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Inspection Study Guide


1.  This study guide is designed to help you master required “cadet information.”  The information contained in this guide is essential for all cadets, and you will be responsible for committing much of it to memory. Most, but not all, will be presented formally in class.


2.  You are limited only by your will to achieve.  Your mastery of the material in this study guide will enable you to continue to progress in the cadet battalion.


3.  The questions contained in the study guide will be asked on selected tests/quizzes, during weekly inspections, and during district inspections. 






The United States Marine Corps is America’s amphibious force-in-readiness.  This role stems from the country’s position as a maritime nation with worldwide interests.


Like the other Armed Services within the Department of Defense, the Marine Corps has specific roles and missions authorized by law.  The present structure, missions and functions of the Marine Corps are set forth in the National Security Act of 1947, as amended.  This act states that the Marine Corps’ minimum peacetime structure shall consist of “….not less than three combat divisions and three air wings, and such other land combat, aviation, and other services as may be organic therein.”  In addition, the Marine Corps maintains a fourth Marine division and a fourth air wing in reserve.


Mission of the Marine Corps


The following specified missions have been assigned to the United States Marine Corps:


  • To provide Marine air and ground forces for service with the fleet as landing forces in the conduct of amphibious assault operations.


  • To perform duty afloat armed vessels of the Navy.


  • To develop, in coordination with the other services, the tactics, techniques, and equipment for landing forces in amphibious operations.


  • To be prepared for expansion in accordance with joint mobilization plans.


  • To perform such “….other duties as the President may direct.”







During its many years of experience in peace and war, the Marine Corps has developed many traditions; traditions of devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, versatility, and dependability; traditions of loyalty to country and Corps; traditions of uniform, insignia, and equipment.


The traditions of the Marine Corps---its history, uniforms, flags, insignia, and language---set it apart from other military organizations.  The Battle Color of the Marine Corps bears streamers and silver bands representing many honors and citations won by the Corps since 1775.  These honors were won by generations of Marines who built a reputation for discipline, loyalty, service, and valor that is unsurpassed in military history.  When a Junior ROTC cadet wears the uniform and insignia of the Marine Corps, he/she not only shares these proud traditions, but also assumes a responsibility to uphold a time-honored reputation for excellence in all that he does.  In sharing these traditions and responsibilities, the cadet is inspired to develop those qualities of patriotism, pride, and esprit de corps that will make him/her a better student and a better citizen.


A Marine learns that his traditions are as much a part of his equipment as his pack, his rifle, and his ammunition.  The making of a Marine is more than a matter of smart appearance, drill and discipline.  He/she must do all that is necessary to report, “The Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand.”


Symbols of Tradition


The familiar emblem of the eagle, globe, and anchor, adopted in 1868, embodies the ideals upon which the Marine Corps is founded:  The eagle represents the nation itself, the globe represents the tradition of worldwide service, and the anchor symbolizes the sea traditions of the Marine Corps.  The eagle holds in his beak a streamer, upon which is inscribed the famous Latin motto of the United States Marine Corps: “Semper Fidelis,” which means “always faithful.”


The term “Leatherneck,” which is a commonly used nickname for Marines, comes from the black leather collar worn by Marines from 1798 to 1880.  Another common nickname, “Devil Dogs,” was given to the Marines by the Germans after fierce fighting at Belleau Wood, in France, during World War I.


The officers’ sword with the Mameluke hilt, was presented to Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon by a former Pasha of Tripoli.  The Mameluke sword has been the symbol of authority for Marine officers for more than 100 years.  It symbolized the exploits of O’Bannon and his Marines on the shores of Tripoli in 1805, an episode climaxed by the raising of the American flag for the first time in the old world.


Beginnings of the Corps


An organization of Marines, as a regular branch of our country’s service, was formed by an act of the Continental Congress, passed on November 10,1775.  This is now celebrated as the birth date of the Marine Corps.  The Marine Corps, as it exists today, was formed by the Act of July 11, 1798, at the beginning of the Naval War with France.  The Marines took part in that war from 1798 to 1801, and in the war with the Barbary Corsairs from 1801 to 1805.  They took an active part in the War of 1812, serving aboard practically all American warships which engaged the enemy; with the Army in the Battle of Bladensburg in August, 1814; and with Jackson at New Orleans.


Part of the color that makes up Marine Corps tradition and esprit is derived from various sayings and expressions that have cropped up over the years.  The following is a list of some of them, along with other uniquely “Marine” items:


            Tell it to the Marines:  This legend goes back to 1664 when a ship’s captain told King Charles of England about sighting flying fish during one of his journeys.  The king was highly doubtful of the tale and turned to Samuel Pepys, Secretary of the Admiralty.  “Mr. Pepys,” he said, “no class of our subjects hath such knowledge of odd things on land and sea as our Marines.  Hereafter, when we hear a yarn that lacketh likelihood, we shall tell it to the Marines.  If they believe it, then we shall know it is true.”


