Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Jar Head"

1st Lieutenant Charles Rumsey Broom
  Leatherneck, Devil Dogs, and Jar head. These are terms or nicknames that have evolved over the years to describe a U.S. Marine. While I was at Verizon today a man saw me in my security uniform and asked me if my company was hiring. As I usually do when someone asks that question I suggested that he fill out an on-line application. He looked about my age and was wearing a t-shirt with the U.S. Marine Corps logo. I smiled and jokingly told him that I am sure that they would probably be glad to hire an old "Jar head" like him. He laughed and rode off on his bicycle. I have used that term for years but it hit me that I didn't know how the term originated. You know me. I hate to remain ignorant of a subject. I am aware of how the term Leatherneck, and Devil Dog originated. The term Leatherneck came about due to a leather collar that American Marines wore from from 1798 until 1872 and was three and a half inches high. It was called "the stock" and served two purposes. To protect the wearers neck from sword wounds in battle but it proved to be impractical because it limited movement of the neck. It was also used to improve military bearing by forcing the wearer to hold his head erect and his chin high while on parade. A Spanish American War Marine named Major General George Elliot said that the collars made Marines look like "Geese looking for rain". The term "Devil Dog" was a result of the World War I battle of Belleau Wood. The Marines fought with such ferocity that the Germans called them "Teufelshunde" or "Hounds from hell". I get the impression that nobody really knows where the name "Jar head" came from but these are the answers I found. The name came from the high and tight haircut that Marines wear. Another answer was that the Mason Jar Company stopped making jars and started making helmets for Marines. All jokes aside, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Marine Corps. As a student of military history I know that they are always battle ready. That was never more evident than in the Korean War when the Army had grown rusty, fat and lazy after five years of occupation duty in Japan between 1945 and 1950. The North Korean Army manhandled them after it's invasion of South Korea on June 25th 1950 and later when the Chinese invaded Korea in November 1950, catching the 8th Army by surprise. The Marines fared much better because they were combat ready, better disciplined and better led.

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