The Marine Corps’ search for a new squad automatic weapon (SAW) may have ended with Heckler and Koch, but that doesn’t mean the arms manufacturer was going to pull any punches when it came to ribbing the branch about some common Marine stereotypes. In a Facebook post published by H&K earlier this week, the company referred to Marines as “crayon eaters” and asked that the M27s’ new owners “treat them nice,” even though they designed the M249 SAW’s replacement to be “Marine proof.”
The jokes didn’t end there, however, with H&K jumping in on the comments section to deliver more quips about the Marines, before the poster (who identified herself as “social media girl”) announced that she was probably going to get taken to task for the rash of jokes.
The “crayon eater” moniker is usually only something Marines hear from members of the other service branches, playing to the stereotype that Marines tend to be less intelligent than their cross-service counterparts. Undoubtedly, some Marines may have taken a bit of offense to H&K’s remarks, but for the most part, Marines (including the one writing this piece) responded positively to the humorous post.
At a work party last year, a waiter came out with a tray full of assorted crayons “for the Marines in attendance.”
I ate the red one. https://t.co/Y3Dz0l4Dtm
— Alex Hollings (@AlexHollings52) February 21, 2019
The trope about Marines being dumb can likely be traced back to the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test requirements upon entering the service. Recruits with a high school diploma need a score of only 32 points out a 100 on the ASVAB to enlist. Though, I would be derelict in my Marine Corps duty if I didn’t point out that the same recruit could join the Army with a 31.
So why isn’t the Army known as the dumbest branch? Well, there are, of course, other variables in play for the Marines. Their strict uniform guidelines (including the traditionally higher fade haircut) and general demeanor have earned them other nicknames that could be argued are derogatory–like jarhead. And then, of course, there’s the Marine Corps’ more strict physical fitness requirements, which tend to paint them as “jocks” as compared to the other branches that one could contend have a more casual approach to physical fitness and weight standards.
The fact that Marines pride themselves on being “the first to fight,” (despite that not always being the case) also adds to the dumbed-down perception. It’s not entirely out of the ordinary to hear members of other services refer to Marines as “bullet catchers,” which, while a point of pride for many Marines, doesn’t necessarily suggest a high level of intellect.
At the end of the day, Marines are dumb, soldiers are fat, sailors like being in confined spaces with each other and the Air Force treats deployments like a vacation–but we’re all on the same team. These sh*t-talking tropes are no more true for one branch than they are for another, but they allow for some friendly (and maybe sometimes not-so-friendly) ribbing between services with the same overarching goals, values, and willingness to fight and die for one another, regardless of branch.