            First to fight:  Marines have been in the forefront of every American war since the founding of the Corps.  However, the slogan “First to fight” did not appear on recruiting posters until World War I.


            Gung-ho:  In recent times, “gung-ho” has come to stand for a person who is completely Marine oriented.  It is a Chinese phrase meaning “pull together” and was used by Lieutenant Colonel Evans Carlson in the training of his Marine Raider Battalion during World War II.


            Devil Dog:  The term “Devil Dog” came into use during World War I, after fierce fighting at Belleau Wood.  The Germans were astounded by the tenacious fighting ability of the Marines.  A German soldier was asked his opinion of U. S. Marines fighting at Belleau Wood in 1918.  He replied that the Marines fought like the legendary wild dogs that roamed the forests of northern Germany.


            Leathernecks:  On March 25, 1804, the first official uniform order was issued by the Marine Corps directing Marine Officers to wear heavy leather collars while on duty.  The wearing of these heavy leather collars is believed to be the foundation of the nickname “Leathernecks” for U. S. Marines.  These high collars have been retained to make Marines keep their heads erect while in uniform.


            Marine Corps Birthday:  10 November 1775.


            Birthplace of the Marine Corps:  Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


            Marine Corps Emblem:  The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.  Each part has a significant meaning:

                        Eagle—The symbol of our nation.

                        Globe—Signifies worldwide service.

                        Anchor—Signifies the Corps’ sea traditions.


            Marines hymn:  The “Marines’ Hymn” is the oldest official song of the armed forces.  The origin of its words is unknown, but the music comes from an opera by Jacques Offenbach, “Genevieve de Brabant.”  When the “Marines Hymn” is played, all Marines stand!


            Canton Bell:  This bell was taken by the Royal Marines after storming the Canton Forts in China in 1856 and for years occupied a place of honor in the Royal Marines’ Officers’ barracks at Chatham, England.  When the barracks was decommissioned after World War II, the officers of the mess voted to present the bell to the U. S. Marines as a symbol of their comradeship during this attack and later.


            NCO Sword:  The NCO sword is the U. S. Army Calvary model which was adopted in 1859 and briefly carried by Marine Officers as well.  When the officers went back to the Mameluke pattern, the Army-type sword was retained for the NCO’s.  The Marine Corps is the only service that has a specific sword for its NCO’s.


            Mameluke Sword:  As a result of Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon’s heroism in battle for Derne, Tripoli, the Pasha of Tripoli presented O’Bannon with a sword which he had carried while living with the Mamelukes in Egypt.


            Quatrefoil:  The quatrefoil is the cross-shaped design on the officers’ barracks caps and was taken directly from the Army of Napoleon III of France.  It was initially used to identify officers so that sharpshooters in the rigging of ships would not fire on their own men.


            Marine Corps Motto:  “Semper Fidelis,” which is Latin for “Always Faithful”  was adopted as the Marine Corps motto in 1883.    It replaced the previous motto, which was “By Land, By Sea.”


            Official Marine Corps Colors:  Scarlet and Gold were adopted as the official Marine Corps colors by General Lejeune, the 13th Commandant.


            Marine Corps Mascot:  After World War I, an English bulldog was presented to General Lejeune.  Since that time the English Bulldog has been recognized as the Marine Corps mascot.  The present dog’s name of “Chesty” not only refers to his somewhat unique build, but also to that of a famous Marine General who also carried the same nickname.


            Dan Daly and Smedley Butler: Two Marines that each earned the Medal of Honor twice for two separate acts of heroism. Daly earned his first as a Private during the Boxer Rebellion and the second, as a Gunnery Sergeant during the Spanish-American War. Dan Daly also fought at Belleau Wood during World War I as a First Sergeant. Butler earned his first for actions in Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1914 and his second was for actions in Haiti in 1915. He retired as a Major General.




Courtesy is the accepted form of politeness among civilized people.  Courtesy smoothes the

personal relationship among individuals in all walks of life.  A good rule of thumb might be the golden rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”


The Salute


One of the most important of all military courtesies is the salute.  This is an honored tradition of the military profession throughout the world.  The saluting tradition is believed to have originated in the days when all men bore arms.  In those days, warriors raised their weapons in such a manner as to show friendly intentions.  They sometimes would shift their weapons from the right hand to the left and raise their right hand to show that they did not mean to attack.  Just as you show marks of respect to your seniors in civilian life, military courtesy demands that you show respect to your seniors in the military profession.  Regulations require that all officers be saluted by their juniors and that they return those salutes.  Enlisted personnel may, but normally do not exchange salutes.


The Hand Salute


Today, the salute has many forms.  The hand salute is the most common.  When a salute is executed, the right hand is raised smartly until the tip of the forefinger touches the lower part of the headgear.  Thumb and fingers are extended and joined.  The palm is turned slightly inward until the person saluting can just see its surface from the corner of the right eye.  The upper arm is parallel to the ground, with the elbow slightly in front of the body.  The forearm is inclined at a 45-degree angle; hand and wrist are in a straight line.  Completion of the salute is executed by dropping the arm to its normal position in one sharp, clean motion.


