The Depot

What Guns Do The US Military Soldiers Use?


We know that an internet search likely brought you to this blog post so we’re going to take a moment to clarify something. When it comes to the U.S. military, the word “gun” is considered a large weapon on a ship that hurls artillery onto targets miles away. Guns can also be the weapons that are on aircraft like the nose gun on an A-10 aircraft. A gun is not something an individual carries, at least not in the military. Well, that statement isn't entirely accurate, as you will find out if you read on.

In the military, a personal weapon is referred to as a firearm, sidearm, weapon, or a rifle. So, while we know that not everyone understands that, we wanted to let you know that this article will be about the more popular weapons carried by the majority of military personnel.

This list will not include every single weapon in the American arsenal, but it will mostly focus on the weapons carried by a majority of personnel. So, if you’re asking what guns does the military use, your answers are below in no particular order. 

Sig Sauer M17 & M18
What guns does the military use? If we’re talking about handguns, well, the answer is a Sig. These handguns can chamber 9mm, .357 SIG, and .40 Smith and Wesson ammunition. They are military versions of the Sig Sauer P320 and they are the standard service pistol of the U.S. military. This weapon replaced the Beretta M9 which had been the standard service pistol since 1985.

what guns does the military use navy

Mossberg 590A1
This shotgun uses 12-gauge ammunition and this weapon is a variation of Mossberg’s 500 series civilian shotguns. This is the standard issue pump shotgun for a majority of the U.S. military. The rifle is designed for close quarters combat and it can also carry breaching rounds as well as non-lethal crowd control if loaded with rubber slugs or beanbags. What guns does the military use for things like riot control? The likely answer is the Mossberg.

This rifle is built for snipers and uses a .300 Winchester magazine ammunition. It is a bolt action sniper rifle with a maximum effective range of 1,300 meters and is issued to Marine snipers with a suppressor to reduce muzzle flash and the acoustic signature when shot. Variations of the MK13 are also used by the Navy SEALs. What guns does the military use for snipers? The MK13 is the answer.

M4/M4A1 Carbine
This is likely the most well-known weapon in the U.S. military. This assault rifle uses 5.56 x 45mm ammunition and is fully automatic. The rifle is the standard issue firearm for many in the U.S. military. Versions of the M4 were carried by the majority of U.S. Army and Marine troops in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Essentially, the weapon is a shorter and lighter variant of the M-16, and the M4A1 is equipped with a rail system for attachments, a collapsible stock, and backup iron sights. The weapon can be modified to include a grenade launcher and a shotgun attachment. The rifle can fire with a maximum effective range of more than 650 yards and it can fire up to 950 rounds per minute.

What guns does the military use in the global war on terrorism? The M4 is the tool of the trade.

M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon)
This light machine gun, also known as the “Saw,” uses 5.56 x 45mm ammunition and weighs about 18 pounds. Depending on the gunner, it has a maximum range of 3,600 meters. The weapon was first developed in the 1970s and it was first used in combat in the 1991 Gulf War and again in Iraq in the 2000s.

Special operations forces use modified versions of the SAW (the Mk 46 and Mk 48) that have a longer effective range and higher rate of fire. What guns does the military use in a squad? The SAW.

what guns does the military use auto

This medium machine gun uses 7.62mm x 51mm ammunition and it is a general-purpose machine gun adopted by the Army in 1977. It is widely used throughout the U.S. military, including by the weapons platoon of every rifle company of the Marine Corps.

The M240 is usually mounted on a tripod on vehicles, helicopters, and boats. It has a reputation for being reliable even though it is not a state-of-the-art weapon. It has a maximum range of 3,725 meters and a fire rate of 650 rounds per minute.

This heavy machine gun is a favorite of military personnel who use her. It uses .50 BMG ammunition and the weapon is used in all branches of the U.S. military. It is the primary heavy machine gun for NATO countries and it has been used in the U.S. military for decades. 

It was developed during World War I, and it was widely used during World War II and in America’s subsequent wars since. The weapon is effective against infantry and lightly armored vehicles, helicopters, and boats. Often mounted to a vehicle or helicopter, the M2 can also be used with a tripod.

What guns does the military use on aircraft, vehicles and boats? The Ma Deuce (M2).

The M16 was one of the most disliked weapons to be used by the U.S. military.  The assault rifle uses 5.56 x 45mm ammunition and it is the updated version of the M16 that was widely used by U.S. troops in the Vietnam War and during the Cold War.

The M16 was the standard service rifle of the Marine Corps until it was replaced by the M4 in 2015. There reasons to replace the M16 were many, but those reasons include the fact that the M16’s barrel is long and made it heavier and difficult to use in confined urban operations. The M4 carbine addressed those issues since it is lighter and shorter.

In addition, the M16 was known to jam, rusted easily and it could be difficult to clean and maintain. Nonetheless, the M16A4 remains in limited use by some support and non-infantry U.S. military units. A grenade launcher can also be attached to the rifle for added capability.

As you read you might have noticed that we tried to answer the question, what guns does the military use? However, it is likely we could have confused you even more because several of the weapons on our list are actually called “guns” as in, machine guns.

The truth is, weapons like the M2 and M240 are guns because they can be mounted onto vehicles and such, but given their popularity and service in the U.S. military we would be remiss by not including those weapons in our roundup blog post of what guns does the military use?

10 Common Military Code Words and Phrases

military code words and phrases

For many of us, the world of the military is not only a place of unbreakable spirits and dauntingly brave hearts, but it's also a world rich with a unique language and culture. Military code words and phrases have permeated popular culture through movies, books, and documentaries, but their real significance lies in their use during operations.

In this blog post, we will share the meanings behind 10 common military code words and phrases that every military enthusiast should know listed in numbered, but no particular order.

1. "Roger That"

"Roger that" is one of the most well-known phrases used in the military, but what does it really mean? The term "Roger" harkens back to the days of wireless telegraphy and is spelled out in the phonetic alphabet as "Romeo." It was initially used in the NATO phonetic alphabet to represent the letter R but eventually took on the meaning "received." When someone says "Roger that," they're acknowledging that they've received and understood a piece of radio communication. It’s a signal to the sender that their message has been successfully transmitted.

