-day. He would cook for the unit, but then still have to patrol, man the guns, etc. When did the division of MOS become so separate?- to some of the old salts who read this, has there always been a divide and animosity between grunts and pogues or is that relatively new?

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  20. I am a 0311 Korean war Marine with the Purple Heart and awarded the CAR retroactively when WW2 and. KOREA became eligible. I consider all Marines my brothers and equal. In Korea when we took heavy casualties cooks, truck drivers and other mos marine filled in and did their duty as good as any other Marine.

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  21. Marines that wasn 03’s and had support MOS’s before they got to Vietnam have a CAR.I’m talking about Marines that served in 3/27th Marines in Vietnam.I don’t know about others but I served in 3/27 Mike Co. there were Truck drivers, supply,and other MOS’s that wasn’t 03’s to name a couple. SF

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  22. It’s not POG, “person other than grunt,” it’s pogue, as in poguey bait. Sorry to see that this etymology has been lost.

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