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"When is a grunt not a grunt?" Topic


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Skarper02 Aug 2020 2:29 a.m. PST

So who exactly could be called a grunt without rancour? In another thread it was said marines are not called grunts. And someone also airmobile infantry were not called grunts.

So – an appeal to those in the know. Who is and is not a grunt?

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2020 7:52 a.m. PST

Both folks are incorrect. A grunt is an army or marine infantryman. Period. Even the Marine Corps Times refers to marine infantrymen as grunts. You can call the airmobile guy a leg-on-a-rope if you want to, but he is still a grunt.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2020 9:10 a.m. PST

I did not express myself clearly enough.

In 1983 I told the wife of a Marine returned from VN (I now know not to call anyone an ex-Marine) that we heard they were called grunts. I have never forgotten her saying (in an accent well south of Ann Arbor) "Well not to their face they were not". I was left with the idea that it was a pejorative term, that they could use, but not those who had never served. Bit like black folk (actually not in the UK) can still use a word about themselves, that is totally anathema now to anyone else!

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2020 10:18 a.m. PST

Yea, my understanding is that pretty much any ground, foot troops in the Cold War era and afterwards may be referred to as "grunts". Supposedly, they got that name from the noise they make while moving, overloaded with so much kit that they can barely stand upright when required (usually bent over from the load). Some carry more weight on their backs than they weigh on their own, which is a bit over the top in my humble opinion.

Perhaps some in the USMC prefer the more technical, endearing, and accurate term of "jarheads". Not sure I'd use that one on marines I don't know very well, personally, and/or that don't have a sense of humor. As a reminder, they have been trained to kill in hand-to-hand combat.

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2020 10:22 a.m. PST

It's a point of pride to be called a grunt and not a pogue. The Marine Corps even a few years ago tried to get Marine infantrymen not to call everyone else pogues. I have seen and even been in a few big fights because some grunts were called pogues. It's right up there with calling another Marine "boot". Oh, and Marines can call other Marines jarhead but nobody else.

nnascati02 Aug 2020 12:15 p.m. PST

At this point, hasn't the term grunt become part of general usage to describe ordinary workers?

RudyNelson02 Aug 2020 1:18 p.m. PST

Not really ordinary but grunt refers to a very hard worker. One willing to get down and dirty to get the job done.
My infantrymen never bristled at being called grunts. Though the scouts and tank sections would take offense at the term.
It was strange to hear different infantry men classify themselves. Leg infantry, airborne, Mobile, and air assault (we did not call them airmobile in our unit).

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2020 1:59 p.m. PST

Grunt is only an insult if it is used in an insulting manner such as, he's too stupid to be anything but an effing grunt. The term is really a point of pride. I believe your southern lady had a case of the vapors, or perhaps she had only heard the term used in a disparaging manner.

Skarper02 Aug 2020 3:13 p.m. PST

I guess it's a kind of 'club'. If you're in it and have paid the dues you get to call each other grunts. As an outsider it's not going to go down so well.

Legionarius02 Aug 2020 4:23 p.m. PST

As a retired infantry officer, I can tell you that "grunt" is usually a badge of pride among Army and Marine infantrymen. It means you have dug the foxhole, eaten dirt, spent many nights shivering and wet, dug a "kitty hole" when nature called, marched, and, marched, and marched some more…
However, some grunts have issues when others try to appropriate the term without having paid their dues.:) It is normally not an insult.

Wolfshanza02 Aug 2020 10:55 p.m. PST

If you ain't a grunt, ya ain't tch*t ! evil grin

Palewarrior03 Aug 2020 4:40 a.m. PST

It's been years since I last watched it, but…

Burke (to Ripley) "…he can't make that kind of decision, he's just a grunt. No offence.
Hicks, "None taken".

Skarper03 Aug 2020 5:08 a.m. PST

Aliens transposed a lot of VN style slang and culture into sci-fi. The whole underestimated, unseen enemy with treacherous higher ups too.