However, the phrase has made its way into non-radio conversations between military personnel. An NCO can issue a directive verbally to which a subordinate might reply, “roger that,” which means they understand and accept the directive.

“Roger that” is likely the most widely used of military code words and phrases.

2. "Unass"

This phrase is a favorite of the ranks because of its flexibility of usage as a verb. For example, a troop leader can tell a group of personnel “Alright, unass and let’s get moving.” That means, in plain English, stand up and follow me. However, when used in the palaver of military code words and phrases, it can also mean something else.

If someone orders “unass that” it means get rid of it. For example, in the movie “Apocalypse Now,” an Army colonel on board a helicopter orders the soldiers inside the helicopter to “unass that shit,” referring to a flare that has been thrown into the helicopter.

3. "Oscar Mike"

When a military or radio operator says "Oscar Mike" it means that the unit he is in is on the move. The two-word phrase saves a lot of time and avoids confusing because just about every military person out there knows that Oscar Mike means on the move.

4. "Charlie Foxtrot"

Our list of military code words and phrases continues with this hugely popular term.

Without devolving into less polite language, this code phrase uses the phonetic alphabet for the letters "C" and "F" to stand in for a more colorful term. "Charlie Foxtrot" is a euphemism for a mistake or for disorganization, much as the services would use the term "SNAFU." The use of the phonetic alphabet in this way helps to maintain professionalism and decorum while still communicating that something has gone wrong.

It is also a way to communicate something negative without triggering the concern of the uninitiated.

military code words and phrases fireman

5. "Eyes on Target"

When someone in the military states they have 'Eyes on Target,' they are communicating that they have acquired visual contact with the specified objective or enemy. This phrase often indicates a critical development in a mission, allowing for coordinated actions among unit members. Visual confirmation helps to ensure that targets are correctly identified, and it's one of the most crucial aspects of success in military operations.

However, military personnel who pick this phrase from the military code words and phrases list can also have a good time with it. Asking a buddy to meet for wings, a service member might text his battle buddy that he has arrived at the bar and that he has “eyes on target.”

6. "Go-Code"

A 'Go-Code' is a set of predetermined criteria, instructions, or information that, when given, authorizes and prepares a unit to commence a mission or exercise an order. These orders could range from a planned airstrike to a rescue mission. The term underscores the cut-and-dried nature of military decision-making, where yes/no responses can carry life-or-death weight.

7. "MOS"

No military code words and phrases list could be complete without “MOS.”

In military vernacular, 'MOS' stands for 'Military Occupational Specialty.' It's an alphanumeric code that defines a service member's job or military occupational classification, much like a civilian job title. MOS designations are instrumental in assigning tasks, training, and promotions, and they help ensure that every individual's skills are used optimally in the war effort.

8. "Bug Out/Bugging Out"

'Bug Out' made its way onto the military code words and phrases list during the Vietnam War. It usually refers to the emergency retreat or withdrawal of a military unit. As mentioned, the phrase was popularized during the Vietnam War where it was used to describe the sometimes hasty and always challenging process of moving away from a dangerous or compromised area. In casual conversation, though, it can refer to any sudden, rapid departure, not just military operations.

For example, an NCO might ask, “Where’s the lieutenant?” and a soldier can answer, “He bugged out at 1630 hours, sergeant major.”

9. "Blue on Blue"

This phrase is as ominous as it sounds. 'Blue on Blue' describes an incident where one element of the military mistakenly engages another, often because of a misidentified target. The term comes from the historical practice of using the color blue to represent friendly forces. These incidents are incredibly hazardous and can result in significant injuries or deaths, along with strategic confusion and chaos.

10. "Wilco"

Short for "will comply," "Wilco" is a response to an order indicating that it has been understood, and the individual not only acknowledges it but will also execute the order without requiring further instruction. This term is particularly significant in situations demanding quick responses and immediate action, as any delay could have serious repercussions.

Understanding these common military code words and phrases offers a glimpse into the precise, efficient, and sometimes cryptic language of the armed forces. For enthusiasts and professionals alike, this knowledge helps to decode the immersive world of military operations and communication.

Remember, while these terms have broken into everyday speech to connote urgency or duty, their original meanings are a testament to the deeply disciplined environment in which they originated.

Living on a Coast Guard Cutter: Embracing Life at Sea

 coast guard cutter 754

The image of the U.S. Coast Guard evokes a sense of duty, honor, and the perseverance of the human spirit against the raw power of the sea. While news headlines and movies often focus on dramatic rescues and daring operations, the daily life aboard a Coast Guard cutter is a tapestry of countless unseen efforts that form the backbone of the service's mission.

This blog post takes a look at what life is truly like for the men and women living aboard one of these maritime workhorses.

The Coast Guard Mission

Maritime interests are critical to our nation’s security, economy, and prosperity. Our waterways are precious environmental resources used for both commerce and recreation. The Coast Guard protects our seas, and protects us from the sea.

Helping mariners in distress is a core Coast Guard mission, with more than 3,500 lives and more than $75 million in property saved per year.

Introduction to the Coast Guard Cutter

The Coast Guard's fleet of cutters is as diverse as the missions they serve. From the legendary Eagle, a three-masted training vessel, to modern multi-mission cutters like the National Security Cutter, each ship is designed to carry out a specific set of responsibilities. But what truly sets these vessels apart is their endurance and adaptability. Cutters are more than just boats; they are floating communities, workplaces, and even, at times, an aegis for the United States.

A Day in the Life

A typical day aboard a Coast Guard cutter is anything but typical. Crew members live in tight quarters, necessitating a level of teamwork and camaraderie that is unmatched in most workplaces. The day usually begins early with reveille, followed by muster, and then a hearty breakfast. After that, operations commence, which could include searches for drug smugglers, ice-breaking in the Arctic, or sweeping for mines in strategic waters.

The Crew's Perspective

Our article explores the intricacies of the day-to-day routines on a Coast Guard cutter, covering their various duty stations, such as the bridge, engine room, and flight deck. With input from former Coast Guard personnel, we provide some insight into the roles of cutters.

coast guard cutter 754

The heart and soul of any Coast Guard cutter is its crew. Every service member and officer has a unique story to tell about their time on the water.

