YouTube, We Are The Mighty
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 ...
... In Iraq, where they earned their place in history at Nasiriyah, Najaf, and Fallujah (shown here), and many others.
While others deployed to Afghanistan, into the deadly Korengal Valley ...
... Or more recently to Marjah, in Helmand Province.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some more experienced infantrymen go into specialized fields, such as Reconnaissance or snipers (below).
Always present is a focus on mission accomplishment, and to "keep their honor clean" — to preserve the legacy of the Corps ...
... That grunts are proud of. Always remembering heroics from the Chosin Reservoir Marines in Korea ...
... To those who fought in Vietnam jungles, or the storied battles of Hue and Khe Sanh.
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).
But it's not all combat.
Marine grunts are constantly training, whether it's practicing amphibious landings ...
... Or learning the skills needed to survive and thrive in a jungle environment.
Sometimes they take a break to catch up on their reading.
And when they're not training, they are trying to have fun.
Sometimes ... maybe too much fun.
While technology has made today's infantrymen even deadlier, the life of the grunt has always been spartan.
Grunts often work in rough conditions, and they need to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
And quite often, they need to be self-sufficient. At remote patrol bases, that means everything from burning their trash and other waste ...
To fixing their morning coffee in any way they can.
Grunts learn to appreciate the little things, like care packages from home ...
... Any privacy they can get ...
... Or a "FOB Pup" to play around with in between missions.
When they get into a fight with the enemy, they battle back just as their predecessors did.
And with solid training and leadership, they can easily transition, as Gen. Mattis says, from no worse enemy to no better friend.
When things don't go exactly as planned ...
... Grunts can usually shake it off with a smile.
Especially in a combat zone, humor helps a unit through tough times.
And there are plenty of opportunities for laughs.
Whether it's graffiti on a barrier ...
Or taunting the Taliban with a Phillies t-shirt.
But the bottom line is that grunts are the Marine Corps' professional war-fighters.
They forge brotherhoods that last for a lifetime.
And they never forget those who didn't make it home.