Walk onto any Marine Corps base and you’ll hear all sorts of celebratory grunts. These almost words coming from the mouths of new Marines and seasoned NCOs sound like Errrr and Yut. Echoing across the well-trimmed grounds, humming through the DFAC, in the hallowed halls of Marine history, one grunt stands out. Oo-rah is the tried and true, battle-tested and history provided Marine call that defines the service.
It’s no secret the military has way too many slang words and acronyms to count. Most are impossible for the civilian ear to understand. But there are some that translate just fine. One of those is the Marine battle cry, “oo-rah.” Anyone who’s heard it knows it has only one meaning.
Used as a motivational tool to push recruits and Marines beyond their limit, the classic grunt actually stems from another traditional sound.
Although they are a few theories about how the legendary shout started, several sources point to a single origin — aboard a Naval submarine.
Many historians believe that “oo-rah” came from, of course, Marines, assigned to 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance while traveling aboard a submarine in 1953.
When a sub is about to submerge, “dive, dive” is called out over the intercom system followed by a klaxon alarm, which makes a very distinct “aarugha.”
Click play below to hear the klaxon alarm.
(Lord Sandwich | YouTube)
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Reportedly, aboard one of the submarines used during the Korean War was Gunnery Sergeant John R. Massaro, who shortened the sound into “oo-rah,” shouted as Marines dove out of the vessel.
As the grunt become more popular, it spread quickly throughout the Marine Corps. Soon, it became one of the ways Marines responded to various questions.
The symbolic grunt oo-rah has since become one of the most recognized sounds used in the military today.
As for its accredited originator, Gunnery Sergeant John R. Massaro, he served in the Marine Corps for 31 years and retired as the 8th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps in 1979.