Here are 14 Marine Corps facts that may surprise you for the service’s 241st birthday:

  1. The Marine Corps’ first amphibious raid was only weeks after its creation when Marines successfully stormed a British weapons cache in the Bahamas.

  2. Male Marine recruits attend boot camp in one of two locations, depending on which side of the Mississippi they’re from: Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego for West Coast recruits (which is a separate facility from Camp Pendleton) and MCRD Parris Island for East Coast recruits.

  3. Female recruits only attend MCRD Parris Island.

  4. The Marines’ first land battle on foreign soil was in Libya, where 600 Marines stormed the city of Derna to rescue the crew of the USS Philadelphia from pirates.

  5. Marines often pin their next promotable rank onto their uniforms as a motivator. They usually hide it in their cover or under a pocket flap.

  6. Since then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered the military to integrate women into combat arms occupations in January 2013, more than 18 female infantry officer candidates have attempted the qualification course. To this point, all 18 have failed to qualify.

  7. Marine recruits are finished eating the moment their drill instructor is finished. This is why Marines eat so fast.

  8. Fewer than 100 people have received the title of honorary Marine, a title that can only be bestowed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. A few include Chuck Norris, Bob Hope, Bugs Bunny, Jim Nabors and Gary Sinise.

  9. The license plate of the Commandant of the Marine Corps reads “1775.”

  10. Marines in uniform are not authorized to put their hands in their pockets.

  11. The rank of Marine “gunner” is the only Marine Corps rank that requires different insignia on the left and right uniform collars (The rank of colonel requires the eagles on each collar to be mirror images of each other, so they are also technically different insignia).

  12. The Marine Corps mascot is an English bulldog named Chesty, after Marine Lt. Gen. Louis B. “Chesty” Puller, the only Marine to earn five Navy Crosses.

  13. Even though the Corps is an amphibious force, swim qualification is one of the few annual qualifications that doesn’t count toward a Marine’s promotion to the next rank.

  14. Marines are often called jarheads because of their high-and-tight haircuts, but some Marines take this cut to the extreme. Unauthorized haircuts include the horseshoe and the mohawk.

You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.