Legion 403 Aug 2020 9:55 a.m. PST

Legionarius +1 I too was an Infantry Officer, '79-'90. And agree with your post. 👍👌

Also +1 79th, Wolfshanza, Rudy, I/Marine … 👍👍

As I posted on another thread here … Yes we even called ourselves in the US Army Infantry "Grunts" in the '80s. And we were happy to be referred to as "Grunts"…

So yes, any Infantryman is and can be called a Grunt. E.g. I was Airborne & Air Assault qualified among other things. Served in the 101 Air Assault Div., then 3 Mech Infantry Bns after that. As long as you have those Crossed Rifles on your collar. Regardless of what position you served in you are always Grunt. So Yes Skarper and deadhead, etc. I was a Grunt … and proud of it ! 🤩

Dragon Gunner03 Aug 2020 12:50 p.m. PST

"However, some grunts have issues when others try to appropriate the term without having paid their dues.:)"-Legion

I have seen support personnel go to the field once a year for two weeks and live in a large tent call themselves grunts / infantry. They claim they can do their job and the job of an infantryman with disdain and a pouty sneer.

I recall one incident where I was with one of these airborne support types and we were talking to some civilians. He told them he was a paratrooper (technically correct he made a few Hollywood jumps every year then got trucked back to base.) He deliberately left out what his MOS was in an effort to imply he was a grunt. I then exposed him for what he was by saying, "Why don't you tell them what your MOS is?". The rage that seethed in his eyes when he realized he was about to be embarrassed in front of a bunch girls…

Legion 403 Aug 2020 3:04 p.m. PST

he was about to be embarrassed in front of a bunch girls…
😮😁🤣


BTW – ""However, some grunts have issues when others try to appropriate the term without having paid their dues.:)"-Legion " … Legionarious said that not me ! But I wish I did !!! 😎

Wolfhag03 Aug 2020 5:39 p.m. PST

Poge/Pogey = POG = People other the grunts.

Gedunk refers to ice cream, candy, potato chips, and other snack foods, as well as to the place on a ship where these items are sold. Gedunk Shop

Pogey bait is a reference to sweets or candy, which was in usage in the military as early as 1918. The term alludes to food (and other luxuries) rarely afforded to grunts in the field. To an infantry soldier, the term "pogey bait", when used, in the possessive sense (i.e. "my pogey bait", "his pogey bait", etc.)

When I was in you could call a guy a "Pogey Bait" which would be the equivalent of calling him a candy a--.

Realistically to be a Grunt you need an MOS 03XX. However, a real true Grunt has an MOS 0311 or sometimes known as 03dum-dum. Yes, I resembled that remark.

However, technically all Marines Officers, including pilots, can claim to be a grunt after going through 6 months of Rifle Platoon Leader training at the Basic School at Camp Barret.

It also somewhat carries the connotation of getting the worst and dirtiest jobs too.

Wolfhag

Legionarius03 Aug 2020 8:37 p.m. PST

I would be unjust if I fail to mention that certain other specialties qualify as honorary members of the grunt club. These worthy souls are Army combat medics, Navy corpsmen, Artillery forward observers, combat engineers, and anyone who has spent considerable time side by side with grunts. Many of the above shall forever be known as honorary grunts!

Skarper04 Aug 2020 2:44 a.m. PST

John Ellis' book 'The Sharp End' had a pithy way to describe the dichotomy between front line soldiers and the much greater number of other roles.

Went something like, 'For many WW2 was foreign travel marred by excessive regimentation.'

All the rear echelon troops are in some measure of danger, but it pales in comparison to what the front line troops risk.

In WW2 total US Killed was around 400 000. That doesn't sound so bad but when you look at the casualty rates in infantry units it was often over 100% during the last year of the war. That's casualties so it includes WIA who could be wounded multiple times.

This will not be news to many on here, but the general public don't usually understand this.

Legion 404 Aug 2020 7:33 a.m. PST

Wolfhag & Legionarious +2 !!!!

I am very glad to see the US ARMY now gives Combat Action Badges to other branches/MOSs. That see actual combat. Before only Infantry & Combat Medics were awarded Combat Infantryman's and Combat Medic badges respectively.

Pogey bait
Yep we still called it that in the '80s !😋

This will not be news to many on here, but the general public don't usually understand this.
The general public knows so very little about the military, it's history, etc., etc. Especially if all they know about the military, war, etc., is from Hollywood, TV and the media in general. But it is getting a little better with some of the more recent movies, etc.

Also combat losses/casualties include KIA, WIA, MIA/POW … E.g. some US SF units in SE Asia/Vietnam suffered 100% casualties. Most were WIAs …

In reality very, very few units suffer 100% KIAs. But it does occur at times generally at the Fire Tm and Squad levels. But again that is rare. But none-the-less it happens.

In the US ARMY a unit is considered Combat Ineffective when it suffers 1/3 losses[KIA,WIA, MIA/POW]. But sometimes units will suffer more than that before they are pulled "from the line". Obviously based on the situation, e.g. the 101 at the Battle of the Bulge.

Skarper04 Aug 2020 7:46 a.m. PST

To be clear the losses over 100% are cumulative over the 11 months of combat some units saw.

I contend the general public is becoming better informed than at any time in history, due to the internet.

It is harder to shape the narrative now alternatives are readily available. This is a cause for concern for those in power and they are trying to gain control of this new phenomenon. Internet neutrality is an issue in the US though it is kept off the MSM cable channels. Some governments heavily censor the internet or restrict what websites can be accessed [the PRC being the most obvious case of this, but there are many others].

There will always be a significant slice of the general public who remain disinterested in history/current affairs. I'm not sure it is bigger than in the 1950s, 1970s or any other era.

Schools and universities will not do much about this – it's not why we have such institutions.

Dragon Gunner04 Aug 2020 1:37 p.m. PST

I agree with Legionarius about the honorary MOS that went to the field and served along side the infantry.

I would like to explain for those that maybe don't understand why grunts sometimes detest the support types.

1. It is automatically assumed we are dumb and our ASVAB scores were so poor infantry was all we could attain as a job. This creeps into the looks of disdain and tone of contempt for us when we interact with them. Many infantry have higher ASVAB scores they chose infantry for the glory and the adventure.

2. Infantry can offer support types nothing, support troops get paid if they provide us with good service or no service at all when we need their help. I hate it when support types ask what my MOS is and once they realize I need them and they don't need me, my value drops to nothing and so does the service I receive…

3. I have had commanding officers trade infantry to support units for "area beautification". We went to the support unit barracks and prepared them for inspection, this was done so we could get expedited much needed repairs at our barracks. So I do my regular job (Infantry) and then when I have some down time I have to do more BLEEP work to get a support unit to help us…

4. I have watched support units actively support each other since they provide service for each other to the point I felt we were not even in the same Army.

Legionarius04 Aug 2020 6:26 p.m. PST

All who serve or have served are worthy of respect. However, not all who serve sacrifice at the same level. All worthy men and women who wear or have worn the uniform have my salute. But there is a special place in my heart for the fraternity of grunts. You know who you are! Cheers!

Wolfhag04 Aug 2020 9:08 p.m. PST

Dragon,
I know what you mean. If we weren't out in the field Rgt was always looking for working parties, etc. I refused to pick up cigarette butts when policing the area. Being a Grunt had a downside but it was a very carefree life for a 19-year-old with minimal responsibilities and no financial obligations that just wanted to live large.

I was fortunate to get picked to go to NBC School and then a Brig Chaser. We had so many guys going AWOL and coming back I was kept pretty busy. My friend worked at Rgt as a driver and we'd take the jeep and go out 4-wheeling in the boonies.

When I got back from my cruise my friend and I were short-timers and we were was assigned to guard a warehouse of another unit that was deployed. It was too far from our unit so we stayed at the warehouse and didn't need to stand formations so we stayed there.

I could not believe it. It was like living in a small apartment. We had bunks, oil burning heater, and TV. Also a large refer. In the warehouse, we set up a basketball court. There was a jeep and mech mule we hotwired and would drag race inside the warehouse, about 75 yards long.

The CO said one of us had to be there the entire time. I "loosely" translated his orders (something I still have a natural gift for). My buddy was married and his wife was back in Arkansas. I told him to go home for 10 days and I'd stand duty. When he got back I visited my HS classmates at FSU in Tallahassee and then spent a few days at Disneyworld in Orlando. I'd make sure I got back in time to pick up my paycheck.