For example, while search and rescue personnel can easily talk about the rescues they’ve performed, Coast Guard cutter crews experience not just search and rescue, but a multitude of other missions. For example, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, a Coast Guard cutter operating under control of the U.S. Navy, guarded Iraqi Oil Platforms. A Coast Guard cutter not long ago also intercepted a drug-smuggling submarine and a dramatic video was captured of the Coastie jumping aboard the top of the sub in rough seas and pounding on it to get the drug smugglers to open the sub’s hatch.

A Coast Guard cutter can also perform routine patrols that deter narco-trafficking, but also assist in rescuing mariners and serve as a deterrent to pirates. A Coast Guard cutter also routinely interdicts migrants attempting to enter the United States illegally.

The Cutter

Modern cutters are marvels of engineering and are equipped with the latest technology to carry out their missions effectively. Did you know that at one point, Coast Guard cutters were equipped with anti-ship missiles like the Harpoon missile?

The term “cutter” identifies a Coast Guard vessel 65 feet in length or greater, with accommodations for a crew to live aboard. Major cutters like the national security cutter are capable of carrying multiple cutter boat types, including the over-the-horizon (CB-OTH-IV) rigid-hull inflatables, and long-range interceptors (CB-LRI-11).

Polar-class icebreakers also carry an Arctic survey boat, a polar variant of the CB-OTH-IV, and landing craft. Most cutters more than 200 feet in length are capable of accommodating helicopters. There are approximately 243 U.S. Coast Guard cutters.

The Cutter's Role in the Community

Coast Guard cutters are not just instruments of law enforcement and security; they play a vital role in the communities they serve. From providing humanitarian assistance to participating in local events, these vessels are ambassadors of goodwill.

For example, when an environmental disaster strikes, whether manmade or not, the Coast Guard cutter springs into action. When oil tankers run aground and begin to spill petroleum into the water, or a hurricane causes an oil platform offshore to leak, the Coast Guard steps in and conducts spillage suppression operations to help combat the spread of oil. This can be a serious contribution to a local community that might depend on the ocean or waterway to drive its economy.

coast guard cutter 759


The life of a Coast Guardsman on a Coast Guard cutter is one of service, sacrifice, and significance. From the routine to the remarkable, every moment at sea contributes to a legacy of protecting the American coastlines and waterways.

In wrapping up this narrative, hopefully you have gained a newfound appreciation for the men and women who call these the Coast Guard cutter their home. Hopefully you developed a deeper understanding of the critical role these vessels play in safeguarding our seas.

Through the facts presented here and a thorough exploration of the Coast Guard life, we hope you walk away with a sense of appreciation for the unsung heroes of our waters and a commitment to the spirit of service that defines the U.S. Coast Guard enterprise.

How to Personalize a Military Retirement Plaque

military retirement plaque alder

The act of hanging up one’s uniform and transitioning into a new phase of life is a monumental moment for any military service member. Whether you're celebrating decades of dedicated service or saying goodbye to a duty that's been integral to your identity, one of the symbolic tokens of this occasion is the military retirement plaque. The plaque stands as a testament to service, honor, and accomplishment, not only in the eyes of the retiree but for generations to come.

However, a generic military retirement plaque may not capture the essence of a personal military experience, the commendations, or the unique qualities that define a distinguished career. By personalizing a military retirement plaque, service members infuse it with a touch of their own personality and story, creating a unique memento that truly honors their individual sacrifice and achievement.

The Significance of a Military Retirement Plaque

A military career is filled with moments of triumph, dedication, and sometimes, sacrifice. Each assignment, commendation, and promotion, reflects a piece of the service member’s story. When it's time to retire, the military retirement plaque becomes a tableau, summarizing the narrative of service that's unfolded over the years. It captures the milestones, the accolades, and the core values that have driven the individual from the very start of their career.

Why Personalization Matters

The choice to personalize a retirement plaque is rooted in the need to create a lasting token that represents the sum total of a service member's experiences and values. A personalized military retirement plaque transcends a generic form by:

  • Reflecting individual achievements
  • Showcasing unique skills and duties
  • Demonstrating the growth and career trajectory

An off-the-shelf military retirement plaque might have elegance, but it lacks the personal touch that's so vital in military culture where honor and individual service are esteemed. Personalization not only reflects the personality and values of the service member but also the unique challenges and victories of their particular branch and role within the military.

Elements to Consider When Personalizing Your Plaque

Personalizing a military retirement plaque can involve various elements that collectively depict a comprehensive and individualized account of a military career. These elements can include but are not limited to:

Branch-Specific Insignia

Oftentimes, the branch of the military becomes a defining and central part of a member's identity. The Army's star, the Navy's anchor, the Air Force's Arnold wings, or the Marines' globe, eagle and anchor— these insignias can be prominently featured on the plaque, showcasing the retiree's lifelong allegiance.

military retirement plaque NCO

Service Dates and Deployments

A career in the military often spans over several significant historic events. Service dates alongside major deployments provide a snapshot of the retiree's professional timeline and highlights their contributions during critical moments and operations.

Awards and Commendations

The recognition of exceptional service is a vital component of the military retirement plaque. Each medal and commendation is a story in and of itself, a testament to bravery, skill, and dedication. Featuring these honors on the military retirement plaque acknowledges the retiree's legacy of excellence.

Special Achievements and Milestones

Promotions, advancements, and service milestones such as a certain number of years in a specific rank or achieving special qualifications are benchmarks of the retiree's career progression and should be celebrated in the plaque.

Personal Touches

Adding a personal photo or engraving a significant quote can add a distinctly human element. This could be an image of the veteran during service or a poignant quote that has been a guiding light throughout their career.

Designing Your Personal Military Retirement Plaque

Each personalized military retirement plaque is as unique as the individual it honors. Thoughtful design ensures that the final product is a cherished keepsake that accurately represents the retiree's accomplishments and character.

Engaging a Professional Designer

A professional with experience in military awards and creating military retirement plaques can offer invaluable expertise. A seasoned business like USAMM understands the nuances of service and knows how to translate a career's highlights into a visually striking and meaningful design. 

