The 7 Most Badass Marine Corps Mottos

History
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Elize McKelvey

Marines take pride in our heritage. Every Marine knows the Corps’ motto: Semper Fidelis, and we’re all quick to correct someone when they call us soldiers or sailors.


Nobody ever calls us airmen.

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This pride in the Corps extends to individual units and shows up in crests, unit coins, nicknames, and in unit mottos.

Here are the 7 most badass Marine Corps unit mottos. Prepare to be motivated.

Balls Of The Corps.

3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, also called “The Thundering Third,” is an infantry battalion stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, was a company commander with the unit in 1978.

Retreat Hell.

With a combat record stretching back to World War I, the Camp Pendleton-based 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines is the most decorated battalion in Marine Corps history. The unit’s motto comes from the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I. When a French officer told Capt. Lloyd Williams that his unit should retreat from the defensive line he replied: “Retreat? Hell, we just got here!”

Make peace or die.

Another infantry battalion with 5th Marines, the battalion has served in every single major conflict the United States has been involved in since it was formed in 1914.

God fights on the side with the best artillery.

While the motto for 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines is officially “Semper Flexibils,” a play on the Corps motto and meaning “Always Flexible,” the artillery unit’s insignia bears the fitting phrase: “God fights on the side with the best artillery. God fights with Third Battalion.”

1/6 HARD.

The Camp Lejeune, North Carolina-based infantry unit, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines served in World War I at the Battle of Belleau Wood, fought at Guadalcanal and Tarawa during World War II, and served in the Global War on Terror, seeing combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mors Ex Tenebris: Death From Darkness.

Known as “the bats,” Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, or VMFA(AW-242), is  based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. When the unit began fielding F/A-18D Hornets, which specialize in night attacks, this gave way to the motto, “death from darkness.”

Always faithful, always forward.

A fitting motto for the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, which bestowed the moniker of “Marine Raider” on its subordinate combat units in commemoration of the legendary Marine Raiders of World War II.

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