By Danielle DeSimone

What do the Marines do? Honestly, what DON’T they do?

From their roots as the “Continental Marines” during the Revolutionary War to their reputation today as a military branch of grit and honor, the Marines have led the charge for the past 244 years.

Here are just five of the many things that the Marines do:

Photo credit DVIDS/Cpl. Carlos Lopez

U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division assist in Operation Talon Spear in July 2018.

1. Marines Spearhead Expeditionary Operations

The Marine Corps is often referred to as “the tip of the spear,” largely because its expeditionary force is often the first to hit the ground during U.S. military operations.

These Marine Expeditionary Units, better known as MEUs, are a quick reaction force that responds immediately to crises and combat situations by air, by land or by sea. This quick response paves the way for other forces to follow in their wake, much like the Marines did at Iwo Jima in World War II.

Photo credit DVIDS/Capt. Clay Groover

A Marine provides security during an embassy-reinforcement exercise at the U.S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali.

2. Marines Protect U.S. Embassies

If you visit a U.S. embassy almost anywhere in the world, you’ll most likely find a Marine there.

A special unit, called the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, is responsible for protecting U.S. personnel, classified material and property at designated diplomatic missions in support of the Department of State (i.e. embassies, consulates). These Marines go through rigorous training to be prepared to defend the embassy from any type of danger, threat or other emergency.

Photo credit DVIDS/Spc. Anaid Banuelos Rodriguez

A Marine assault amphibious vehicle departs the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship.

3. Marines Conduct Amphibious Operations and Assaults

The Marines have a long history of amphibious operations and assaults, dating all the way back to their first beach landing at the Battle of Nassau against the British in 1776.

Today, amphibious training and missions remain a cornerstone of Marine operations in our nation’s military, particularly in counterinsurgency missions in the Middle East. From traditional beach assaults to new developments in amphibious vehicle and ship technology, the Marines continue to push the limit of what can be done – on land or in the water.

Photo credit DVIDS/Lance Cpl. Ujian Gosun

U.S. Marines give gifts to local school children in the Philippines as part of a humanitarian goodwill program.

4. Marines Lead Humanitarian Missions

The Marines aren’t just saving lives through their courageous actions on the battlefield – they’re also doing so through the numerous humanitarian operations they undertake worldwide.

Often in collaboration with nonprofit organizations such as USAID, the Marine Corps comes to the aid of people all around the world in the wake of natural disasters and other humanitarian crises, building goodwill both at home and abroad. In the past, Marines have provided emergency medical aid during the Ebola virus breakout in West Africa, delivered relief supplies to Gulf Coast areas following Hurricane Katrina and provided aid and food to refugees in Kosovo.

Additionally, the Marine Corps also operate their famous and cherished Toys for Tots program, which collects donations of toys for struggling families throughout the country.

Photo credit DVIDS/Sgt. Robert Knapp

A firing party with Alpha Company, Marine Barracks Washington D.C., conduct a rifle salute during a full honors funeral.

5. Marines Represent the U.S.

The Marine Corps stands out among the five branches of the Armed Forces due to their strict adherence to Marine traditions and camaraderie.

Whether they are on the battlefield, on guard at the White House or providing food to refugees fleeing their country, Marines are committed to upholding the Corps’ fundamental values of honor, courage and commitment. They are incredible example to the world of what the Marine Corps – and, by extension, the United States – stands for.