Choosing the Right Materials

The material of the military retirement plaque, be it wood, brass, crystal, or another suitable option, should be robust to withstand the test of time and the elements it may face, be it on a home wall or in a hall of honors.

Iterating on the Design

Don't be afraid to offer feedback on the initial designs or suggest changes. The goal is to ensure the final military retirement plaque reflects the retiree's vision and carries the weight of their service.

Legacy and Inspiration

Long after the initial celebrations, the plaque will stand as a legacy and an inspiration. For future service members, it will serve as a benchmark to strive for. For the retiree, it will be a reminder of their call to service, forever etched in metal, wood, or stone.


A military retirement plaque isn't just a token of appreciation; it’s a powerful symbol of the dedication, loyalty, and service of the men and women who have served in uniform. Personalizing this symbol adds depth and character, ensuring it remains a poignant reminder, not just of the time served, but of the life lived in service to a greater cause.

military retirement plaque

The act of personalizing a military retirement plaque is an art in itself—a gesture that embodies the spirit of the retiree's service. It stands as a bridge between the past and the future, a permanent and personal reminder of a career that will forever hold a distinguished place in the annals of military history.

For those preparing to hang up their military boots, the creation and unveiling of their personalized retirement plaque is a moment that will undoubtedly be etched in their memory as one of the most poignant and proud of their long and storied career. It's a thoughtful act full of significance and sentiment, marking not an end, but a new chapter in a life characterized by service.

How Deep Can A Navy Submarine Actually Go?

how deep can a navy submarine go underway

The notion of human exploration has always been interwoven with a fascination for depths—be it the perils of the Mariana Trench or the secrets lurking in the abyss of space. In the terrestrial domain, the U.S. Navy has continually pushed the boundaries of undersea technology, crafting vessels capable of descending to jaw-dropping depths.

It's a tale of engineering mastery—a blend of human ingenuity and the relentless pursuit of security that plumbs the very depths of the unknown. This post is an immersive deep-dive into the world of Navy submarines, their astonishing capabilities, and the physics that dictate their deepest voyages.

The Evolution of Naval Submersibles

To comprehend the present capabilities of Navy submarines, it’s essential to trace their lineage. The first significant leap in submersible technology occurred during WWII, where diesel-electric subs, although relatively slow, significantly extended the operational range of naval fleets. The following Cold War era witnessed an arms race that fueled the development of nuclear-powered submarines, granting them unprecedented endurance and stealth beneath the waves.

Each generation of submarines builds upon its predecessor’s advances, integrating streamlined designs, advanced materials, and, crucially, deeper-diving capabilities. These undersea leviathans epitomize a cumulative growth in human expertise, learning from each submerged sortie more than the last. The question is not just technical but chronological; with each passing year, how deep can a Navy submarine go?

The Physics of Submersion

At its heart, the science of deep-sea submersion relies on two cardinal principles: buoyancy and pressure. When a submarine descends, it displaces water, and Archimedes' principle comes into play—there's an upward buoyant force equal to the weight of the water it displaces. The submarine's internal ballast system manages the seawater displacement, maintaining the desired depth without becoming too heavy to ascend.

The depth a Navy submarine can reach is limited by the pressure it can withstand. The deeper the sub, the greater the hydrostatic pressure on its hull. This demands rigorous materials engineering, with submarine hulls composed of high-strength steel or, in some cases, titanium. These alloys are designed to endure immense pressure gradients while keeping the vessel and its crew securely watertight. So, how deep can a Navy submarine go? Read on.

Breaking Down Depth Records

U.S. Navy submarines are classified into multiple categories, each optimized for a particular naval strategy. The Virginia-class fast attack submarines, for instance, emphasize versatility and speed, with reported maximum depths reaching 800 feet, which is great enough to crush most land mammals.

how deep can a navy submarine go docked

The secretive Seawolf-class and the Ohio-class guided-missile submarines, designed for stealth and firepower, reportedly have an operational depth in excess of 800 feet, though these figures are often classified and making it hard to answer the question, how deep can a Navy submarine go? It's important to note that the precise "crush depth"—the limit beyond which the hull is expected to collapse—is guarded information. Knowing the deepest a submarine can go is one thing; understanding how it will fare under extreme pressure is quite another.

The Pressures of Protection

When a submarine reaches depths of several hundred feet, the external pressure becomes a formidable adversary. The construction of the hull is a delicate balance; it must be strong enough to withstand the vast tons per square inch pushing against it while remaining light enough for the vessel to travel swiftly and efficiently.

Subs aren’t just built to withstand these pressures; they're also designed to detect changes in the underwater environment that might indicate depth exceeding their recommended limits. Hydrophones, sonar, and advanced sensor arrays work together, providing the crew vital data to make informed decisions about descent and ascent.

The Deep Dives of Discovery

While the primary mission of Navy submarines is defense, they have also played crucial roles in scientific discovery. The USS Nautilus was the first vessel to travel from the Pacific to the Atlantic beneath the ice of the North Pole, opening new frontiers in both exploration and geopolitics. Today, submarines equipped with laboratories enable researchers to study marine biology and geology in remote and inaccessible underwater territories.

The dual use of submarines for defense and exploration underlines the interconnectedness of seemingly divergent pursuits. The depths these vessels can fathom are not mere figures on a chart but the keystones to unlocking the ocean’s mysteries and safeguarding the nation’s waters.

Pushing the Boundaries Without Breaking

The advancement of Navy submarine technology is a tale of unprecedented human and mechanical perseverance. Engineers, naval architects, and submariners continually push the envelope, striving for that nexus of technical prowess and operational safety. The question is not just how deep can a Navy submarine go, but ‘how deep with confidence’ can a submarine submerge, conduct its mission, and resurface intact?

Deep-sea exploration remains one of the most profound and mysterious valleys of human endeavor. Each mission, each record-breaking descent, not only adds to our collective understanding of the aquatic world but also propels the science of submersible technology forward. In doing so, Navy submarines descend not just into the ocean's chasms but into the annals of historical achievement, surfacing only to chart a course for the next unexplored horizon.

