WORLD WAR II MARINE CORPS ENLISTED RANK STRUCTURE

When the Continental Marine Corps was first established in 1775, the only authorized enlisted ranks were sergeant, corporal, drummer or fifer, and private. Since Marines primarily served as ship's detachments, this arrangement worked during the Revolutionary War. After the end of the war, the Naval services were disbanded.

On 11 July 1798 the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps were officially established. In addition to the old ranks, new ones were created. These included a sergeant major, a quartermaster sergeant, a drum major, and a fife major. From this beginning, the rank structure developed into the system used in the modern Marine Corps.

From the Corps' earliest years, the ranks of lance corporal and lance sergeant were in common usage. Marines were appointed temporarily from the next lower rank to the higher grade but were still paid at the lower rank. As the rank structure became more firmly defined, the rank of lance sergeant fell out of use. Lance corporals served in the Corps into the 1930s but this unofficial rank became redundant when the the rank of private first class was established in 1917. The lance corporal fell out of usage prior to World War II, to be permanently established in the sweeping rank restructuring of 1958.

There was no rank between sergeant and sergeant major until 1833. Many ship's detachments and shore stations were commanded by sergeants, who did not have the privileges and pay commensurate with their responsibilities. In 1833, the Congress rectified this by creating the ranks of orderly sergeant of the post, and first sergeant of the guard at sea. This dual rank system proved unwieldy in practice and the rank of orderly sergeant was abolished in 1872.

The rank of gunnery sergeant came into common usage over the middle decades of the 19th century. Marine ship's detachments were customarily assigned to man one of the vessel's guns. The gunnery sergeant was the Marine designated as leader of the gun crew. As a technical specialist, he was charged with training the detachment's Marines in all aspects of gun drill, ammunition preparation and safety. The rank of gunnery sergeant was first officially recognized in 1898.

As more and more technical innovations changed the Naval services, the rank and pay structure became more complex. By World War I, there were special pays for gun pointers, cooks, signalmen, members of the Marine Band, and others. In 1908, the Corps established the first additional pay for expert riflemen.

In 1923 the Marine Corps aligned its rank structure with the system used in the Army. This added a pay grade, which the Corps used to create the new rank of staff sergeant. The system of seven enlisted pay grades would remain in use for over thirty years. In 1925, the technical ranks were established for the first time. In 1935, cooks and bakers were aligned into the technical ranks, giving them a logical career progression.

World War II brought an explosion of ranks and titles. It was fairly straightforward for Marines serving in line billets. For those in technical or clerical duties however, the system mushroomed into a bewildering array of rank designations. The system was streamlined somewhat by 1944. The rank system below is that used in the latter part of the war.

1st Pay Grade

Sergeant Major
Master Gunnery Sergeant
Master Sergeant
First Sergeant
Master Technical Sergeant
Quartermaster Sergeant
Paymaster Sergeant
Master Steward
Master Cook


2nd Pay Grade

Gunnery Sergeant
Drum Major
Technical Sergeant
Supply Sergeant
Steward First Class
Cook First Class


3rd Pay Grade

Platoon Sergeant
Staff Sergeant
Chief Cook
Steward Second Class
Cook Second Class


4th Pay Grade

Sergeant
Field Music Sergeant
Field Cook
Steward Third Class
Cook Third Class



5th Pay Grade

Corporal
Assistant Cook
Field Music Corporal
Steward's Assistant First Class


6th Pay Grade

Private First Class
Field Music First Class
Steward's Assistant Second Class


7th Pay Grade
NO RANK INSIGNIA
Private
Field Music
Steward's Assistant Third Class


1942 Monthly Enlisted Pay Table

RANK Less than 3 yrs Over 3 yrs Over 6 yrs Over 9 yrs Over 12 yrs Over 15 yrs Over 18 yrs Over 21 yrs Over 24 yrs Over 30 yrs
MSgt/1stSgt/SgtMaj
138
144
151
158
165
172
179
186
193
207
GySgt/TSgt
114
119
125
131
136
142
148
153
159
171
PSgt/SSgt
96
100
105
110
115
120
124
129
134
144
Sergeant
78
81
85
89
93
97
101
105
109
117
Corporal
66
69
72
75
79
82
85
89
92
99
Private First Class
54
56
59
62
64
67
70
72
75
81
Private
50
52
55
57
60
62
65
67
70
75

NOTES:
1. All amounts are in U. S. dollars and have been rounded up or down to the closest dollar amount.
2. Incremental pay column for over 27 years has been edited from this chart.

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