Long after the uniform has been laid aside, the last order has been given, the final salute returned, the last handshake shared, and the occasional tear brushed away by a determined hand. Long after that, it still runs in your veins. Lives on in your mind. Dominates your will. Long after you feel the call. The espirit that can only be shared among brothers. Among individuals bonded together by the truest ideals.
“Once A Marine Always A Marine.”
– by Master Sergeant Paul Woyshner
There is some controversy as to the origin of the U.S. Marine slogan, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.” Two stories, both credited to Master Sergeant Paul Woyshner (1894-1970), are associated with its origin.
The most commonly credited of the stories says that during a barroom argument Woyshner shouted this maxim. The second, and far less common, credits Woyshner, a member of the Publicity Bureau who contributed drawings, as remarking, “Aw nuts…once a Marine always a Marine,” after listening to a fellow Marine bellyache about the corps while celebrating his discharge. From there he used the slogan on match covers and posters.
However, American etymologist Barry Popik has noted the slogan was printed at least as early as 1907, which would make Woyshner no more than thirteen years of age at the time. As cited on his website, barrypopik.com:
14 April 1907, Galveston (TX) Daily News, “Uncle Sam’s Marines,” pg. 23, col. 7:
The veteran marine, who has grown gray in the service, is just as loyal to the corps as the newly-enlisted recruit, and their sentiments are tersely expressed in the slogan: “Once a marine, always a marine.”
Despite the controversy as to its origins, once a person has earned the title “Marine” that person is a Marine for life. There are no ex- or former- Marines, there are only:
• Active-Duty Marines
• Retired Marines
• Reserve Marines
• Marine Veterans
“Once a Marine, Always a Marine” was adopted as the official Marine Corps League motto and is an axiom of how the Marines perceive themselves. From the time they complete boot camp and receive their eagle, globe and anchor, they are Marines whether they fight in war or remain on the home front.
Their sense of brotherhood is a way of life that continues after the uniform is retired and is a big part of what sets them apart from the other branches of service. The motto “Once a Marine, Always a Marine” could just as easily be, at least in part, the definition of a Marine.