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The tool contained in every case of C-Rations used as a can opener. It is so versatile that p38Marines used it as a phillips and slot screw driver, rudimentary box opener, scraper and even push tool. Generally worn with the Dog Tags around the neck. Often called a  John Wayne. Made obsolete with the introduction of the Meal, Ready to Eat (MRE). A larger version, P-51 was used by messcooks on the larger field ration cans. A similar device in use by the Australian and New Zealand Armies has a spoon at one end and is called a Field Ration Eating Device (FRED) which the troops call the Fucking Ridiculous Eating Device.

Pace, Peter

First Marine named Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, thus, first Marine to out rank the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He served only one tour when it was traditional to serve two since he ran afoul of Congress and was not re-nominated for political reasons.   On the day he retired he dropped by the Vietnam War Memorial—The Wall.  He walked to the wall like every one of us and cried. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out three 3X5 cards. Each had the name of a Marine who had died in Vietnam while under the command of Lieutenant Pace. Under each name was this inscription, “These are yours, not mine. With love and respect." And it was signed "Your platoon leader, Pete Pace." Attached to the card was one of his insignia of rank, the four stars of a full general.

Page 11

The page in the service record book containing a chronological listing of favorable and unfavorable actions. The entries can range from listing a DUI to records of courts martial to warnings about the length of the grass at your assigned quarters. Positive entries include everything from a thank you letter from a community agency to a Medal of Honor. Page 11 entries stay with a Marine FOREVER.

Parade Deck

See Grinder.


A chemical process using phosphorus to put a strong coating on a weapon. Considered far superior to "bluing".

Parris Island SC

Location of the Marine Corps' east coast Recruit Depot. Named for its previous owner it has been a Naval facility since the Civil War and a Marine Corps activity since 1915. It is the only training site for female Marines. Parents, friends and other relatives of Marine Corps Recruits can find help and understanding among the members of myMarine.


A hallway or corridor from the naval usage.


A pre-determined word or phrase given in response to the challenge of a sentry. Literally, a word needed in order to pass.

Pate, Randolph McCall

Twenty first Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was born Feb. 11, 1898 and served as Commandant from Jan. 1, 1956 until Dec. 31, 1959. He died on July 31, 1961.

Pay Grade

A relational term consisting of the letter E, O or W and the level of pay assigned to that grade. Below is a chart comparing Pay Grade to Rank in the Marine Corps.




Warrant Officer


Second Lieutenant


Private First Class


Chief Warrant Officer


First Lieutenant


Lance Corporal


Chief Warrant Officer






Chief Warrant Officer






Chief Warrant Officer


Lieutenant Colonel


Staff Sergeant




Gunnery Sergeant


Brigadier General


Master Sergeant or First Sergeant


Major General


Master Gunnery Sergeant or Sergeant Major


Lieutenant General




Politically Correct. Used herein to identify things that are not Politically Correct as in the next entry.


(Not PC)Piss, cunt, fuck, shit, mother fucker, son of a bitch. An expletive said quickly while angry or in pain. (Vietnam era)


A special unit in Marine boot camp to which recruits who are unable to maintain minimal physical conditioning are sent. Their entire day is spent in physical conditioning and once they meet the standard they are placed back into training with a platoon which is at the point where they were taken out of regular training. Also, Motivation Platoon.


Permanent Change of Station. Leaving one unit to be assigned to another, it generally involves travel pay and household goods shipments and a total disruption of life.


Pay Entry Base Date. The date from which pay longevity is computed. Usually the first enlistment or commissioning date.

Permanent Party

A person assigned to a base, station or ship on Permanent Change of Station orders as opposed to someone assigned temporarily.

Permissive TDY

Permissive Temporary Duty is granted for temporary duty away from the normal assigned duties but no additional pay is given. PTAD is granted for "recruiter assistance" duty. Also Permissive TDy.

Petty Officer

A Navy and Coast Guard series of ranks vaguely equivalent to noncommissioned officers. The insignia consists of from one to three inverted chevrons with a Navy Eagle perched on top. Between the eagle and the chevrons is a graphic which indicates the specialty of that particular petty officer.


(Vietnam) Popular Forces. Vietnam's National Guard--farmers during the day and soldiers at night. Usually untrained and dangerous.


Physical Fitness Test. A biannual test to ensure that Marines are within the Marine Corps' physical standards. The test includes a timed three-mile run, pull-ups (for men), bent arm hang (for women) and crunches (up to 100 in a two minute period). The Marine's height to weight ratio is also measured and must fall within established standards. A Physical Fitness Calculator is located Here.


Nickname of the F-4B jet fighter aircraft flown by Marines in Vietnam.

Pharmacist Mate

Navy Corpsman rank in WWII and Korea. See Corpsman.

Philippine Haricut

A slit throat.


See Frog.

  Pie Hole


Pig Board

A bulletin board set up in a common area (mostly in boot camp) to which photos of wives and girlfriends (mostly school photos and beach photos) are posted. Sometimes awards are given for quality posts. In some units the photos are pornographic and entirely against regulations. They are considered sexual harassment.

