U.S. Marines by the numbers
United States Marines are widely known as the toughest military force on earth, and it's not a stretch to see why. The branch, which serves as the rapid-reaction force for the United States Armed Forces, is trained to fight on land and at sea and often serves as the first boots on the ground in dangerous missions on hostile terrain.
Marines are multifunctional fighters who are tasked with a wide range of duties, including disaster relief and security. The Marine Corps, however, is an organization concerned with excellence in combat above all else. Gen. Alfred M. Gray Jr., the 29th commandant of the Marine Corps, once said, "Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary.”
However, being a Marine rifleman (or belonging to a Marine rifle company) involves much more than just stellar marksmanship. Their world-class training prepares Marines to improvise and adapt to changing conditions both on and off the battlefield, to be masters of complex equipment, weapons, and tactics, and to persevere through extraordinary and difficult conditions for extended periods of time. In the end, the primary objective of all Marine Corps missions is victory at any cost—and that cost is often high.
Tens of thousands of Marines have died on the battlefield across every major American war and many smaller conflicts. From Iwo Jima and Chosin to Hue and Fallujah, Marines often find themselves chosen as the first to engage the enemy in the most ferocious battles. The number of casualties they suffer is often dramatically disproportionate to their relatively small numbers. For nearly 250 years, the United States Marine Corps has reassured America's allies, terrified its enemies, and embodied the hardest and most aggressive version of the United States Armed Forces fighting spirit.
Here's a look at the numbers behind the people, the missions, and the legacy of the U.S. Marines.
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1775: Year Marine Corps was founded
On Nov. 10, 1775, the Marine Corps was established to supplement the U.S. Navy. According to Military.com, the organization's birthplace is considered the Tun Tavern on Water Street in Philadelphia, where the first Marine recruiting station was established. The Marine Corps was decommissioned after the Revolutionary War for economic reasons but was reinstated in 1798.
2: Words in Marine Corps motto
"Semper Fidelis," the motto of the Marine Corps, means "Always Faithful." There had been three traditional mottos before "Semper Fidelis" was established as the official motto in 1883.
3: Marine Corps values
Three core values drive the behavior of Marines both on and off the battlefield. They are honor, courage, and commitment.
500+: Annual public performances by the Marine Corps Band
The special mission of the Marine Corps Band, known as "The President's Own," is to play music for the president of the United States and the commandant of the Marine Corps. Founded in 1798, it is the longest-running continuously active professional music organization in the U.S. The Marine Corps Band performs more than 500 public occasions every year at the White House and beyond.
1957: Year HMX-1 became the president's official pilots
Established in 1947, Marine Helicopter Squadron One, known as HMX-1, is the home of some of the finest pilots in the world. In 1957, HMX-1 was enlisted to shuttle President Dwight Eisenhower to an emergency meeting at the White House. That day, HMX-1 was given one of the most prestigious missions in the United States Armed Forces: direct support of the president. HMX-1 Nighthawk pilots fly the president in Marine One to this day.
220,000: Marine Corps and reserves members
After the Coast Guard, the Marine Corps is the smallest branch in the military. According to the Marine Corps Times, there are only 220,000 members of the Marine Corps and its reserve components.
5: Soldiers for every 1 Marine
By comparison, the Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard boast more than 1 million combined members. There are five soldiers in the United States Army for every one Marine.
8: Percentage of women enlisted Marines
About 16% of America's overall enlisted personnel are women. In the Marine Corps, the number is only 8%, the lowest of any branch by far, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. The next closest is the Army, where women make up 14% of enlisted personnel.
7.5: Percentage of female Marine officers
Women account for only 7.4% of officers in the Marine Corps, lower than any other branch of the armed forces. Women represent at least 18% of officers in the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
35,200: Marines deployed around the world
According to the Heritage Foundation, there were 35,200 Marines deployed around the world as of February 2018. Their stated purpose is "to assure our allies and partners, to deter our adversaries, and to respond when our...citizens and interests are threatened." They performed 104 operations in 2017 alone.2018 All rights reserved.