Happy Birthday, USMC

Updated: November 10, 2012

By Jack Mandaville.

It’s that Semper Fantastic time of the year, folks: the Marine Corps birthday has come.  Here’s a brief list—for active-duty and Veterans alike—of why the Marine Corps birthday is better than your actual birthday, because we love lists.  Happy 237th birthday, Marines… you don’t look a day over 21.

5 – The birthday ball is a blast: Imagine your senior prom, then add military dress uniforms, a shit-ton of booze, and an environment where self-destructive behavior is perfectly acceptable.  That, my friends, is the Marine Corps birthday ball in a nutshell.

Military fraternization policy goes by the wayside, you’re probably getting laid if you brought a date, and you get to share the experience with some of your best friends on earth.  How the fuck can you not love that?

4 – You get to bonsai-chop the dessert:  Oh, your mommy got you a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cake?  Big deal.

You blew out all of your candles on the first try?  Forgive me for not caring.

You made a wish for world peace?  Not gonna happen, buddy.

You got that present you were hoping for?  You’re adopted and your parents don’t love you. 

None of your silly traditions will ever compare to the greatest birthday ritual of all: Marines, on their birthday, get to cut a ginormous cake with a FUCKING SWORD!  That’s right, you heard me, our nation’s Soldiers of the Sea utilize a steel tool of carnage (the same one they use to kill lava monsters) to pierce that delicious slab of baked magnificence.

3 – Everybody—who matters—remembers your (Marine) birthday:  Let’s face it, folks.  The only reason why 95% percent of the people in your life remember your birthday is because they’re reminded on Facebook.  I know this because I got rid of my personal Facebook account a year ago.  The disparity of people who wished me a “happy birthday” last year compared to this year is staggering.  Take my best friend of eighteen years, for example… I didn’t hear a peep from that asshole.  Does this highlight how pathetic my life has become?  Probably.  Am I bitter about it?  Absolutely.  He’s a stupid ginger dickhead and I’m not getting him anything for his next—wait a second… where was I going with this?

Moving on.

While your actual birthday isn’t worth remembering, the Marine Corps birthday is something that nobody you serve(d) with will ever forget.  Every year on November 10th, without question, my cell phone blows up with early morning texts and calls from a large number of guys I served with.

Most of the texts look like this:

“Happy birfday, DEVIL NUTZ!”

“Oorah, Chapultepecker!” 

“Semper Fi, Shithead!”

“Happy birthday, killer.  Get drunk!”

“Congratulations, Mr. Mandaville.  You just won a free, yearlong supply of Cialis.  Please text 1089 to redeem your prize.”

… And so on, and so on.

These guys are some of the most important people on earth to me.  Getting to share this day with them, even if it’s via text, means more to me than anything I might receive on my actual birthday.

2 – You get to be annoying as fuck about being a Marine: This one may not apply to everyone, but it definitely applies to me.

It may sound hard to believe, considering the majority of my writing covers military/Vet-related material, but I don’t advertise the fact that I served in the Marine Corps.  I don’t—and will never—belong to any Veterans organizations.  I don’t wear Marine Corps-related clothing or apparel.  You’ll never hear me say “Oorah” or any other cliché truisms.  I don’t have a superiority complex about having served in the Corps, nor would I, at this point in my life, ever enlist again.  And I never volunteer the fact that I served to strangers.

I leave that part of my life in the past once I walk away from the keyboards… with one exception: November 10th, the Marine Corps birthday.  On that day I become a self-destructive, egotistical, piece of irritating shit.  I’m talkin’ the most stereotypical, motarded, loudmouthed Jarhead you can imagine.

(One year, right after my active-duty enlistment ended, I got piss-drunk at six in the morning, woke up my roommate—the aforementioned ginger—demanded that he drive me to Denny’s so I could finagle a free birthday breakfast, then proceeded to play the Marine Corps Hymn at full blast while I leaned out of the passenger side of my best friend’s ride, incoherently trying to holler at college girls on their way to class.)

Do you know why I act(ed) like this?  Because it’s my birthday, motherfuckers… that’s why.

1 – E.L.E.:  Rank, MOS, awards, overall status—none of that shit means a lick on the birthday.  All that matters is that you’re a Marine.  EVERYBODY LOVES EVERYBODY!

It’s that one day of the year when you’ll find Marines from all generations and backgrounds coming together to share their… uh… Mariness.  No ridiculous pissing contests, no ass chewings, no overt cases of formality, no barking from the dog, no smog, and momma cooks a breakfast with no hog.

“The wonderful love of a beautiful maid,
The love of a staunch true man,
The love of a baby, unafraid,
Have existed since time began.

But the greatest of loves, The quintessence of loves.
even greater than that of a mother,
Is the tender, passionate, infinite love,
of one drunken Marine for another.”

-General Louis H. Wilson, 26th Commandant of the Marine Corps




  1. Paul

    November 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm


    I’d just like to say thank you so much for your service, and for protecting my freedom.

  2. FormerWM

    November 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    And I’d just like to say TO THE CORPS… and pour myself another drink.

    Semper Fi, Chapultepecker.

  3. Rafael Perez

    November 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Haha, that was entertaining.

  4. Greg Martin

    November 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Semper Fidelis fellow Belleu!!

  5. KB Enquist

    November 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Happy 237th… you Devil Dogs.

  6. HoundOfDoom

    November 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Happy birthday, Marines!

  7. JMC

    November 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm


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