Once a Marine, Always a Marine. Or at least, that’s how the saying goes.
Marines can do anything, in and out of uniform. Some can’t wait to get into the USMC, others can’t wait to get out. The one constant is that no one ever seems to regret their time as a Jarhead. That’s because the old saying is true. So, here are 11 times Marines provide they can do anything.
1. Gene Hackman lied about his age to enlist
Gene Hackman’s Hollywood career spanned forty years but his adult life started early when he lied about his age and enlisted in the Marine Corps. In fact, Hackman spent more than four years as a field radio operator. Now 85 years old, he is still a Marine at heart. In 2012, a homeless man threatened his wife, so Hackman slapped the hell out of him.
2. Steve McQueen was busted down to private seven times
McQueen spent much of his youth bouncing around from job to job. He worked in a brothel, as a Merchant Mariner, oil rig worker, a carnie, and a towel boy in the Dominican Republic before joining the Corps as a tank driver from 1947 to 1950.
He spent a lot of time in the brig, most notable for extending a weekend pass into a two-week vacation. In a biography, McQueen said of his time in the USMC,
“The only way I could have been made corporal was if all the other privates in the Marines dropped dead.”
3. Bea Arthur was a truck driving Devil Dog
Long before Bea Authur starred as Maude Findlay, an outspoken, commanding feminist, on All in the Family, she was an enlisted truck drive for the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. Most of her colleagues thought she was overly aggressive, frank, open, and argumentative – making her the perfect actor to play Maude. Later, Bea went on to play the lovable role of Dorothy Zbornak on Golden Girls.
Bea enlisted just five days after the USMC opened its reserve component to women. She met her first husband while in the Marines. Bea was honorably discharged in 1945.
4. George C. Scott taught English Lit as a Marine
The guy who brought George S. Patton back to life served as a Marine from 1945 until 1949. Scott’s performance with his role as Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove, is legendary. He taught at the Marine Corps Institute and was in the Honor Guard for military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.
5. Legendary newsman Jim Lehrer corrected his Drill Sergeant on his first day as a Boot
In his own words:
6. Harvey Keitel ribs Christopher Walken about serving
Keitel was in the Marine Corps from 1956-1959 and was deployed as a fire team leader to Lebanon for Operation Blue Bat. Operation Blue Bat was the US’s mission to protect the Lebanese government from falling to Communism. At a Vanity Fair party, Keitel once shouted to his friend Christopher Walken, “Hey, Walken were you in the Marines?” Drinking his red wine, Walken replied “I was but no one ever believes me.” (It was a joke, he never was.)
Keitel told CorpsStories: “For me, the Marine Corps was a spiritual journey. It’s not about war. Our duty is to protect those who do not have the means to protect themselves.”
7. James Carville was nicknamed “Corporal Cueball”
That was his nickname before he became the “Ragin’ Cajun” as Bill Clinton’s campaign manager in 1992 and later a Democrat cable news pundit. Carville spent two years in the USMC, earning the rank of corporal. His brother served in the Army in Vietnam. These days, Carville works with Paralyzed Veterans of America to raise money, awareness, and help rehabilitate Veterans who are paralyzed for life.
8. Shaggy’s MOS is the reason for his song Boombastic
The reggae artist’s joined the Marine Corps to avoid a life of getting shot or locked up. His MOS was 0811, Field Artillery, which gave him the inspiration for his hit Boombastic. He served in Desert Storm and the liberation of Kuwait.
Although he didn’t know how hard the Marines would be when he enlisted, he later told Marine Corps Times it was the best thing he could have done for his life.
“That whole structure of being in the military was good for me. I honestly think it was destined, to prepare me for what I had to do in music. The discipline that is required to do music, I could only get that from being in the Marines.”
9. Rob Riggle is a retired Lieutenant Colonel
The comedian spent 23 years in service and is now a retired USMC Lieutenant Colonel. He served in the Balkans and Afghanistan, as well as a deployment to Iraq (but that was for the USO). His military humor is spot on for its authenticity.
Watch Lt. Col. Riggle tell one of his favorite boot camp stories
10. Drew Carey got into comedy because the Corps didn’t pay enough
The comedian and Price is Right host was a Marine Corps reservist from 1980-1988. While in, he needed to make more money and found a comedy club that would pay $10 per joke. He loved the military but told Military.com if he hadn’t had such a great break, he’d still be a Marine. His crew cut was once a signature part of his persona. He contributes time and money to the USO to this day.
11. Montel Williams was the first African-American enlisted Marine to graduate from the Naval Academy
Williams enlisted in 1974 and was sent to Twenty-nine Palms after basic training. His skills as a Marine and a leader impressed his superiors so much they sent him to the Naval Academy Prep School in Rhode Island and then to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He learned Mandarin Chinese at the Academy and for his career as a Navy Cryptological Officer, he was sent to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, where he learned Russian. He was a Submariner and Cryptological Officer for the rest of his career. All in all, he spent 1974 through 1989 in uniform.