It is important to note that in 2019, American Victor Vescovo took his submersible to a depth of 35,853 feet. It is the deepest recorded human dive and while it was not conducted by the U.S. Navy, it illustrates how deep man can venture into the oceans and it directly answers the question, how deep can a submarine go, but it does not answer the question, how deep can a Navy submarine go? In fact, it is highly unlikely anyone will really know the answer to that question because it is classified.


The depth to which a Navy submarine can go is a measure of human achievement—one that encapsulates the dynamic intersection of national defense, innovation, and the innate human desire to extend our reach. From the kilometer-deep exploits of the Trieste to the stealthy undersea ballets of modern nuclear submarines, the narrative of undersea exploration is one of success against all odds.

It’s a saga that continues to unfold, and with each passing foray into the ocean’s shadows, Navy submarines redefine the limits of our ability to thrive in the most hostile environments on Earth. Their stories are not just of duty and danger but of a relentless pursuit of what lies beneath—and the human spirit that drives us there.

How deep can a Navy submarine go? As deep as can be imagined.

How to Celebrate the 4th of July with Your Family

how to celebrate 4th of July usmc

The 4th of July is more than just a day marked on the calendar; it's a celebration of freedom, unity, and the vibrant spirit of a nation. Families all across America come together to honor this special date, creating longstanding traditions and beautiful memories.

Whether you're planning your very first 4th of July celebration or looking for tips on how to celebrate 4th of July, this post is brimming with ideas to ensure your Independence Day is filled with excitement, meaning, and joy.

How to Celebrate 4th of July with Patriotic Clothes

Clothing serves as a canvas for expressing your patriotic pride. From flag-themed t-shirts to outfits in the national colors of red, white, and blue, apparel can set a festive tone for the day. Consider organizing a 'most patriotic outfit' contest within your family, complete with themed accessories and sparkling decorations. Kids and adults alike can compete in this lighthearted event, adding a sense of playfulness to the day's celebrations.

How to Celebrate 4th of July with Accessories

Don't just stop at clothing. Get creative with temporary tattoos, face paint, and even outfit and accessory DIY. Incorporate the stars and stripes into your attire with flair. Top hats, bandanas, and socks with a touch of Americana can jazz up any outfit and make for some superb photo ops. Remember to wear comfortable clothing if you're spending the day outdoors attending parades or festivals.

how to celebrate 4th of july uscg

Organize a Backyard Picnic with a Patriotic Palette

There's something about the open sky and a great spread that encapsulates the spirit of the 4th of July. Plan a menu that features the best of American cuisine, from grilled meats and corn on the cob to apple pie and ice cream. Don't just focus on the taste — add to the visual feast with dishes that echo the national colors. Watermelons, blueberries, and strawberries can be woven into dishes for a uniquely celebratory look.

If you’re asking yourself how to celebrate 4th of July with food, well, the above should answer that question.

And be sure to decorate your picnic area with holiday-appropriate tablecloths, napkins, and plates. Red, white, and blue utensils, cups, and serving trays punctuate the theme. This is also an ideal time to teach children about the significance of the holiday and its historical context – it can be done subtly through the themed dishes or more directly through storytelling as the day unfolds.

Engage in Civic and Community Events

Many towns and cities host parades, concerts, and fireworks on the 4th of July. These events not only exemplify the collective pride of a community but also offer a chance to experience the holiday from a broader perspective. Attending local events can be a way to support local organizations and mingle with neighbors, promoting a sense of unity and camaraderie.

Prepare for parades by creating themed banners or signs with your children. Whether you choose to walk in a local parade, participate in a community event, or simply observe from the sidelines, these activities are perfect for instilling a love and respect for national traditions and historical figures.

If you plan on being a guest speaker, don’t forget to wear your patriotic or service pride t-shirt to tie in your love of country or service with America’s birthday.

Celebrate with Crafts, Games and People

The 4th of July is an opportunity for families to engage in crafts and games that are both fun and educational. Crafting sessions can focus on creating decorations for the home or yard, while the games played could also emphasize unity and cooperation. Ideas for crafts include making paper lanterns, creating a family flag, or concocting homemade bubble solutions in red, white, and blue. Traditional games like sack races, tug-of-war, and scavenger hunts can be played with a thematic twist.

Such activities not only entertain but also provide a platform for teaching about history, teamwork, and the value of celebrating the nation's landmarks. Crafts can be displayed as proud symbols of family creativity, while games can bring out the competitive spirit and result in many laughs and shared joy.

The 4th of July is also a day to recognize those who have served and sacrificed for the country. Families can make an effort to reach out to current service members and veterans, showing gratitude and appreciation for their commitment. This can be done through visits, letters, or participating in organized events that honor the military.

If you're in an area where military presence is prominent, there should be plenty of things to do so you won't ask how to celebrate 4th of July. Consider attending a ceremony or commemorative service. Children can learn about the different branches of the armed forces and the significance of service through these interactions. It is important for younger generations to understand the freedoms they enjoy and the responsibility that comes with them.

Amidst the revelry, it's essential to set aside time for reflection on the 4th of July. Families can share stories about their heritage, discuss the principles that the country was founded on, and talk about the importance of democracy. Observing moments of silence can provide an opportunity for individual thanks and collective remembrance.

How to Celebrate 4th of July (Conclusion)

Encourage various family members to take on the role of the day's official photographer, videographer, or chronicler. The compilation of these records can become an annual tradition in itself, something to look forward to, and an occasion to relive the festivities with joy.

The 4th of July is a momentous occasion, calling for spirited celebrations and memorable family times. By employing these rich suggestions, you can elevate your family's experience of this holiday to new heights. Cherish the unity, bask in the freedom, and savor the sweetness of togetherness. From all of us at USAMM, happy Independence Day! We hope this blog post gave you some good pointers on how to celebrate 4th of July.

What Do The Navy Stripes on Sleeves Mean?

Navy stripes on sleeves

For those uninitiated in the complex, colorful world of naval uniforms, the sight of Navy stripes on sleeves might seem purely decorative. However, to comprehend the full extent of those lines, fine and seemingly unassuming, is to grasp the depth of tradition, honor, and achievement they represent. These insignias tell stories of rank, experience, and dedication to service that resonate throughout naval history.

