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United States Marine Corps rank insignia


United States Marine Corps rank insignia

Various Marine and Navy rank insignia (as well as other devices) left at the summit of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

Marine ranks in ascending order, with tables indicating abbreviations in the style used by the United States Marine Corps, pay grades, and rank insignia:


  • Commissioned officers 1
  • Warrant officers 2
  • Enlisted 3
  • Forms of address 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Commissioned officers

Commissioned officers are distinguished from other officers by their commission, which is the formal written authority, issued in the name of the President of the United States, that confers the rank and authority of a Marine Officer. Commissioned officers carry the "special trust and confidence" of the President of the United States.[1] Commissioned officer ranks are further subdivided into general officers, field-grade officers, and company-grade officers. The highest billets in the Marine Corps, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps are, by statute, four-star ranks, as the Marine Corps is considered a separate naval service under the Department of the Navy.[2]

Company-grade officers Field-grade officers General officers
Second Lieutenant
First Lieutenant
Lieutenant Colonel
Brigadier General
Major General
Lieutenant General
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10

Warrant officers

Warrant Officers provide leadership and training in specialized fields and skills. Much like many other militaries, the United States military confers warrants and commissions on its Warrant Officers, though they are generally not responsible for leadership outside of their specialty. Warrant officers come primarily from the senior Non-Commissioned Officer ranks.

A Chief Warrant Officer, CWO2–CWO5, serving in the MOS 0306 "Infantry Weapons Officer" carries a special title, "Marine Gunner", which does not replace his rank. A Marine Gunner replaces the Chief Warrant Officer insignia on the left collar with a bursting bomb insignia. Other warrant officers are sometimes informally and erroneously referred to as "Gunner".

Warrant Officers
Infantry Weapons Officer
"Marine Gunner"
Warrant Officer
Chief Warrant Officer-2
Chief Warrant Officer-3
Chief Warrant Officer-4
Chief Warrant Officer-5
CWO2-CWO5 W-1 W-2 W-3 W-4 W-5


Enlisted Marines with paygrades of E-4 and E-5 are considered non-commissioned officers (NCOs) while those at E-6 and higher are considered Staff Noncommissioned Officers (SNCOs).[3] The E-8 and E-9 levels each have two ranks per pay grade, each with different responsibilities. Gunnery Sergeants (E-7) indicate on their annual evaluations (called "fitness reports") their preferred promotional track: Master Sergeant or First Sergeant. The First Sergeant and Sergeant Major ranks are command-oriented Senior Enlisted Advisors, with Marines of these ranks serving as the senior enlisted Marines in a unit, charged to assist the commanding officer in matters of discipline, administration, and the morale and welfare of the unit. Master Sergeants and Master Gunnery Sergeants provide technical leadership as occupational specialists in their specific MOS. First Sergeants typically serve as the senior enlisted Marine in a company, battery, or other unit at similar echelon, while Sergeants Major serve the same role in battalions, squadrons, or larger units..

The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps is a billet and special rank, conferred on the senior enlisted Marine of the entire Marine Corps, personally selected by the Commandant of the Marine Corps.[4] It and the Marine Gunner are the only billets which rate modified rank insignia in place of the traditional rank insignia.

Junior enlisted Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs) Staff Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs)
Private First Class
Lance Corporal
Staff Sergeant
Gunnery Sergeant
Master Sergeant
First Sergeant
Master Gunnery Sergeant
Sergeant Major
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
E-1 E-2 E-3 E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9
no insignia

Different styles of rank insignia are worn on different Marine uniforms:

L to R: Evening Dress uniform, Dress Blue uniform, Service Dress Alpha coat, Service Dress Bravo and Charlie shirt, and combat utility pin-on insignia for a Staff Sergeant

