I remember when I was a boot private many years back and having some concern about getting promoted in the Marine infantry unit that I was attached to. Our unit had a deep tradition of military hazing and they were proud to hand this tradition off to the new cycles of leaders and boots. (A boot is a Marine that has not deployed and is usually just out of basic training.)
One such traditional, I have trouble calling hazing is the pinning of the rank ceremony. This event occurs after the formal promotional ceremony that is held at a company wide formation. (a formation is like a meeting with all hands on deck) In fact, it occurs behind closed doors in the barracks, hallways on ship, and in private if the promotion occurs in the field.
When a private picks up the rank of private first class, he is given a set of chevrons that are pinned to the lapel of the Marine uniform collar. When the Commanding Officer pins the rank on the Marine, the backings that protect the Marine from being stabbed by the two quarter inch pins is removed. This protective backing is left off. Marines in the Company then take turns slamming these rank pins into the collar of the newly promoted Marine. Any Marine who has earned the rank of the promotee is allowed to "pin" the rank onto the newly promoted. This is done by carefully punching the rank into the skin of the Marine by using full forces. Blood is certainly drawn but not much. However, it gets painful when thirty Marines perform this ritual onto the promoted Marine.
Moreover, higher ranks endure harder rituals. A Lance Corporal gets his chevrons pinned on and he is punched with an elbow at full force on each side of his arm. This signifies the pinning of the crossed rifles that are in the rank emblem. Multiply this by about thirty times and you are in for some serious pain.
When I picked up Corporal I endured all of the above at once and then I was struck by a Marines knee on both legs. I couldn't walk for days afterwards.
I am not complaining about this tradition I am just explaining it. I think it is a helpful activity that increases pride in the Corps, and Unit. It increases the small unit bond that Marines are known for and in my opinion, promotes combat readiness. If you have any questions, comments or experiences about the pinning of the rank ceremony and traditions please leave a comment.
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