Whether you're a recent recruit, a proud veteran, or just someone who finds the naval uniform intriguing and a source of questions, this deep-dive into the meaning of Navy stripes on sleeves is for you.

Origins of Navy Stripes on Sleeves

The practice of putting Navy stripes on sleeves has deep historical roots. Pioneered in the 18th century by the British Royal Navy, the concept was a straightforward one: to visibly indicate the seniority and therefore command structure among the crew. This was a time when communication on vast, often smoke-shrouded decks was as much a matter of visual recognition as it was the barked orders of a familiar voice.

The simplicity of the design—horizontal lines of varying number—allowed for quick identification. It's from this necessity to establish authority on the high seas that we derive the modern custom of Navy stripes on sleeves.

Modern naval uniforms, much like the codes they honor, derive their visual language from traditional roots. The meaning behind each stripe, however, may not be as intuitive to an outsider as it is to a seasoned sailor.

Rating Badges

The most common and easily recognizable stripes are the Rating Badges worn by enlisted sailors. These consist of diagonal stripes that are intended to identify a sailor's occupation—ranging from a single chevron for a seaman recruit to a 'crow' for a petty officer. Each one is a declaration of specialized skill and contribution to the ship's operation.

Service Stripes

In contrast, some Navy stripes on sleeves are worn to denote years of honorable service. Each stripe, or "hash mark," usually represents four years of service. If the individual has served during a time of war, they may be authorized to wear a "wartime service hash" in addition to their regular service stripes.

navy stripes on sleeves

Rank Insignia Stripes

At the crux of naval hierarchy are the Rank Insignia Stripes. These Navy stripes on sleeves are not so much stripes as they are solid bars of braid on the cuffs or epaulets of the uniform. An admiral could possibly have up to four stars, whereas a captain would have four stripes. Officers of lesser rank would wear fewer stripes, down to the single stripe of an ensign or a second lieutenant in the Navy.

Understanding and recognizing the nuances of these markers is crucial to interpreting the experience and leadership within the Navy.

Evolutions and Exclusions

Naval tradition is not static. It evolves over time to reflect the values and necessities of the modern Navy. For instance, the Royal Navy's historic use of Navy stripes on sleeves to denote time in service has been replaced by a system using a colored ribbon. The U.S. Navy, however, retains the service stripe, respecting the history and dedication of its sailors through tradition.

Rank stripes have also changed. Until the 1940s, the U.S. Navy's commissioned officer's rank stripes were worn on the lower sleeve, but they were relocated to the shoulder board for practical reasons. Despite these shifts, the symbols persist as a way of connecting contemporary sailors with those who came before.

The Importance of Tradition

While traditions may come from a place of necessity and pragmatism, they are what perpetuate the sense of naval identity and mission. A uniform fosters unity among the naval community, and its symbols convey a lineage of duty and honor.

Traditions also facilitate a sense of continuity across time. An ensign today may wear the same style as an ensign from centuries past, uniting them in a silent fraternity of service. This preservation of tradition allows the past to have a meaningful way of speaking to the present, offering respect to the generations of veterans and a solid foundation from which to face the future.

Conclusion: Navy Stripes on Sleeves

To the untrained eye, the Navy stripes on sleeves might appear to be a ranking system—a way of organizing the right people at the right place in the chain of command. While this is true, they are so much more. They are an enduring symbol, a marker of time, a testament to service.

Navy stripes on sleeves gold

For those who wear Navy stripes on sleeves the stripes embody countless days and nights, hours of training, and a commitment to something greater than themselves. When deciphered, they reveal not only a person's individual position within the Navy but a heritage of sacrifice, discipline, and bravery that every sailor carries with honor.

The next time you see a naval uniform adorned with these stripes, see beyond the threads and fabric, and recognize the weight of history they carry. They are the legacy of sailors past and present, a stirring tribute to the profound service within the heart of the Navy.

Why Does The Military Use Military Time?

 military time marine

Time is a vital component of human life, helping us structure our day and facilitate coordination. But what if the conventional timekeeping system was somehow inadequate? For many armed forces across the globe, it has been. This is where "military time" steps in—a 24-hour clock that provides unambiguous time, removing the risk of misunderstanding due to the absence of AM and PM. It’s not just about tradition; it’s a practical choice with historical roots and valuable insights that we can all benefit from understanding.

In this comprehensive post, we unravel the reasons behind the military's unique timekeeping system. Share in the legacy as we explore the past, present, and potential future of military time.

Why does the military use military time?

To appreciate the significance of military time, it's essential to look back at its origins. The 24-hour system dates back centuries and was initially used in early Egyptian, Greek, and Roman societies. However, it was the demands of the military—both in peace and during conflict—that solidified its usage.

From the Battle of Waterloo to the D-Day landings, coordinated military operations have hinged on precise timing. The ambiguity of the 12-hour clock proved costly in scenarios demanding clarity and immediacy, leading to the adoption of a new standard—the 24-hour clock. This clarity helped in planning, execution, and communication across languages and borders.

The International Standard

Adoption of the 24-hour clock became international, primarily through military and industrial necessities. The format's clear and uniform nature made it an essential tool in global communication, leading to its rise as an international standard.

The Inner Workings of Military Time

Understanding military time means grasping a fundamentally different way to tell time. With the absence of AM and PM, the 24-hour clock uses a single cycle of 24 hours, starting at midnight (0000) and ending at midnight the next day (2400). A clear and unambiguous system, it represents a significant shift in perspective from the fluidity of the traditional 12-hour clock used in civilian life.

Why No AM or PM?

The question arises—why the need to separate time into two distinct 12-hour periods in civilian life? The reason is tied to tradition rather than utility. The Latin phrases ante meridiem (before noon) and post meridiem (after noon) originated at a time when there was no immediate need for precise timekeeping as we understand it today. Conversely, the military has always required an exact and universally understood method of telling time, leading to the adoption of an unbroken 24-hour clock.