The gold stripes on red flash are worn on the Dress Blue coat, green stripes on red flash are worn on the Service "A" uniform coat; the rank insignia are worn on the upper sleeve of both blouses. The khaki uniforms use green stripes on khaki flash, and again are worn on the upper sleeves of both long and short-sleeved service blouses. Utility uniform rank insignia are black metal pins and are worn on the collars, or black embroidered insignia sewn into patches of material to match the appropriate camouflage uniform. Musicians in the "President's Own United States Marine Band" (commonly yet incorrectly referred to simply as The United States Marine Band) wear insignia with the crossed rifles replaced by a lyre to denote their lack of a combat mission; full-service Marines who are attached to the 10 Fleet Marine Force Bands continue to wear their normal rank insignia.[5]

Forms of address

Marines address all enlisted personnel by rank, and all Commissioned officers with "sir" or "ma'am". Warrant Officers, regardless of rank, are addressed just as commissioned officers, but may also be addressed as "Warrant Officer", or "Gunner", although the latter is sometimes considered improper unless the officer is an Infantry Weapons Officer (MOS 0306). During recruit training, recruits are indoctrinated to address all superiors as "sir" or "ma'am". Addressing a commissioned officer (or any rank) as "Mister" has long been considered a grievous insult towards the individual. The most junior ranks between pay grades E-1 and E-3 (Privates, Privates First Class, and Lance Corporals) are commonly referred to by their last name only, using their rank only in a formal situation. "Marine" is also a common form of address for junior Marines.

During recruit training, recruits are not considered Marines until they graduate and must address all Marines who have completed recruit training, including instructors, as "sir" or "ma'am." Incoming recruits must also refer to themselves in the third person (i.e. "this recruit"), and their rank is replaced with the word "Recruit." This usually continues until the last week of recruit training when, in most instances, recruits are then considered Marines. Likewise, during officer training, officer candidates are not yet commissioned Marine officers and must refer to themselves as "this candidate" or "the candidate," even though some officer candidates may hold an enlisted rank. During Officer Candidate School, each candidate is referred to as "candidate" and not "Marine." Unlike their enlisted counterparts, officer candidates refer to enlisted Marines, including their instructors, by their full and proper rank; only commissioned officers are addressed as "sir" or "ma'am."

Informally, some enlisted ranks have commonly used nicknames, though they are not official and may be improper for use in formal situations. The acceptability of nickname use by juniors is at the discretion of the individual rank holder. A Gunnery Sergeant is typically called "Gunny" and occasionally "Guns", a Master Sergeant is commonly called "Top", and a Master Gunnery Sergeant is "Master Gunny" or "Master Guns". Differing from the Army and Air Force, all ranks containing "Sergeant" are always addressed by their full rank and never shortened to simply "Sergeant" or "Sarge". A Private First Class is usually referred to as a PFC, instead of simply "private"; similarly, Lance Corporal is not shortened to "Corporal". Senior Officers may informally address junior officers by first name. Marines of the same rank may also address each other by first name when among peers only and never in the presence of junior or senior Marines.

Finally, Marines consider it a grievous insult to be called a "soldier" or to be referred to as "troops" as soldiers and troops are army terms; the proper term is always Marine. When writing journalism or scholarly references to the Marine Corps, its elements, and/or individual Marines, the correct attribution is Marine(s).

See also


  1. ^ Estes, Kenneth W. (2000). The Marine Officer's Guide, 6th Edition. Naval Institute Press.  
  2. ^ 10 U.S.C. § 5043 & 10 U.S.C. § 5044: Commandant of the Marine Corps & Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.
  3. ^ "Marine Corps Ranks". United States Marine Corps website. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Sergeants Major of the Marine Corps". Marine Corps Legacy Museum. Retrieved 2006-10-04. 
  5. ^ "Chapter 6: Musical Units". Marine Corps Uniform Regulations. Marine Corps Systems Command. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  •  This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  • MCO P1070-12K: Individual Records Administration Manual. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  • Nalty, Bernard C.; Truman R. Strobridge; Edwin T. Turnbladh (1962). United States Marine Corps Ranks and Grades, 1775–1962 ( 

External links

  • USMC Rank Chevrons through the ages...since 1917
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