Leatherneck: The nickname Leatherneck has become
a universal moniker for a U.S. Marine. The term originated from the
wide and stiff leather neck-piece that was part of the Marine Corps
uniform from 1798 until 1872. This leather collar, called The
Stock, was roughly four inches high and had two purposes. In
combat, it protected the neck and jugular vein from cutlasses
slashes. On parade, it kept a Marine's head erect. The term is so
widespread that it has become the name of the Marine Corps
Association monthly magazine, LEATHERNECK.
Gyrene: Around 1900, members of the U.S. Navy began using
Gyrene as a jocular derogatory reference to U.S. Marines.
Instead of being insulted, the Marines loved it. The term became
common by World War I and has been extensively used since that time.
Jarhead: For roughly 50 years, sailors had little luck in
their effort to insult Marines by calling them Gyrenes. So,
during World War II sailors began referring to Marines as Jarheads.
Presumably the high collar on the Marine Dress Blues uniform made a
Marine's head look like it was sticking out of the top of a Mason
jar. Marines were not insulted. Instead, they embraced the new
moniker as a term of utmost respect.
Devil Dogs: The German Army coined this term of respect
for U.S. Marines during World War I. In the summer of 1918 the
German Army was driving toward Paris. The French Army was in full
retreat. In a desperate effort to save Paris, the newly arrived U.S.
Marines were thrown into the breach. In June 1918, in bitter
fighting lasting for weeks, Marines repeatedly repulsed the Germans
in Belleau Wood. The German drive toward Paris sputtered, fizzled,
and died. Then the Marines attacked and swept the Germans back out
of Belleau Wood. Paris had been saved. The tide of war had turned.
Five months later Germany would be forced to accept an armistice.
The battle tenacity and fury of the U.S. Marines had stunned the
Germans. In their official reports they called the Marines "teufel
hunden," meaning Devil Dogs, the ferocious mountain dogs
of Bavarian folklore.
Soldiers of the Sea: A traditional and functional term
for Marines, dating back to the British in the 1600's