The Functional Advantages of Military Time

Adopting military time extends practical advantages beyond simply avoiding confusion between morning and afternoon hours. The system offers benefits in diverse fields ranging from transportation to healthcare, and any situation that demands a higher level of precision and clarity.

military time helo

In situations where accuracy is mission-critical, such as global travel timetables and emergency services, miscommunications regarding time can lead to severe ramifications. Military time's precision ensures that such errors are all but eliminated.

With a growing global community, precise and universal communication is more important than ever. Military time enables effective communication across different cultures, languages, and time zones, offering a single, unambiguous method understood worldwide.

In the civilian world, we often encounter military time in contexts that demand unambiguous timing, such as public transportation schedules and event planning, or in professions such as logistics, aviation, and healthcare. But its influence extends further.

The Digital Age's Impact

With the rise of digital interfaces, there’s also a growing trend toward simplifying and centralizing timekeeping. This includes a more widespread integration of military time formats in everything from smartphones to computer software, thereby increasing its visibility and normalization in daily life.

The continued integration of military time into modern life raises pertinent questions about the universal adoption of this system. While it may never fully replace the familiar 12-hour format, there's a strong case for its broader use.

A Shift in Mindset

The acceptance of military time requires a shift in mindset, but it’s one that could refine our approach to schedules and time appreciation. By promoting a more exacting understanding of time, we could see improvements in punctuality and productivity.

The use of military time is a step towards a singular method of global timekeeping. As our world becomes more interconnected, a universal time standard becomes increasingly attractive, if not essential, for effective international communication.

Whether you're considering adopting military time in your personal or professional life, or you're simply intrigued by its history and application, there’s much to gain from engaging with this robust system of timekeeping.

For those interested in integrating military time, a gradual transition is often the most practical approach. Start by familiarizing yourself with the 24-hour clock, and use it alongside the conventional system until it becomes second nature.

military time navy

Wrapping Up

The use of military time is a testament to the adaptability and foresight of human systems in response to the demands of their environment. While it may have originated as a practical solution for war, it now serves as an anchor for precise communication and global unity.

Through our exploration, it's clear that adopting elements of this timekeeping tradition can significantly impact both individual and collective experiences with time. And perhaps, as we grapple with an increasingly busy and interconnected world, the principles that underpin military time can offer invaluable lessons for managing our most precious resource—time itself. Whether you choose to integrate elements of military time into your life or not, its legacy will continue to shape our understanding and approach to timekeeping for generations to come.

How To Learn Military Time: 3 Easy Steps

how to learn military time watch

Understanding and being able to read military time is a valuable skill that often goes overlooked. Yet for anyone who is interested in fields like healthcare, aviation, emergency services, and of course, the military, it can be a crucial element of day-to-day life. Unlike the standard 12-hour clock, military time—also known as the 24-hour clock system—uses an unambiguous format that is regarded for its clear and exact time readings.

While the 12-hour clock with AM and PM notations is the standard in most areas, military time is a consistent feature in work environments where precision is paramount. If you're looking to bolster your time-telling skills or if you are simply curious about the ins and outs of military time, this guide breaks it down into three easy steps in how to learn military time.

Step 1: Deciphering the Basics

The first step in how to learn military time is to grasp the fundamentals. Unlike the 12-hour clock, military time continues the count into the afternoon and evening without resetting. The day is divided into 24 hours, starting at midnight (2400 hours).

The primary difference lies in how hours are represented and spoken. Military time does not employ the AM and PM distinctions. Instead, it utilizes a four-digit number to signify the time. For instance, straightforward times such as 5 AM or 5 PM become 0500 hours and 1700 hours, respectively, when converted to military time.

A helpful basic rule in how to learn military time is to remember that any hour from 0000 to 0959 retains the "hours past midnight" format. However, from 1000 hours onward, the hours notation includes the thousands place, and the "hundreds" do not exceed 24, signifying the end of the day. For example, 3:00 in the afternoon under the 12-hour clock is written and spoken as 1500 hours in military time.

To refine these basics in how to learn military time, consider practicing by converting standard times to military time and vice versa. Visualization can be an effective method in this stage. Use a clock face or create a timeline to chart the conversion process for various times of the day.

how to learn military time graphic

Step 2: Adopting a Conversion Strategy

How to learn military time relies on the development of a reliable conversion strategy to transition smoothly between military time and the standard 12-hour clock. The key to a successful strategy is understanding the principles behind military time and finding mnemonic devices that work for you.

A day ends, as we all know, at midnight or 12 AM. That is known as 2400 hours in military time because it is the 24th hour of the 24-hour day. However, a new day begins right at one second past midnight, but for the sake of illustration since we generally don’t track seconds when we tell time, the clock on a new day starts running at 12:01 AM.

Using this example, 12:01 AM would become 0001 hours in the 24-hour military clock because the 24-hour clock begins running at that time. With each hour we simply add a hundred for each whole hour. For example, the time 12:30 AM would be 0030 hours. The time 1:00 AM would become 0100 hours.

Minutes don’t really change. For example, 1:45 AM would become 0145 hours. In essence, you are simply adding an “O” before the numbers and removing the colon mark. As you can see, there are several ways on how to learn military time.

Put simply, after midnight for the first hour of the new day, times are used using four digits and the first two spaces in the time will be the letter “O” followed by the number zero in the second place. Once the first hour of the day is complete, the second digit becomes a one and the minutes are recorded using the third and fourth spots in the four-character line. So, 1:55 AM is O155. The number 55 represents the minutes.

At the core of the military time system is the need for precision and clarity. Knowing that "O," not "zero," designates hours can prevent misinterpretations over the radio or in handwritten notes. You should also familiarize yourself with the concept of "Zulu time," the standard time in the military and aviation, denoted by the letter "Z" and serving as a universal reference.

Mnemonics can be an invaluable tool for students to use in how to learn military time. Simple phrases or acronym-based systems can turn the initially daunting task of converting to military time into a more easily navigable process. For example, creating an acronym such as "PEMDAS" (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, Addition and Subtraction) can help remember the order of operations when dealing with numbers in calculations.

You could use similar devices for military time. Some popular ones include:

"Ate" for Eight: The word "ate" sounds like the numeral "8," serving as a memory aid for the 12-hour to 24-hour conversion.

