39 Awesome photos of life in the US Marine Corps infantry


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From fighting pirates in the First Barbary War of 1801 to seizing the Kandahar International Airport in 2001 and beyond, Marine Corps infantrymen have been fighting and winning our nation’s battles for more than 200 years.

Known as “grunts,” infantrymen receive specialized training in weapons, tactics, and communications that make them effective in combat. And while many things have changed for grunts over time, they continue to carry on the legacy that was forged from the “small wars” to the “Frozen Chosin” to the jungles of Vietnam.

After more than a decade of war following the 9/11 attacks, many grunts have deployed to combat …

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

… In Iraq, where they earned their place in history at Nasiriyah, Najaf, and Fallujah (shown here), and many others.

battle of fallujah

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

While others deployed to Afghanistan, into the deadly Korengal Valley …

Photo Credit: Darren Allen

Photo Credit: Darren Allen

 … Or more recently to Marjah, in Helmand Province.

1st_Battalion_3rd_Marines_near_Marja

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

But before infantrymen join their units, they need to complete initial training. For enlisted Marines, that means going to the School of Infantry, either at Camp Pendleton, California or Camp Geiger, North Carolina.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

For officers, their training at Infantry Officer Course in Quantico, Va. involves both tactics and weapons, along with a more intense focus on how to lead an infantry platoon.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

While most enlisted grunts become 0311 riflemen, others receive more specialized training, like 0331 machine-gunners, which learn the M240 machine gun (shown here), the MK19 grenade launcher, and the M2 .50 cal.

M240G marines

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

0341 Mortarmen learn how to operate the 60 mm (shown below) and 81 mm mortar systems, which help riflemen with indirect fire support when they need a little bit more firepower.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

0351 Assaultmen learn basic demolitions, breaching, and become experts in destroying bad guys with the SMAW rocket system. The Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) is shown below.

Marines SMAW

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Packing even more punch that’s usually vehicle-mounted, 0352 Anti-tank missilemen learn their primary M41 SABER (below) heavy anti-tank weapon and the Javelin, a medium anti-tank weapon.

TOW Saber missile

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Some more experienced infantrymen go into specialized fields, such as Reconnaissance or snipers (below).

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

Always present is a focus on mission accomplishment, and to “keep their honor clean” — to preserve the legacy of the Corps …

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

… That grunts are proud of. Always remembering heroics from the Chosin Reservoir Marines in Korea …

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

… To those who fought in Vietnam jungles, or the storied battles of Hue and Khe Sanh.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Since Vietnam, grunts have been repeatedly been called upon for minor and major engagements, such as Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and Operation United Shield in Somalia in 1995 (below).

Photo Credit: Darren Allen

Photo Credit: Darren Allen

But it’s not all combat.

Photo Credit: Darren Allen

Photo Credit: Darren Allen

Marine grunts are constantly training, whether it’s practicing amphibious landings …

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

… Or learning the skills needed to survive and thrive in a jungle environment.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Sometimes they take a break to catch up on their reading.

Photo Credit: Michael Sinclair

Photo Credit: Michael Sinclair

And when they’re not training, they are trying to have fun.

Photo Credit: Josh Boston

Photo Credit: Josh Boston

Sometimes … maybe too much fun.

Photo Credit: Donnie Hickman

Photo Credit: Donnie Hickman

While technology has made today’s infantrymen even deadlier, the life of the grunt has always been spartan.

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Photo Credit: US Marine Corps

Grunts often work in rough conditions, and they need to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

And quite often, they need to be self-sufficient. At remote patrol bases, that means everything from burning their trash and other waste …

Photo Credit: Paul Martin

Photo Credit: Paul Martin

To fixing their morning coffee in any way they can.

Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

Grunts learn to appreciate the little things, like care packages from home …

Photo Credit: Matt McElhinney

Photo Credit: Matt McElhinney

… Any privacy they can get …

Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

… Or a “FOB Pup” to play around with in between missions.

Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

Photo Credit: Daniel Evans

When they get into a fight with the enemy, they battle back just as their predecessors did.

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

And with solid training and leadership, they can easily transition, as Gen. Mattis says, from no worse enemy to no better friend.

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

When things don’t go exactly as planned …

Photo Credit: Josh Boston

Photo Credit: Josh Boston

… Grunts can usually shake it off with a smile.

Photo Credit: JC Eliott

Photo Credit: JC Eliott

Especially in a combat zone, humor helps a unit through tough times.

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

And there are plenty of opportunities for laughs.

Photo Credit: Marc Anthony Madding

Photo Credit: Marc Anthony Madding

Whether it’s graffiti on a barrier …

Photo Credit: JC Eliott

Photo Credit: JC Eliott

 Or taunting the Taliban with a Phillies t-shirt.

Young LCPL Mercoli in marjah Helmand providence-Teasing the enemy by wearing a Phillies shirt_Zac_Mercoli

Photo Credit: Zac Mercoli

But the bottom line is that grunts are the Marine Corps’ professional war-fighters.

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

They forge brotherhoods that last for a lifetime.

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

Photo Credit: Nate Hall

And they never forget those who didn’t make it home.

Memorial ceremony for Sgt. Thomas Spitzer. (Photo Credit: US Marine Corps)

Memorial ceremony for Sgt. Thomas Spitzer. (Photo Credit: US Marine Corps)

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