The Rifle Salute


When armed with the rifle, and not in formation, a rifle salute is rendered on the same occasions described above.  The rifle salute can be rendered at “Order Arms,” “Trail Arms,” “Right Shoulder Arms,” or “Left Shoulder Arms.”  When carrying the rifle at “Sling Arms,” the hand salute is rendered.


Some General Rules


When meeting an officer who is either riding or walking, salute approximately six paces away to give him time to return the salute before you are abreast of him.  Hold the salute until it is returned.  Accompany the salute with “Good morning, sir,” or other appropriate greeting.  Render the salute only once if the senior remains in the immediate vicinity.


When personal honors are being rendered to individuals of high rank and you are not in formation, salute at the first note of the music and hold the salute until the last note.


During funerals, a salute is rendered when the body is removed from the hearse to the chapel, from the chapel back to the hearse, from the hearse to the grave, and when volleys are fired and taps is sounded.


When the “National Anthem” or “To the Colors” is played, and you are not in formation or in a vehicle, come to attention at the first note, face the flag (or the music if a flag is not present) and render the prescribed salute.  Hold the salute until the last note of the music.  If you are in a vehicle, the vehicle should stop and all persons in the vehicle should sit at attention and not salute.  If you are indoors or outdoors and uncovered, stand at attention and face the flag or music.


When passing or being passed by an uncased flag which is being paraded, presented, or is on formal display, salute at six paces distance, and hold the salute until six paces beyond or until it has passed you by six paces. 


When boarding a naval ship, upon reaching the top of the gangway, face aft and salute the national ensign.  After completing this salute, salute the officer of the deck, who will be standing on the quarterdeck of the ship at the top of the gangway.  When leaving the ship, render the same salutes in the reverse order.


When several officers together are saluted, all return the salute.  For example:  As a lieutenant, you approach a colonel and a captain.  You salute the officers.  The colonel returns the salute and, at that point, the captain also salute.


When “under arms,” uncover only when seated at a court or board, when entering a place of worship, or when indoors and not on duty, i.e., eating, etc.


The term “outdoors’ is construed to include such buildings as drill halls, gymnasiums, and other roofed enclosures used for drill and exercise of troops, theater marquees, covered walks and other shelters open on the sides.  “Indoors” includes offices, hallways, kitchens, orderly rooms, recreation rooms, washrooms, squad rooms, etc.


A primary rule in saluting is that the junior initiates the salute.


In the Marine Corps, salutes are only rendered when covered, EXCEPT when attached to, or visiting a military service which does execute hand saluting indoors.


Salutes are always rendered in a sharp, snappy manner.


Salutes should be rendered when walking or at a halt.


Marines are considered “covered” when wearing a cap or other headgear.


Marines are considered “under arms” when carrying a weapon, wearing a cartridge belt or pistol belt, carrying a sword, or wearing a pistol.


When passing an officer who is going in the same direction as you, come abreast of the officer, salute and say “By your leave, sir or ma’am.”  The officer will return the salute and say “Carry on,” or “Granted.”  You then finish the salute and continue on your way.


When armed with a rifle, the rifle salute is executed except when on guard duty, when “Present Arms” is rendered.


Marines are required to render salutes to officers of the U. S. Armed Forces and to foreign military officers whose governments are formally recognized by the government of the United States.


Upon the approach of a senior officer, individuals of a group not in formation are called to attention by the first person noticing the officer and all come smartly to attention and salute.


When reporting to an officer, either outdoors or indoors, if under arms, approach the officer at attention and halt about two paces from the officer, render the appropriate salute and say “Sir/Ma’am, Pvt. (your name) reporting as ordered.”  When the business is completed, salute, and after the salute has been returned, take one step backward, execute an about face and depart.


When reporting to an officer indoors and not under arms, follow the same procedure, except do not salute since you are uncovered.


When seated in a military dining facility, Marines do not stand unless spoken to directly by an officer.


When an officer approaches Marines in a formation, the Marine in charge renders the salute, after the formation has been called to attention.


Marines in uniform salute officers in civilian clothes if they recognize the officer.


At morning and evening colors, Marines who are outside and covered will salute.  If uncovered during colors, they will stand at attention and face the flag, or the music if the flag is not in direct view.


When in doubt, the best rule is to salute.


On Navy and Marine bases, the flag is raised at 0800 and lowered at sunset.



Do Not Salute


  • If you are engaged in work or play unless spoken to directly.
  • While guarding prisoners
  • Under battlefield conditions.
  • When not covered.
  • With an item in your right hand that cannot be shifted to the left.
  • With a pipe or cigarette or other item in your mouth.
  • When in formation, except on command.
  • In public places where obviously inappropriate (theaters, restaurants, etc.)
  • When moving at “double time” – ALWAYS slow to a normal walk before saluting.