"Eleven at Eleven" or "Twelve at Noon and Midnight": Mental images or associations can be powerful. If 11 o'clock is a challenge, thinking "eleven at eleven" can reinforce the 1100 hours conversion.

Step 3: Application and Reinforcement

With a strong foundation and conversion strategy in place, the final step in how to learn military time is practical application and ongoing reinforcement. Here are strategies for real-world application and continuous practice.

Start integrating the use of military time in your daily life. You can also create flashcards with standard and military times, quizzing yourself or friends. Set your devices, such as smartphones or digital watches, to display military time regularly. These are a few things you can do if you find yourself asking how to learn military time.

how to learn military time soldier

You can also attend events or watch news briefings where organizers or presenters use military time to announce schedules. If you have a relative or friend in the military or aviation fields, engage with them using military time in casual conversation.

Once you're comfortable with basic conversions, consider exploring more advanced techniques and scenarios. Learn about daylight savings time adjustments and how it applies to military time. Practice reading event logs or timetables and challenge yourself with time "math" problems where you add or subtract hours and minutes in military time.

Mastering military time is an enriching endeavor that broadens your horizons and could open new opportunities in various professional and academic avenues. By understanding the principles, adopting conversion strategies, and consistently applying and reinforcing your skills, you can confidently add military time interpretation to your list of proficiencies. Remember, practice makes perfect, and in time, your comfort with military time will become second nature.

What Is A United States Merchant Marine?

what is a merchant marine oiler

What is a Merchant Marine?

First, what is a Merchant Marine? A merchant mariner is an employee of the U.S. Merchant Marine (USMM). The USMM is managed by the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration and consists of privately-owned and federally owned, U.S.-registered merchant ships and vessels that provide waterborne transportation for passengers and cargo moving in domestic and international commerce.

USMM supports international trade, disaster relief, military conflict and the general infrastructure of America's waterways. Mariners are the men and women who run it all, from our ports and connectors to vessel management and shipping around the world. Both the civilian mariners and the merchant vessels are managed by a combination of the government and private sectors. 

The USMM primarily transports domestic and international cargo and passengers during peacetime, and it operates and maintains deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats, towboats, ferries, dredges, excursion vessels, charter boats and other waterborne craft on the oceans, the Great Lakes, rivers, canals, harbors, and other waterways. In times of war, USMM can be an auxiliary to the U.S. Navy and can be called upon to deliver military personnel and materiel for the military.

Technically, the U.S. Merchant Marine isn’t a governmental service, but there are identification and credentials issued by the federal government for standards purposes. However, some USMM officers are commissioned as U.S. Navy Reserve officers.

What is a Merchant Marine that is licensed?

Licensed mariners fill many of the Merchant Marine's leadership and training positions, directing the organization and making key decisions across the board. Think of them as professionals with advanced training in their field (significant maritime-related experience and knowledge) that require a special designation (a license) who provide critical functionality to Merchant Marine Operations. Like surgeons to their operating room staff or airline pilots to their flight crew.

Many who have licenses are officers on merchant ships and they have attended a maritime academy where they not only earned a degree, but also advanced credentials. There are seven maritime academies located across the country: The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the California State University Maritime Academy, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, the Maine Maritime Academy, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the State University of New York Maritime College and the Texas A&M Maritime Academy.

What is a Merchant Marine that is unlicensed?

Unlicensed mariners are the backbone of the Merchant Marine workforce, an army of skilled and newly trained workers with little or no prior experience afloat. These mariners hold “certifications” rather than licenses, though they can and often do advance into the licensed ranks.

Is the Merchant Marines a military branch?

While it has a similar feel to that of U.S. military organizations, the USMM is not a military organization. However, it is a disciplined organization like the traditional six service departments (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Space Force, Air Force and Coast Guard) under the Department of Defense. It has leadership hierarchies, codes of conduct, vast support networks, and legislative backing.

The key difference is that Merchant Marines are civilians who must follow special laws and regulations designed for merchant mariners and enforced by a military body, the U.S. Coast Guard. If posted at sea, mariners will serve on commercial vessels, which can share similarities with military vessels, such as position titles and lifestyle. For example, the head of the engineering department is called the Chief Engineer and the vessel master – who commands the ship — is formally addressed as “Captain.” Most USMM vessels run more efficiently than a standard commercial vessel, and all those aboard must be ready to change course and support a U.S. mission anywhere in the world.

What is a Merchant Marine fleet?

Because of the ambiguity of the USMM fleet, the numbers vary, but according to the U.S. Merchant Marine website, USMM has more than 10,000 ships and vessels and Merchant Marines can serve in three departments: Deck, Engine and Steward. Most mariners spend their careers in only one of these departments. 

It is important to note that this number is vastly different than what is reported on other government websites and publications which report the ship numbers to be less than 200, but given that the number 10,000 was used on the official USMM site, we went with that number, but we did want to highlight the discrepancy between sources.

What is a Merchant Marine timeline?

The time required to become a member of USMM depends on the route an applicant takes. A person who joins as a seaman may become a mariner after passing required courses. They must then pass rigorous exams to receive the necessary credentials. The process, all in, can take a few months. An apprentice applicant will likely train for more than two years, though much of that training time is sea time.

Those who are interested in becoming officers must attend a maritime academy which can take four years or more to complete.

What is a Merchant Marine age requirement?

Anyone interested in joining the USMM can do so at age 16. There is no age restriction otherwise and people can join the USMM even after retiring from other careers.

What is a Merchant Marine workforce?

There are roughly 13,000 mariners out there. Commercial companies employ roughly 7,500 professional mariners to operate their ships while the federal government employs another 6,000. The latter mostly operates vessels in the Military Sealift Command.

What is a Merchant Marine Veteran Program?

It is more accurately called the Military to Mariner program. This program allows veterans of any service to join USMM. Veterans do not need to be former members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, or have served aboard U.S. Army vessels to apply. Veterans of any military service are encouraged to apply, and they do not have to have held a maritime related military occupation or rating.

Of course, veterans who served in maritime related service branches or occupations will certainly complete the training with more ease than say a military policeman, but there is no maritime skill requirement to join the USMM.