Pinning On

A tradition among enlisted Marines in which anyone senior in rank to a newly promoted Marine is allowed to punch the new rank insignia, thereby pinning them on. Also Tacking On. In the mid to late 20th Century it became a custom for Recon Marines to have their jump wings literally pinned on their naked chests in violent and bloody rite of passage. The barbaric hazing was soon rooted out as a cultural anomoly and is hopefully an historic footnote.

Piss 'n Puke

(Seagoing Marines) Confinement to the brig on bread and water. Apparently Piss 'n Punk is used in some quarters.


A Marine’s garrison cover. Sometimes pisscover. The word was used extensively in the middle 20th Century, presently out of vogue due to a serious lack of political correctness. The etymology of the word is not known. One possible explanation comes from Kate Gladstone who says, "I have heard 'pisscutter' used by (elderly male) non-Marines to describe anything which has a sharp, spiffy-looking fold or edge or crease - e.g., a particularly well-made hat-brim, or an admirably crisp crease in a pair of pants." In the novel Shogun by James Clavell the word is used to refer to a harbor that was particularly difficult to navigate. They were also called cunt caps for the similarity to the female anatomy that the first designs had (the top was sewn together using a triple fold that gapped open when worn).  Later designs did not have the triple fold.

Pissing Contest

An argument, usually without purpose or value.

Pith Helmet

A khaki colored fiber helmet used extensively for the jungle environment. Worn by Marines throughout the 20th Century in boot camp, in war, in the fleet and presently worn by primary marksmanship instructors.


A place behind a mound on a firing range where targets are pulled and marked and repaired before being hoisted to be fired upon again.


To pit. A boot camp verb meaning to give Incentive Training (IT) to a recruit in order to improve his or her motivation or as punishment for a minor infraction of rules. Sand pits are built in many places throughout the Marine Corps Recruit Depots at Parris Island, SC and San Diego, CA into which recruits can be taken by drill instructors to administer IT. See also Quarterdecking.

Pizza Box

The marksmanship badge worn by those who qualify at the Marksman level--the lowest of three levels of weapons proficiency.


A unit consisting of four squads. It is assigned to a company and is generally commanded by a lieutenant. It is the basic working unit in boot camp where its leaders are drill instructors.


Platoon Leaders' Course. An innovative officer training program in which participants take part in officer training during the summers of their college years and upon graduation from college are commissioned Second Lieutenants of Marines. There are no classes or committments during the school year. The program also has two career specific tracks--aviation and legal.


Preventive Maintenance. First level (echelon) maintenance of vehicles and equipment.


Any small town or someone's home town unless they are from a big city.

Pogey Bait

Candy or other junk food. See Geedunk.

Pogey Rope

A pejorative term for the French Forragere.


A headquarters or office person with no understanding of the real Marine Corps.


Lead Marine in a patrol. Lead element in a company.

Police Flag

Sometimes called the Distress Flag it is the national flag flown upside down. It was only used when an extreme situation confronted the captain on board ship. It is never used ashore.


To clean up or pick up an area such as policing the firing line for brass. Possibly from the Italian “pulire” to clean or “pulice” you clean.


See Shellback.

Poncho Liner

A camoflaged, quilted, light weight nylon blanket that ties to the inside of a poncho. It was usually the only blanket carried by troops in Vietnam.


A multi-purpose rectangle of rubberized canvas with a hole in the middle so that the head can be inserted. It was used to fend off rain, as a tent or to carry bodies, among many other uses.


An unofficial rank assigned by Marine recruiters to newly enlisted recruits in the delayed entry program and awaiting depatrure to recruit training. Some recruiters have regular, mandatory, formations in which rudimentary drill and physical training are conducted.


Information, as in straight poop, bad poop or poop from the group.

Pop Ups

(Vietnam) Aluminum hand held tubes holding a flare and a small parachute for field illumination.

Port and Starboard Liberty

A situation where half of a unit is always on duty while the other half is on liberty (off duty and usually off base getting drunk).


Left, from the naval term. Originally larboard the term was changed in the late 18th Century to keep from confusing it with starboard, which means right. The port side of a ship will be illuminated with a red light.


Eyeglasses. Originally holes in the sides of ships to provide light and sometimes ventilation.


Piece of Shit.


As a noun it is a place where a Marine is assigned such as a senrty post or an embassy. Used extensively by the Army to designate bases not named forts. As a verb, a command in marching for specific officers to take their assigned positions or the act of placing a sentry on post or assigning a Marine to an embassy.

Postbox Rear Admiral

See Tombstone Brigadier General.


President of the United States. Originally used by Secret Service, the phrase was picked up by Department of Defense and other government agencies around the 1990s.

Pounding your pud

Standing around doing nothing. Wasting time. From the coloquial expression for masturbating.


Privately Owned Vehicle.