On the weekends we'd have friends over, stock the refer with beer and watch the football games with the stereo blaring Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. Sometimes we'd smuggle girls in too. It was a blast!

One Sunday morning after getting totally wasted all day Saturday I was awakened to a bird Colonel and some majors and Captains standing by my bunk looking down at me. I was naked with just a pancho cover so I pulled it up in an attempt to cover-up. There was no way I was going to get vertical so I just laid there and stared up at them. The Colonel said, "Are you alive Marine", to which I weakly replied, "Yes sir". The Colonel smiled and walked away. Damn, ya gotta love it!

See, these are the kind of F-U survival skills Grunts had to develop when I was in. In the field, when it counted, I was squared away and got the job done including running a squad as a PFC and the LT picked me as his radioman. I was also the Platoon Scout Swimmer. When we'd do a night patrol I'd have a guy make a beer run to a convenience store just off base and we'd meet at the end of the patrol for refreshments. Morale was good but I'd thump guys that goofed off in the field.

We'd ambush cars coming through the gate to Cherry Point MAS. It was hilarious watching cars swerve out of control when 13 guys open up on auto with BFA's and then melt away back into the woods. I got questioned by the MP's but BS'd my way out of it.

Liberty after work at Camp Geiger involved hitting some of the dive bars just outside the gate (anyone remembers the Harbor Light or Red Baron circa early 1970s?) to shoot pool, drink beer, and if lucky get into a fight. Just down the road was a drive-in that showed only porno.

Then there was a guy that was ambushing people walking along the trail by the side of the road. He missed me but hit one guy in the chest and the other in the leg. They lived. We were also getting shot at by a sniper when I was at my last duty station at Fort Meade. I think I qualified for a CAR without leaving the states. I had some similar incidents at Quantico with 2nd LT's at the Basic School that involved a WP grenade, flamethrower and LAW.

Sorry if I got off-topic, I just started reminiscing my days as a Grunt. Looking back, I think that by not having a typical 8-5 job and performing a variety of activities we were put in positions to use our initiative and push the envelope. Four times I spent the night in a civilian holding cell and each time my Sgt or LT came and got me, no problem, no extra duty. I think back then that was just the way it was. According to my son, you can't get away with anything like that now.

I was in the PLC program in college but quit and enlisted. They told me I could have any job I wanted (desperate during VN) and I chose 0311. Oh well, too late for regrets. Fortunately, my son went in as a SigInt Operator. Sometimes I'll joke and call him a poge but he was always deployed with Grunts, Spec Ops and spooks so it's all in jest. He was more of a Grunt than I was.

Wolfhag

Legion 405 Aug 2020 9:36 a.m. PST

To be clear the losses over 100% are cumulative over the 11 months of combat some units saw.
Yes … as read and heard for myself. Some units did take 100% losses with most being WIA within a 11-12 month period. And a few times Fire Tms and even Squads were all KIA in one action over a short time period. But it was fortunately rare generally.

I contend the general public is becoming better informed than at any time in history, due to the internet.
True but it has been experience that may still don't take advantage of readily available information. However, they do know what Kim & JLo are doing, the score of last night's game, and what cold potato soup is called, etc., etc.
There will always be a significant slice of the general public who remain disinterested in history/current affairs. I'm not sure it is bigger than in the 1950s, 1970s or any other era.

Schools and universities will not do much about this it's not why we have such institutions.

So very true ! In the US what is taught about history, if it is taught at all, is generally a "New" version, i.e. "revisionist" history, etc. Facts are opinions and opinions are facts. It is like something out of Orwell's 1984.

I have had commanding officers trade infantry
My Bde Cdr liked putting Infantry and Tank Officers in in slots normally held by Ordinance or Quartermaster Officers. Especially if they had proven themselves to be capable at Bn level in a similar support/staff slot. That is how I became a Bde BMO and Bde Asst. S4 … frown

And worth repeating, +1 Legionarious thumbs up

All who serve or have served are worthy of respect. However, not all who serve sacrifice at the same level. All worthy men and women who wear or have worn the uniform have my salute. But there is a special place in my heart for the fraternity of grunts. You know who you are! Cheers!
👍👍

Wolf +1 as always !

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