My Rifle – The Creed of a United States Marine
This creed, accredited to Major General William H. Rupertus, USMC (Deceased) and still taught to Marines undergoing Basic Training at the Recruit Depots at San Diego and Parris Island, was first published in the San Diego Marine Corps Chevron March 14, 1942.
1. This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
2. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
3. My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying
to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will …
4. My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit….
5. My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will ….
6. Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
7. So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy, but peace!!
History of the Creed:
In a conversation which took place sometime early in 1942 between BGen William H. Rupertus, USMC, Commanding General, Marine Corps Base, San Diego, and Capt Robert P. White, USMCR, Public Relations Officer of the base, the general stated that his men must be made to understand “that the only weapon which stands between them and Death is the rifle…they must understand that their rifle is their life…it must become a creed with them.” Whereupon Capt White suggested that the general write an editorial to that effect with the tentative title of “My Rifle is My Life.” The general, who had won the Distinguished Marksmanship Badge as a second lieutenant in 1915, liked the title but disagreed with the idea of an editorial which he considered would sound like a sermon. Instead, he felt that the rifle creed should be “something so deep, a conviction so great, a faith so lasting that no one should have to be preached to about it.”
The very next morning, the general appeared in the captain’s office with a “random scrap of paper” on which were penciled the notes which have since become the rifle creed. Capt White’s part in the final production of the creed is best expressed in his own words: “All I did was to translate it, type it, suggest a few different word usages and add a line here and there to complete the General’s thought. My job was that of an editor; and no editor could have bettered the General’s piece in that particular.”
Marine Corps History Division