Powder Monkey

A Civil War era sailor in the rank of Boy whose job it was to keep gun crews supplied with gunpowder and shot during battle. At other times they served in other menial ways earning little more than a cot and food.


A formal list of commissioned officers in the Naval Service and their position of authority realtive to each other.

President's Own

Name given to the United States Marine Corps Band, the official band for the President of the United States, called "The President's Own".


(Vietnam). Radio Set AN/PRC-25 (RT-505)(NSN 5820-01-857-0934) Man portable, nautical radio - one tube. Was the predecessor of the PRC-77.

Prime Mover

A truck.

Private First Class

The second enlisted rank in the Marine Corps is designated by a single chevron on each sleeve. The pay grade is E-2 and is equivalent to an Army private (the Army has two ranks of privates) who also wears a single chevron. In the Air Force an airman wears an inverted single stripe with a star in a circle which covers the point of the chevron. Navy and Coast Guard seaman apprentices wear two slashes in a box on the left sleeve only.


A Private Marine. The first enlisted rank in the Marine Corps which is identified by having no insignia of rank. The pay grade is E-1 and is equivalent to an Army private who also wears no rank insignia. An airman basic in the Air Force also wears no rank insignia. In the Navy and Coast Guard a seaman recruit wears a single slash in a box on the left sleeve only.

Pros and Cons

Proficiency and conduct marks given to Marines to the rank of sergeant by their supervisors. They are part of the formula used for promotion. Each is between 0 (totally unsat, probably not breathing) and 4 (God, on a good day).

Provisional Rifle Company

A company of Marines made up of non-infantry (non-MOS 0300) personnel to augment or relieve infantry units. A temporary solution to a potentially serious problem.

PT Gear

The clothing worn for PT. It is a prescribed uniform consisting of t-shirt and shorts or sweats and usually green on green unless a unit t-shirt has been authorized..


Physical Training.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Previously called Shell Shock (WW I) or Battle Fatigue (WW II) it is the first line of legal defense when a Vietnam Vet goes biserk and kills a lot of innocent civilians. It manifests mostly as dreams recalling battlefield situations or in response to sharp sounds or scenario. Those with PTSD respond as though they were in combat--not acceptable in polite society.

  Pubic Bay

  A take off on the name of the U. S. Navy Base at Subic Bay in the Philippines which was a major rest and recuperation site during the Vietnam War.  It alludes to the fact that sex was readily available in the area of the base for those there on R&R.  It is now closed.

Pucker Factor

A measure of the stress in any situation. A high pucker factor means high stress. The reference is to the belief that fear and stress make your asshole pucker.

Pucket, Clinton A.

Sixth Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, serving in that position from Feb 1, 1973 through May 31, 1975. He was born March 6, 1926 in Waurika, OK and died in 2002.

Puff the Magic Dragon

(Vietnam) Later Spooky: a newer version of the venerable C-47, the AC-47 was equipped with three side firing 7.62 mm miniguns.   Initially used in troop support for suppression of enemy troops.  It was later equipped with 40 mm Bofors and then a 105 recoilless rifle for use on the Ho Chi Minh trail for supply interdiction. Crew members report that when the Bofors were fired, the ship actually flew sideways.

Pugil Sticks

Padded training sticks used to simulate bayonet fighting.

Puller, Lewis B. "Chesty"

Lieutenant General of Marines. The icon of a Marine whose exploits, on and off the battlefield, are the genesis of many legends. His command of a Marine regiment at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea earned him the love of his men and an entire Corps. For decades, Marine Drill Instructors would have their recruits recite, "Good night General Puller, wherever you are" before retiring for the night. See Chosin Reservoir.  He remains the most decorated Marine in history, having been awarded five Navy Crosses but not the Medal of Honor. His rough and caustic manner in Korea, naming ineffective Army units and commanders and stealing abandoned Army equipment brought him to odds with the Army establishment who most Marines blame for forcing him to retire with a "weak heart" before he could be promoted and named Commandant of the Marine Corps.  Chesty and Virginia lived quietly in retirement in rural Virginia.  Their door was always open to Marines who would stop in and chat with the legendary warrior and drink a beer with him (those who were driving got a soft drink).  He died Oct. 11, 1971 at Saluda, VA.

Punji Sticks

(Vietnam)Bamboo sticks sharpened and often laced with poison which were placed in holes and covered so that a Marine would step in the hole and have the sticks impaled in his foot or leg.

Pussy Patch

Medicated patch given to those who get seasick. Also a high and tight that is so extreme as to suggest a female with a bikini wax.

Puzzle Palace

Specifically the Pentagon or often any headquarters.


Post Exchange, an Army term. Now the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). See Marine Corps Exchange. to another web site with more info. additional reading on this topic.


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© Glenn B. Knight, 2002-2011

Portions of this dictionary and its associated list of quotations may be quoted without further permission of the copyright holder so long as an appropriate citation is given. Citation should include "Unofficial Unabridged Dictionary for Marines" and the URL from which the quote is taken.

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