Corps, core, corp, and corpse


This year, as for the past several years, I have been invited to one of the local schools where the faculty and students pay homage to the veterans of the community. It is always well done, the teachers and students respectful, and, somewhere in the day, a tear always comes to my eye. I appreciate all the effort that goes into such an undertaking.

I do, however, have a few suggestions for future such events. Admittedly, veterans of the Marine Corps number less that that of the other major services. The Army has 1.3 million soldiers on active duty while the Navy has 336, 795 sailors. The Air Force has 321, 444 personnel on active. The Marines are currently about 186,000 strong. It is the smallest military branch with the exception of the Coast Guard at 40,992 on active duty. These numbers do not take into consideration the reserve forces.

Marine don’t mind being the smallest of the Big Four. In fact, they bill themselves as “The Few, the Proud.” One bygone recruiting slogan was,”The Marines Are Looking for a Few Good Men.” This has to be a proofreaders’ problem because twice, in the same bulletin, the spelling was correct.

Nevertheless, some things just bug us. Or I should say they bug me, since I speak for no one but myself. “Corps,” as in Marine Corps. Is spelled “Corps.” Not Corp.

In the bulletin of the program at the school where the event I attended was held, twice, the service was called “Marine Corp.” No, no, a thousand times, no!

I have even seen parents who have proudly written, “My son (or daughter) is in the Marine Corp.” No, they are not. It may be that “Corp.” is an abbreviation for “Corporation,” but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Marine Corps.

And, by the way, “Corps” is pronounced “core.” It is not, for crying out loud, pronounced “corpse.” One dear lady, whom I believed to be well educated, referred to the “Marine Corpse” several times. For me, hearing that is like fingernails on a chalk board.

It’s bad enough that a former President of the United States referred to a Navy medical specialist as a “Navy Corpseman” (the term is “Corpsman”) but who in the American continent has EVER heard of the Marine Corpse? Hmm?

It is true enough that many thousands of brave Marines have become corpses and that many tens of thousands of enemy personnel have been made corpses by fighting Marines but, people — PLEASE! Most active duty Marines and Marine veterans will do what I did and just keep their peace. Once in a great while – like now — something will be said.

One does not refer to the largest military branch as the United States Amy. It would sound like an insult. No one gets an appointment to the United States Navel Academy. And if you don’t understand that, buy a dictionary. It’s not the U.S. Hair Force. And it’s not the blasted Marine Corp., or the abominable Marine Corpse.

While I’m on a mild rant here, Marines are not “soldiers.” That’s the term for Army personnel. One might historically refer to Marines as “soldiers of the sea,” but that term is pretty well passé. And Marines who fly are aviators, not “airmen.”

Wow, is this that big a deal? No, not really. But what it does indicate is a lack of the facts, or a lack of preparation, or a lack of respect. It’s unintentional in most cases, which is why the vast major of Marines and Marine veterans keep quiet, even though they grind their teeth when they hear such things.

And one last thing … there’s no such thing as an ex-Marine or a former Marine. It’s official USMC policy. Former Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, said in 2009: “A Marine is a Marine. I set the policy two weeks ago – there’s no such thing as a former Marine. You’re a Marine, just in a different uniform and you’re in a different phase of your life. But you’ll always be a Marine because you went to Parris Island, San Diego or the hills of Quantico.”

So there are only Marines, some on active duty, some in the reserves, and some who are veterans. It a small fraternity and very difficult to get into. And Marines — well, this one Marine, anyway — would like for folks to just get it right.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA between Newnan and Peachtree City ( He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South which consists of Georgia and Tennessee and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may be contacted at]


  1. It’s rather unbecoming for a Marine to whine that he is not receiving enough respect. I mean, that’s what this little rant is about – isn’t it? How many times a year do you mention that you are a Marine? Add to that, how many times is the mention about not receiving enough respect? Is being a Marine respectable? Of course it is! As non-Marines, should we lavish praise upon you at all times – no. I have two family members that are Marines and they do not go around demanding respect because they chose to serve – they have too much pride to beg. Further, I’ve never known them to announce to anyone that they were Marines, unless they were asked.

    Curious why you wouldn’t address this with the people that were honoring you? No, you’d rather go ahead and take the chickens4!t way out and write a column, where some of the people that honored you might read it. “Hey guys, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to your school. Now, I’m going to tell you all what I really thought about your ceremony and let everyone know that it wasn’t up to a Marine’s standards.”

    This is just another column where you had to think of something to write and (again) you chose to let everyone know that you are a Marine. Yeah, we know.