Ask America’s 1stSgt Edition # Does It Really Matter?

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.

America’s 1stSgt

/ / / /


  1. The “Army” Hoooah thing started out for special units. Then, it was taken over by REMFS and others…thus, rendering it meaningless.

    A lot of soldiers (usually new LTs) say it when being told something by a superior, and the person being told has no idea what they are actually being told…so after each instruction, they say “hooah!”

    Then later, the new LT looks at the platoon sergeant and ask what they are really supposed to do…and the smart platoon sergeant says: “Hoooahhhh Sir!”

    Leaving everyone in total confusion. I NEVER use the Hooahhh thing because it’s like the new black beret…useless now.

    If this information confuses anyone….then I’ve done my job today.

  2. Tankerbabe, are you feeling gassy too?

    CI Roller, there were A LOT of Ranger qualified Marines who got pissed over the beret thing.

    Jim, exaclty. Isn’t “rah” something cheerleaders say?

  3. As a matter of fact I AM feeling a bit gassy but I thought it was due to the whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Hmmmmm

    As for Shitseki and his dumbass beret idea it more than blows!

  4. There I was, innocently enjoying another informative post, thinking to myself “bowel problems, submarines, the noises fairies make; is there nothing I can’t learn here? This guy’s like an encyclopaedia!” And then BLAM! Images of Marines as big cats loping through the streets and growling their greetings.

    I’ve spent all afternoon singing “The Circle of Life.”

    Thanks, A1S.

  5. Working and schooling with Marines in the early 80’s I just figured they were barking. Awesomely gutteral. Next best thing to a rebel yell. Did my Scot-Irish heart good.

    Reckoned it had something to do with that bulldog pictured on their quarterdeck or the devil dog thing they loved.

    Near as I could tell there wasn’t any “oorah” in it.

    In other news, the Son&Heir’s platoon steps off for the Crucible tonight. Oorah, indeed!

  6. Tankerbabe, Marines have long maintained that berets are woman’s clothing anyway. 🙂

    Magoo, Elton John imagery was not what I was going for there.

    Red, doubtful my personal preferences with catch on but I am content to impact my small sphere of influence.

    be603, see? It was all growling. Wait until your son comes back all Oo-rahed up.

    Saker, you just illustrated my point exactly.

  7. Berets… I hate them. I also secretly hate the Marines on this post. With their comfy patrol caps (or whatever Marines call them) and their rolled sleeves, and their desert camo pattern that might actually blend into something other than grandma’s couch…

  8. When I first heard the whole Hooah Oorah thing, my first thought was Hurrah!

    But no, Hurrah wasn’t acceptable at all. Rather, I was corrected that it was Oorah for the Marines, Hooah for the Army.

    Now, if you’ve ever heard how Hooah gets inserted into a formal speech as a use to emphasize cameraderie, it can be quite disarming to someone who has never heard it before. General Petraeus did it and all I could do was liken it to saying, “Yanno?”

    The problem with AARUGHA is that in this 21st century emphasis on vegetables, I think “Arugala” and immediately think of leafy greens.

    Frankly, the primal roar is just fine. I’m equally find with it not being phonetically spelled, as the variations just get too weird.

  9. The best explanation of the difference I ever heard went something like this –

    “Hooah,” comes from high in the chest; the same place you cry.

    “Oorah,” comes from deep down where evil lives (let’s just say that “oorah,” in this case is the transliteration of that primal growl)

  10. Hooah is an abreviation of two words, Who? What? it became a common refrain in the Army because of the high number of intelectuals attracted to places like Ft Jacksoff, Ft. Orgy, and the string of Eew-ya-peon hang outs available in the late 70’s early 80’s. Couple the natural low IQ of the average grunt with a few bowls of high THC weed, and that was what you got in answer to dang near every question.

    As a Career soldier, I hated it, hate it even more now as it spreads beyond the infantry and tanker units where in it had its anal birth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *