Applegoat, a Soldier’s Angel (we won’t hold it against her) asks what’s the difference between Oorah! and Hooah!
The main difference is Oorah! is a battle cry associated with the World’s Finest United States Marines where as Hooah! is a discomforting sound usually emanating from an Army latrine. I think it is related to some kind of gastrointestinal disorder but I may be wrong.
There are those who suppose that Oorah! comes from some kind of Turkish or Russian remark meaning “kill” or “kill them all”. This is utter nonsense so don’t believe it. Frankly, trying to associate the Marine Corps with any other nation except AMERICA should be considered heretical and violators immediately water boarded.
Oorah! is thought to be derived from an old Reconnaissance growl properly pronounced “AARUGHA!” This term originated from the dive warning on board a submarine. Over the 1MC the warning, “Dive! Dive! Dive!” would be given along with the Klaxon horn before a submarine would dive. The sound of the horn of course is, “AARUGHA! AARUGHA! AARUGHA!”
It is believed Marines began to use the AARUGHA as part of a running cadence and from there it caught on becoming a Recon battle cry.
Former Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps and Reconnaissance Marine, John Massaro is often attributed with bringing AARUGHA to MCRD San Diego where it spread to the Drill Instructors and thus to recruits. From then on Marines shouted “AARUGHA” or other guttural variations at each other, the enemy, or their Ball dates as the situation required.
From what I can tell, some time between then and the late 80’s or early 90’s some clown (probably an officer) decided we needed to spell the growl and Oorah! was born.
For the record, America’s 1stSgt hates Oorah! I can’t stand it for a number of reasons. Let me just reiterate if Oorah! had a mouth I would put my fist in it. Can I make it any clearer?
Let me explain why.
As a kid growing up around Marines never once did I hear an Oorah! or any variation thereof. Marines growled at each other like predatory beasts. My father, a Reconnaissance ninja and friend of SgtMaj Massaro, encouraged all Marines to “give him a growl” if they saw him on the street. “I don’t care if I’m with my wife and son! I’ll give you one back.” Sure enough, my parents and I would be downtown and suddenly a booming growl would emanate from somewhere and my dad immediately thundered in response. To me they were like lions greeting each other on the savannah. It was primal and savage and suited Marines like a fine set of dress blues.
When I enlisted in the early 90’s all of a sudden there was this Oorah! garbage permeating the air. This wasn’t the savage roar I was raised on. It was the sound of fairies pollinating each other in a flower garden. It was also spelled out! Heresy of heresies!
What happens when a term becomes institutionalized is the disgruntled members of that institution begin to use it in mockery and derision. “Go clean the head.” “Oorah!” See what I mean? Then it loses its original meaning and intent.
Now days I am on a one man campaign to eliminate Oorah! from my Marine Corps lexicon wherever I go. I encourage Marines to growl and great each other like prehistoric cavemen were meant to. Primally. I find acceptable nearly any guttural vocalization as long as it doesn’t resemble Oorah!
I also refuse to spell out any growling as in my mind it is too primitive an ideation to be encapsulated by the trappings of civilized “letters”.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.